Don’t worry ma, you take father to the hospital. I will transfer money tonight itself’, Sumana assured her.

She picked up her phone and gave a missed call. Work would come in a while.

She made a strong cup of her favorite stress buster – ginger tea. It had been years since she visited home and mother’s call had disturbed her.

Five years ago

Incessant rains had taken away even the dilapidated roof from their heads and ruined their flourishing crops. Fear of penury haunted them. Her heart broke down at the sight of the young ones staring at the empty vessels with blank eyes. She firmed up her mind and accepted her neighbor’s offer of work at the newly opened shopping mall in the city.

A month later, Sumana sent her first salary home. Within a few months her father got the house repaired and set up a small grocery shop. Her brothers resumed school. Nobody went to bed on a hungry stomach anymore.

Two years later her mother sent her a few photographs. ‘There is no financial trouble. You should think of marriage now.’ She wrote.

‘Let me work for some more time, maa. I can think of marriage only when the boys complete their studies and start working.’ She had declined to even consider the proposals.

How could she disregard her reality! 

During the next three years Sumana visited her village only twice. Once when her father had taken ill. Second time when mother called her home to meet a prospective groom.

‘He works in Saudi and earns a lot of money. You would never need to work again.’ Mother said.

‘But the brothers are still not settled, maa. How can I think of only my happiness, my comforts?’ she had protested.

‘We will manage, bitiya. For how long can we take money from you. You have your entire life before you. And what is the harm in meeting him once?’ Maa had insisted.

Sumana was tempted to give in to her mother’s coercion. She was so concerned about the delay in her marriage. May be she’s right. I would settle abroad and forget my past. She made up her mind.

The prospective groom had arrived with his family. He seemed to be a decent person and her parents appeared to be genuinely warm hearted people.

They promised to call back later.

Sumana was jittery. She had managed to keep the truth of her work from her family so far but for how long. And what if they came to know after marriage?

I should talk to maa. Perhaps she would understand my predicament.

She went to her parents’ bedroom.

What if Sumana says yes to this boy? You earn hardly anything. If she gets married and stops sending money we would die.’ Mother rasped at her father.

Sumana quietly returned to the city. She needed money. Phone sex calls were most lucrative.

Her phone rang. ‘Hello…’ she drawled huskily into the phone.

***

Photo By: Boudewijn Huysmans

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This is an entry for #TheLie #Five00-8, a room8 writing event –in 500 words.
Check out the event guidelines here: https://artoonsinn.com/room8/thelie

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