The room was plunged in a tearing silence. The somber lifeless corpse lay still on that squalid sheet wrapped in a tattered checkered blanket. A couple of brazenly dressed women stood close near that dead lady. Their grave countenances and the intermittent sighs reflected more of relief than remorse. The doctor quietly left the room with a deep sigh and a sluggish gait. I stood at the threshold gaping blindly at her, tainted story of shattered hopes and a defamed name. One of those ladies walked up to me and uttered in a restrained voice, “She waited for long but she passed away.” I nodded with heaviness and replied, “The funeral……the orphanage would bear the expenses.” And I trotted away.
She was Bimlamati. She often came and sat herself in the rusted iron bench on the garden, and glared at me with an unexplained oddity!! I was sixteen then. I quietly observed the silent conundrum watching the children play. They often capriciously walked up to the lady and gaped at her silence with utter amazement .She caught hold of one of them and amused herself in their rapture. And they made incessant efforts to free themselves from her stingy grip.
Our mother, rather that magnanimous woman who owned all of us often sat beside her, comforting the pains that she tamed. She was one amongst those many distorted beings who came in search of innocent mirth amidst those innocuous smiles, yet there was a silent question stirring behind those inquisitive eyes. I made relentless efforts to take reins over my profound interest to discover the cause behind those curious stares. But they ever remained in the locked cask of curiosity. I often questioned our mother about all the people who came to visit us, and caressed the children with sympathy rather than affection. But ‘She’ was a disparate being. She silently came, engulfed in deep calmness and spent her hours glaring at the distant emptiness of the garden and her other favorite subject was ‘me’!!
My Ignorance of who she was and where she had come from, kept me prying into her questioned identity. But all my endeavors were rendered futile. Neither did mother speak of her nor did I. Soon I was sent to a college. The strict norms of the convent and the sudden disclosure to numerous friends, foes and acquaintances left me in deep perplexities. I grew big, in senses and in my thoughts. I was taught compassion and humility. The Nuns took us to the hospitals, slums, and the brothels. The condemnable plight of those impoverished lives left us in tears. The contaminated reputation of those women who decked the brothels of the cities and their maligned luster made us look at them with deep empathy. I was taught to serve. I thought of life and the ghoulish facets. The ugliness seemed to entwine every branch of their lives. Yet they smiled!
How unwearyingly they bore the burden of abhorrence! How hungry they were for acceptance. The orphic pain, the intolerable condemnation stirred every eye that witnessed it! I walked through those infected lanes with a deep desire to help them. I collected chandas, clothes and all that I could procure from the fortunate niche of the society. The convent supported and appreciated my petite efforts to practice what they had imparted to me. Days fled and I was an educated being .And I was portrayed a poor’s champion in my familiar boundaries.
The ‘Mother’ was on death bed. I was sent for from the orphanage. I left by the first train that I could get to champagram. Mother lay sick and distorted in her little cot. The strong gusts of breath that she blew out evinced the weariness of her life. But the eyes spoke of the same recognized kindness that she possessed for every child that she had mothered. Being the eldest and the most educated of all, I was asked to take over the reins of ‘Charulata’, (the orphanage) my mother’s dreams. She waved the others to leave. And Mother and I were left alone. The ticking clock, the dankness of the room, the shrunken frame of her body and the oozing rheum from her weary eyes uttered ‘Death’. I was stunned and broken!
She held my palm in hers and stared at me with bareness. My heart sank the more. I sat stiff in awe when suddenly she spoke. “Bimla is your mother”. I was left gawking at her for an indefinite time. I could not question further. The night hours passed nimbly and the next morning she passed away. I was chained in her death and the quoted words.
Bimplamati belonged to that disgraced niche of this sophisticated society where the brutal play of orgasm knits itself behind the veils of urbaneness. She was a Whore!!! She was one amongst those million faces for whom I had been compassionately serving for the last few years. Yet I was filled with detest. How could I be born to her?
She still came and sat herself on those rusted iron benches in those gardens. The children had grown. And there were few more new ones. But the stares remained indifferent. My curiosity to know her questioned identity had been answered. And the consequence was intense distaste towards her and myself. How often I felt to run to her and fall into her arms but how could I? Was she not a whore? Was she not a ruined creature of the populace? Was it not ridiculous to accept that tainted woman and call her ‘Mother’? After all I was an educated woman of this tamed society!