"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan

"He is your father, Gondu. How can you even think of such a thing, son?" complained Gondu's maternal uncle, "Do you even realize what you are saying? Throw your father out of the house? What the hell! He is the one who nurtured you as a child, and now that you have grown up, you want to throw the old man out?"

Devadas stood silently by the door, opting to be a mute witness to this ideological battle between his friend and the uncle.

"It was my mother who took care of me," Gondu angrily protested, "He just drank all day and tortured her. He is not my father. Even today he makes my mother cry." Gondu stormed out of the house and Devadas ran behind him.

Later that day, after hours of consoling from Devadas helped by many goblets of desi alcohol, Gondu finally headed back home. As always, Gondu would sleep his pains away; but Devadas couldn't move on... "Even today he makes my mother cry" the words kept ringing in his ear. He slapped his head repeatedly to get the thought out, even went back to the shanty and downed more goblets of alcohol, but the voice just refused to die.

"Even today he makes my mother cry"

Devadas was not a rebel like Gondu - he couldn't shout, fight and make noise - but his situation was no different. Every living moment he had watched his mother being abused at the hands of the father and just the thought of it twisted his abdomen into uncontrollable cramps. Yet he could only suffer in silence. For years he had wished to act, to show the father that the son existed, and that the son cared for the mother and could stand up to defend her. Very many days he spent, shooting stones at the farm animals, mentally preparing, to target the father one day. Anger raged within him like a dormant volcano. A fire simmered in him, growing with every tear shed by his mother. Every night he dreamt of rising up against the father, looking at him in the eyes, slapping him in the face and kicking him out of the house.

One day as he was passing the village chowk he overheard the elders talking about his mother. They moaned in sympathy for her. They knew her distress, but shockingly for Devadas, they never blamed the father for it. Every elder seemed to accept that the mother's fate was part of her destiny and all her pains were due to her own shortcomings and not due to the father. Everyone in the crowd unanimously agreed that the father was doing his role well, and that things would be worse for his mother if it weren't for the father.

Devadas could not digest this fact and had fallen sick for a week. He could not understand why a marriage had to be such an unbreakable bond. It did not even seem like his mother had married wilfully. He was convinced she had married against her wishes, and he suspected that the elders had a hand in it; may be that is why they were trying to justify her situation. How dare someone dictate to his mother to live in pain all her life? He buried his head in the pillow and wept. 

"Even today he makes my mother cry..." the words came back to him again that night.

The next morning Devadas was more silent than usual. He sat up and kept staring out of the window. By noon, when the village crowd was back in their huts, Devadas got out of bed. He went into the kitchen, grabbed the knife from the shelf and ran out.

"What if I am small? What if I can't change everything? I am not going to keep quiet. The elders may be supporting him but I won't. I can't let him torture my mother anymore. My mother may have married him but I don't accept that marriage is an unbreakable bond. I am going to show him today what a son can do." he thought as he ran towards the garrison with knife tightly clasped in his hand.

He jumped the barricades. The Indian sepoys tried to stop him but Devadas was too nimble. His resolution had given wings to his feet. He entered the station office and broke inside the chamber where Mister Jones, the British tax collector, was seated. He leapt on the table, stared Jones with his bloodshot eyes and stabbed the knife in Jones' chest, while shouting "I will not let you torture my mother.. Vande Maataram.."

At the stroke of midnight on the 15th of August 1947, the British packed their bags and left India. A father was kicked out of the house.


This story is mostly fiction with minor bits and parts borrowed from the life of Devadas Baliga, a freedom fighter from Tirthahalli (town in southern India) who passed away silently on 25-Dec-2013. In his final days, he appeared pensive and a silent rage constantly flashed through his eyes. Probably he saw his mother still being traumatized, and this time it wasn't the father exploiting the mother but the sons themselves. He knew he couldn't do anything any more, and maybe the helplessness came back to him, in the form of his death. This story is dedicated to his loving memory.
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