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The Mother (of a country)
by Moinak Dutta (Prose - Short Story) | Published On: 09-Mar-2016

There's no end to Soudamini’s chores. Be in winter, summer or monsoon. She would have to wake up as early as four-thirty or five, then would have to go to the shed first. Then she would give grains and straws to her hens and goats.

After that she would start sweeping the yard. Be it winter or summer, there was no change in her routine. However, monsoon offered some respite as there was no sweeping of the yard needed. 

After that she would have to go wake up her children. They would try to wriggle on the cot. But Soudamini would not stop still they woke up.

Her husband, Haran, would go to the fields, waking up even before her. His mind was always with his fields and cows.

If he could, he would go and sleep in his paddy field. He loved his one acre of paddy field the most. The mahajans, the zaminders and now the merchants – they all tried to snatch that land from him. But they could not do that from Haran's father. 

They could not take that from him as well.

The one acre land.

Haran's only love.

Soudamini, on the contrary, had never shown her love towards anything, barring her chores. She would gather stray leaves of coconut and twigs to tend fire in the earthen oven. She would cook rice and lentils.

She would send her children to the primary school some two miles away from their hut. She would, in a small bag, pack puffed rice and a bit of vegetables or chick pea flour for her four children. 

After sending them to school, she would take the clothes heaped on the floor of their hut to the nearby pond. After washing those clothes and bathing, she would come back home with a pitcher of water. 

When she would return, her husband would be waiting for her in front of their hut.

She would hurriedly serve him the meagre food she had cooked.

Haran would take the food and go away to the field.

An acre land of his love, the paddy fields.

By that time the children would be back from school and start playing at the yard.

Soudamini would watch them, sitting at the dawa, resting her body against the bamboo pole that supported the thatched roof.

At dusk Haran would return with his cows.

Soudamini would take the cows to the shed. Feed the cows, tend them as well as the hens and goats.

At the evening, after tapers would be lighted at the tulsi mancha, Soudamini would go near her earthen oven again.

There she would have to cook food for her children and husband, if there was something to cook. If not, she would still go there, to boil something. Vegetables or some rice.

She would eat after all were served.

And she would sleep after all would have slept.

That's Soudamini.

The mother.

Soudamini had never expressed her love though.

For anything in her life.

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