One Last Time
One Last Time4 mins 470 4 mins 470
She was sitting on her bed staring at the red silk saree in her hand when a smile curved up her lips. It was the saree that had been gifted to her by her husband. Nostalgia hit her hard and she was taken back to the time of their marriage, 4 years ago.
Jayanti, now 25, was born in a lower middle-class family in a small village named Gobindapur, in the outskirts of Kolkata. Her father wanted her to marry as soon as she completed her graduation. So, she was engaged to a boy of her village, 2 years elder to her and sent to Kolkata with him. Rajesh, 27, worked for the National Army and was a man of strength and words. Jayanti was reluctant to marry a complete stranger but she had no choice. Rajesh, in spite of his tall and tough appearance, always had a soft corner for Jayanti. Never did he raise his voice or hand on her. Most of the time in a year, Rajesh would be out of home for his duty but whenever he came back, he
brought something for Jayanti. Jayanti too, after 6 months of their marriage had started liking Rajesh because of his simplicity and loyalty. Two years into their relationship and Jayanti had fallen for her man. She supported him in all his hard times and prayed all day when he was out of home.
‘Jayanti, what is it?’, her sister asked from behind the door. “Rajesh is coming”, Jayanti said with a sense of grace and pride in her voice. Her sister walked away with a solemn face. Jayanti pulled out the chair under the dressing table and sat down facing the mirror. She took out a golden chain from the drawer and hooked it up her neck. She complimented them with a pair of golden earrings which Rajesh had given her on her 22nd birthday. She giggled as she remembered how he had entered the house with a grave face saying he had not brought anything for her this time and then at midnight woke her up from her sleep and adorned her with the ornament. She pulled out a box of red and golden bangles. Ah! How Rajesh loved her in those. One by one, she slid them over her wrist and took extra care so that none should break. She changed her ordinary anklets with silver ones which her mother-in-law had given her after their marriage. She did all this with so much care and elegance just like a bride whose wedding was about to happen on that day and she would be taken away by her man, forever. She took out the bindi packet and had a tough choice picking the one that would go with the rest of the look. She finally took out a maroon one, Rajesh ‘s favourite colour and stuck it on her forehead she plaited her hair sideways and applied a little kohl in her eyes. She took a little red powder on her fingers and applied it on her hair parting. She stood up and glanced herself from top to bottom and as she was doing so, a sudden anxiety filled her. It was just like the bride who gets wedding jitters just before seeing her husband. What if Rajesh doesn’t like her? But Rajesh was no stranger to Jayanti. He was her husband, her love, her life.
“He’s here”. A voice from behind made Jayanti turn back to her sister who was waiting at the door for her. Jayanti took steady footsteps out of the house. She could not see Rajesh but a lot of other people coming, like a procession. Jayanti walked, draped in her silk ensemble, excited, but anxious at the same time, to meet her husband. Yes, Rajesh came, draped in an Indian Flag. He was slowly kept down in front of Jayanti. She bent to look at her love’s beautiful face. How it had had all the strength to look into the enemies’ eyes and face their bullets. His eyes had been shut and both his hands in front of him. She took his hand and looked at him as if, to ask how she was looking. After all, she had got ready, only for him.
She was waiting for an answer but Rajesh, obviously could not. The coffin lid was placed back again and Jayanti had to leave his hand, for once and for all. She had come to meet her husband, for one last time.
Jayanti’s heart was filled with pride but the separation for life was unbearable. They had been informed about Rajesh’s death three days back and that they would be bringing him for his last rites. Such combination of pride and pain! Not all have the heart to do it. These are the true, unsung, heroes who wear capes along with the promise of either protecting their Land or die trying. Not just on the battlefield, back home too, where the family lives with no assurance of seeing them again, alive. They
too are the silent warriors fighting with their emotions.
Jayanti’s story is just an example. There are an unimaginable number of such wives and families who, along with their men, are fighting their own battles.
Let’s be proud of them and give them the respect and gratitude they truly deserve.