A Sterling Soul
A Sterling Soul
She was laid down on a mat covered in a white spotless Dhothi. The aroma of the agarbathi, sandal, and rosewater filled the house. A lamp was lit in the front porch, it was flickering as an old tantri was reading the Ramayana out loud in a rhythmic pattern. I was sitting next to her, gazing at the people who had gathered around.Does she know what is going on around her? Can she, through her mind's eye, see the people who have come to say a final goodbye. Would she be laughing at people who never once cared for her, but now wept and wailed hugging her lifeless body?
This is one thing we didn't foresee or expect, given her age. She was only forty. Death is a mystery, so was she to many of us. She was a very interesting human being. I have heard from many that when she was born, it was a celebration. She went to school, she grew up playing and studying and was aspiring to become a fine woman. When she was sixteen, while her playmates were chasing their dreams she was married off to a guy almost twice her age. I suppose that's when she must have realized that some things are not the same for men and women.
Wearing a white sari with a thick golden border, adorned with fine jewelry, she stood there with a lamp in her hand about to start a new life. That was the first time I saw her, I was ten years old then. She was a beauty, an enchantress. I couldn't guess if she was happy or sad, her face bore no expression. As she walked into the new abode with her husband, I watched her from behind, she had the most beautiful long hair, black as the darkest night. The next day morning she was sitting by the banks of the river, drying her hair. I went to her, she had the most captivating smile.
She was nice to everyone in the village - A daughter to the old man who was abandoned by his sons, a solace for her servants and women who worked in the fields, a treat to the eyes for many men in the village, and my dearest sister. She used to help me with my studies, comb my hair, narrate funny stories from her childhood, and feed me food. She loves talking and when she had no one to talk to, she chatters to the hens and the sparrows in her field. When she was nineteen she became a mother. Her husband, a wealthy and lazy being showed particularly no interest in anything in life. She always knew how to keep herself happy. I have not seen her very elated or too sad, she used to always have a tranquil, pleasant, and composed expression on her face. In the evenings she used to sit on the rocks behind her house, staring at the mountains and the trees. That was her favorite spot. While I and her daughter were busy with our homework, she used to sit there till the sun sets, lost in deep thoughts, sometimes reading a magazine or a letter or writing one.
She had one best friend from childhood, who writes to her regularly. May be those letters were her strength and motivation. She hasn't opened her heart to anybody else. For a few words from her friend she had to wait for days together, and she would. Maybe it is the same for her friend too. There was only one person who knew her soul, her grief, her joy, and her secrets and it was this best friend who is now holding her cold hands and weeping helplessly. I had no strength to stay there and watch the final rites so I decided to leave. Her husband was sitting on the front porch surrounded by his gambling mates. I gave a quick glance at them and started. I am not certain if she lived happily if she did anything at all that she wanted or lived a life of her dreams but now she is gone. She will be reduced to a pot of dust and ashes in some time.
It is so strange how people come into our lives, influence us in many little ways, and then create a big void when they are gone. May her soul at least rest in peace.