Indian Short Story for Children
A Jingling Bangle from the Dream
by S.A. Qudsi
Translated to English by: Mrs. Prasannakumary Raghavan
Staring at the canopy of darkness, Malooti cried her heart out. The sky beyond the windows too cried with her. Yet her mother, so close to her on the same sleeping mat did not hear it. She slept exhausted, beaten down by a day’s hard labour.
In the early dawn, before her Master and Kochamma (his wife) wake up, she has to be up again to start another hard day. A scornful laughter from the pounding rain, elbowed through the old clothes left outside on the line and forced in to the room through the window.
While crying, Malooti stared at the gap at the corner of the roof. It was through that gap that laborers crammed coconuts and old-end-things into the attic. It was through that gap that beautiful chechi (elder sister) with big eyes and long curly hair ascended and disappeared after showering a smile at her with a wink in her eyes.
Malooti intended to plead with her, not to go. But she was gone already.
Outside, in the patio, frogs chorused their rain-songs in the night. It was from that patio, through that window, that chechi flew in to her room like a colourful wind. She touched Malooti’s tender nose with her finger and called her with overwhelming affection, “Malooti….Malooti”. Malooti too touched her raised nose with the same affection. As chuckles of laughter bubbled through her, she slowly turned around in a circle and danced. Like the hammocks swinging in the festival ground her skirt opened and billowed all around the room. Flowers, flower buds and the butterflies played orchestra to her dancing music.
Suddently chechi turned into a whirling top of rainbow colours. Malooti laughed out of her heart, “hai.. hai.. How nice it is…!”, she exclaimed. In the end chechi came to a stop like a blossomed lotus folding back into its bud. Then she bent over Malu, blew a kiss at her and disappeared through that gap with a wink in her eyes. The tinkles of her anklet too, disappeared with her.
Then Malooti burst into crying.
The snoring of the Master, like a scooter, has subsided now.
Suddenly the room lit up. Kochamma rushed in forcing the door, her eyes weary of a broken sleep. ‘Kalyaani…Kalyani’, slapping her mother’s shoulder, Kochamma shouted. Mother got up, shuffling up her blouse and lunki, ( a designed piece of cloth wrapped around waist) stared at the intruders. She could not sense anything. Master, Baby cheettan, Rama cheechi, grandamma, the entire household was standing there, all shouting, “What is going on ….?’
Malooti was unsure what to tell them. Hence she resorted to weep louder defeating the pounding rain outside.
Then her mother stifled her cry covering her mouth with her hand, as though she had committed an unpardonable offence. ‘Don’t cry….’ she pleaded.
Each time her daughter dreamt, her mother was filled with horror. She thought about her own dreams. So far they had only droned away, imposing heavy burdens on her own troubles. Now Maloo is the third trouble. Now she too has started dreaming like her. She fell deep into the grip of fear. She pleaded with everybody in the room, “ please forgive her… she might have been dreaming..”.
“Phoo…how wonderful it is…”, beetle juice sprang out from grandma’s mouth when she made that ridiculing grunt and she turned away from her mother. Kochamma strode out twisting her head in disgust, followed by the rest; Master, Babychettan and everybody, trailing behind them the piercing smoke from the Masters’s cigarette.
When everybody left the room her mother loosened her hand from her mouth and consoled, “next time, when you dream don’t cry dear..”. A sob chocked at Malooti’s throat. She thought, “in chechi’s company how nice things were”. Now everything has changed. Suddenly she spotted a ribbon flapping out from the gap in the roof. Malooti thought that belonged to her sister.
Almost immediately, she spotted a bangle. It was a jingling bangle, half-hidden under the flap of her matt. The jingling bangle stared at her, with its many pearl eyes held all around. That too belonged to chechi, she assumed. An innocent laughter conquered her weeping. She recollected, when her chechi danced billowing her skirt, she wore plenty such bangles. She crawled forward to get hold of it.
Holding in it her hands, she gently shook it. She hoped her chechi would descend upon hearing the jingling of the bangles. Her mother wanted to get hold of the bangle from her and she reached out for it. But Malooti did not give it to her, and she would never give it away.
*Chechi = Elder sister.
Kochamma – Mistress of a house. Madam.