The old man and his wife were always at loggerheads. Be it any issue, whether it was their children, home or the agriculture land on which they were surviving, there would be a conflict. In such an atmosphere of disagreement and clashes, the children grew up and left home to seek their destiny. The son and daughter got married and settled in their life. Once in a while they would go to the village to spend their holidays but came back disgusted.
Whenever the son met somebody from his village he would come to know what is happening in his home. The father was keen on continuing the agriculture in spite of the losses he incurred. The mother wanted to sell off the land and live a comfortable retired life on the money. Finally the son decided that he had to do something. The quarrels and fights between his parents was making his life miserable.
One day the son along with elderly people of the village bought about a compromise between the parents. The son divided the agriculture assets equally between his father and mother. The house too was divided. The father occupied the front part of the house and the mother, the back part of the house. The old man and his wife started their separate lives under one roof. Nobody could say that the old couple was divorced as this word was alien to the village community. Elderly couple after so many years of marriage getting divorced was unimaginable. For the sake of the society they lived under one roof but as complete strangers.
The bickering and the fights stopped. The son and the daughter heaved a sigh of relief. The old man kept himself busy with agriculture activities. The woman gave her share of land to tenants and collected her share of money after the harvest. The old man faced difficulty when it came to cooking his meals. He started missing the tasty meals his wife would cook. He made an agreement with one his neighbors. They would send him the meals every day. But he faced problem when they went out of station to attend any function or work.
One day the old man was returning home from his fields. He felt a sudden pain in his chest and collapsed. By the time the villagers took him to the town, he was declared bought dead. The daughter and son came and completed all the formalities. After everyone left, the son and daughter asked the mother to accompany them to the city. She came with them and stayed for few months. Then she started missing her independence in spite of the comforts in the city. She left for the village.
Now the whole house belonged to her. Not only the house but also her late husband’s agricultural land belonged to her. She leased out her husband’s land also. Her savings stared growing and life became comfortable. Few villagers who were in need of money started flocking to her house. The woman gave money as loan and collected the interest. She started feeling like a queen when people came with folded hands asking for loans. Sometimes she would shout at them and sometimes abuse them especially when they did not return the money with interest on time. They would tolerate because the need was theirs.
And one morning the old woman was found dead. She had a big wound on her head as if somebody hit her with a heavy object. The police came and the post martum was done. The news spread like wild fire and before the funeral pyre cooled the murderer was caught. A young man in his twenties did the job because he needed money. He was a compulsive gambler and he badly needed the money. Who else could have so much money in the village? It was anybody’s guess. The odd couple who spend their entire life trying to dominate on each other to get an upper hand on money and property left untimely empty handed.
( published in Woman’s Era Jan first issue 2015)