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Madhavi had thought that the Bagchis would have no dearth of money; however, it surprised her when she realized that the household expenses were met with difficulty. The servants had to account for every paisa spent; often, necessities were avoided to curtail expenditure. One day Madhavi suggested the purchase of a pram for the child. "How can I buy a pram? It will cost 50-60 rupees. From where can I get that much money?" Mrs Bagchi replied in a disappointed voice.

Madhavi: Madam, surely you are jesting!

Mrs Bagchi: I am not telling an untruth. The master has five girls from his first marriage; all of them are studying in an Allahabad school at present. The eldest is around 15-16 years. Half the salary is spent in their maintenance. Then, the girls have to married off; at least 25,000 rupees would be required for the marriage of all the five girls. From where is so much money to come? I am weighed down by these worries; I have no physical illness but these worries have ruined my health.

Madhavi: But, the master must be receiving much in gratification.

Mrs Bagchi: You hag, such money has no value. In fact, it is this gratification which has been the curse of our lives. I don't know how others enjoy such money. But in our case, whenever we receive anything in gratification, we suffer some loss or the other. The loss is double of what we receive. I have cautioned time and again not to accept these gratifications; but my words fall on deaf ears.

With each passing day, Madhavi grew fonder of the child. She could not even think ill of him. Madhavi still felt an intense anger towards Bagchi for the devastation he had wreaked in her life and, on such occasions, her resolve to avenge herself would be rejuvenated. But, evil thoughts did not rule her mind; the wounds were healing. She, now, experienced the pain only when a sore spot was touched. In fact, she had developed sympathetic feelings for the family. "Poor people," she thought to herself, "they will hardly be able to make their two ends meet if they don't accept the gratifications. How will they be able to marry off the girls? The woman is perpetually ill; the man requires a bottle of liqour every day. These people are really unfortunate. A home with five unmarried daughters, where children die in their infancy, where the mother is perpetually ill, and where the father is addicted to alcohol, must indeed be an unfortunate one. I am far better than them".

The rainy season is the worst season for weak children. Often they suffer from cough, sometimes from fever, and sometimes from diarrhoea. Once Madhavi had to return to her own home for a day. The child began to cry and, so, the mother told a servant to cheer the child by taking him outdoors. The servant took the child outside and allowed him to play on the lawns. It had rained earlier, and the grass was still damp. At places there were puddles of water. Splashing water offers the greatest entertainment to any child, and the toddler indulged in this entertainment with relish. The servant squatted at the side gossiping with others. Hours passed, and when the servant finally carried the child indoors his nose had started running. When Madhavi returned late in the evening, she discovered that the baby had caught cold and was coughing. Madhavi was scared when past midnight she heard a wheezing sound from the baby's chest. She awakened her mistress.

The mother woke up in a daze; when she heard the wheezing sound she felt the ground slipping beneath her feet. The mother was familiar with this horrible sound; she had heard it often. "Light the stove," she instructed urgently, "wrap some bran in a cloth; it helps to warm the body with this. I am sick of these servants; one of them had taken the baby out and must have left him in the cold".

The mother and Madhavi sat through the night gently heating the small bundle over the stove and, then, warming the baby's body with it. Somehow the night ended; Mr Bagchi, when informed, hurried to fetch the doctor. Fortunately, following the immediate treatment, the baby got well within three days. But the child had grown so weak that it was distressing to even look at him. If truth be told, it was Madhavi's care and vigilance which had saved the child. The mother would sleep and the father would sleep but there was no sleep in Madhavi's eyes. So crazed was she with worry that Madhavi would forget to take her meals and sat praying to god to make the baby well. This, of course, was the same Madhavi who had established herself in the Bagchi household to take revenge. She had come with the intention of causing harm but was doing good instead; she had come to administer poison but was distributing nectar. The godly spirit can indeed be very strong in a human being!

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  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu