Kadambari: A Story Of Sacrifice
Kadambari: A Story Of Sacrifice
It was Nitya's 15th birthday and like every year Shekhar had arranged a lavish party in his house for his only daughter. Every eminent person of the city was invited, be it politician, business delegates, and who not. And then among all the BMWs and Audis, an auto-rickshaw stopped at the main gate and she came down from the auto, wearing a simple saree and holding a small gift in her hand. She looked up at the flowers and balloons laden main gate and then took a quick glance around to feel a moment of appreciation for the beautiful decoration while adjusting her old-fashioned oversized specs with a smile on her face. As she entered into the party hall, Shekhar, Nitya and their entire family were busy with the cake cutting, and all of a sudden they caught the sight of her standing there, smiling. They all stared at her with incredulity. And why wouldn't they? After-all she was the only uninvited and unexpected person there. She was Kadambari, Nitya's mother.
Shekhar went to her. He took her by her hand to the corner and asked, "What are you doing here?" He didn't want anyone to notice her there.
"It's Nitya's birthday... and..." she replied in a low voice.
"And you thought to come over here? Right? What will I answer if people ask me about you? And look at you. Is the way you go to a party?" There was a tone of irritation, shame, and anger in his voice.
She was quiet. "I know I have been an uttered shame for you always instead of being your wife." She avoided eye contact.
"Yes right, you are. And also stubborn. Your obstinacy has spoiled everything. Our marriage, our life, everything. The only thing we have now to cherish is our little bit leftover reputation in this society and I will not allow you to deface it. Nitya is happy there with her friends and I don't want her smile to fade away today because of your presence. So please leave, for God's sake!"
"But Shekhar, I came here for Nitya only. My daughter. It's her birthday and...." she stammered with a heavy heart.
"Oh yes. Let me remind you that Nitya too chose to stay with me after our divorce and I have her legal custody now. You know why? Because like me, she too is tired, disgusted, and ashamed of you."
Kadambari could only reply to him with tears brimming in her eyes and her lips opting silence.
She takes out a paper from her bag and said, "If Mr. Roy comes to you today, give him this paper. I have signed it."
"What the hell is this now?" Shekhar asked, taking it from her hand and before he could check it, he heard someone called him, saying that Mr. Roy is looking for him. He went to talk to Mr. Roy, their family advocate.
Kadambari remained standing there behind that drape, seeing her daughter all happy with her friends and Shekhar's family. She took off her specs quietly and wiped off her tears.
"Hey Mr. Roy, finally you are here. I want help from you as I told you earlier over the call too. As you can see, today is my daughter Nitya's birthday and I want to give a part of our family's property to her as a birthday gift." Shekhar stated.
"Yeah. I understand. But you can't do it, Shekhar. Because in the last will of your father, he had given the power of attorney to your wife Kadambari. That's why I had called her here, to sign the papers. Did she come?" Mr. Roy enunciated.
"What? Dad had given power of attorney to Kadambari? When? And why didn't he tell me about it?" Shekhar was a bit perplexed.
And then he checked the paper in his hand which Kadambari had given him a few minutes back. It was about the same power of attorney. She had signed the paper giving the power of attorney to Shekhar and Nitya.
Shekhar at once went back to Kadambari. But she was not there. He looked around hurriedly, but couldn't see her anywhere in the party. Then he finally spotted her going out through the main door and called out her name, "Kadambari!!!"
She halted and turned back. Shekhar went to her. He was bereft of words, looking at her face. He couldn't speak and all he could do was to hug her. She restrained herself for a moment to hug him back but then, she placed her hand slowly on his back too to hug him.
"I am sorry Kadambari... I am so so sorry!" He uttered.
"Hmm..." She broke the hug and moved back a bit.
Her silence was making him fidgety. "Say something Kadambari. I know I was wrong. You could have taken our business, this house, property, and everything and throws us out on roads for all our misdeeds and irreverence towards you in all these years. But you didn't!"
"You couldn't understand me ever Shekar." She smiled and after a pause, continued "I know you all hate me. But how can I see my loved ones on roads? Never Shekhar! I know Nitya and you are ashamed of me, not because I did something wrong but because who I am and most importantly, how I am. Nitya feels embarrassed of me because I don't wear modern clothes and can't speak fluent English like the parents of her friends in school. But no one ever asked me why can't I speak English fluently. I was 18 when my dad passed away. Being the elder sister, I had to drop out of college and accept small part-time jobs to meet the ends of the family. I couldn't go to an English medium school even because my mother told me that my younger brother wanted to be an engineer. My sacrifices didn't stop there.
When your dad chose me for you, you were not ready for our marriage too but didn't have the audacity to deny it either. Your family was very rich. I came from a lower-middle-class family. It was all new for me. And trust me, I tried my best to win your heart. But you were literally ashamed of my simple clothes. Introducing me as your better-half to your friends and colleagues was an indignity for you. You felt that I lacked basic social skills. And just because of all these reasons and discomforts, one day you chose to have an affair with someone else. You know, sometimes I wonder how my love, my marriage, everything shallowed just because of my very existence.
But after all these, the only one thing I prayed for, is your happiness and Nitya's smile. I realized soon that you both don't need me in your life. I realized that I am the reason for your humiliation. And trust me, Shekhar, seeing you both unhappy is the last thing I would ever do. I have always loved my family a lot. But I have really never conditioned my love for a return of the same from them too.
I can see both of you are happy today without me in your life. And it really warms my heart. In my life, I have sacrificed my higher studies, my love, my marriage, and finally my motherhood too just for the sake of my family's happiness. But I am happy Shekhar because you all are happy." She asserted with a smile on her face and tears in her eyes.
"I don't have any words Kadambari. I am feeling guilty for what I have done to you. I am really really..." He was about to seek forgiveness from her but she cut his sentence in middle, "It's okay Shekhar."
And then she asseverated after a deep sigh, "Maybe it's my destiny. Maybe God wants me to live like this only. But I am gratified that I was finally able to make my family happy. And it's the greatest achievement of my life for me. Goodbye Shekhar! Take care."
"Come, I will drop you," Shekhar said trying to hold back his tears now.
"It's okay. I will take an auto." Kadambari denied his offer and left. While she went to the auto, Shekhar kept on looking at her. There was a mild smile on her face. She was happy with the felicity and smiles of her family; the family which had always denied to accept her in their life even.
How could someone be like this? -- He wondered. Maybe the quintessence of sacrifice looks like this only. Maybe the sheer strength to sacrifice comes just with a shroud of simplicity. And definitely the ability to sacrifice for someone eventuates only with an unabashed love for them. Not everyone can do it. Kadambari became much more than just his ex-wife for him that day. She indeed intimated him the most beautiful face of a truly loving soul, wearing a veil of sacrifice over her contented head that day. And he stood there, being belittled in front of the sea of her worth as a person, witnessing the sunset of his disgust and disgrace for her in the far horizon somewhere, forever.