Audrey Austin

Audrey Austin
Proud to be a small town indie author

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Featuring Bela Kaul from Eden Prairie, Minnesota...

Eden Prairie, Minnesota
This week's featured author is Bela Kaul of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, U.S.A.

First time I saw her was through the bars of her kitchen window. She stood in profile in deep concentration over the stove. Steam from the pan rose in the air, settling on her delicate skin to form tiny beads on her forehead. Her dark long hair collected loosely at the nape like silken drapes. Few strands escaped veiling her face like a lace curtain. With her free hand she used long fingers to guide the runaways behind her ears. She used the back of her hand to wipe her forehead. A shiny bead hung loosely at the tip of her elegant nose, threatening to take the leap. She ran a finger over it and the plunge was averted.
I moved closer to the bars and called out. “Didi, what are you making? Smells good.”
Her face turned showing small, round eyes and arched eyebrows in surprise. Her lips widened lighting up her entire, round face into a smile. “Dumm Alu.”
She returned to the stove. After a brief pause, she added in a barely audible voice. “But I’m just frying the potatoes now.”
I leaned on the window sill and asked, “So soon? The henna is still red on your hands.”
Her response was a smile and lowered eyelids.
We met again the next day over our adjoining terrace. She was collecting sun soaked laundry from the line. We talked until she was called away. Her duties were never ending even as a newly-wed.
Finding comfort in each other’s company, we found ways to do chores together. We sat in the alley next to each other among other neighborhood women. Some sifted through the lentils or rice to remove the pebbles. Others tackled the mending or embroidered intricate patterns. We mostly kept to ourselves, listening in on the gossip or banter among the older women. Our own conversations were muted.
She was shy and uncertain. She listened while I talked. I pointed out the interesting personalities and the various generations among us. I filled her in on the neighborhood scandals and shocking developments in the inhabitants’ lives. Her nods were slight and surprises innocent.
Our best times together were the walks to the dairy. We carried the empty steel cans half a mile returning with the containers filled with creamy, buffalo milk. It was on those walks she started to open up. Her smiles were genuine but suppressed in larger company. Her voice was soft but strong. She had a deep enthusiasm to learn. She shared tales of her childhood filled with mischief and adventure. Her reminiscence allowed me to peak into the life of a spirited young woman.
During the same time I was discovering my new friend, she was finding changes in herself. Soon her belly started to show. Within the first year of her marriage, she gave birth to a beautiful girl of twinkling eyes and happy disposition. Motherhood came naturally as her duties extended from household chores. We still found time to be together.
As her daughter stepped into toddlerhood, the strain on my friend’s face started to show. She masked her pains well with smiles. What she could not hide were the shadows under her eyes. As I noticed and commented on her weight loss, she shared the happy news. Her womb was filled with another joy.
I responded with concern. “Will you be able to manage the two and all the duties at home?”
As I had expected, she replied with a smile. “I have nothing to complain about. My husband loves me and I have the gift of motherhood. I am happy with my treasures.”
She went on to talk of personal matters. Her relationship with her husband was of deep mutual respect and friendship. She shared her dreams for her children. I listened and watched her perform her duties with effort as her body changed. The pregnancy was hard. Our excursions to the dairy became fewer until they were not possible anymore.
After a long and hard labor, a beautiful tiny boy joined her family the following spring. I saw joy in her eyes but also noticed that smiling seemed a strain.
Our evening walks to the dairy continued. In the chatter of close friends I did not notice until months later that the walks had actually become slower. My friend had developed a limp. Her face showed no signs of pain but the limp was obvious. She dismissed it to being tired.
She had seen different doctors, subjected to various tests. The diagnosis was hushed. It was the disease that eats from the inside and robs of small pleasures of life. With no known cure, her cancer had started to spread in her leg.
To limit the spread, the doctors advised amputation. Within months of the surgery, she carried on her shoulder the strong determination to live. Holding a pair of crutches under her arms, she hopped around the house doing chores. Our conversations continued through the bars of the kitchen window. She balanced her weight on a crutch as she cooked the family meal.
Several years progressed with her daughter blooming into a beautiful eight-year old and son chatting away at five. Her children spent hours at my house playing with my young brothers or out in the alley with all the neighborhood children.
My friend kept her spirits and moved about the house. But her body showed signs of deterioration. The cancer had travelled up and into her very spirit.
I remember those last days. Bedridden and in pain, she began to fade away. Her eyes spoke with plea as her hand rested on her children’s head. I promised with my eyes to take care of them as my own. Her last moments were shielded from her children as they were sent to my house. My friend suffered quietly the strain on her body and the pain of leaving her young ones behind. She departed in suffering but with a smile.
Years later, I stepped into her big shoes and became the mother of her children. My friend Madhu lives on through us and her children.

Sent from Windows Mail
Bela Kaul

 Visit Bela's blog:

Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

No comments:

Post a Comment