Lady Macbeth is not her name. I gave her that name when I saw her washing her hand repeatedly. She is one of those women we see roaming aimlessly, wearing tattered clothes, talking to self all over India. They are known as the “pagli”. No one cares for them; no one cares where they come from or where they would go. Most of us are scared of these mad people. We change our path whenever we see them.
Lady Macbeth comes to my mother-in-law’s house almost every day. My MIL lives alone in a huge house. The gate of that house is always kept open and anybody can enter the house anytime. One day this mad woman entered her house. Initially, MIL tried to chase her away but this woman was stubborn and stayed put. MIL was slightly scared that the woman may cause her physical harm so she didn’t bother her and allowed her to stay. The first day the woman stayed for some time and went away. My MIL felt relieved.
The next day the lady came back again and asked for food. MIL gave her puffed rice. The lady ate the puffed rice and left. The following day this lady came back and said that she would have lunch. MIL obliged and gave her lunch. Soon it became a ritual. Every day morning the woman came and almost ordered my MIL something. For example one day she came and said: “Grandma, Cook fish for me, today I want to have fish.” My Mil is a widow and she doesn’t make fish but that day my MIL went to the market, bought fish and then cooked it for the lady. Unfortunately, the woman didn’t turn up for her fish lunch. My MIL distributed the food to neighbors.
Lady Macbeth became a regular visitor to my MIL’s house. However, all of us were unaware of this. One summer vacation when I visited my MIL’s house, I was sitting in the warm sun for some vitamin D, when I saw a mad woman in torn clothes, disheveled hair and a big bamboo stick in her hand entering our house. I got scared and sprang to my feet and went towards her with the intention to shoo her away. But the woman entered the home with a kind of familiarity that only a regular visitor can have. The lady almost chased me back. My MIL came running from the kitchen and stood protectively guarding the women. She then said that this mad woman is a regular and harmless.
I and my sister-in-law stood there gaping. The madwoman went towards the water tap in the garden and started washing her hands and talking to herself and also saying loudly to my MIL ‘Didima aj macher jhol khabo” (grandma, I want to have fish curry today). My MIL nodded affectionately, almost indulgently and went inside the kitchen to serve rice and fish. My sister-in-law worriedly came to me and asked in a hushed tone “Don’t you think this is risky? Ma lives alone and she is indulging this mad woman, what if one day this woman cause some harm, we can never rely on the antics of a crazy woman.” I agreed as it was indeed bit risky, I also felt what if she is not at all a mad woman and just pretending to gather information about MIL. These days we hear so many crimes against senior citizens living alone. What if she passes on the information to some gang of miscreants? My SIL started arguing with my MIL that it is unsafe for her to indulge this mad woman. But my poor MIL affectionately kept defending the woman.
Lady Macbeth understood that the whole argument was on her and she somehow figured out that I and my SIL were against her. She suddenly came towards me and made a face and said almost sarcastically “Shatabdi Roy eseche”( Shatabdi Roy is a famous Bengali actress and eseche means has come) and with a staunch shake went towards my MIL and nonchalantly sat down for her lunch. I was confused as it was a compliment or threat.
We have tried a lot to reason with MIL but she is adamant and till date, Lady Macbeth comes to her house regularly for lunch or breakfast. My Mil also regularly gives her clothes and blankets. We informed the local Police to search for the family of Lady Macbeth but it seems her husband has remarried and is not willing to take her back.