रविवार, अगस्त 6

Amnesia (Story)

PISTO was her nick name given by her husband Banwari.  Her parents named her Roopwati. She was only 13 years old when she got married to Banwari who was 14 plus. She used to steal Pistachio from her mothers' box hidden in kitchen and eat the stuff clandestinely But once Banwari caught her redhanded.  Though she shared the booty with him, he named her Pisto out of a bit mischief and a lot of affection  towards his little bride . Since that day she forgot her real name and Pisto came into existence.  Her in laws and all relatives  addressed her Pisto. She created her own world with Banwari and forgot everything except her children and their father  and their home of course. She and Banwari were happy with their two sons Shankar and Deep Chand and two daughters Rewti and Rajni.

Banwari had performed marriage of all of his children in early twenties but could not remain alive to witness the marital lives of his children. He died at the age of 51 just two years after youngest son Deep Chand"s marriage.  First son Shankar was doing sundry jobs after completing his education.
Shankar shifted to Delhi after getting a job in a Pvt. Limited Company. For several years he used to stay at home in village itself and travelled in between the office and home.  Deepchand - the other son of Pisto looked after the land and farming.

After Banwarii's demise Shankar shifted and took her to Delhi.  Delhi was a costly city. Everything howsoever small it may be, every service howsoever insignificant it may be came with a price tag. Pisto was in good health and was  a perfect mother devoted to the family.. She had a special attachment to her first son. In Shankar's house she gradually forgot her widowhood in the busy city life of New Delhi and company of Shankar's wife and three children. She proved herself as an asset to her son's family.  She alone could do entire chores of household .Shankar never felt the need for a house maid or kamwali bai or a caretaker or a cook during these long fifteen years.She is 79 today and seventeen years passed away like a pleasant dream.

"Grand ma!  Today I will take you to an eye specialist to get your eyes checked" Nidhi told the delighted Pisto. Nidhi was youngest daughter of Shankar.

"God bless you my dear girl-You care too much for me.My eyes perhaps need an operation as the glasses are of no use to me now. I can't see things clearly even after wearing them." replied Pisto gleefully.

She  had stopped working for the last year due to gradual weakness, knee joints pain and falling eyesight.  Her vision was totally blurred. She was virtually blind now. She could walk with the support of a stick only. Even with her stick, she injured her body frequently. On several occasions, she stumbled upon things or dashed against furniture or walls .With failing eye sight, the world was nothing but a dark stage for her.

At such moments Pisto's bahu used to curse her fate for the time when Shankar had decided to bring her mother to Delhi to live with them. She felt that it would have been better and economically wiser decision to keep her at village with Deep Chand and pay her some monthly stipend. At least medical expenses could have been saved.  What was the use of keeping the old and blind woman at Delhi? House maid was charging Rs 550 per month now a days. Pisto can't forget the day when she broke two cups of a bone china tea set while washing it and skirmish that followed between her and Shankar's wife.  She used to ignore such things as usual part of a family life but when her son Shankar supported his wife's views, she resolved to keep herself away from kitchen. She did realise that old age was taking its toll, still she tried to be of some use to her children even if insignificantly. She had complained to Shankar about her health several times but he had no time for her. He just assured the mother that everything would be fine.

Today that moment had come Nidhi is a grown up girl and was studying in college.For Nidhi she won't mind her son's absence. While going to meet the doctor, Pisto wore a new saree and kept a few rupees in her  little purse. She wrapped it in a small hanky and pushed it in her shirt's pocket. She was in a festive mood and a warm feeling of elation in her heart. God had snatched so many good things from her in life but bestowed upon her with so many better things also.  Loving children and caring family were some of these better things .She had a feeling of pride bloating in her chest and stirring the chords of emotions.

"Beta! I am ready." she called out to Nidhi, her grand daughter.

An  auto rickshaw was running on the long wide and smooth roads of the capital. "How long will it take to reach the hospital?", Pisto asked the girl curiously. "Will he admit her today itself? Will she be put on anaesthsia and pricked with several painful injections?

"Dont worry, Dadi!!' grand daughter assured the sceptical grand mother by uttering a brief reply. You just wait near this tree and sit on the bench, I am going to meet the doctor to complete some formalities and make arrangements for your treatment.

"Nidhi beta, come soon", the wary grandmother once again raised her quivering voice that drowned in the fast moving steps of grand daughter.

Pisto could not know the exact duration of her waiting but could realise that it was long enough. Ill thoughts were now disturbing her. Has some thing wrong happened with my little girl.? Delhi is an unsafe place for women.God save her from all evils,she prayed silently to Almighty.

Chai! Chai!.She heard a shrill voice of tea vendor.  "Amma! do you need a cup of hot tea?" the boy sat beside her to take a little rest.  Pisto gasped a little and enquired in an anxious tone, "What is this place son? My grand daughter has gone to the doctor for my treatment.

"But this is not a hospital. It is Government office Amma! the chaiwala replied replied to the dismayed Pisto.

Hours passed. She could feel the darkness of evening on her nerves now. Wrinkles of her face cautioned her about the dark moments looming large on her future. My son and grandchildren have abandoned me this way!  Her eyes welled up in tears. She started sobbing . Why her husband Banwari left her alone to see this day?  she sighed in pain.

Next day she was in an old age home. Police had taken her to this place. at the stance of the tea vendor boy.

Police Inpector consoled her by assuring  to take her back to home to unite  with her lost family once she tells details of her son and address of his house but she could not remember anything now. A single day of life presented the bare harshness of life before her blind eyes, converted the lady into a chronic patient of amnesia. At old age home she can narrate the smallest details of all the events of her life to the inmates but does not remember a single name or place of any sibling or place. She does not want to,  and why  should  she?

- V.K. Garg 'Bharti'

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