Read Part-1 here
Asha’s mom was amazed at the dedication of the little girl to save money she knew nothing about. How innocently she dreams, Uncle Scroog! She wiped a happy tear from corner of her eye before it rolled out on her cheek. The rest of the afternoon went by cooking the lunch, talking to the maid, catching up with the Sunday serials and handing out cups of hot coffee to her husband. “It is not hot enough” he would flatly refuse, returning the cup to her and she would repeat the process till it was boiling hot. “It is too hot now. Why can’t you make a cup of coffee?” he would get angry. Thoughts rushed through her mind; a faint familiar feeling of pain strained her. Was he punishing her, proving to her that she wasn’t good enough a wife? What is so wrong about a woman earning better than the man she lives with. What is that futile Ego? And where was that pride when he had rummaged through her cupboard? When he robbed his own wife of the meagre hundred, two hundred she had carefully placed between the ironed saree folds.
But then why did she feel guilty? She couldn’t even look him in the eye. It was not fear. Definitely not fear. It was perhaps -disgust. And, the guilt, the woman was burdened by it the day she was born. She felt guilty when her parents spent even that final rupee of their savings on her wedding. She felt guilty about being beautiful, about attracting too much attention. About being looked at with endearing eyes by strange men while her husband felt nothing! On one drunken night he had confessed,” I can’t bear you being so strong. You make me feel miserable about myself. Why can't you just be a bloody woman!” She had thought of talking it out discussing it but she held her tongue. The following morning she pretended nothing had happened and he played along, life slipped into the same miserable rut. There were nights when she watched Asha sleep; thinking what would happen to her future. How will she ever earn enough to pay for her college? Would she ever have that kind of money?
“Amma, am-ma come see my box it is full!” Asha pulled the loose end of her mom’s saree,while bouncing in the air,” Come, Co-me, Co-me Amma.. see it is fu-ull!” Much to her delight, the little girl did manage to fill the box. Later that evening they went to a near by shop and got it changed to crisp notes. The final count was a hundred and twenty three, a priceless saving of her eight year old. She carefully rolled the hundred rupee note and tucked it under the paper of Asha’s coin box. She pulled out some loose change and threw them in,” Here you go Asha, now you can collect again!”
It took Asha four years before the exact value of rupee got into her head. Four years to grow out of that innocence, look around know how strangely rich and poor they were. Appa had these bouts of lavishness and he filled the house with fridge, a washing machine and a fancy colour television. She would believe they were rich enough to afford these luxuries. But then later she would hear amma cry and speak to her appa,” I can’t pay for this. We have a little girl to educate! You know how they talk when they come to collect the money for all the debt you have created? I am begging you. Stop! It is enough.” She had asked her mom on one such dark night,” Amma, why can’t we pay them the money I have? You won't have to listen to them” Her mother shot an angry glance, almost terrified at the thought,” Never even mention about spending that money. I know it is hard. But don’t ever do that! Whatever happens..”
To be continued...