The silence out side was broken by Chauthu’s inglorious exit from the scene. His new camel skin shoes made sharp creaky noise. Sheepishly he must have bowed his head and carefully climbed down the narrow, darkened, and worn out winding stairs. Such occasional insults would not change him a bit in his crafty maneuvers and would surely try to hit back and evict Indra from his cheap, centrally located room, who has powerful friends in Prerna and Ganga Bai. Chauthu was indeed fighting a battle he will perhaps never win. Nevertheless, there was other more compelling reason-he didn’t like Indra talking so frequently with Shanno, his wife and daughter of the richest man of his village. Shanno ignored his objections with contempt and continued to be friendly with Indra. It was a rumor that she had been hurriedly married off to Chauthu, to put an end to the troubles created by her. She was prone to vanish from home at night with her various paramours. Many village elders have made their disapproval known to her father, rather meekly due to his stature and money. Her troubled father had to find a suitable match fast before she could bring further infamy and damage to the fragile family pride. The tedious job entrusted to a reliable barber Naththu, famed for fast results. He quickly produced a befitting match, a poor but promising prospective groom for a rich man's wayward daughter. Greedy Chouthu and his foresighted, deaf mother were too happy to overlook her past for a sizable dowry of cash, house hold goods and a motorcycle along with a well stocked oil shop in Jaipur. Shanno was excited to live the in the famed Pick City.
‘He never slept so late.’ Ganga Bai’s concerned voice assured Indra further. He continued to brush silently and listened carefully.
‘He is up and brushing teeth.’ It was Prerna’s kid brother.
‘Pintoo…. too bad,… you should never peep in any one’s room.’ She snapped at her mischievous little brother. Whose investigating eyes must have found an uncovered hole or a crack in aged wooden door?
‘That’s bad Beta, we all are so worried and you didn’t say a thing to assure us, that you are up and all right.
‘Thank you- auntie. I am all right. Let me have a bath please. And Pintoo, you can come after half an hour, OK! I have a surprise gift for you.’
The message to Prerna was communicated.
‘What’s it? Tell now? …. Is it a comic book or a chocolate bar?’ Pintoo was eager.
‘Oh now come on. He said half an hour. Didn’t he? Come on now, complete your homework first.’ Prerna was tough with her naughty young brother.
‘No. No. No. I want that chocolate now.’ Pintoo’s protesting voices and tantrums trailed off. She must have dragged him upstairs. He might have made usual veiled threats of exposing her gory secrets. Nevertheless, Prerna surely knew how to deal with her mischievous young sibling. He was the sixth and latest offspring of her parents, who went on producing five daughters, every time desperately expecting a male child, the heir and lighter of their funeral pyres, assuring their place in heaven.