My land for your mother

Face of Indian woman fading into piece of barren land

He comes in the morning to collect garbage from every apartment. He is not our regular guy. Just filling in until the regular guy returns from his village.

That return has been delayed.

“He will come this Sunday,” he told me, carefully picking up a piece of paper that had fallen on the floor and putting it in the bin for recyclable stuff.

Why the delay?

“He had to go to his aunt’s place. Her daughter was killed by her in-laws. So he was held up.”

What! He looked up wondering if I was doubting the reason.

Actually, I was taken aback by his casual tone.

Did she marry recently? Another dowry death, perhaps?

“No, she married some years ago. She had a daughter and a son.”

Then why was she killed?

“Maybe the husband wanted to marry another woman,” he was beginning to get restless. He had 10 other apartments to cover before he rushed for the first of his two other jobs.

Did someone inform the police? Was he arrested?

“No,” he was halfway down the stairs. “The family decided not to go to the police. They asked the in-laws to assign their land to the two children. Then he can marry or whatever. Someone in the family is a school teacher. May lose the job, if the police comes in.”

He was gone. I closed the door slowly.

As I write this, next to me is the newspaper, announcing elections to the parliament. There are photos of leaders and conjectures about who will rule my vast country next. And ad campaigns for international women’s day.

Nothing about two children. Where are they? What are they doing now? Are they playing on that piece of land that  replaced their mother?


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