The following year, Uma turned nine. One day, the shehnai — an oboe-like instrument, which is usually played during ceremonies — began to be played in their house since morning. It was Uma's wedding day. The groom's name was Pyarimohan; he was Gobindolal's fellow-writer. Although he was young and somewhat educated, Pyarimohan was indifferent to modernism; this was why people in the neighbourhood liked him. Gobindolal tried to emulate him but was not very successful.

Uma, draped in a Benarasi sari and with a veil covering her little face, went away to her in-law's house, shedding copious tears along the way. Her mother's last piece of advice to her was: "Child, always do as your mother-in-law says. Do all the housework with care; do not spend your time reading and writing."

Gobindolal advised, "Be careful, do not scratch on the walls. They will not tolerate it. And, remember, don't ever scribble anything over Pyarimohan's articles."

The little girl's heart beat fast. She realized that no one at the place where she was going would forgive her follies. She would have to learn, after suffering much humiliation, what her new family regarded as wrongdoing, a sin, or a mistake.

Musicians played the shehnai that morning as well. It is doubtful whether any person among the throng of guests understood the great turmoil that the little girl — draped in a Benarasi sari, with a veil over her head, and covered in ornaments — was experiencing in her heart.

Joshi went with Uma; she would stay with Uma for a few days and return after the little girl was comfortably settled in her in-law's house.

Warm-hearted Joshi, after much thought, carried Uma's notebook along with her. The notebook was a piece of Uma's parental home. It was a sweet memento that would remind Uma about her short-lived stay in the house of her birth. It was a brief history, written in unsteady hands and clumsy ill-formed letters, of her mother and father's affection. Because of the notebook, the little girl would somewhat get to relish the freedom of childhood even as she went about discharging her duties as a wife, a role imposed on her prematurely.

For a few days, after arriving at her in-law's house, Uma did not write anything; she did not find the time for it. Some days later, it was time for Joshi to return home.

Joshi went away. That afternoon, Uma bolted the bedroom door, removed her notebook from the tin trunk, and, sobbing all the while, wrote, "Joshi has gone home; I also want to go to Ma."

These days, Uma neither found time to copy passages from textbooks nor did she feel inclined to do so. So, there were no lengthy interruptions between her original brief compositions. Immediately after the above-mentioned piece of prose, there was written: "If Dada takes me home, I will never spoil his writings."

Gossip has it that Uma's father often tried to urge the in-laws to send Uma on short visits to her parental home. But Gobindolal always backed Pyarimohan in opposing and quashing these efforts.

Gobindolal argued that it was now time for Uma to learn her duties towards her husband. If she were permitted to visit her parental home now, it would distract her from learning. He had written an engaging article, full of advice but cloaked in sarcasm, on this subject. The article so impressed the readers who shared his views that they could not but accept its truthfulness.

Uma got to hear about this from the others, and she wrote in her notebook: "Dada, I fall at your feet and beg you to take me to your house just once. I promise I will never annoy you ever again."

One day, Uma, after closing the door, was writing something trivial in her notebook. Tilakmanjari, her sister-in-law, felt very curious; she thought, "I must see what Boudidi (elder brother's wife) does after bolting the door from inside." She peeped through the keyhole and was very surprised to see Uma writing away.

Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning, had never made such a secretive appearance in the women's quarters of their house ever before!

Tilakmanjari's younger sister, Kanakmanjari, also came and peeped through the keyhole. Anangamanjari, the youngest sister, stood on her toes and, with great difficulty, discovered the mystery behind the closed door.

Uma was busy writing but was suddenly interrupted by the sound of familiar giggling voices outside the door. She realized what the matter was. She immediately put the notebook away into her tin trunk, and climbing on the bed, hid her face under the blanket in fear and shame.

When Pyarimohan learned about this incident, he was worried; a wife, who learned to read and write, would surely acquire novels and storybooks and neglect her domestic duties.

This concern apart, he had also developed a subtle theory after giving the subject much thought. According to his hypothesis, the pure strength of matrimony manifests when there is a union of male and female abilities. But education subdues the feminism in a woman and makes her behave like a male. Under such a situation, there exist only male characteristics, which clash with each other and doom the marriage, and the woman is widowed. No one had challenged the theory to date.

Coming home that evening, Pyarimohan scolded Uma a great deal. He even poked fun at her by saying, "We have to buy a turban; the wife wants to go to the office wearing a pen behind her ear."

Uma could not understand the meaning of the innuendo. She had never read Pyarimohan's articles and, so, had not developed a sense of humour. But she felt herself shrinking in shame and wished that the earth would part and swallow her up.


Some useful links for
your career:

  • 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