Drama Fiction Inspirational

Rohini was busy in her work. In these few months, she had earned a good name in her circle of colleagues. The hotel owner had set up this Indian restaurant with the fond hope of catering to the taste buds of locals who had shown interest in trying different dishes. This was mainly due to the popular Television show on Super Chefs. Even ‘Junior Chef’ was an acclaimed programme on TV Channels. Indian dishes hitherto not known to the local Americans had become very popular. Small girls and boys also knew the names of regular Indian dishes like upma, dosa, chaat, idli etc. and how they were prepared.

The owner Bheemsena had named his hotel as Bheema Bhavan. Almost forty people were employed there in different levels, right from cleaning to cashier. Being the owner Bheemsena was required to take rounds of supervision. He was seen sometimes at the pantry sometime in the kitchen, at times in the dining hall and even in the washrooms. He was very particular about cleanliness and hygiene. In one such rounds, he was at the kitchen keenly watching what was being cooked. He stopped at Rohini and asked what was she brewing. She said that it was Rasam, a popular soup item of South India. She readily handed over a glass of Rasam to him. He relished it and appreciated, so peppy and so tangy. He openly acclaimed and complimented.

“Wait and see the response of our customers. If they enjoy and this rasam is well received, then make it a daily offer in our restaurant. Let it become a brand item in our menu cards.”

When Bheemsena came and stopped by her side, she was quite apprehensive, so to say nervous also. She expected him to question her absence for few days at a stretch. She was possessed with one or the other problem, each one threatening life. It was said easily not to lose will power. ‘Just keep saying -- Struggle Ahead March on.’ But reality was far different.

She was in such an unprecedented situation that to come and attend to her work was not possible at all. An array of attacks on her flimsy thread of life kept blowing. If it was physical attack, it would be different. Those idiotic troubles of physical attacks too --- she had had them umpteen times earlier from her very husband. Those days were different. She had also thought of him that better it was he deserted her abruptly and ran away. In a way, ‘Good riddance’! But look at the irony! The day she landed in America it was he who came to receive her. Those problems she somehow overcame. But the problems she faced presently in these days were shaking her very strength of mental will power and faith to overcome struggles. Even the flashback of those events, was shaking her. No direction, no clue on what to do next… She was totally blank. She was losing her grits. How she could overcome all of them seemed nothing less than a miracle. She simply lifted her hands towards sky and thanked God. She strongly believed He would lead her in the right path and show her how to proceed.

It all happened one day when her son called her.

Praveen called her one day. Rohini was anxious to know about Susan, her co-wife that is her husband’s second wife. But instead of any news on Susan, she heard her daughter, Sherly crying aloud on the phone. “Amma come home urgently. Sherly is unstoppable. Aunty also not yet come home. She was not picking her phone. It seems to be on silent mode. And….” He hesitated and then added, “I am also hungry.” She rushed to the spot to put the two children to comfort. Later on, it turned out that Susan – her co-wife, had eloped with a man from her karate class. She was more bothered about her personal comforts. Not even caring for her own baby Sherlie.

In such a situation, how could Rohini leave her son Praveen and the tender baby Sherlie abruptly then and there and go for work? There was absolutely no chance for her to leave them and rush for job. To add fuel to fire, the houseowner came and stuck a notice on the door and warned her that if rent was not received within ten days, he was there to throw them out. Literally! No matter if they happened to be on roads.

She had to be away on leave from her work from now on, till she could make an alternate arrangement for Sherlie and Praveen. The place where she was working did not permit family members to stay with the her. Praveen and Sherlie could not be taken there. Otherwise also, how could she attend to her work when the baby was always on her hip and shoulders. At this juncture, expecting Susan to come back from her new found heaven and honeymoon was utter foolishness. Though houseowner had warned her to vacate, it was divine grace that for next ten days a roof above head was assured. After that? God only knows! She prayed to God to show her some way-out.

Just looking back, it was easy and cosy to chew the cud and cherish the memories of how she crossed those dreadful days. What else could she say! It was nothing other than sheer divine grace from above.

The funniest thing was that it came in the form of her estranged husband --- to be precise, the deserted husband. The least that could be thought of in any wild dreams. She had almost forgotten him. Why forgotten! Simply ruled out. He was sent to jail for seeking illegal immigration. A series of events followed immediately after his imprisonment – like, Susan had to seek job for which she had equip herself with skills of self-defence like Karate, and then, she took an easy route for her cosy life by just taking a new partner. In her wild madness and selfishness, she ignored her own baby.

With all this mad-mad escapism, Rohini got stranded with two innocent children --- her son Praveen and Susan’s daughter Sherlie. Rohini had no choice than to adopt the baby as her step-daughter. This very baby posed a big problem to her. She had no-where to go. She could not go for work. That was sure to result in loss of pay. Already she was running short of Vitamin M. Now added burden of additional expenses. All avenues of income got choked, but more and more strokes of expenditures were flung on her. How was she going to meet them? That was the biggest issue to be tackled. God alone had to save her.

One fine morning, the door-bell rang. There stood her estranged cum deserted husband. She was wonder struck. For a minute she thought, ‘did he run away from jail and come here’. If the police came searching for him what should be her stand? Would she be questioned and screwed for hiding a criminal? She instead of entertaining too many ifs-and-butts, straight away questioned him about his release from jail. He said he was out on bail. His lawyer arranged for bail on the plea that the agent who was arranging for immigration was solely responsible for the crime and not his clients who trusted the agency. Hence, he was out of jail. He was eager to know about Susan and her whereabouts. Rohini had to narrate the whole lot of Ramayana. Cutting the long story short, she just added that

“Like husband so is the wife… both of you are made for each other. You deserted your first wife and now it is her turn. She ditched you and took to another. So, take it easy and carry on. What you do to others comes around, you see! In your case, it is rather too soon.”

She reminded him about the rental dues and warning from the houseowner. She then handed over the baby to him. She sent Praveen to school and she herself rushed to the restaurant for her work. A long absence from her place of work would otherwise be a reason for her to be thrown out of job. She just could not afford to lose her job. Luckily for her, the boss did not notice her absence, nor questioned her about absconding. He was busy with his outdoor work. Also, thanks to her colleagues who made up her loss and completed her part of cooking also.

Today in his rounds he stopped at her work-spot and as a matter of routine inspection asked her about her recipe. She often thanked God and now also did the same. The rasam he tasted, appealed to his taste buds. He was happy and she was complemented.

The big mountain of woes which befell on her, got melted away in those few words of compliments.

She is back to her normal self. She whistled away her blues and boldly uttered, Struggled Ahead. March on. March on.

She is ready both physically and mentally for taking up whatever life has to offer. Be it wonders or worries.

February 05, 2021 19:02

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