Dappled under the shadow of misfortune and poverty, little Suman grows into an independent, carefree girl; full of conviction and spirit. Her ardent faith in God makes her compassionate and kind to all. However, her irascibility often dupes her to be indifferent. Amidst all these, will Suman be able to secure her dream of meeting a prince charming and becoming a mother with a happy family?
By Rhituparna Chakraborty
‘It has been seven years of your marriage. When will we get good news from you?’ said Sarita to her daughter in law Suman. Sarita’s son Raju was head over heels in love with Suman. Suman and Raju grew up together. However, Suman never had any feelings for Raju. Suman was a carefree girl. She was born in a very low-income family. Her father had left this world when Suman was a toddler. Her mother resorted to alcohol and left her children to fend for themselves. Suman’s maternal grandmother Nanda, found a home for Suman. Suman’s grandma Nanda and her husband Jagan worked as caretakers in a huge school. In that school itself, there was a kind teacher named Naina. When Nanda told Naina about little Suman, Naina readily agreed to keep Suman with her. The day Suman went to Naina’s place, Suman did not know whether she would like that place or not. Well, Suman started loving it. However, there was one thing that Suman did not like about Naina. Well, what was it? Naina enrolled Suman at a school nearby. Well, Suman did not like that at all. Naina and Naina’s daughter Natasha tried to make Suman understand the importance of education, but Suman was adamant she wouldn’t go to school. One fine day Suman went back to her grandma Nanda and cried and cried and cried till Nanda said, ‘Okay, fine! You don’t have to go to school.’ So Suman stayed back with her grandmother, but she missed Naina and Natasha. Suman would borrow her grandfather’s bicycle and would go to meet Naina and Natasha occasionally. Natasha would be furious seeing Suman loitering around and wasting time instead of going to school. However, no matter what, Suman would not go to school.
Years went by, and Suman grew up to be an independent girl. She would take her own decisions and work as a part-time house help. Suman was happy. However, she started getting worried about her marriage. Often Suman would daydream about a prince charming who would fall in love with her and take her with him to a beautiful place away from worries and pain. One fine day, she met Vipin, a charming boy and a heartthrob of many in that locality. She fell in love with Vipin the moment she saw him. And as for Vipin, he did not have any girlfriend at that point. So he was delighted to get Suman as a girlfriend. After dating for three years, when Suman asked Vipin to marry her, Vipin bluntly said he couldn’t marry her because his family would never accept her. After all, she came from a broken family. Her dad was long gone; her mom had fled somewhere. How can he marry her? Heartbroken, Suman decided she would never get married. But then, Raju wanted to marry her. He would follow her, gift her little things like hair clips, nail paint bottles or even flowers, and propose almost every day. Suman somehow felt she should marry Raju. Raju’s family was also against this marriage. Reason? Well, it’s the same. Suman came from a broken family. But Raju was determined. He would marry Suman and no one else.
One fine day Raju eloped with Suman, and they got married in a temple in the presence of some familiar friends. And then problems started brewing up. Raju’s mom was distraught with Raju. She detested Suman. On the other hand, Suman tried her best to adjust, but then Suman was short-tempered. She would try and tell herself to be calm, but sometimes she would lose her cool and bring the roof down with her yelling if her mother in law nagged her.
Suman was an ardent devotee of God. She had a crystal clear conscience and a heart full of love and compassion. She had very little of her own. But no matter what, if someone needed something and she had that specific thing with her, she would give it to the person who needed it more than her. She was such a soul that one day when she saw an older man shivering in the cold, she gave him the only sweater she had. That’s Suman’s nature. The only flaw she had was her short temper. If she was in a fit of rage, people end up bearing the brunt of her acid tongue. However, later she would regret it and would feel miserable. Nonetheless, this continued. She was kind as ever, but she would spit venom the moment she was angry.
Suman wanted to become a mother. However, she had some health issues because of which she was unable to conceive. She prayed day and night for some miracle. Sarita, Suman’s mother in law was after Suman’s life. Sarita wanted a grandchild at any cost. Suman would shed silent tears praying for a child. Well, prayers do work, and miracles do happen. Suman finally conceived.
Now, Suman’s pregnancy was highly complicated. She had a lot of hormonal issues, right from thyroid hormone imbalance to prolactin and so on. There were some problems in the uterus as well. The doctor had advised her to think again because this pregnancy could threaten Suman’s life. But Suman was firm in her decision. She needed this baby. Suman and Raju barely had enough money to make ends meet. Regular health checkup for Suman was not easy for them. However, they tried to arrange some amount of money somehow for ultrasound and few other tests. The problem was, whatever money they managed would never suffice for everything. In the midst of all these, the corona virus pandemic broke down. Raju used to work as an assistant to a carpenter. Because of the pandemic, all shops were closed. Raju and Suman struggled to manage things. Whatever money they had, they used that money to buy food. Suman’s hormone medication stopped because there was no way they could afford those medicines.
Months went by, and suddenly one day, Suman felt dizzy, and her stomach started hurting. Raju called a nurse staying nearby. She checked Suman’s blood pressure. It was shooting higher and higher. The nurse told Raju, ‘You have to take Suman to the nearest hospital, or else, there could be dangerous complications.’ Raju did not have a penny in hand. The nearest hospital was three hours away from their home. There were no public means of communication at that time because of the lockdown. They would have to arrange a private vehicle. Suman was already stressed. If she took more stress, her condition might get worse. Suddenly she remembered Naina teacher and her daughter Natasha. Suman told Raju, ‘Call Natasha Didi.’ Raju replied, ‘Are you sure?’ Suman said, ‘Yes! Call her. Tell her all about me. I know she will help.’ Raju called Natasha and told her all about Suman. And Suman was right. In no time, Natasha’s husband and Natasha’s brother transferred some money to Raju’s account. That helped Raju in arranging a vehicle, and Raju took Suman to the hospital.
To be continued…
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Rhituparna is a content developer and soft skills trainer. An ardent fan of diaspora writers like JhumpaLahiri, she has written around 199 stories so far, some of which have been published in The Sentinel. She writes a blog https://rheetuparnachakkravorty.medium.com/