It was almost midnight. Kamla could not sleep. She kept tossing from one side to the other on her bed. On a frail wooden bed beside hers, lied her five year old son Ratan and seven year old daughter Chinki. They lived in one of the dilapidated tenements of the city. Kamla’s husband Mahesh, usually spent night out to earn a little more for his family. There was nothing so special about this night but it seemed sleep had abandoned Kamla’s eyes.
Mahesh and his first wife, Geeta with their three year old son Ganesh, had migrated to city. People in village find cities considerably promising for some reasons. After spending a few days in slum, Geeta’s health began to deteriorate. She died within a month due to lack of proper medical facilities. There was no one to look after Ganesh. Mahesh had to stay out all day to earn his livelihood. Hence, he married a poor girl Kamla from his own village and brought her to the city.
Kamla got up from her bed to look out through the small window. Like all the other nights, ten year old Ganesh was sleeping outside under the shadow of starry sky without having dinner. According to Kamla, he was the eldest of his siblings and must first let Ratan and Chinki eat. Hence, Ganesh savored anything which luckily remained unconsumed by them.
But tonight Kamla couldn’t sleep. There was some unusualness about the night that she felt creeping in. Tomorrow, Ganesh would go to work for the first time in a nearby packaging factory. Kamla had persuaded him for this by saying that if he would earn, his brother could get into a school. Neither Ganesh nor Chinki had ever stepped into a school.
Ganesh didn’t even have the slightest of his mother’s memories. Anyone closest to mother who he had was Kamla whom he really loved and cared about.
Kamla stealthily pulled the door and slid out of the house, trying not to wake her children up. She stood beside Ganesh’s bed and kept staring at him for a while. Ganesh was resting in the arms of deep sleep. Starvation had become a part of his daily life. Kamla thought, what his life would have been if his mother was alive. A tear trickle found a way through her eyes. She went back to her bed but remained sleepless for hours.
Next morning, while Mahesh could have reached home any moment, Kamla bathed and got neatly dressed up to go out. She went out to Ganesh who was already awake and asked her to remain at home with his brother and sister. She went out in search of a job. Perhaps, some greater feeling than selfishness had taken over her.