Tuesday, 25 September 2012


Part four of the new short story by Lakshmi Raj Sharma set in India.


                                                            THE STARCHED WOMAN (Part 4) 

Then I was told that she was the widow of the late Parimal Babu, the factory manager of Darshan Tiles. This information provided me with interest in Darshan Tiles. That very day, I found myself in the New Alipore factory compound trying to discover something about Parimal Babu and his widow. People are generally hesitant to talk about their colleagues to journalists be
cause they can always be blamed for spilling the beans. For days I got no reply from the workers and the executives at the factory. But I was determined that I would continue my effort as I was certain that someday someone would come up and speak to me. Then one day I saw a woman bring in some food for a man who seemed to be her husband. The man was one of the gardeners of the factory compound. He took the food from her and said something to her pointing towards me. The wife looked at me with interest and then came to me. She wanted to tell me something but was not opening up easily. At length she began to speak.
‘We are poor people,’ she said. ‘For a little money we can pass on important information. My son’s school fees have not been paid.’
I knew this was the woman who would help me get my first clues for the big story I was planning. We were soon out of the factory compound and she was telling me everything for a sum of five hundred rupees.
‘Parimal Ghosh was not a good man. He needed women all the time. None of us were safe in his presence. But he had a few that he spent his time with. There is a lady who works here, she sits in that room. Parimal Babu and she had come very close to each other. He would bring costly gifts for her and the two often sat and had their meals meals together. He needed more money than he earned and therefore became more and more corrupt. I once went to his wife some years ago and discovered how unhappy she was. She was much too virtuous for an awful man like him.’
‘What do you know about her?’
‘She had a young son that she lost. Till he was alive she could suffer her husband but after the son was gone she became reckless and killed him’
‘Killed him? Why?’
‘They say she did that in self-defense. It is believed that he had brought this factory woman to his house and wanted his wife out. When she refused to leave her house he picked up a kitchen knife to kill her. But she picked up a metallic vase and hit him on the head and he died.’
‘She was arrested initially but was released after it was proven that she did everything in self-defense.’
‘Why does she walk every evening in that direction?’
‘I don’t know about that.’

I had to find out where she went in the evenings and what she did there. But it was no easy task to get her to speak. She could have been a piece of stone; she was entirely dead to everything around her. But I needed to know things about her and the desire to do that kept me from doing anything else.

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