Langdi is how everyone knew Sitaram’s eldest daughter-in-law. It was only through the voter list that I found that she had a good name as well – Lalita.
So, was Lalita handicapped forever?
No! Ma says that she was quite healthy when she came for the first time after marriage. Yes, she would limp in the right leg. It was after that miscarriage. She didn’t leave the bed for a long time. Because of a certain disease, her legs became joined and slowly they became completely useless.
Besides there was the competition from her devrani, Kusum.
“Why shall I do the chores when my husband is earning”, she would say.
Did her husband love her?
Nah… it was he who had her killed.
Kusum had a cousin. Her parents were searching for a match and Kusum got a chance to get even with Lalita.
Lalita’s husband had plans of opening a small shop in the market. There was not much to be expected from his in-laws. Lalita grew up in her uncle’s home and after marriage they didn’t ever come to see her.
Lalita’s condition had deteriorated a lot by then. Her legs had become joined from the thighs. Her back had curved in an abnormal manner. She would sleep for hours in that same curved position unless someone had mercy on her and turned her to the other side. The skin had developed rashes because of constant contact with the bed.
For the first few months, Krishna used to visit her once or twice in a day. Slowly the visits reduced. Lalita was shifted to a small and crampy unused kitchen, close to the urinal. She had to be carried to the urinal. Sometimes, she would shout for hours before anyone came and dragged her to the urinal. Exhausted, she would release herself in the same room.
“Why didn’t you do anything? You could have called the police”, I told Ma.
“Yes, your father tried. But you don’t know the ways here. Next day, the GM warned your father about not interfering in other people’s matter. See, Sitaram was the GM’s personal driver.”
Kusum shared the topic of Krishna’s remarriage with her mother-in-law, a very shrewd woman. The big dowry was what she had her eyes on. Krishna needed money for the shop and he had not much bonding left with Lalita. He quickly gave his consent for the marriage.
But, the second marriage wasn’t possible until Langdi died or agreed for a divorce. Divorce would have been a time consuming process. So death was the only solution.
It was a slow and painful death for Lalita. The neighbours would silently pray for the death of the women. Life held little good for her.
For days, she wasn’t given anything to eat or drink. She would shout from that kitchen. But no one was there to listen to her.
Everyday, someone would check from the window if Langdi was still alive. But as if her body had finally revolted against the in-laws. Her body kept fighting with the small amount of food that was served to her after 4-5 days. This went on for months.
And death came. Finally…
It was more than eight in the morning and not even a sound was heard from the kitchen.
“Isn’t she hungry today”, Kusum asked.
“May be she is dead”, her mother-in-law said with a question on her face.
The realisation suddenly brought an evil smile to their face and they ran for the window.
There she was, lying on her bed, in that same curved position. Sleeping peacefully like an infant in its mother’s womb.
There was no movement.
Kusum picked up a pebble and threw at her. There was still no movement.
It was proved. Langdi Lalita had died at last. The smile turned into a grin and they instantly sent for a sweeper. They also assembled a few women and began hollering. Everyone could see through the crocodile tears.
The funeral was a very plain affair. Her husband had to be present there to ignite the fire. No other family member was present at the funeral. People don’t even know if a shraddha was organised. Krishna didn’t wait for a month to bring the new bahu. Langdi Lalita was quickly forgotten.
Yet another tragic story about yet another girl: