5

Lalbihari choked with emotion and struggled to get the words out.

At the moment when Lalbihari was standing outside his sister-in-law's room, Shrikanth came there with his eyes flashing in anger. When he saw Lalbihari he turned away his eyes in aversion as though he wished to avoid even the latter's shadow.

Although Anandi had complained to Shrikanth about Lalbihari, she now regretted doing so. Hers was a compassionate nature. She had not realized that matters would come to such a head. Anandi was annoyed at her husband; why did he have to get so angry? She also felt apprehensive that if Shrikanth asked her to accompany him to Allahabad, she might not be able to cope with the change. Such was the state of Anandi's mind when she found Lalbihari standing outside her door and asking for forgiveness. When she heard his plea, the last traces of her anger also thawed. She began to weep. Tears are the most effective cleanser of dirt in the mind!

"Lala is standing outside and weeping," Anandi told Shrikanth.

Shrikanth: What can I do?

Anandi: Call him inside. May my tongue burn! This strife is all owing to me!

Shrikanth: I won't call him.

Anandi: You will regret later; he is feeling very remorseful, and might indeed go away.

Shrikanth did not move. Just then Lalbihari spoke from outside, "Bhabhi, I offer my respects to brother. He doesn't wish to see my face, so I won't come before him."

Lalbihari started walking away. Anandi came out of her room and caught hold of his hand. Lalbihari looked at her with tearful eyes and said, "Let me go."

Anandi: Where are you going?

Lalbihari: Some place where no one will be able to see my face.

Anandi: Do you think I will let you go?

Lalbihari: I am not worthy enough to live with you all.

Anandi: Swear by my name you will not take another step forward.

Lalbihari: I will never enter this house as long as brother harbours ill-feelings towards me.

Anandi: I swear by god's name that I don't bear the slightest grudge against you.

This exchange of words caused Shrikanth's heart to melt. He stepped outside and embraced Lalbihari. Both brothers sobbed without restraint. In between the sobs, Lalbihari snivelled and said, "Brother, never again say you don't wish to see my face. You may inflict any punishment on me and I will bear them without a murmur; but this is unbearable."

Shrikanth's voice trembled as he spoke, "Lallu! Forget that such a thing ever occurred. If god wishes, there would be no recurrence of such matters."

Benimadhav was returning home from outside; he was overjoyed to see the two brothers embracing each other. He said at once, "Daughters from great houses are like this; they can set matters right even in the most difficult situations."

Whosoever in the village heard about the incident, was full of praise for Anandi. They too commended Anandi's magnanimity in the following words: Daughters from great houses are like this!

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