AND THEN SHE DIED

This is a human drama - the story of Maya, born in a village in South India into a poor family. Circumstances force her to come to Bombay as a child of ten years.

Maya sets out to live her life in very trying conditions at a tender age. Her chance meeting with Gokuldas, her future husband, brings some respite to her otherwise dreary life. They are a very loving couple. Gokuldas tends to stray which leads to corrosion in the relationship. His cruel streak surfaces and manifests itself till it could no longer be borne by Maya.

This is a story of courage, determination, loss and triumph of an illiterate woman born in poverty and thrown to the wolves by circumstances of her birth and birth-place. This story will give hope to countless women who compromise with their circumstances and remain where they are. It encourages a destitute woman to no longer be chained to her fate but create her own fate and her own life. Some succeed …. some keep on trying……some die!

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12. THE CITY OF DREAMS

On the day next to Boxing Day, the ‘Eastern’ approached the Princess Docks at Bombay. The chief-cook asked Gokuldas as to what he would do now as this was the last port of call and that the ship would be returning to Ceylon after seven days. Gokuldas knew no one in Bombay and he became a bit apprehensive. The chief-cook felt pity on the young boy and asked him whether he would like to work in a hotel. Gokuldas understood that the person was trying to help him and said, “Achcha. Good.”

 

The chief-cook then took the captain’s permission and took Gokuldas with him to a small hotel and introduced him to the hotelier.

 

Kya Tumko Hindi Aati Hain? Do you know Hindi?” the hotel-owner asked Gokuldas.  

 

Thoda-thoda, Onte-onte burpundu, I can speak a bit,” Gokuldas spoke in both Hindi and Tulu.

 

Umbe Oorda Aaye. He is of our village,” said Shetty, the owner of the hotel and packed him off to the kitchen to first have his breakfast and then start working there. The chief-cook thanked Mr. Shetty and, his good deed done, vanished into the busy streets of Bombay.

 

Thus began Gokuldas’s life in Bombay, the city of dreams.

 

All the cooks and waiters of the hotel, except one, were from around the same place in Mysore from where Gokuldas came to Bombay and spoke Kannada and Tulu, the languages of their home-towns and of course Hindi and Marathi, the languages of their adopted city. One boy, slightly elder than Gokuldas was from Panaji, then ruled by the Portuguese. He also spoke Konkani and a smattering of French. They all had one thing in common – poverty in the village and opportunity in Bombay, to earn their living. They also had another common trait – they were all lonely! They all stayed in the hotel premises.

 

Gokuldas brought light to their lives. They no longer felt lonely as Gokuldas quickly brought them all together as a family. Being a quick learner, he learnt all the languages the others knew, except French. French he could not master. He had learnt the English alphabet while at school and hence could read a little in that language. He taught himself by reading the daily English language newspapers. He assisted the owner, in his correspondence with the authorities. In fact, he made himself useful and almost indispensible.  

 

One night, in the hotel premises, while sleeping after a long tiring day, he had a very peculiar dream. He felt something burst and he woke up. He found that he had wet his underwear. He felt ashamed thinking that such a grown-up boy and wetting his underwear! Then he realised that what had come out was not water, but something like pus, thick and white. He was perplexed. He thought that his organ had suddenly rotted and became afraid. He got up and began to wash the soiled undergarment and himself. He found that he was intact and sighed with relief. The head-cook woke up and saw Gokuldas cleaning himself and washing his underclothes and understood. “The boy has become a man,” he thought and went back to sleep.

 

The next night, in the city of dreams, Gokuldas spent a sleepless night. He was simply afraid to sleep as he did not want to dream the same dream again! The next day, he could not work and was found fast asleep in the attic at around mid-morning. The head-cook did not let any one disturb him for he knew! The next day was the weekly off for the hotel and Gokuldas went with all the men to the sea-shore to enjoy in the evening and relax. It was here that the head-cook took him aside and explained to him about the bird and the bees. Gokuldas understood what had happened to him and then onwards looked forward to have such dreams! When he would wake up in the nights after such dreams, he would smile to himself and then turn himself in the bed and go back to sleep very much satisfied!

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