Forced Solitude5 mins 457 5 mins 457
For the most part of her life, Deepa had learnt to live alone. It wasn’t as if she sought it although it came crashing down on her in the most unprepared circumstances. Little by little, she understood that she had to live alone.
At the age of ten, her father had succumbed to a kidney ailment that had gone beyond repair especially so due to the family’s destitute condition. Deepa’s mother had promised her that the father was in a much happier place where there was no pain. For an adorable Deepa, who loved her father too much and looked upon him as the first hero in her life, the sacrifice of letting him go was impossible. Yet, she wished that her dad did not suffer every single moment here on earth. Years later, Deepa did make peace with the parting.
Deepa’s mother found a house-help’s job at Ramu’s, a well- known person in the city. Ramu provided accommodation for Deepa and her mother since Deepa’s mother worked full time at his place. A very kind man that he is, he ensured the mother-daughter duo’s expenses were entirely taken care of. One day, when he saw Deepa doing the household work since her mother was not well, Ramu was shocked. He called both of them and spoke such priceless words that Deepa would never forget them for her lifetime.
“Education is a girl child’s right and the most powerful weapon. Of course, I appreciate that you have stood in when your mother is unwell, Deepa. However, I do not want you to get distracted in your pursuit of academics.”
Thus, Deepa totally refrained from any impediments in the way of her education. Deepa and her mother were infinitely grateful to Ramu uncle (as Deepa fondly called him). She went on to successfully study bachelors and masters in engineering. Ramu had sponsored Deepa’s education as well as nominated her for numerous scholarships which she won because of the exemplary accomplishments and prowess. Deepa landed a lucrative job too and shifted with her mother to a new city.
One person they never ceased to be in touch was Ramu Uncle. In fact, Deepa looked upon him as a guardian angel and an almighty in real. He was present to bless Deepa at her wedding too and was an integral part of Deepa’s life. Deepa’s mother ran a small organization where she would mediate between house-helps and the people who needed such support. Ramu had helped Deepa’s mother set up this business so she could enjoy economic independence.
Each time Deepa remembered her father and how he must be, she imagined Ramu Uncle had been sent to her life by her own father. Deepa’s mother would gently smile at the belief.
When Deepa was due for her first baby, Ramu Uncle and his family were super excited. Nevertheless, the ecstasy had to be short-lived as Deepa’s mother gave in to a cardiac arrest. It came as the rudest shock and shattered Ramu uncle’s family. Of course, Death doesn’t knock on your door when you are ready. They immediately decided to hold back the tragic news from Deepa who was inside the operation theater. Much later, after several weeks of constantly giving excuses about the whereabouts of the mother, Ramu uncle’s wife revealed the shattering piece of news to Deepa.
Deepa could never get over it for several years. Even if Ramu uncle and Deepa’s husband, Ramesh would console her saying, Deepa’s mother was reborn as the little one to Deepa and Ramesh. Deepa was done with such lies. She did not want to be tricked anymore.
Two decades passed and Deepa’s daughter grew up to be a young adult. During all these years after her mother’s passing, Deepa made quarterly visits to Ramu Uncle’s home. She found a wonderful friend in Ramu Uncle’s daughter, Ananya. They would be each other’s source of strength.
In the last one year, Deepa had been too busy getting her daughter prepared for studies abroad. Hence, she had not paid a visit to Ramu Uncle’s home yet and had not even got the chance to speak to Ananya in the last three months. Deepa wanted to make up for all of it. As soon as her daughter safely landed in the new country, Deepa booked tickets to visit Ramu uncle. She kept it a secret lest they make all preparations. At such an old age for Ramu Uncle and his wife, Deepa did not want to create trouble.
The moment she landed in Ramu uncle’s home, she experienced a weird sense of silence. She proceeded to the kitchen to find Ramu uncle’s wife seated in the kitchen garden. There was a home-help tending to her. Ramu Uncle’s wife stood up to receive Deepa. She embraced Deepa like a mother would. When Deepa asked about Ramu Uncle, there was dead silence.
At the age of fifty-four, Deepa became a victim of yet another death blow. The death of the most important person after her own parents damaged her state of mind. Even if aunt would justify not revealing it when it happened due to Deepa’s daughter’s exams, Deepa wouldn’t listen. She cursed her fate, her life and just about everything.
Sooner or later, she would perhaps learn to live with this disastrous truth too, just like the other truths of death. She would have to acknowledge that, all along, she had been prepared to live alone. Not knowing when the death of a loved one would next shatter her.