One Step - A Short Story

 One Step

One Step - A Short Story

                 This story is about a family that lived in a semi-urban village. It was semi-urban as the two gardens that were on the two sides of the village were missing to satisfy the increasing greed and demand of the people. The selfless service of the people had in turned into selfish service. The head of the family was Jatin. Obli was his wife; Mira, Tara and Rakhal were his children. It was a hand to mouth family but they were happy.

            Jatin was a mason. Obli was a farm-labourer. Mira had completed her primary school education and then stopped. Tara and Rakhal were reading in the village primary School. The name of their village was Triptipur, which was totally opposite to the condition of the people. No one was satisfied in the village like a traditional village. Like a traditional village, it practised patriarchy. This was also the main reason of their poverty. Every family wanted a male child. The elders of the family had the predominant role here. So, till a male child was born, they continued to take a child.  An NGO, namely Respect Nature, worked tirelessly to pursuade the families to take only two children whether male or female. Its motto was "Two Children Bring Progression". But the patriarchical mentality of the villagers was so ingrained that no result was achieved by the NGO. The volunteers were so dedicated and optimistic that they continued their work.
           In course of time, the two daughters of Jatin- Mira and Tara were married and they went to different villages. Rakhal also completed 16 years. It was the marriage age for boys in the village. After doing primary education he became a farm-labourer like his mother. Marriage proposals used to come. At last, his parents selected Prachi, a daughter of a farm-owner, for Rakhal. Everything was set. One bigha land and Rs. 15000/- were fixed as dowry. The NGO "Respect Nature" somehow got its news. Its volunteers met Rakhal and Prachi and convinced them to take only two children, irrespective of the gender,for their future happiness.

            The marriage was held observing traditional rituals. In one ritual, the bride was to ask the groom who would keep their tradition moving and the groom was to answer "their son". That irked Rakhal and Prachi, yet they kept mum. They decided to take only two children, no matter whether male or female. After one year, a girl child was born baby next time at the demand of elders like going to see the Mandir eating sacred offering given by local ojas even keeping a room hanging at the door and Prachi not to observe the saying all these superstars but they could not go again a girl child was born. Except Rakhal and Prachi, everyone looked sad. Rakhal's parents, even his in-law parents, now demanded baby boy next time. Rakhal and Prachi had to observe various superstitious practices at the demand of elders like, worshipping cows, every Monday going to the Shiva temple, eating sacred offerings given by the local ojhas, keeping a broom hanging at the door etc. Those became unbearable to Rakhal and Prachi. They consulted the NGO. The volunteers advised them not to observe them, saying all these superstitions, but Rakhal and Prachi could not go against their elders.

             Next year, again a girl child was born to them. Now as if a mountain had fallen on the heads of the elders. The elders bluntly told Rakhal that they had to try again for a baby boy, but Rakhal replied, "No more, it's enough". But to break a tradition was not so easy. All the villagers went against them. They excommunicated Rakhal's family. No one invited the Rakhals, no one came to their house when invited, even his own parents and in-laws stopped talking to them. That used to pain Rakhal and Prachi. One day Rakhal's father got very ill. He called for help but no one came. The NGO volunteers knowing that came to the rescue. Days passed. One day while lying on the bed, Rakhal asked Prachi, " Can we withhold all difficulties?" Prachi kept mum.

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One Step - A Short Story


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