Shamsuddin's Grave

By Paromita Goswami

Literary fiction, General fiction

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570
17 mins

Chapter One

Year 2003
“Hurr….rahh…. Hur…. raahh……...”
The goat and its kids knew exactly what to do to that sound. It moved out of the barn and followed the man to the nearby field. The man left it there for grazing and came back to the house. He sat down on the verandah by the kitchen door wiping his face with his gamcha.
“Mami!” he called out to the lady inside the kitchen.
A lean old lady came out with a cup of tea and two biscuits in her hand. She handed them both to Shamsuddin.
“Aren’t you late for work?” the lady asked.
He shook his head and took a sip of tea from the cup. He replied munching the biscuit, “I have to look for new job.”
It was not a new conversation for both of them. It was more or less like exchanging greetings every morning. Each knew the question and the following answer. Actually their morning had never been any different for the past couple of years, the same morning routine of taking the goats to the field and the same red tea and biscuits. Only the house looked gloomier over those years which once had been the epitome of all events in the neighborhood.
“Why don’t you go to my brother’s place? He has shifted here recently. Surely he might need help,” the lady suggested.
“You think so? Alright I shall visit him then,” saying he got up. He washed his cup from the well in the courtyard and put it beside the kitchen door.
The lady picked up the cup and gently placed it in a corner away from all the other utensils in her kitchen. She was not the only one doing it. Coming from a well known Brahmin family allowing a Muslim inside the house premises let alone share utensils was totally against the rituals practiced by the Hindus in this part of the country. The nation may be celebrating golden jubilee of Independent India but it has failed to wipe the scars of partitions from both the communities till date. And Guwahati, the gateway of Northeast India, was no different. For ages the city has been a dumb witness to the tension prevailing between different communities which burst out on minimum provocation be it Hindu-Muslim or Bengali-Assamese or Hindi -Assamese or the tribal and non-tribal tribes. And adding flame to the fire are the political system and insurgent groups that keep no stone unturned for their own interest. In all these modus operandi it is the common man who bears the bruise. Kalapahar, the resettlement colony of the Hindu Bengali refugees from Bangladesh, in the outskirts of Guwahati city was no different.
The handful of migrated Hindu families who first came down to settle here after losing everything in partition had had a hard time surviving. Snehlata was one of them. Her husband would be out for work most of the time and she had the responsibility to up bring her children single handedly where surviving itself was a big question. The area at that time was a marshy land with no civic amenities whatsoever. Earthquakes, flood, infiltration of wild animals from the nearby forest, criminal activities were part of the daily life of the residents in this area. And to top that the inhabitants were poverty stricken. People somehow managed their lives by helping each other in need and thus the society developed. And today, it was one of the most sought after developing neighborhood in close proximity to the Guwahati city. The place had everything now from supermarkets, offices, schools, hotels and restaurant and with it came the employment opportunities for many.
From having nothing after partition to earning a respectable lifestyle the people here had done it all. And Snehlata was no exception. She was merely ten years old when she had lost her mother and stepped into her mother’s shoes for raising her young siblings. Her father was a traveler and left the children under the care of servants back at home in Shillong. She left her studies too young to take up the household work which she had mastered with perfection over the years. Her illiteracy was never a hindrance in her life. She was a mute learner and love to read from her brother’s books. The beautiful girl had slowly turned into a shy and introvert young lady. She was a good listener but not a good speaker. She could never stand up for her own rights. Not even when her father remarried a girl almost her age and married her off at a mere thirteen years of age to a man twice her age. That was the time of partition and tension prevailed in the state of Assam as well. The uncertainty in people’s lives clearly shown on all face be it Hindu or Muslim. The Bengali Hindu families, who decided to migrate to India, were poverty stricken. Both her father and husband had lost all their properties in East Pakistan. Starting from zero with her husband had been very difficult for her. And she never forgot the pain of rendering homeless and needy. Thus she helped everybody irrespective of their caste, religion and creed in her own way. Her home in Kalapahar had sheltered many, who like her had nowhere to go and this had earned her both accolade and disgrace. But she chose to stick to her deeds. And thus for the last ten years Shamsuddin had a place to call home.

Chapter Two

“Mama!” Shamsuddin called out from the gate.
Latika opened the gate and saw Shamsuddin for the first time. He wore a lungee double tied above his knees with a neatly buttoned worn-out shirt and a red gamcha around his waist like a belt. His large expressive eyes and unruly hair complemented his skin tone that matched the color of the rusted gate.
“How are you Didi? Is Mama at home?” He smiled.
“Yes. Come inside,” Latika replied.
“Na hoibo. Please tell him it’s Shamsuddin,” he said still standing by the gate.
Latika went inside wandering about the man and sent her father outside. The old man pulled up a chair across in the courtyard and sat down. Then looked at the man at the gate and said, “Ke re Shamsuddin! Bhetore aye.”
“Na, Mami has asked me to meet you. Is there any work?” he said stepping inside the premises.
“Yes there is. Can you help us unpack and arrange the house?”
“Ho,” saying he squatted on the ground with a smiling face.
“Well then, Latika will tell you what all needs to be done.” The old man called for Latika and went inside.
By the time Latika came out Shamsuddin had taken off his shirt and stood in his vest with his gamcha tied across his forehead. He was all set to start the work. Latika gave him instructions and he worked to perfection shifting furniture and boxes from one room to another.
It was much easier for him than loading and unloading bags of cement which he was doing for the last couple of months. Lately his back problem was taking the toll and hence he was looking for an alternative job. However, today was a breezy change for him than his usual work and he wasn’t tired at all. He worked till lunch and usually had his meal from the roadside shops. But it came as a big surprise for him when Latika offered him lunch.
After freshening up he sat in the courtyard. He had never been offered meal in any Hindu household he had worked before. Eventually Latika’s little gesture set him thinking as he waited for his meal. He was even more surprised when she called him inside the house to have his lunch. He was reluctant as he knew the rituals Hindu households followed against the Muslims or rather the Miya Muslims of Bengali origin. They hardly allowed these Muslims in the house let alone offer meal. He hesitantly came by the entrance door and waited.
“Why are you standing there?” said Latika, “please come inside.”
“It’s fine,” he replied with a smile still standing at the door.
“No. You may come inside and sit here,” said Latika pulling a table and a chair in the hall.
Shamsuddin took off his chappal and walked in. He sat down on the chair with a vague expression on his face. He knew very well that Latika was brought up in Delhi and was totally ignorant of the customs practiced here. He saw the maid, a Hindu lady, piercing him with her eyes in total disbelief from the kitchen. He lowered his lashes and sat tight. Latika served him lunch. It was a plate full of rice, dal and fish curry. The food made him forget everything else. It was ages since he had had a home cooked meal. He pounced on it hungrily. Latika kept reloading his plate till he could eat no more. His eyes smeared with tears as he finished off the last bit of rice in the plate and gulped down the glass of water. After finishing his lunch he carefully took away his plate and washed it outside. Then came back and cleaned the table with his gamcha. It was the only way he could rectify the blunder that was done on his behalf.
Latika had seen this practice many times in her house. But she had always defied it. Her mother had been a firm believer of rituals throughout her life and she had valid reasons for it. Migrating from Bangladesh was not easy for her family. The wounds had always remained fresh in her heart. But Latika was different. She was the woman of the new millennium. Her father’s transferable job landed her in boarding school at a very young age where her interaction with students of different community unbiased her mindset in her growing years. Later after completing MBA she shifted to Delhi and started her career in a reputed organization. She was the independent woman of today’s generation who always believed in making a change other than taking a hefty pay cheque at the end of the month. She also worked as a volunteer with an NGO that worked for the urban slum development. However, coming back to Guwahati after so many years was a decision she had to take the harder way. Life had not been easy for her lately and after her mother’s demise there was no looking back. She came back with her ailing father leaving everything behind to make a fresh start in Guwahati and this time she had made up her mind to devote herself completely to social service. She had joined an NGO that worked for the urban development in Guwahati. But her interaction with Shamsuddin alerted her of the upcoming challenges in her work.
Shamsuddin however, had a high thinking for her. Such generosity in a Hindu home was totally unexpected by him. The simple meal had bonded him to Latika forever. Though he had been staying in a Hindu home for the last ten years but he could never even think of crossing his limits. All these years he made a practice of leaving the house early in the morning after tea and returned only after dinner so that people hardly took any notice of him. Yet the community never stopped accusing Snehlata for allowing a Muslim to stay at her house premises. He was totally amazed by the simple gesture Latika showed to him which he had almost forgotten over the years. Life had been very difficult for him since his childhood.

Chapter Three

Even after five decades of India’s partition the plight of Shamsuddin’s family had not changed. He was born in a small village in Barpeta district of Assam. His father was a poor farmer who owned a bit of farming land near the bank of Beki River, a tributary of Brahmaputra. But the yearly floods in Brahmaputra River eroded the farming land well enough to deprive the family a healthy means of income. Most of year he and his children worked in other’s faming land or fisheries to feed the family.
Shamsuddin was no special. He was the youngest of the six sons and three daughters in the family and by the age of six he too started earning for the family. Sometimes herding cattle, sometimes as a laborer or whatever opportunity came his way. But money was never enough for the family. Eventually the children grew up and married and took to their own ways.
Shamsuddin was left behind with his widowed mother and his wife. He was the man of the family now. There was not much left for him in their farming land after his father’s demise as the brothers had divided it among themselves and sold their share to the landlord of the village. The landlord even pressurized Shamsuddin to sell his portion but he denied.
He took pride and worked in his field but no matter how hard he worked flood would always destroy his hard labor. He was bound to take up other work or borrow money from the landlord who in turn would take something or the other as security from him. He knew that he would not be able to keep his land and house off the hands of the landlord for very long and had to think for some other way out.
He learnt that government was compensating those affected by floods but it never reached their family. Against his will he went to the government offices to seek his compensation. He was quite surprised to know that his family did not even exist in government papers. He had heard about illegal migrants and his family was branded as one. It was not his fault if his father chose to live in India after partition and he had never acquired any formal papers from his father. They were too illiterate to know about India’s partition and then later the birth of Bangladesh.
His father and his father’s father had always been busy meeting the needs of the family rather than think of the international borders and current affairs. But Shamsuddin now knew that like many villagers he too had been branded as an illegal migrant from Bangladesh in the government statistics.
By the age of twenty five he already fathered five children but his family’s condition had not changed even a bit. What he disliked most was he was following his father’s path. Instead of sending the children to school he was doing the same as his father had done with him, earning to meet the ends of the family. But then he could not find a way out. Although he wanted to change their condition for the better, send them to schools, educate them give them a better life. But didn’t know how?
Then his Allah listened to him. During 1990, President’s Rule was imposed in Assam. With the announcement of fresh elections several political parties visited their village and promised to listen to their plight giving them a ray of hope. During this time few young men from the village joined these parties in campaign rallies and in return earned a handsome amount. Shamsuddin was one of them. He would go to rallies in the nearby village with these parties and in return would get some money. It was a decent change from what he had been doing. And it also helped him to know the world beyond his village. This brought in a major change in him. He started thinking big and knew deep down that he had to get out of his village if he wanted a decent life.
He came to Guwahati with big dreams in the first chance. It was difficult to leave his family behind but they understood. First few months in the big city were very good for him as election was due and the party needed people like him. Few months later when he returned home he had made good money. His family was very pleased with him. He told his family about the big opportunities of making money in big city, the lifestyle of people, the big market, motors cars and above all to get compensation for his land from the government. So when he told about his decision to go back to Guwahati to make money his family did not hesitate.
However by then scene in Guwahati had changed, election was over and party rallies were no more conducted. When Shamsuddin returned to Guwahati he was no longer needed by the party. So he was left to fend for himself in the big city. Days passed without proper food and shelter. And the thought of surviving in the big city was a big question for him. But the thought that his family banked on him kept him going. Finally one day he met Jamal, one of his friends from the village who worked as a mason.
Jamal owned a small rented room in the slums near Kalapahar area. Jamal not only let him stay in his place but also let him work with him. Shamsuddin could never ask for more. He worked with Jamal as a construction worker to build new houses or renovating old houses. During one such contract Shamsuddin came in contact with Snehlata. She had a renovation job which was taken up by Jamal’s contractor. It lasted for few months. Both Jamal and Shamsuddin were assigned the job at her house by their contactor.
Shamsuddin was very touched by Snehlata’s kindness which none had showed him so far in Guwahati. In return he started doing petty household jobs for her like getting veggies from the market or calling a rickshaw or booking her gas cylinder. In return Snehlata gave him little money. He kept visiting her now and then even when the renovation job was over. And when he told her he was going home for Eid she gave him money to purchase something for his family. After many years he and his family had a nice time during Eid. He believed he had made the right decision to go to Guwahati and so did his family.
But things did not remain the same. When he returned after Eid once again he had to face hardship. Jamal was down with jaundice and could not continue to work in Guwahati anymore. Eventually he had to give up his rented room as he could not afford to pay the rents without work. Shamsuddin was in no position to rent a room on his own. Even while staying with Jamal he did not make contribution as in terms of money but did the dishes, cooking and cleaning.
Once again he had no place to stay. His work also could not help him much. It was a difficult time for Shamsuddin. Monsoon was on its way which meant for some months there will be no construction work and Shamsuddin had to look for an alternate work too.
Sitting on the pavement he smoked his biri thinking of the hard days ahead. He was back to square one once more. There were several people who shared the pavement with him, people who were homeless. He befriended some of them. But the company he chose this time was bad. These were daily laborers who worked very hard the whole day and in the evening ended up in local brothels.
Shamsuddin met Geeta during one such visit. She worked as a maid in the daytime and in the evening as a local hooker. Her family disowned her when her husband eloped with other woman. Surviving as a lone woman was very difficult for her and life had taught her the hard way. Geeta lived on her own terms. She earned well as a maid and also owned a small room in the slum area. She had thought of settling down many times but her wounds of life were fresh enough to let any man in. Hence she did not hook to any single partner. As when need be she would throw them out of her life.
When Shamsuddin met her he was desperately looking for a shelter at night. Geeta liked his simplicity instantly and allowed him to stay in her room but on her terms. He did everything she asked for except money. She abused him and even tortured him physically. In a way all her grudges against her husband and her life was targeted on Shamsuddin but Shamsuddin would not break. He knew he had no alternative and she was her only source of hope if he wanted to survive in Guwahati. So he never gave up on her atrocities.

Chapter Four

Monsoons poured in within few weeks causing flood situation in the entire state. Guwahati city was also not spared. The rain water had seeped into houses and buildings making it impossible for people to reside anymore. People took refuge in the schools and colleges that are transformed into temporary relief shelters. Flood that year had hit a new record in the state before the water finally receded leaving behind a trail of huge damage to the lives and property. The train and road transportation were disrupted in many parts of the state.
The slum area of Kalapahar located adjacent to the Bharulu River, a tributary of Brahmapura, also bore a devastating look. People were forced to live in relief camps. However many houses that were located a little uphill remained unaffected by the flood. Geeta’s house was one of them. Staying in Geeta’s house Shamsuddin considered himself lucky enough to survive but the thought of his family back home made him anxious.
He knew very well that during monsoons his village gets affected by the flood but this time he had more reasons to worry. Firstly, he was not around to help his family and secondly, the radio news updated him about the plight of villages in Barpeta. Flood in Brahmaputra had washed away many villages in that district. He didn’t even know whether his family survived or not. He was anxious to reach his family but was unable as the routes were still disrupted. He prayed to Allah for their safety day and night. That was the time when Geeta shared his pain. The pain of separation from her husband and his fear of loss for his family brought them together.
It was almost a fortnight before the bus and train services resumed. Shamsuddin caught the first train back to his village. However, by then all the hell had broken loose at his village. His home and land were submerged in the flood water. Luckily his family had survived. He found them in one relief camps. His mother had died and his youngest son was missing. But he was relieved to find the survivors of his family. He took his family to his distant cousin’s place in another village which was unaffected by flood.
His cousin was financially well off and had an ailing wife with no children. He was very pleased and relived to see Shamsuddin’s family safe and made all arrangements to rehabilitate them at his house. Shamsuddin could never ask for more. Together they tried to look for the missing child but all the efforts went in vain. Slowly the family tried to come out of the immediate loss. Even with all the generosity shown by his cousin Shamsuddin knew he had to earn enough money to raise his family independently. For now they can stay at his cousin’s place but sooner he had to arrange accommodation for them. Shamsuddin stayed with them for few weeks and returned back to Guwahati. He had only one thing in mind to earn more money.
Back in Guwahati Geeta gave him a warm welcome that he had never imagined in his dreams. It was more than home coming for him. She cooked for him and served him hot meals. She also did all the cleaning herself and even made his bed. She even asked him about his family and empathized with him. Overall she behaved as a totally different person which Shamsuddin was not familiar with all these months. However, it pleased him considerably that there was someone in this city who cared for him so much. Geeta’s changed attitude had brought Shamsuddin close to her. At least there was this person who gave him comfort when he returned from work totally exhausted in the evening.
Geeta too started enjoying his company as a man in her life. Years of separation from her husband and mistreated by men folk in the society she kind of became rebellious. She picked up men on her own and kicked them out once the need was over. But with Shamsuddin her parameters had been different from the beginning. He had stood by her even after experiencing the worst of her wherein others fled. And when she saw him weeping for his wife and family she knew that this man really cared for his family no matter what.
She always wanted a man like him in her life who could love her so much and care for her. And it somehow fanned her buried emotions for a man. So when Shamsuddin returned he saw a different Geeta, one who was a submissive woman. And this time Shamsuddin could not stop himself from reciprocating her. Earlier it was his materialistic and physical need that prompted him to stay at Geeta’s place day after day facing the bruise of insult and agony but this time he opted to stay for love and emotions.
Months of separation from his wife and children created a craving for them in Shamsuddin but he knew too well that this separation was earning them food and clothes. So he knew he cannot leave Guwahti to return to them until he had saved good money. In Geeta he saw a vent to take out his emotions that he had settled within him all these months out of separation from his family. He had started liking her and together they had created their own love nest. Each knew the limitations they were bound in yet nothing stopped them from coming closer to each other. In a way they were complimenting each other’s loss. He knew it was wrong as he stayed in the house like man and wife while back home his wife was counting days of his return. But then it was difficult to resist the temptation of being loved.
Each night when Geeta came to him and showered her love over him all he could remember is make love to her. At that moment only thoughts of Geeta mattered to him. Her caresses, her kisses, her moans, her need would fire up his body till he could take no longer and take her all within him till each lay panting beside the other blissfully happy and satisfied. What happens next is what Shamsuddin could not take any further.
Each time after his physical intimacy with Geeta his wife’s face would loom up in front of his eyes and a sense of guilt overpowered him. It was not because of sex but because of depriving his wife off her rights. At that moment all the happiness and satisfaction that he had experienced a few minutes ago turned futile and was replaced by his selfishness. He had been selfish to see his interest only and not bother about his wife’s pain. He wished his wife was with him instead. Geeta would sometimes console him saying that he was a man and there was nothing wrong in fulfilling his needs. It was good to hear such words as they encouraged him and he would be ready to take another plunge on Geeta before the night ended.

Chapter Five

Shamsuddin knew he cannot betray his wife for long. He still needed courage to meet her eyes and face his children. Although he knew with the long distance between them his wife would never know about his affair and he can continue his relation with Geeta. However, the husband and father within him would not give away so easily. He had to earn enough money to go back to his family.
He worked very hard. Whatever opportunity came his way he would grab it to make money. Pulling rickshaw, as a daily waged laborer or as a vegetable vender he was doing everything to make money to go back to his wife. He worked hard the whole day and at night allowed Geeta to screw him. Sometimes he liked sometimes he resisted but not for long. Although he shared everything with Geeta but she knew there was something amiss in the relationship. It was not turning up as it was nurtured to be. Over the months it was turning into a physical intimacy only. Emotionally she sensed a change in Shamsuddin’s attitude. No matter what she did Shamsuddin remained with her physically only. Mentally he still belonged to his wife. And at last Geeta lost the battle. She knew she could not keep this simple man for long and once again became her old self. She threw Shamsuddin out of her life and moved on.
It was a relief for Shamsuddin to come out of the guilt. Sitting on the pavement again near the road he lighted his biri and puffed circles of smoke in the air. All his stress was released. He took train to his village the next day. It had been almost a year since he visited his family last. He had made good money this time and bought a beautiful sari for his wife. His children too must have grown up now. He was sure his cousin was taking good care of his family. He had made a game plan for them. He would marry off his eldest daughter this year and shift his family to a new house in the village. And in his new home he would show his wife how much he loved her. He took the train and went to meet his family in the village.
His dreams shattered the moment he met Amina, his wife, at his cousin’s place. She was eight months pregnant. It did not take Shamsuddin to make the calculations which failed against him. He was separated from her more than a year now and she was carrying a child in her womb. For few minutes Shamsuddin was in shock. He didn’t want to believe what he saw.
While going back to Guwahti, leaving his family behind, Shamsuddin had completely forgotten about his all time sick sister-in-law. Obviously that was not an appropriate time to think of her. At that time all he needed was a shelter for his family and his cousin had offered help without a question. What more could he ask for? It was the best possible solution he could think of for his family at that time. It never occurred to him that Amina would not be safe at his cousin’s place.
The moment Shamsuddin was gone, Fakrru, his cousin could not resist putting his hands off Amina. His sick wife had never really been competent enough to take care of him as a husband. She was more occupied with her health problems than his needs. Although his physical needs were well taken care of by village brothels however, Amina’s presence in the house highly flamed his need for an heir. A mother of four, Amina displayed all the qualities of a complete woman and he respected her even more when she refused to his advances. He found a dedicated wife in her saving herself for a man who lived miles away with no certainty of coming back soon.
For months Amina resisted all the advances Farruk made towards her but there was no slightest decline from his side. Each time he would come up with something new to woo her. Amina knew very well that till her husband returned she had to bear with this man yet she held herself up by all means. Nevertheless Farruk’s persuasion time and again did slightly mould her inside. She could see how well he was taking care of her children in spite of her refusal. Her sons were now going to school and Farruk was also looking for a suitable match for her elder daughter. As a man he was fulfilling all the duties which Shamsuddin should have done as a father. But he had never been around to even look after their well being. Moreover, financially too Farruk was much well off than Shamsuddin. Then one day she heard rumors of Shamsuddin’s affair with a Hindu woman. One of Jamal’s friends saw the two together and spread the word back in the village. The news somehow reached Amina’s ears. She couldn’t believe it initially but when for months there was still no trace of Shamsuddin’s return his betrayal ignited hatred in her. She could never think of forgiving him in her lifetime. Her hatred for Shamsuddin lessened the gap between herself and Farruk. Meanwhile the untimely demise of her sick sister-in-law persuaded Amina to take the last plunge and she readily accepted Farruk’s proposal.
Farruk had promised to take care of her and her children forever provided she quits Shamsuddin. Amina never looked back and Farruk kept his words. Shortly he married off Amina’s elder daughter too and took good care of her children’s education and upbringing. The children already had high regards for Farruk. There was nothing more Amina could ask for and she gave herself in to him.
Standing by the gate Shamsuddin finally realize that he had lost Amina forever. The look in her eyes said it all and the bulge of her womb the evidence of her betrayal. Hatred and anger gripped him within and he came charging towards her. He was almost ready to strike his fist on her face when Farruk came in between them.
“Dare you touch her again I shall break your arms,” said Farruk firmly and shoved him off the way.
“You have no right to talk in between,” shouted Shamsuddin. “Get out of my way or else I ….” Amina cut short his words.
“Why did you come back now?” she demanded. “You have lost your space in our lives. We don’t want to see you again. Go away!” she cried.
Shamsuddin could not believe what he just heard. His Amina was asking him to go away. “Amina I am your husband! What are you saying?” he pleaded.
“Now you remember that? Where were you when we needed you? Making money and enjoying. Did it ever occur to you how much we needed you here?” she cried.
” There is no point in standing here. She has made her choice, Shamsuddin,” said Farruk. “Two years is a really long time. You have nothing left here. So go away! ”
Shamsuddin looked at Amina standing behind. She stood with her chin up yet her eyes were moist and lips tight. He got his answer. She indeed had made the choice but he wanted to hear from her.
“Amina! You couldn’t mean it?” he asked in a trembling voice.
She did not answer him but turned back and walked away.

Shamsuddin could not take it anymore. His ego was badly bruised and he wanted to teach her a lesson. He yelled and ran after her.
“You will not live anymore.” He grabbed her neck and pulled her out of the house. Amina shrieked and Farruk hurled at him to rescue her. The men fought till Shamsuddin was thrown out of the house and the door shut on his face.
In one stroke his life went upside down. His wife had abandoned him. He wept bitterly sitting on the road outside the house but none of the villagers came to help though most of them had gathered around the house to watch the show. He was hurt more by his male ego then Amina’s adultery. Before leaving he gave a last shot towards the door that still was shut but nobody responded. He moved on.
Later while having tea at the village shop he learnt that the villagers thought of Farruk as a very good man who had the guts to take the responsibility of a distressed woman whose husband had abandoned her for a Hindu woman. After his wife’s demise Farruk had married her. Shamsuddin wondered if his son’s still wanted him.
He retraced his path back to the house. He was sure his eldest son would understand and forgive him but it did not happen. In fact his son held him responsible for all the miseries they had to face in life. He held his father responsible for the loss of their home and grandmother. Shamsuddin was heartbroken when his son said Farruk was their Abba now.



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