They were desperate for his return. Her and her sons. Her husband , had gone off saying he had to attend a meeting almost an year ago , and hadn’t returned yet. She was sick with worry . She desperately hoped that nothing would have happened to him , yet ,somehow feared the worst. Was he seriously hurt ? Kidnapped ? Was he even alive? Or worse still , had he gotten sick of her and her children and left them for another woman or another way of life?
She had loved him dearly and had been a good wife. She cooked well , and had always kept the house clean and herself presentable for him. She would take care of the children and made sure that they didn’t get too naughty to bother him. And he had loved them too. In all their 10 years of marriage , she had never had any complaint with him. He was responsible , took good care of her , and loved the kids. True , he might have raised his voice sometimes , when he had a particularly hard day at work , and occasionally slapped her , but those instances were very rare , and she had always told herself that , being a good wife , she should take all of that in her stride.
She prayed everyday for his return. And had hoped desperately that he would. And when after 9 months of hoping and praying he hadn’t returned , she slowly started getting resigned to the fact that , he may , after all not return. It was a strange resignation , the kind that would be replaced by a longing hope again , at a faint glimmer of a chance.
But she couldn’t help crying in the night , when she lay down in her bed , with her children by her side. And the bigger problem was the children , who also cried everyday for their father. He had been very fond of them and they had loved their father. And they cried everyday for him.
One of these nights , the younger one , who was six , was crying more than usual. Someone at school , had taunted him for not knowing where his father was , and this had made him very sad. He had refused to eat that evening , after coming back from school , wouldn’t talk to anyone , and now when his mother asked , for the reason , he began crying. He wouldn’t calm down and was refusing to go to school unless told when his father would return. She didn’t know what to do. And in desperation she told him ,
“You know , how I told you papa had gone to that meeting. Its over finally, and he is coming back in a month’s time”
The little one looked suspicious , “ A month ?? Why would it take papa that long to come from Kolkata”
She didn’t know what to say. Then she added in a lighthearted tone , “ Not Kolkata silly , Papa is in the US , he had to go there . He is coming back.”
“How do you know?”, hopeful yet suspicious.
“You know , Uncle M , told me the other day over phone”, she said.
That did it . The little one was very happy . He looked up to his uncle and besides, uncle M was out of town , so he couldn’t go running to confirm from him. So she was safe for the moment.
The next day , at school , the little one , of course had to boast to his earlier tormenter. He went up to him , puffed his chest and said proudly , “I know where my papa is and he is coming back in a month. My mom told me that my Uncle M said that.”
The tormenter was dumbfounded. He had always heard his parents talk about how no body knew where the little one’s father was and that he might perhaps never come back and how unfortunate the little one’s mother was.
And so in the evening he, of course had to clear his doubt with his parents. He told his mother what the little one had said.
His mother talked to his father about this during bed time.
Now , the father was an astrologer of some renown in that small town. He and Uncle M had been classmates and a sort of rivalry existed between them. He was never one who liked to be caught unawares and did not want Uncle M , to get all the credit for this.
The next day , when he was having tea with the postmaster he casually mentioned this and then emphatically said , “Ofcourse , I always knew this would happen. You know , the stars had always indicated this.” , then he lowered his voice for dramatic effect –the postmaster had to lean in to hear , “in fact , it was M who had lost hope that his brother in law could ever be found. I was the one who told him to keep searching . The stars are never wrong.”
The postmaster was a middle aged , devout man who had great reverence for the astrologer. And he was duly impressed with this. That night , while singing praises of the astrologer to his wife , he said , “you know , he even predicted that the poor lady’s husband is going to return , and it is happening.” .His wife was also impressed.
The postmaster’s wife was friends with the wife of the inspector of police of the town. And in the vegetable market next day , over lots of other gossip , she also told him of the astrologer’s prediction and how it was going to come true.
That evening , the inspector’s wife told her husband about this. Now , the inspector had assisted in the search for the missing husband . He had been newly appointed in the town and had been newly married to his wife , who was also from the same town. He ofcourse did not want to appear clueless in front of his wife ,”Ofcourse , I always knew it . All the signs were there , that he had gone off to some foreign country. In fact I was the one who had indicated that the investigation proceed in that direction. But then , darling , you know the work pressure , I couldn’t follow through on it. Anyways am glad that I am right.”
His wife was suitably impressed and she told her parents how her husband had helped trace out the poor lady’s husband.
Her parents were impressed too. The father was initially skeptical about his daughter’s marriage with ‘that Inspector guy’ as he called him , but now it all seemed good. He boasted to all his friends what a smart son in law he had and how the poor lady’s husband would soon return , thanks to his son in law.
So the word spread. And in two days , it was generally believed that the poor lady’s husband would return in a month.
And when M returned to town , he couldn’t believe it when at least 5 people told him that his brother in law was returning within a month. They of course , had conveniently omitted his part in it.
He rushed off to tell his sister.
“You know your husband is in some foreign country and will return in a month .Everybody is saying” , he told her.
She jumped in delight and rushed to tell the good news to her kids.