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Kishor Pahadl (b. 1956) Pahadl is a "new" writer whose first story was published in 1971. Pahadi's stories are collected in Bdnchnu ra Banchekaharu (To Live and the Living, 1980), Ghar-Khandahar (Ruins of Houses, 1980), and Vishuddl (Vishudai [a woman's name], 1988). A LIVING DEATH (MIUTA/lVI) Devayanl. Do you like that name? I liked it, too, when I heard it first. In fact, it was because of her name that I first employed Devayanl. After I had taken her on, I changed her name to "Ranch!": servants' names are always changed once they are employed. "What jobs can you do?" I'd asked her. "I can do whatever Bajyai tells me to," she'd answered. "Cooking, scouring pots, washing clothes, looking after children: I do everything." I was rather relieved to hear this. It's hard when you have to keep finding jobs for someone else, day in and day out. I'd told my husband so many times to get a servant, but he'd taken no notice. / had to cook, / had to clean the hearth, / had to do the washing—there was so much work, I tell you! And so I was delighted when a woman came to the door to become my servant. "How much do you want each month?" "Let Bajyai give what she decides. I am not greedy for money. All I need is a refuge." Her voice was tragic, but I hardly noticed it. I should make it clear that I am not an especially sensitive woman. I hardly have time for my own children, so what interest did I have in Devayanl, a woman I'd only just met? Anyway, the terms were agreed. 304 KISHOR PA HAD I 305 From her very first day, my work load lightened. In fact, I had nothing to do! Devayani did everything, from making the tea first thing in the morning to washing the pots and cleaning the hearth in the evening . And she did not seem in the least unhappy about having to do all this work. She was always in a cheerful mood. Often she would happily declare, "What a fine refuge I've found in Bajyai's house!" I was not of an age to be a grandmother really; she called me Bajyai out of respect because I am a Brahman. There's a belief that women lie about their ages, but I'm not lying. She only called me Bajyai because I am a Brahman. And because I am a Brahman, I should not have eaten what Devayani cooked; but both my husband and I keep well clear of such customs, and we don't care at all. One morning, at about ten o'clock, I was feeding my little daughter when Devayanicame running in. "Bajyai! I'm going to plant cauliflowers in the garden today, alright?" Behind our house there is a small piece of garden. It had been empty for ages. Who was there to do the work, after all? Because of his office work he had no time to spare, and it was the same for me with the housework! Her idea surprised me. "Do you know how to, KanchI?" I asked. She laughed and replied, "Why, is it so hard? I certainly know full well how to do it. It's better to plant something than just leaving it lying barren like that. I'll plant potatoes, spinach, and cauliflowers.Then you won't have to worry about vegetables.Just think how expensive they are nowadays!" If someone does work that interests them, they are happy, and so Devayani was happy as she planted the vegetables in that garden. It seemed to me that she had been born for hard work and accomplishment . Every single person is born once and dies once—the history of the world is founded on this. History is the unfortunate things that take place between birth and dying. Some are dyingas they live in thishistory; some are living as they die. But I, like Devayani, am not among these; I just go on with my story. One day, Devayani pointed out a man arid asked, "Do you know that man, Bajyai, the one on the motorcycle?" "Who, that one with the dark face?" "Yes." "No, I don't." "I do, Bajyai." "So what?" I asked, but for some strange reason my question made Devayani anxious. Without another word she ran inside to her room. 306 SKI.KCTKD SHORT STORIES...


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