Double Standards4 mins 228 4 mins 228
Today, in the morning I happened to pass by that house – which, not so long ago was a home, for me, and my family!
Should I go again and have a look at it – I wondered – To revive its loving picture in my heart? My mind refused, I was getting late.
Late for what? Heart asked. Late for the funeral of my Grandfather. But…wasn’t this the same house where he lived some time ago. Perhaps we can still find him there, sitting in the verandah, as was his usual habit.
My mind ordered my feet to keep on walking – and quickly, lest I get late! Everyone would have reached there by now. All the three uncles, four aunties, sixteen cousins with their spouses and children, and why not? Dadaji was a revered figure, not only for our large family but also for the society. He had been very charitable and helpful to people. He was known as a savior to so many families, especially poor and downtrodden. So, a mass prayer was organized as a tribute to him and his philanthropy.
The function was to start at 11 a.m., so it was important that I reached in time.
There would be so many speakers saying nice things about my Grandfather – his great work, good nature, charity, and helpful nature.
On one hand, I was very proud of him, and would certainly participate in his Prayer assembly. Then my heart heaved a deep sigh! My heart asked the head, “ Will you praise your Grandpa? Then who will stand for your Mother? Remember, you are the only child to your parents.”
My mind was thrown back fifteen years in the past, when we all, my parents and grandparents lived in that house- The house that I passed by just now.
It was a comfort zone where Grandmother and Mother used to pamper us, by taking care of us in various ways. However, there was something amiss, which pinched me all the time.
My mother did not belong to our caste. It was a love marriage for my parents and father had married Mom much against the wish of his parents. As a result, my grandparents never talked to my Mother. If at all they did, it would be a rude comment.
This terrible treatment was tolerated by Mother since Father did not speak a word against his parents, the old man being a highly respected Zamindar in the society!
Life is strange. My Grandmother passed away within a short span when I was hardly ten years old, and the responsibility of taking care of the old man rested on Mother single-handedly.
Mother was a gentle, dedicated soul. She took upon her to look after her father-in-law without a word of complaint. But Grandpa took very ill the very next year and never recovered from his illness. As time passed, his health deteriorated more and more.
Sometimes I felt that his bad health did not arise from body ailments, but the guilt of treating his daughter-in-law badly.
Mother took good care of Grandpa for ten long years, till he passed away last week. Till then Mom and Dad – both were always at back and call for him.
Finally, I reached the Prayer hall. It was packed with nearing five hundred persons, many of them being eminent personalities of the town, eager to pay homage to my late Grandfather.
After the Prayers were recited, one of my granduncles started to speak.
“We all know that Balvantrai was a charitable, kind-hearted soul that one does not come across in today’s world. But his best quality was his humility. When he was bedridden last month, he had called me and has handed over this small writing to me, which I will read out now.
“One of my regrets for life is not treating my daughter-in-law fairly and respectfully. I have been ruthless to her from the day she married and came to our house. In spite of which, she has been serving the family for years now, and without a word of complaint. I am ashamed of my behaviour towards her for all these years.
Today, I apologize to her and ask for forgiveness, and request her to accept a small gift. I have decided to share my property with an equal share between my son and my daughter-in-law. Hope God will forgive me for my deeds.“
As this was read aloud, the eyes of everyone sitting there were filled with tears. My heart and head smiled with equal joy then.