“Making Ends Meet” by Preeti Gujar, Mumbai

Love and Heartbreak August 26, 2011 21:03



She gazed at her new born baby with love.  She heard the doctor come in and stand beside her.  Her voice bore the strain of yet another child-birth following the many years of having patiently raised her children.

“I hope you’ve done what I asked you to….”

As she uttered these words she felt her entire life flashing in front of her eyes.

She had fallen in love at 18. He was just a year older.  Love had blossomed in the midst of testing times. He was unemployed and an orphan. Her family made ends meet based on the meagre earnings of her parents who toiled away their days in the high-rises of the city before returning to their slimy slum at night.  They used to own a little land in their village but lost it to greedy money lenders leaving no option for her parents but to migrate to the city.

Truly, madly, deeply in love these lovers spent their whirlwind courtship period by regularly stealing money from their parents.  For a while it seemed so simple.

When the parents found out – about the stealing and about the relationship they were furious.

“He is an unemployed youth!  How will he feed you?  I have been toiling hard to raise you and pay for your brother’s schooling and you go about spending all the money on that good for nothing loafer!” screamed her father.

The young couple decided to follow their on-screen Bollywood idols and elope from her seemingly uncaring parents.  She looked forward to being a loving homemaker – cooking and cleaning and waiting for her husband to come from work.

But life had other plans.  With no money they could only find a small hut in a slum in the suburbs of Mumbai far away from their parent’s home.  The first few months they lived off the money some friends and well-wishers had given as a wedding gift.  He still hadn’t found any employment.  The money was dwindling.  The debts at the grocery were rising.  Little did she know that his debt at gambling at the local country bar and liquor bills were rising too.

In the midst of this mess, she got pregnant.  When he learnt about the child, he increased drinking out of anxiety of how he would make ends meet. Filled with an alcohol fuelled rage he started to beat her every night.

She didn’t know what to do or whom to turn to.

Thanks to the wafer thin walls of the hut, her neighbour had heard her entire ordeal. She helped her get a job as a maid at an apartment complex nearby.  Seven years and after having given birth to four lovely little girls, and raising them in the same small little hut that was home, she had found herself again in the labour room.  Her husband was still unemployed and a drunkard yet she still loved him dearly.

“Yes, we tied the tubes…” said the doctor.

She smiled contented knowing now that the doctor has made the ends of the tubes meet she could finally manage to make ends meet. There would be no more extra mouths to feed.  She had finally given birth to a son who would someday in this patriarchal society, take care of the family and of her.

She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.


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