A True Story Of An Unsung Rajkumari
A True Story Of An Unsung Rajkumari6 mins 462 6 mins 462
They had shifted in the two flats opposite to mine, not that I cared. I was too busy with my life to bother. Sometimes they smiled and I smiled back as I got in or out of the lift. That’s all. Many a time fighting noises reached our ears and often I would just look through the peep hole to see the two women of the house fighting with the door open.
Rajkumari never got along with her sister-in-law and the poor brother was caught between the sister and the wife. The unmarried and uneducated Rajkumari was a sore point in the house, often ill-treated as she fought for money from her brother and soon was denied the simple things she demanded. One day the money stopped for Rajkumari and the two flats that were one became two again. A small portion became Rajkumari’s home while the rest of the flat area was engulfed by the sister-in-law, who closed the door on her. Rajkumari deprived of money soon turned to walking the streets. She never used the lift and each day she walked down the seven stories of the building, her perfume lingering on the staircase. That’s why perhaps the fights were happening in the first place, I guess. The other residents turned against her as she dressed up each night to walk the streets only to return early morning.
Rajkumari’s brother and his family one fine day moved out of the country. The story should have ended there but it did not. With her brother leaving the country and the little or no money that came from him stopped, Rajkumari troubled with her life turned crazy by the day. Past midnight we would hear shouting and banging noises to open the door to find Rajkumari pounding crazily on the closed door of her brothers flat screaming obscenities. She claimed that they were troubling her and were hiding inside. I gently pointed to the big lock on the door telling her that the flat was locked and no one was inside, but to no avail. Days turned into months and the night disturbances continued as she pounded the door each night shouting to them to come out and face her. The wooden door was scratched and destroyed each night and soon all kinds of presumably black magic items were found hanging on the door knob. She never troubled me but often caught me in the hallway to complain as I tried to explain that no one was behind those closed doors. She refused to believe that there was no one behind the locked door even though a big lock hung ominously. The lock, she said, was just a ruse to get her to believe they were not inside. They were pounding on her walls from inside their flat she said. Things in her house were falling by themselves and she heard noises forcing her to come out and bang the door. Things turned worst as time began to pass, and soon to save the wooden door from getting wrecked completely a big iron door was fitted, but did that stop her. No ways. It made matters worse for us with louder noises of pounding on an iron door now. Fed up with all the problems, my next door neighbours sold the flat to an unsuspecting family. The situation did not change as time passed and one day I found her sitting on the jamb of the door peeling vegetables. “Didi didi” she said “see they have cut the electricity now”. I was appalled at her state. No electricity in the house, she was forced to sit with the door open of her flat to get the light from the passage to prepare her evening meals. Her flat door began to remain open for most part of the day as the new neighbours got into fights with her for the almost undressed look as they hurled curses at her. For me she soon became my loving watchdog. Each day she would brief me on the going-on in my flat. She would tell me when my kids came home, who else knocked and so on. I warmed up to her slowly as I realized that she never had in the past so many years ever troubled us or my growing kids. In fact she became their caretaker who fussed over them each time they opened the door. I came home many an evening to be told by my daughter that she had given her cold water to drink during the hot summer days. I never had the courage to do much and I wonder why. Maybe I was just too busy in my own life. A cheerful “how are you today didi” becoming my daily evening greeting and I responded to her warmth too. It was not to last, as one fine day my neighbor caught me in the passage and suggested we get together and get her out of the flat. I refused to side with him after all she had never troubled us ever. Days passed into months and I soon began to miss her coming home from work and finding the door closed and often I wondered why. Maybe I thought maybe my timing was just not right. One day I questioned my neighbor. I was shocked to know that they had managed to get her out of the flat on the streets. I was very angry with them and asked them how they could have ever done something so mean to another human. We have growing children, they said and she was the bad influence. Maybe they were right in their own way. When I enquired where she had gone, they seemed most unconcerned and uncaring. I could not sleep for days wondering where Rajkumari must have gone. Uneducated, not able to write a word in any language, penniless and alone in the world she was. Life went on as usual and each day I got out of the lift, I would stare at the closed door and wonder how or where she could be. I remembered the day she had rung the doorbell and asked me to keep her jewellery safe for her and I had refused suggesting that she better put it in a bank or with someone in the family. I remember much later she had told me that she had been duped of that too. Then one day I knew. My heart stopped as I could not believe what I was hearing. Rajkumari was dead. She was dead? When, how? She was found dead on the footpath one night unattended and alone, and as I write this I can see her gentle face smiling at me. The house has changed hands since then many a times but till date no one who has bought it has ever somehow come to stay as yet. I curse myself often for not being there to help her or even trying but then how could I have known. I knew she was not stable mentally. I curse her family who had abandoned her and believe me, I was not a bit unhappy to hear that her bhabhi passed away just a month later of a heart attack.
They say our sins do not leave us and the Gods must have truly loved the gentle Rajkumari to bring her bhabhi to stand before her up there in the clouds.