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The Twists & Turns of Life.

July 9, 2016

‘Murari Raagam’ – a sad raag in Classical Carnatic, divinely beautiful nevertheless…


Life exasperates some of us quicker than some others. Some of us begin the race around the same time. Some get a headstart. How many make it to the finishing line and how many drop out midway?

There have been widows, remarriages and divorces in my gang but this time it struck real close. The divorce did not bother us because the girl was brave. All my girls are. Fighters and survivors. May be the tragedy, a kind of shared grief unites us all in this tight bond…

It breaks my heart to imagine one of my closest buddies don the white robe – even figuratively (now that they no more).

This girl lost her mother an year earlier to me. Kidney failure. Class VIII started and the news came in. The little girl in uniform almost looked like a cherub those days. We were already a gang forming up even if we were only eighth graders. We collected 25 paise each and pooled 5 rupees, a fortune in the year 1981. I went up to my mother asking her for the kaalanaa (that’s how we called 25 paise coin, quarter pence. araianaa was the 50 paise coin, half pence). ‘Get the motherless girl something nice for her birthday’ said my mom pressing the kaalanaa into my open fist not aware that I would be in the same boat the very next year. I don’t recall what we got for our friend who was the first to become motherless.  Neither did I know I would be joining her club soon. 1982, my mother left me too.

At 18, my friend became the second youngest of the 1986 class 12 board batch to wed. She married an IIT graduate from a wealthy, well placed background. Her only daughter was born years later, after I got married and delivered my son. Today our kids are friends.

Destiny made life tough for the girl as businesses failed, house was sold and she started working as freelancer. A sick husband in bed for over 7-8 years, totally paralysed, aged in-laws to fend for, uncaring father and brothers…. the instability and insecurity that life had come to mean…. emotionally, economically and physically draining… In the last couple of years, with mounting hospital bills on frequent institutionalization of her ailing husband having exhausted the medical insurance cap long back in the past, hiring a full time nurse and all, I don’t know how my girl could make ends meet… No wonder she was running post to pillar all 24 hours a day but still there was always time for the angel to spare a moment to laugh with us…

Through all this our love for the courageous girl only multiplied many times over…. I wish I have a magic wand that can erase all the tears of my weeping girl. No, I am wrong. My friend never wept. I have never seen her crying. She takes life head on. And she is a winner already… almost there, well…. Her daughter is a fine young lady, a post-graduate today, who has just embarked on a promising career…

Still it hurts to see my girl widowed so soon… Can’t imagine someone living alone in our age.  People lose husbands, wives, brothers, sisters all along, but when it strikes within your circle of concern you feel the maximum pinch.

48 years of sheer hell. Only smiles through hard times. Supporting a selfish father, helping out insensitive brothers who have not still shared the family estate with their sister, caring for in-laws, nursing a debilitated husband, seeing your kid all alone through high school and college, rendering social service, starting by 7 am to return home in far flung suburb by train or bus by 10 pm … rain or shine… life can’t be more excruciating…

If I am severe with shallow, selfish girls – this is a reason. My circle is close-knit, warm and sincere and honest and not fake. Is life about your hair, your skin, your nails, your clothes. It is absolutely insulting, infuriating to think to what low some girls pull womanhood to… 

After continuous innings of hard work and no play, may be its a relief for my girl, who knows. Blessing in disguise. Knowing her attitude towards life, I am sure she will bounce back in no time. She never let her personal tragedy spoil the fun for us through these years. She was part and parcel of us, laughing with us at every opportunity that came our way but preferring to keep her sad story private. Very proud and a picture of dignity. We knew but we let her have her peace.

Still it hurts.

When the daughter marries I know, it will be my girl’s BIL and his wife who will be performing the ‘kanyadhaan’ not my friend. In fact that’s the first thought that came rushing to me today when I got the news. My aunt and uncle did it for me, so that’s why I am weeping nonstop in my wedding videos. Not being given away by one’s biological parents is a girl’s tragic moment in life that she can never get over … The happiest day also becomes the saddest day of your life…

Getting ready to attend another friend’s daughter’s wedding. This will be the first time our widowed friend could be dropped out of a function reserved for ‘Sumanglis’ normally. A fresh widow has no place is our traditional wedding. What a waste. As much as we would try to get her along, I know my mature girl will not want tongues wagging. I am keeping my fingers crossed as to whether our persuasion will work.

Every Navrathri we exchange ‘thamboolams’ – what will happen now. None of us is superstitious but it is our friend who we think of . She is hardly the imposing type. She will never give reasons for people to talk behind her back. Extremely mature, shying away from controversies…

Time is the best healer. There are things we will never be healed off, I know.

My heart goes out to my girl. How can I make her happy again.

Even as i worry, I am thinking of another girl (not into our inner circle though) who was my next desk mate for 2 years in school, who has had her third chemotherapy session this week for stomach cancer.

Rise above pettiness, be generous, be good, be offended for right reasons, and more than all realize you are a mere miniscule atom in this vast universe who do not matter at all; you are just a speck – a dust particle that none will notice if you vanish. You won’t be missed at all: So this is what I tell myself repeatedly. Stay humble, and leave your kids your good karma. Feel less self-important, let others do the talking, listen, listen, listen.

Girls are dying of cancer. Mothers, wives, sisters who are the pivot of their families’ universe. Girls get raped, girls get beaten black and blue by abusive fathers, brothers, husbands and there are girls who are sole breadwinners for their families raising kids borne out to alcoholic husbands…. Time to change, let’s become less self-obsessive, think more about others, do more for others…

Without giving, there is no question of thinking about taking. Without seeding, no question of reaping.

We all have our small weaknesses and fetishes but life in its true sense has got nothing to do with it all … 

Through all the pain and misery and suffering, the silver lining in the cloud is our kids. They are the promise we hold on to in life.


From → Bharatiya Naari

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