Translation: The war continues…

English translation of Hindi story Jung Zari Hai
Writer: Devi Nangrani
Translator: Kavita Relwani

Devi Nangrani
The summon to free the prisoner had been issued.
The prisoner was still confined in the prison walls of his thoughts. Having stayed in the same prison cell for nine long years,he somehow considered  it as his own home. That place was as stable as it was unsteady.
‘O Prisoner, there are commands for you.’
‘What Commands ?’ the prisoner wanted to know without even looking beyond the prison bars to the other side where the guard was standing.
‘For your release!’
“Why?  Have I completed my sentence?” The prisoner, in a state of awfulness set his wide open eyes on the guard’s face trying to read the reaction.
“No, the country is now free”.
Almost screaming at the top of his lungs, the prisoner kept repeating….’the country is free, finally the country has attained freedom.’  And pacing within the confined wall of his cell, he started to march, chant and clap his hands in joy.
But of course, with freedom of the country he was to be free,. It is for this freedom that they had fought:  not one, not two, thousands, millions, gazillion of patriots. It is the outcome of their sacrifices, their valor and their ceaseless efforts that have been rewarded with this glorious news- The freedom of his country and his own freedom!
“To claim your belongings, you must report to the office in two hours and then you are free to go where you desire. ".
o
Kavita Relwani
Passing through the narrow memory lane of the past, he walked  to the left of the main road where the row houses  began….he gazed at House No. 11. The house was not large, rather fairly small. One room, a multipurpose raised platform  for cooking, dining, an open backyard which had a sink with drainage outlet,  which was used to wash doing dishes, bathing, washing clothes. Just like the house, the family too was  very small,  His wife Saraswati, and his three year old son, Rahul.
Supporting the revolutionary and patriotic bend of mind, kamalkant’s wife Saraswati, also served as a dutiful wife and companion. Working towards the prime objective of this nation, the patriotic group primarily wanted to eliminate and eradicate the disloyal and negative elements that corrupted the nation,  by bringing awareness in the people about the  importance of freedom.  Kamalkant’s  group had whole heartedly dedicated their life to the noble cause of freedom of the Nation.  He being the primary supporter, his wife Saraswati too would give her services to support the cause. She would sometimes serve the people of the mission by  cooking food for them , washing  clothes,  and  delivering the required needs  within the vicinity of her village. The most important cause and mission of their lives was to free the nation!
o
Today he would be released! A free citizen of a free nation, could go wherever he wished ! But where would he go? Nine years is truly a long span. When he was captured with other revolutionaries, he was at home. Reflecting back he recalls the door bell ringing, the guard clasping both his hands in handcuffs and literally dragged him towards the van.  Rahul, only three years old, could only stretch out his tiny hands and drag his feet towards him. The iron shackles were not much flexible to let him embrace his child? Kamalkant could neither love, embrace or caress his little one.  A prisoner of spoken and unspoken words, of hope and despair, he could only see question in Sarsawati’s eyes hat demanded an answer.
Just a day before his custody, his wife Saraswati had asked him –“So when we attain freedom, will we not have any problem and obstacles?  Will our new leaders be our saviors and address our needs? Will we have clothes, food, medicine  and education opportunities for our children?”
“Yes, yes….then you will have more than you have ever imagined! All the unemployed will have work, the poor will be offered better living options based on their conditions and the desires. Of the needy shall be fulfilled, sick will have free treatment and medication, free education and a faculty body will serve people to resolve their issues. In this free nation, every free person would  be happy”.
“It’s hard to believe that this is a possibility., it appears like a dream!” he recalled his wife’s words.
“To fulfill our dreams we are putting efforts and moving forward. Retracing backwards will not help us reach our destination.”  was the thundering message that kamalkant conveyed to her.
And it was at this very moment the doorbell rang, handcuffs strapped around his wrists , and other members of the group were dragged forcefully as merciless hunter would drag his victims. This is how they reached behind the bars, to seek freedom.
Saraswati was trying to bridge the gap between her dreams and the stark reality. The tender stems of hope were being dashed by the approaching storms. And at that time, no alternate words or solution did come to her mind. She made  a plea to the guard –“please take me as a prisoner along with him, I will spend the rest of my life with him. Left alone here, I won’t be able to live in this situation.”.
“You need not worry so much about this situation. Who will let you be alone is a situation ? There are so many guards in the vicinity; one or the other will come to your rescue, that I can promise. Your husband is a terrorist, he has to be imprisoned… to stay behind bars… you, you…”.
“Shame on you … I am repulsed by you. I am disgusted at your mean behavior and thinking. you call yourself as guardians  of the people of  this nation, but you sound like enemies, traitors  of this nation. My chastity is my strength; my husband is my savior…. And you are but mere dogs at the mercy of the government”.
Saraswati was crying irresistabily . She kept her eyes pinned on kamalkant till he was out of sight. She now seemed angered – vengeful. All her dreams that she cherished, were shattered . what kind of a nation it would be where the crafty and cunning people of nation are eager to please the foreigners. They defame and condemn their own nation, cross all limits and ruin it’s honor and prestige.
Many such questions pouring to fill the void created in her by Kamalkant’s departure. Trying to get over the stock of the events that had occurred, she was muttering to herself, may be to fill the silence that embraced her. ‘Free India… No rich, no poor! Everyone’s needs will be fulfilled, free healthcare, free education and free justice …!’
But the coin of time turned on the other side. All she possessed, had been snatched away from her. She felt that shackles were binding her: shackles of mendicancy, of pauperdom, of poverty, of hunger, of lust, of breadths….! She was suffocating under the shackles that were being forced upon her.
Looking at her bare wrists , she  saw the hidden iron shackles instead of the bangles that seemed to adorn a new bride. She bit her lower lip so hard that it nearly bleeded.
And the clock of time kept rotating  on… very soon in two years time, she was no more the Sarawati, rather a dishonorable, raffish, crazy drifter, That is what people called her. Her only child had been seized by the police, as she was accused of not being able to take care of the child.
o
On the other hand, Kamalkant could not even recollect his own name. His only identity was prisoner no. 9. Cell no. 9 in the prison was his comfort zone. Pondering  in that quiet atmosphere, he kept thinking of what Saraswati must be forced to face, just trying to keep her honor in this cruel lustful world? Is she  ….? Neither of them were able to communicate with each other, nor send messages, each living without being aware of the other’s well  being.
And today after nine  years, he was free. His hands and feet were free of the shackles; but the interwoven thoughts dragged him into those past memories…taking him towards his home, towards his family…!
Home is where the family is, Rahul must be 12 years by now and Saraswati…? Every time he thought of her, he was filled with hope . Each moment he closed his eyes, he would feel her fragrance filling the breaths. The sound of a little child running towards him refreshed those past memories. This was the moment that he longed to be with them, his own kith.
“I can’t believe that this is even possible, it’s like a dream” recalling the words of this wife.
“Yes, yes a lot more than you can dream of: all the unemployed will be gainfully employed, the poor will have amenities according to their needs, free healthcare, free education and all the riots and disputes easily resolved. Each and every citizen of this nation will be free.” – she received moral support and encouragement  from her husband.
Engrossed in the thoughts he walked towards the lane leading to his home. It all seemed strange and unknown. Neither was he aware of where he was heading nor did he know where he wanted to go. He just wandered aimlessly in the scorching heat of the sun. He stumbled and was about to fall when a stranger passing by came to his rescue. Making him sit under the shade of a tree he said:
“Brother, it appears that you have travelled quite a distance, and are totally exhausted. So drink Water and take rest  before you move forward!” And he went his way. Kamalkant really dozed off under the shade of the tree when a shrieking voice woke him up.
“The fight has begun, it is for our freedom that the fight is going on. Dynamite, gunpowder and bombs are exploding , houses are being raised to the ground, crops burned, people are in panic, dead bodies are all around, people are dying of thirst and hunger. Wake up… someone rescue them. Give them the right to live, provide their basic needs… give relief from grief of slavery.. wake up… arise!”
All startled, Kamalkant sat up. Sleep vanished from his eyes. Stopping a passer-by, he asked him, “Who is this lady?”
“Oh, what can I say. She is a crazy (lunatic) woman. It is said that her husband was mistaken to be a terrorist and was taken in custody, since then she displays insanity periodically. Accidently, if someone tries to help her, she obtruncate the  person with her long nails until he bleeds.”
The lady was breathless and exhausted due to the loud cry of the slogans. She stopped and slowly walking towards Kamalkant gently spoke – “Now the war is over!” with that she had tears streaming ceaselessly from her eyes”.
The lady then raised her head and took a deep sigh of relief, sensing something in the air that the war was finally over!
“Now there will be freedom from the shackles, shackles of food, of lust, of breaths, and  freedom from all those things that suffocate….”. she was heard mumbling.
Looking towards Kamalkant she said – “Will a free nation still have these confines, these shackles?” as though she was remembering something…..the glass bangles had been shattered, the sindoor from her forehead had been erased announcing her as widow, who supported a terrorist group., that she was being disloyal to the country, and many more allegations. She was eyed upon as a dishonorable, raffish, crazy drifter. She spread her empty barren hands in front of Kamalkant.
And Kamalkant raised both his hand and placed them on her  head.  Tears streaming from his eyes washed away every mark of her painful scars  she had beholded. Slowly but firmly with a helpful support of his arms he raised her, made her stand by him, looked deeply in her eyes such that they seemed to be embracing each other. Just then something  unusual happened, like the ravishing change of the weather. That crazy woman started swirling around, merrily clapping. With the resounding of nature’s hustle  flowers bloomed, butterflies soared upwards. She sang in rhythm the words - “Now the war is over, the country is free now. No shackles, no bondages bind anyone. In the free nation, all the unemployed will have work, the poor shall be offered amenities based on their conditions and all their needs shall be fulfilled. Sick will receive free treatment and medications, free education and justice will be served to all. In this free nation, every free person will be happy”.
After having paid a hefty price for their new uncherished freedom, two partners walk in rhythm, step by step moving forward… and forward…!


Author: Devi Nangrani, born in Karachi (India then), is an author of many Sindhi, Hindi & English books. Retired as a teacher, she writes poetry, ghazals, stories, articles, reviews, lyrics on the social issues and challenges. A well-travelled scholar of Global Literary Society, she regularly participates in various conferences, seminars and workshops, nationally and internationally and has been honored and awarded in Mumbai, Kerala, Sagar, Delhi, Chenai, New York, New Jersey and Oslo. She is also a proud recipient of the Dr. Amrita Preetam Award and the Meer Ali Meer Puruskaar from Madhya Pradesh Prachar Sabha. For Sindhi, she has been awarded by NCPSL in 2007, and Maharashtra Rajya Sindhi Sahitya Academy in 2019. Her unique work of translation of stories from Sindhi to Hindi is compiled in ten books, which can be now heard on: https://nangranidevi.blogspot.com/                        Contact: dnangrani@gmail.com

Translator: Kavita Relwani, born in 1962, is an accountant by profession, is currently a resident of Chicago. She is also an avid reader, loves to cook, enjoys gardening, music and travel. Now that she has works part-time, has a passion for translating besides writing, and reading. This is the story Jung Zari hai translated from Hindi to English.
Contact: kavita.relwani@gmail.com

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