I sat looking at the calendar in my hands 52 days. Just 52 days, how am I supposed to live the remainder of my life without Rakesh?
Abruptly a hand came, snatched the calendar from my hand and threw it away. It was my mother.
‘Enough of your grief….how long do you want to continue in this state?’ she bellowed. I remained silent.
Whatever happens is for good only. Good that Rakesh understood that you were not made for each other and broke the engagement. Do you understand if you had realized it after marriage, how much difficult it would have been? Meenakshi, answer me?’, she screamed shaking me up.
Rakesh and I had been childhood sweethearts. We had been together through thick and thin. Once we had settled into our jobs we had got engaged to be married within six months. But just two months after the engagement Rakesh had broken the engagement saying that we were ‘not made for each other’.
We knew our likes and dislikes, we understood each other perfectly, we looked perfect together what else did you need to be ‘made for each other’.
‘Meenu’, my mother said with tears in her eyes, ‘How long you will sit here staring at that calendar. How long you will sit at home. Rejoin your job before you lose it. Start afresh’.
I sat silent too numb to do anything.
At that moment my father came rushing in, ‘Parvati, did Champa come today?’. Champa is our maid.
‘No, she should come now, It’s about time’, ma replied.
‘I doubt so,’, my father replied, ‘Just now I got a message there is a fire breakout in her chawl.’
‘What’, my mother said.
‘We should go there Parvati, help Champa and others,’ father said
Mother nodded. As they prepared to leave, ma dragged me too with them saying, ‘we will need all the help’
The chawl was smoldering. Firefighters were at work. Luckily it was day time and many were away at work, children at school.
Women stood huddled, shaken up. Some wailing but we located Champa. My mother ran to her. ‘Champa are you all right’.
‘Arrey Bibiji, you here.’ she smiled, ‘ I was working at the nearby house when I saw the smoke and came running’, and then she noticed me, ‘Arrey madam also came here’.
I felt uncomfortable. Who would feel comfortable amongst people in their pajamas?
Champa always called me madam because according to her I had become a ‘big’ woman after studying so much
The fire was arrested soon but the top two floors were wrecked.
‘Which floor you live in’, I asked Champa
‘Fourth, she replied, that was the topmost floor
There was some discussion going on. My father came from that group. ‘There will be an investigation but the chawl owner is telling that he will make alternative arrangements soon. Meanwhile he is asking the residents to move in with friends or family’.
‘What happened?’, my mother asked.
‘My relatives live far away, if we go there, it will be far from school for my son and what about my work’, she frowned.
Some other people had the same concern.
My father was thoughtful and then he said, ‘ We can accommodate 20 people in our home and garage Champa, you select whom to bring in’.
‘Babuji’, Champa said with tears in her eyes, ‘But what about your car’
‘Human lives are more important than cars Champa and don’t think I am magnanimous, who will do the housework if you move far away’, he chuckled.
And so we bought 20 people into our home and lives.
‘Our home is so lively now’, my mother said, ‘True it is congested but at least I don’t have to look at morose faces all day’.
I glared at her.
But what she said was true. Most of the people from the chawl worked in the mill nearby. They earned not much but they lived happily. hen When in our home, all of them cooked together and we ate together too. Simple food but so tasty. Children played in the out; sometimes they came and saw television along with us. All had got such a shock because of the fire but none grieved, In fact they were already planning on how to prevent such fires in the future.
And then I realized….everything in life will not go according to our plans, there will be some hiccups but the fun is how to overcome them.
As I felt the lines of grief erase away, I looked at ma in an animated discussion with the women.
Ma, what are you discussing?’, I asked
Sometimes we are so overcome with our own problems that we fail to see the good around us.
Arjuna on the battlefield is so confused that he wants to run away from the battlefield and Krishna says,
asocyan anvasocas tvam prajna-vadams ca bhasase
gatasun agatasums ca nanusocanti panditah
The Blessed Lord said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.
In our grief we often forget that our object of agony is just temporary and it too shall pass.
I’m Writing Bravely for the Write Tribe Festival of Words – March 2019’
Today’s prompt ‘Grief’