'The Inevitable' by Thaamarai Chelvi
Translated by K.S.Sivakumaran
really a week since Raghavan returned from Saudia Arabia. Since the last
Sunday to this Sunday it's eight days.
Gayathri was surprised that the eight days had swiftly ended
Her heart felt melted when the two children were jumping around their
father who had come back after four years. Eight year old Parthipan has said
more than hundred times, "You should no more leave us and go to Saudi, would
you?" said. The four year old Bharani was always sitting on her father's
"Look Gayathri, what pain these little ones had felt by my leaving them. I
went because of our situation here. Why should I go, if favourable
conditions had prevailed here? I went because of my frenzy to show the
neighbours that we too could live in comfort. Because of this I had lost the
pleasures of living with these children.
Gayathri felt his pain
True, they both married amid expectations from both sides. At that time he
was working in the Jaffna (Yaalpaanam) Kacheri and her as a teacher in a
school in Kokuvil.
They went for work while living in a rented house. Parthipan and Bharani
were born then. They could just manage with their respective salaries.
It was then Raghavan told her the idea of going abroad. She did not like it
first. "Let's manage with what we have. If you had gone, who is going to
help me and the children?"
"How long could we live in a rented house? We must buy a land for ourselves
and build a hose. Can we do that with this salary? That's why Gayathrri, let
me go for two years and then we can start a business."
He argued and made her agree to his proposal. He brought a distant aunt,
Paackiam, who did not have any support to live and made her stay at home and
borrowed money from many and left for Saudi. But he could not get the salary
he expected in that country. He had to work hard to get a salary. The two
years intended became four years. But within the four years, he settled all
the debts and bought a three acre land in Kokuvil and was happy to have
built a small house there.
"Don't go anywhere. Stay with us. Had I taught here as before, no problems
would have arisen. Some teachers were transferred to the Kilinochchi
district and my bad time that I too was transferred. I hated the world at
large leaving for Kilinochchi every Monday and returning on Friday. It was
"It's not like as before. Everything has changed within the four years."
In Kilinochchi, I was yearning for Fridays. It was a pity for the
children�. If the aunt had not been there, what an amount of difficulties
would I have faced? I had to leave on Mondays before the children awoke.
Then woken the children would cry. Now, you can look after the children. I
can go and come peacefully."
Raghavan felt the sleeping children fondly with his hands. "I am thinking
of going to the school tomorrow." He raised his head suddenly.
"Why Gayathri� if leave is available, why don't you stay back?"
Because you were here I was on leave the whole of last week. It's not nice
now to stay back. I had been given the Grade 5 scholarship class. If I don't
go, the poor children would suffer. The school is rather a rural school...
The Principal gave me this class depending on me. It's not nice to continue
be on leave."
"What's this� when I am here�?" He looked at her in a pitiable manner.
"What to do? Coming Friday is a Poya.I will return on Thursday, O.K.?" She
looked at him pleadingly.
"Be careful. Go and come back. Problems are expanding everywhere. I hear
that in Yakachi, there were problems for two days. Don't know whether buses
are running. First find out and then go."
"Even when you got to Kilinochchi, you have to walk four miles inside. No
transportation available. It's really an arduous journey. With great
difficulties I had to go and come every week. It's not the journey that
matters, it's leaving these children at home and going and coming that gives
me pain. I feel like crying when I tell you all this."
He pressed her hand in support... "What shall we do, if you could manage
for an year, we can try to get a transfer here." he said softly.
On the next day early in the morning at 3.00, she attended to the cooking
with the help of the aunt. At 4.30, she went for bathing and got ready to go
to Kilinochchi. She wrapped herself in a sari and kept the meals box in a
bag. She kissed hard her children who were sleeping.
Raghavan who watching her excitement and activities, Raghavan felt sad.
"Parthipan could understand the situation slightly, but it's only Bharani
who is adamant and crying"
She stroked Bharani's face and was nearly shedding tears.
"What can a four year child understand? It's O.K... Come let's go. I shall
come to the bus stand get you into the bus. Shall we go by bike?"
"No, no let's go by the cross lanes. There is no fear there. Don't I go and
Raghavan wore a shirt over his sarong. They bid goodbye to the aunt and
It wasn't dawn as yet. But there was a faint moonlight in the sky. The lane
was quite. In some houses there were electric lights. Raghavan carried her
bag and walked with her.
There were four or five people at the bus stand. The street lamp was dim.
The first mini-bus would come only at 5.30. Gayathri looked around all over.
Usually on Monday mornings many teachers teaching in many schools in
Kilinochchi and Pranthan would come over to the bus stand. But there was
"I don't know whether no one came because of the trouble at Aanai Iravu
(Elephant Pass) yesterday and the day before. If people are not going, you
don't need to go, Gayathri."
"Let's wait for sometime"
After ten minutes, two women came over. Gayathri's face blossomed.
"They too go to Kilinochchi. No fear now"
When the two saw her, they asked: "What, Miss, aren't you too going to the
school? We have a companion now."
Raghavan felt a little ease.
It was 5.30, it was slowly dawning. The minibus came.
"I too will come with you up to the town" and got into the bus.
"It's o.k, we shall go. These troubles are new to you. That's why you're
afraid. We are used to these troubles. Why fear"
'No Gayathri.I feel satisfied if I come with you..."
In Yaalpaanam city (Jaffna) red coloured buses were boarding passengers.
"If you go by the CTB bus, you have to get crushed. If it's mini bus, we
could find a seat."
He made her get into a mini bus along with the others, and waited outside
the window looking at her. He pressed his hand over her hand that was
resting on the window plane.
"Won't you come on Thursday, Gayathri?
"She laughed and said, "Sure I would come."
Bus departed. She showed her hands until she missed seeing him. The bus was
not crowded as expected. She did not feel tiring as she was seated. She felt
enthusiastic and excited thinking about her husband and the children, "By
this time they would have got out of the bed. I don't know how he is going
to tackle them."
The bus stopped at Chavakachcheri and started on its journey when a lot of
passengers boarded the bus. It was comforting that some of them were known
people.. When the bus passed Palai, there were a lot of young men standing
ion the road.
Some youths stopped the bus at the Yakachchi junction.
"They were coming in the 'Heli' round and round. It's not advisable to go
now. Watch out and then go"
The bus stood under the shade of a tree.
"There's problem always. It's long time now that the people shut themselves
seeing this. If there is bombing in one side the people moved about in
another side." A person in the bus was speaking at length.
Gayathri was looking outside the window of the bus. If it was some time
ago, in such a situation the heart would have frozen with fear. There was no
need to fear now.
The bus staying for half an hour started moving. There was a lorry plying
before the bus. This gave the driver of the bus some boldness. The bus was
approaching Aanai Iravu (Elephant Pass)
One could see at a distance the wide sea as the bus took a turn in the
curve. Because of the noise of the bus, one couldn't hear the noise of the
helicopter at first. But as the helicopter flew low, a feeling of fear go
into her for the first time.
As the bus jerked and stopped, the driver undecided whether to drive ahead
or stay still.
Gayathri looked around the women who were traveling with her. The too were
looking outside worried.
In opposite direction they could see the army men marching through the
shrubs in the sprawling white sand.
"The Army is going towards Yakachchi. That's why the 'Heli' was flying over
to guard them."
"That's why the boys stopped us"
Every body's face was filled with fear and sorrow.
The bus was slowly crawling along the road.
Suddenly they heard sound deafening their ears. For a moment Gayathri
didn't know what was happening. She couldn't even hear her own voice crying
"amma" closing her ears with hands. She came to know that something had
happened to her only when the pain in her whole body registered itself in
the veins of her brain... When she opened her eyes with the greatest
difficulty, she couldn't see anything in front except smoke all around;
smell of medicine filled the nostrils. The cry of dying cut her heart
terribly Oh my God, what had happened? She cried having lost her feelings.
She couldn't move her hands and her legs. Blood everywhere.
"Amma Iyoh Amma �am ...ma... ithu...ithu (mother, mother this, this).
What she could remember in her last consciousness the hands and face of her
husband waving at her while grieving--- the faces of her children sleeping
on the bed.
This story was published in Murasoli in 1987 � Thaamarai Chelvi
is a leading writer in Thamil. She had won several prizes for her fiction.)