Manjari lit the oil lamp kept in front of Lord Krishna’s idol. She looked at it with reverence for a while, closed her eyes and offered her prayers for the day.  Tucking the loose end of her saree around her slender waist she proceeded towards the kitchen section of her one-room apartment.On the shelf, stood her cherished asset , ‘Murphy’s Radio’, she turned it on. *‘Jago mohan pyare…’ She smiled, listening to it and made herself a cup of tea.The radio was her companion for life. Both her daughters were still asleep. She got down to her routine. As a street food vendor she could hardly afford to rest. She placed a heap of potatoes into the cooker for boiling. Her customers loved her *vadas and onion fritters. Keeping an eye on the watch she began to prepare lunch for the day. She was kneading the dough when the radio played  *‘dushman na kare……’.Without being aware, her mind started ruminating about the past.


After satisfying his carnal desires, Milind whispered into Manjari’s ears. “ This time I want a son”. She gave her husband a reluctant smile camouflaging her anxiety. Hearing the wail of her first-born Chavvi, five months pregnant Manjari got up to nurse her. In the darkness of the night she cried bitterly, as the baby suckled. 

Milind was an indolent, drunkard and lecherous man who gave her only pain. But, optimist Manjari hoped, bearing a son would change him for better.

Hell broke loose on her when she returned delivering a second daughter. “Get out!  You whore.” Milind howled and pushed her out of the hut along with the babies. Her sutures were fresh and body feeble, after childbirth. Somehow she gathered herself back. “ Where will I go with two daughters? I have no place to go!” She begged. “ To any brothel. And take this dowry back, your stupid radio’”. He slammed the door on her face. The shanty town remained a mute spectator to her predicament. That night she trudged through an unknown path carrying her two babies and the radio.


“Ma!” Chavvi’s voice broke her reverie. Manjari’s eyes  twinkled seeing her daughters. She served them milk and biscuits. She was proud of herself and her daughters. In those nine years, they had come a long way. Her daughters gave her company till their school gate. Later, Manjari pushed her cart towards the market all alone listening to songs. Her radio kept the customers entertained while she fried *vadas and onion fritters. 

At the end of the day she packed a few leftovers for her kids.

She was taking her usual path back home, when a ravenous tramp acted as an impediment. One look and she knew who it was. His eyes pleaded for forgiveness and mercy. Manjari remained unmoved.  She loathed his presence and tried to ignore him but he kept following her. This time she gave him alms and strode ahead without looking back as the radio played *‘Zindagi ke safar mein ..…’ 



  1. Vada– Potato pattice
  2. Jago Mohan pyare— song from the movie Jagte raho (1956)
  3. Dushman na kare.— song from the movie Aakhir kyon (1985)
  4. Zindagi ke safar mein— song from the movie Aap ki kasam(1974)


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Vijeta Harishankar
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