Chapter 10: I Know

Once a week, sometime twice, my son and daughter never forget to ring us up. For the last two weeks, my son is insisting, “Dad your wheat harvesting is over. What are you waiting for now? Shall we send the tickets for both of you? Forget about the rice crop, let uncle Sohan worry about it. We are longing to see both of you.”

Yesterday, he has asked Bha ji to ring me. He knows I can’t dare to refuse whatever Bha ji, Malkiat says.

“Here in London, weather is getting very pleasant and in India, must be getting hotter. Come over here and return at the end of September. Don’t be greedy and forget about farming responsibilities. No one is going to rob your crop in your absence. Secondly, Balwinder, whom they call Bindu, is desirable to work in films and hence, let her have the keys of the flat in Mumbai,” again this morning, Bha ji instructed me.
How could I dare to refuse?

I already knew that Bindu’s mother was not in favour of her working in films. Actually, she had never wanted her to go away from Punjab. But Bindu, being a sentimental person as well as talented, had determined to make her carrier in acting. No doubt, she was a born actress! That’s why her cousin, eldest in the family, after her dad’s death, offered her his full support and encouragement.

At Chandigarh, she had just started her student life when seeing Satish, she lost her balance at the first sight and fell prey to this weakness of the sort of emotional people, who at times, usually think with their heart rather than brain. It was a spring season of her life. Offshoots had started sprouting on the boughs of her emotions. As their urges matured, bells started ringing mutually in their hearts, and their souls began intoxicated in this beautiful environment.

They acted together in plays, lived like good friends and kept company in eating out and roaming about. In the company of Satish, Bindu began soaring high in the sky. While flying high, an unexpected incident happened and she fell to the ground, so suddenly that not to speak of flying, she forgot even to walk on the ground.

A girl from New York came to Chandigarh to spend her holidays with her parents, and as soon as Satish had passed his Master’s degree, he was married to her. Though, it was more likely a relationship between two families rather than between two individuals, yet, it all happened with the choice and approval of Satish. It was the biggest tragedy of Bindu’s life and on the other hand, it may be a sort of excitement for Satish dreaming to fly to America; a land of opportunities people used to talk about in India.

Now, to Bindu, almost every man had started appearing a cheat and a hypocrite. Since then, she had started to denigrate the males through unusual actions and occasionally, humiliated them with a hidden desire to live with them equally, in every aspect. It may be a reflection of revenge against Satish or male dominated society! It was bizarrely noticeable from her changed attitude.

The preparations for the national dramatic competition had completely preoccupied Bindu. Gradually, she started feeling released from tension and emotional stress and as earlier, she was absorbed in her education and the world of theatre. She identified herself with her roles in such a way that sometimes, she ceased to notice even the audience.

Just like her childhood, her college life had also gone far away and left behind but still, memories of the past kept knocking at the door of her heart, occasionally, here at Mumbai as well.

The sky was half hidden in clouds. Gentle gusts of breeze seemed very pleasant. She felt her lips getting dried and filled a glass of cold water from the fridge, and finished it at a draught. Feeling very depressed, she felt like crying to her fill in someone’s arms or with her head on someone’s shoulders! But at this time, none was with her. Her maid servant had also gone on a short leave on account of her mother’s death and within the walls of her flat, she felt deserted even by her own shadow. Perhaps for the first time, she had been faced with a feeling of remorse over her being uprooted and a sense of alienation in this cosmopolitan city, far away from her homeland. She was confronted with a question, whether she was crying over her failure or success?

At the time of signing a contract, she thought a lot. Many a time, the attachment of the home back in Punjab, pulled her to give up films but at times, her dream had an upper hand over all this. She would think that life is nothing, after all, except the realisation of one’s dreams! She was prepared to confront every danger and obstacle in her way to achieve her goal.

Bindu had found working in the films a lot easier than the theatre. One of her two films had failed at the box office, while the other one had turned out a mediocre one. In this film, Bindu had continued to dominate the heroine throughout the whole film.

For quite a while, she got no other offer. This disheartened her a little and she went through gloomy days, but her zeal was warmed up to struggle and survive. ‘Never ever give up.’ she kept this idea in her mind, day and night.

Suddenly, the rays of light flashed in the dark pathway of her life. Mukherji signed her for the main role in his film. Such engagements of films added colour to her aspirations and made her economic hardships overcome, in almost a year’s time. When this film received an award, she got contracts for five more. Her secretary Vinod, found her a good elderly driver, Kareem Bakhash who started looking upon Bindu like his own daughter. Having driven a taxi, he was familiar with every nook and corner of the city.

Time and again, she had thought of calling her mother to stay with her. Balbir and some other members of her family and relations had already paid visits to Mumbai. Last time, she heard the wailing voice of her mother and could not help crying like a child. Then, she had assured her again and again, that she would come to fetch her to Mumbai.

Whenever on the set, she was lost in such thoughts, her colleagues would ask, “What’s the matter, Bindu? We hope there is nothing untoward!”

“Yes, there is!” she would retort laughing. “These days, actually, I am having an affair with my mother.”

She got two more films which made her sufficiently busy. She would think, “The rains are about to set in and some outdoor shooting will likely to stop for sometime and then, she can spare time to visit Punjab.

One day, she returned from shooting in a zealous and happy mood. Having been tired, she took a shower and Manjula being on leave, she prepared tea and began to read her mail. Suddenly, her telephone bell rang. The news that she received from the other end, made the earth sink underneath her feet. It was Balbir speaking, “The temperature is very high and earth is baking here in Punjab. Whatever was destined has happened. You have to show courage. Now you……..” Her mother was no more and being all alone in the flat, she cried to herself. She thought to call Poonam and soon remembered that she had gone to Pune. Wanting to share her grief and give vent to her emotions, she thought of making a couple of calls to friend like persons, but soon changed her mind.

By chance shooting was off for a few days and she got an opportunity to come to herself. Otherwise, she could not help it. Suffering all alone in her agony and mournfulness, she would be required to play her role, according to the nature of the character before the camera.

The mother had to die, one day or the other. Within herself, a sort of regret was creeping.  Alas! The mother could see her daughter’s house and enjoy the amenities and comforts earned by her daughter, she once declared useless. In that case she could have returned to Punjab and at least, talked about her daughter proudly whom she had been condemning.

“How can she fill up these empty moments?” she was questioned by a sort of wistfulness inside her. She felt like ringing up Amarjit, but the next moment, she changed her mind thinking that it was no use looking towards a man again, had been rusticated out of life, after due trials and considerations.
“These bastard men never care to understand women mentally and emotionally, all they are interested in physical relationship! All men, not the same; still, hypocritically, they are more condemnable than women” she murmured hatefully.

When her maid servant, Manjula, retuned from leave, the house was again seemed cheerful. Expressions of Manjula’s love and compassion consoled her a good deal. While talking about the death of Manjula’s mother, Bindu, in fact, reminded time and again of her own mother. She felt like taking Manjula in tight embrace and crying her fill. But, the distance between the maid and a mistress, rendered it impossible.

After the dinner, both of them retired to their respective bedrooms. For a long time, Bindu kept rolling in her bed, then got up and went to the kitchen. Switching on the light, she opened the fridge and filled a glass of wine. For a while, first she kept standing in the balcony and after a while, sat in the dinning room sipping her wine. Hearing the sound Manjula approached and asked, “Are you ok madam?”

“Yes, I am fine. Don’t worry about me. Go back to sleep. Today, you too, are tired.”
God knows how badly she was yearning for a sympathetic lap to lie on!
Continuing drinking wine, she muttered, “I shall again soar, higher still….”

After switching of the light in the dinning room, she directed her steps towards her bedroom. Sooner she arrived in front of the door of Manjula’s room, she felt as if somebody had tied a heavy weight to her feet. Hesitatingly, she entered her maid’s room. Manjula thought that being intoxicated she might have mistaken the door.

As soon as Bindu had just seated herself in Manjula’s bed, she tried to make her conscious, “Madam, your room is on the other side.”
“I know,” saying that much, she lay down beside her.

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