Thursday, January 29, 2015

Aji

She sat by the window, staring across the sleepy town. It was 6 am and the quiet of the night was giving way to another day. Things were stirring to life, the smell of tea wafting in through the open windows, the mist, slowly lifting its veil to reveal a peaceful neighborhood.
She liked living here.
It was calm and the people were friendly. At her age, it was more than she could hope for.
But the proudest part of her being was her family.

She was 83 years old, and it was at moments like these, spent in solitude, contemplating her life and introspecting, that she truly felt grateful. She knew her health was failing and she had gracefully accepted that she may not live much longer. Cancer was not easy to deal with, it killed you from the inside out.

She had been a strong, independent woman. Married at an early age, as was the norm in her times, to an exceptional man, who encouraged her to study and work, she was well educated and held a PH.D. She loved music and cooking. She drove a car at an age where you could count the number of cars in your town on your fingertips. She had recently stopped exercising.
Looking down at her frail hands, she thought it was a cruel way to die for someone so full of life.

Looking back on her 80 years, she figured there was not much that she had not seen. Life never seemed to happen to her, she made it happen whatever she did, wherever she went.
She looked around her room. Pictures of her late husband, children, grandchildren adorned a shelf. Her dresser and cupboards were neat and immaculately kept. She was very particular, far before the term OCD was popularized, she embodied it.
Her constant companion, her TV, sat in front of her, staring at her blankly. She wondered how something this drab and standard, could transport her to a whole new world when switched on. Like most people her age, the television was more than just entertainment, it was a way for her to forget her loneliness, her illness.
Her eyes settled on the old sewing machine kept in the corner. It held many memories and before she could have a chance to explore the depths of those, her room door opened and in came her son, carrying her tray of tea and three marie biscuits, exactly what she had every morning.
She smiled.
She came from an age where men did not enter the kitchen and had adapted to an age where her son made her tea and brought it to her every morning, because no one else got up this early in the day.
This was the highlight of her day, and her son the highlight of her life. He talked, she listened, nodding occasionally and some times her thoughts drifted away from he was saying. She was content just looking at him talk. The sound of his words was not needed to comfort her. She was proud of him, in a way a mother is proud of her son. She felt satisfied in knowing that she had brought him up well - the way he provided for his family, married the right girl, fathered two beautiful daughters. She was not worried about him, no, after she was gone, he had a wonderful family who would take care of him.

And as she thought about her granddaughter, her thoughts moved to where she was. She was to get married in two days and there were so many things that seemed unsaid, so many words of wisdom that she still needed to impart, to look at her granddaughter one last time and tell her that marriage is a mystery, it seems tough in the beginning, but if you hang in there, it only gets better.
She remembered how a few months ago, the fear had gripped her. Her granddaughter was going to be married and she realized for the first time, then, that she may not be able to go because of her deteriorating health. The travel would take four hours and everyone knew she would not be up to it. But she wanted to go, with all that was left in her, she hoped to. She had thought about her diet and her medicines, and wondered if there was anything else that she could do to make her feel better, so that she could undertake the journey.
And with each day that passed, she realized she was fighting a losing battle.
She prayed, she whined, she willed and she cried, but the cancer seemed reluctant to relent. So cruel, so heartless, she had thought.
And when things had gone downhill, she had made a promise to herself that even if she couldn't attend the wedding, she would not let go. She would hold on till the special day. There were days on which she felt like giving up, giving in to the pain.
She still held on.
She couldn't talk much, but she understood everything. Her daughter had come to stay with her during the course of the wedding, when her son would not be at home.
She held on.

The day of the wedding, she looked out the window from her bed. She couldn't get up, but she knew it was going to be a warm, beautiful day. She said a little prayer and closed her eyes again. She was feeling tired.
But she held on.
Her daughter came in and told her of all the things happening down there at the wedding. A real time update and she marveled at modern technology. She drifted off to sleep intermittently.
But she held on.
She held on till the moment her daughter told her that the wedding had taken place, her granddaughter was married.
She felt happy, she was joyful, she was grateful, but above all she was relieved. If she could have performed a victory dance, showing her thumb to the cancer, she would have. But all she could manage was a weak smile. A smile that showed very little, but hid a bucket full of emotions.
She waited patiently for her son to return home, and in the stillness of the night she quietly slipped away, surrendering herself into the arms of darkness.




Setting herself free into the realm of the unknown
A life of dignity, a life full of love,
We all remember you, and miss you
A wife, a mother, a woman of strength
But above all else
My Aji, My friend. 




1 comment:

  1. Very touching. Just when I thought I should pay her a visit next time I am in Pune, the climax hit me. May her soul rest in Peace.
    Nicely put across Neha.

    ReplyDelete