Palani, an incurable alcoholic beat his wife Bhagyam daily in the evenings for money. A lazy loafer, he brought no money for the house. With three young children to feed, Bhagyam worked hard in many houses. Life was a monotonous daily grind with nothing to enthuse and only back breaking work all day long. It was the last week of the month with not a grain of rice let alone other essential ingredients to cook a broth. The left overs she brought from houses where she worked hardly helped to keep even the kids from hunger especially at the end of month. In desperation she often toyed with idea of suicide along with kids but would abandon such thoughts when she saw their trusting eyes and start visualizing a better tomorrow
Palani was tottering to get up after getting fully drunk at a cheap arrack shop when a friend by his side proffered a twenty-rupee note saying that it was found by the former’s side.
“It is not mine, I have spent all my money” Palani mumbled but the equally inebriated friend insisted it was his and added “You are ruining your life by drinking. What have you done for your wife and kids so far? Surprise them with some snacks with this.
The confused Palani took the money and started ambling towards his home. Pricked by the taunt of his friend, he was filled with remorse when he thought of Bhagyam and the children. As he vowed that he would stop drinking, he saw the shop selling molagai bajji (chillies bajias) and other namkeens. He took molagai bajjis wrapped in old newspaper and hurried in his unsteady walk.
This particular evening, Bhagyam had made gruel from broken rice she had borrowed and diluted liberally with tangy butter milk she had brought from a household Hardly adequate, it only kindled more hunger. Each one had a large glass with some quantity kept for Palani.The chimney lamp was flickering starved of kerosene in the dimly lit dark hut. As Palani entered, he saw the children jumping with joy amidst peals of laughter. Bewildered he saw a smiling Bhagyam with her eyes glued on a small TV placed on a rickety shelf covered by his lungi, a freebie from the generous government ahead of a municipal poll. He too joined the gaiety and danced with the kids happy with the new bounty. In the commotion, the packet of molaga bajjis lay uncared for on the floor. The distant rainbow is more enchanting than a small blessing on hand.