Bhargavi was no longer young. She blushed with a seasoned beauty and dignity, lent by youth and middle age together. That exactly was the constant source of anxiety for Krishnanasari.
Her guts and the mien of a war-horse! At times he felt proud that she was his wife.
But how can a man love or trust a woman who never belonged to him solely? After her work at the factory, she went for union activities, ignoring; even her children. She was concerned not merely about her own life; the life of the workers was equally important for her.
He felt embarrassed that she had detected the nakedness and horridness of his inner self. But was it not the obligation of a wife to cater to the needs o her husband, however deeply involved she is in other activities? Who else was there to abate his wild hunger?
When Bhargavi had an attack of viral fever, Krishnanasari took her to a nearby doctor. The doctor made enquiries and carefully examined her feverish body.
“Excessive work, overexposure to sunlight and lack of food – all thes have exhausted you. It is’dangerous if you continue like this. You need rest fo at least two weeks.” Parting her eyelids, the doctor told her, “You are anemic, Take medicines regularly. But what is most important is rest.”
Gently supporting her shoulders, Krishnanasari led her home.
She was fed on the hot gruel prepared by their daughter.
Bhargavi’s colleagues came to see her. In fact, it was in front of them Bhargavi had fallen unconscious.
“You should be careful. Our Kanaran’s daughter had a fever for five continuous days. Now she is hospitalized. They suspect it to be typhoid,” said her young colleague Venu, sitting by her bedside.
“Doctor said rest is enough —” Bhargavi managed to whisper with her dry, but still flushed lips. “Don’t bother about the union activities. Take rest. Just tell us what to do —” Kumaran’s voice faltered, seeing the pale and tired Bhargavi.
Tears crystallized in Bhargavi’s dark eyes. She was never lucky to have the pleasant experience of being pacified. With a pale smile, she doused the blazing pain within.
The next day when Bhargavi’s fever came down, Krishnanasari’s love for his wife was aroused.
“Oh! Stop it. Please go to work at least today.” Bhargavi sat up in the
“I will go for work tomorrow. How can I go leaving you like this?” He tried to overpower her with his love.
“I will shout.” Bhargavi staggered as she rose up from the bed.
“I know why you want to send me away. Then your union leaders can freely enter the house. All of them are your —”
“What! What did you say?” Bhargavi lying weak on her bed like a tender blade of grass snorted out like a wild bull.
Their twelve-year-old daughter sitting alone in the courtyard lost in a world of reverie rushed towards her mother and held on to her sari. “Mother, please don’t begin another quarrel. You are sick”
Tears welled up in Bhargavi’s eyes. “No. Go out and play with Unni. I n’t fight today. Your father will understand me only when I am no more.”
No experience is unbearable at the peak of helplessness.
“I have every evidence about your illicit affairs which I can prove in any court. I know you have a fascination for unmarried men.”
“I know you are scared when men of mettle talk to me. That is why you have like this.”
Bhargavi gulped some water down her bitter throat.
People who talk frankly, people who are sympathetic towards fellow beings— all are guilty in his eyes.
“It is the factory that feeds me and my family. Your earnings alone have never been enough to make both ends meet. At the factory, I have to take up union activities and deal with party workers. If you think that is liaison —”
“Don’t make me say anything. You know the other day what your friend said about you? Don’t make me explain everything. You’ll feel deeply ashamed if you hear what the people say about you.”
A caustic smile spread across Bhargavi’s lips.
“I work hard to make a living. So far I have never gone astray. Nor will I in future. You know that well. People also know that. Only you will say such filthy things about me. You make all these accusations in front of our innocent children. Will they have any respect for their mother when they grow up?”
“Let them also hear: Let your children also know all the stories about you.”
Bhargavi spat out the bitter fluid that filled her mouth. She wiped her face, combed her hair and put on an unsoiled dress.
Bhargavi thought: Who is my paramour? This man who searches for stranger’s fingerprints on my body — is he my friend or my foe? I have no one except my own self. If I get out now, I can enter the second shift.
After telling her daughter, Bhargavi walked into the burning heat of the road and sighed: “How cold is the sun today!”
With unfaltering steps, she went out into the blazing glory of the sun.
Translated from Malayalam by Supriya M.
Ms K. P. Sudheera was born at Kozhikode in Kerala and her first collection of stories ‘Akasacharikal’ won the Lalithambika Antharjanam award. She won the Mathrubhoomi Grihalakshmi award, Dala award from Dubai for stories and poems and Kesari award in the year 1999. Her short story collections include Akasacharikal, Snehasparsangal and Cholamarangalillatha vazhi. Her other collections are Snehathinte Mughangal and Mahakavi lqbal-JeevasparsangaludeKathalum Karuthalum. `Liaisbn’ presents the predicament of a wife caught in a stifling marriage. Krishnan Asari feels threatened when Bhargavi refuses to fall into the traditional typecast of a wife. When his admonitions fail, he casts aspersions on her character, but the allegation does not debilitate her. Rather it gives her the courage to face the challenges of life herself. At this juncture, she attains that goal of empowerment, but at the cost of her family, which she has struggled all along to keep intact. Is this compromise inevitable in an ambitious woman’s life, Sudheera raises the rhetorical question.