Brick by brick, Arumugham had seen the house take shape. It wasn’t a big house, nor was it in the hustle bustle of the city. It was in their village, far away from the annoying honks of the vehicles, and the pointed gossip of the neighbors. She hated that. He had thought otherwise, but now, he was beginning to hate that too.
Theirs was a love story that no one wanted to hear. Their families hadn’t wanted any part of their lives. She was an upper caste girl, and he but a construction worker. She did not belong to their family, they had said. Their hearts had not melted even when the couple had had a baby girl.
She was soft skinned like her mother, soft-hearted yet adamant like her father. She grew up far away from comfort, but to her, nothing was as comfortable as the room they had. Arumugham had named her Mridhula, for her softness.
“I want a house in our village. Not a big house with lots of rooms. Just a small one, with three rooms… one for me, one for appa and amma, and the last one, that’ll be for thaatha and paati when they come. They don’t now, but you wait and see. They’ll come. They’ll give me sevai and pongal, feed me with their hands. And they’ll tell me they love me,” she told anyone who would listen to her.
Today it was that dream of hers that had taken shape. Even the village head had been invited for the gruhapravesham. She stood outside, welcoming everyone who entered the compound with a smile. She was happiest to see her thaatha and paati come too, after every other guest had left. She had run behind the house, so no one would see her cry. She saw them put the sevai and pongal on a plate, and she wiped her tears and went back to the front.
“Kanna, vandhu sappidu da,” she heard her paati call, and saw her approach. But she couldn’t go. And neither could her paati find her.
A breeze had picked up suddenly, and she saw her amma and paati cry as they went inside the house. Arumugham’s eyes were wet too, but he walked across the compound to where she stood.
“Appa is sorry, Mridhu. Sorry he couldn’t keep his promise to keep you here till this day,” he whispered, as he picked up the last, unused bricks and sheltered the earthen lamp that was lit for her soul, making sure the breeze wouldn’t snuff out her light.
(2nd April 2014)