8 mins

It was the first thought that came to her as she woke up. He was gone, and soon, this bedroom, the house in whose eastern corner it sat, and the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old red hibiscus and the half-grown mango tree they had planted together, all those would be gone as well. It was the strangest feeling ever.

Vidisha was engulfed in her past memories. One more time fate was pushing Vidisha towards loneliness. There was a time she would do whatever she liked to do. Everybody would stand by her. But when she took the biggest decision of her life, her parents pulled their feet back. After all, it was not the right match for her.

Vidisha married Vaibhav. Though her parents were present in the marriage they were against this match and had warned that Vidisha had to pay dear for her decision.

Vidisha was trying to adjust in the new atmosphere but soon she realized that her efforts are one-sided. Every now and then she was punctuated by her in-law's remarks that they were expected hefty monetary benefit out of this wedding. Vidisha was coping with all these with a smile on face. She was contented by the thought that Vaibhav was with her.

But that was just a thought. That call she received on Vaibhav mobile broke her illusion of happy and trustworthy marriage. Vaibhav was having an illicit affair with one girl who was completely ignorant of his married status. On little inquiry, Vidisha discovered that Vaibhav was flirting and dating some more girls. Very soon Vidisha realized she was wrong in taking the biggest decision of her life.

Slowly they both parted their ways. Vidisha started living alone with her daughter Aashi. Her parents were there but she could easily make out that her parents were burdened with the loneliness in her life. Her mother expressed the need for a life partner but Vidisha was not ready for it.

One day her father expired. Her brother had distanced himself at the time of her marriage itself. Vidisha mother also restricted her visit to her due to old age and restriction from her son.

Rearing up a child all alone was challenging. Vidisha was involved in home based jobs and was able to give quality time to Aashi. Aashi was mature and was aware of the circumstances her mother had grown through. But she could feel the lacuna of affection, care support, blessings that could have come from any male member of the family.

Same was the situation of Vidisha. She involved herself in the household chores and the daily walk to Society Park. She was fond of gardening but never took time out to nurture her hobby. One day she found a man in his early 50s was digging the side rows of the park. She went near to the man and asked generally about what he was doing. That man told that he would plant some saplings in the park. Vidisha thought society has appointed a gardener to look after the parks. Vidisha asked that man if he could come to her house to help her plant some seasonal plants. He assured her of coming to her house.

The same day he went to Vidisha’s flat. He brought himself some saplings of red hibiscus. He planted all the saplings and also instructed her how to look after them. Vidisha offered him Rs.100 for his works. But the man denied and told that he is not a gardener but living with his son in the same society. He used to be a gardener but now his son has become an Officer so left his profession. Vidisha was impressed within how he managed to give good education to his son despite many hurdles faced as living a life of a gardener.

With the help of Raman (that man), Vidisha found new ways to keep her busy. Not only she was maintaining her own garden but also actively participating in beautifying the park of society with Raman. Though Raman was not an educated man he had a deep understanding of gardening and also had knowledge of herbs and its medicinal uses. He gave some herbal treatment to Vidisha’s other which were very effective.

Raman was living with his son and daughter in law. He had one grandson also. He used to talk of her grandson but Vidisha noticed that he never brought his grandson to the park. She also noticed that Raman used to spend most of his time in the park whereas his family would go for an outing.

One day while evening walk Vidisha asked Raman about why he does not accompany his family. Raman simply smiled and said it as a generation and cultural gap. He told that he was a simple rustic man. His personalities just do not match with them and he had no regret.

Vidisha told that if it is a cultural gap then it is ok but it should not be a communication gap because it hurts. Raman looked at Vidisha and could sense her pain. Days passed by, together Vidisha and Raman planted many saplings. They both used to spend a good amount of time talking about the environment. Aashi was also growing up. Vidisha was worrying about her marriage. By that time her mother had died and there were literally no relatives to take care of them. It was only Raman who stood as a solitary.

Aashi used to talk with Raman a lot. She could feel a sense of belongings with him. One day Raman told Vidisha that Aashi liked one man and wanted to marry her. Raman also told that he had met the guy and found him a suitable match for Aashi. Vidisha was dumbstruck on hearing that. She had suffered a lot because of her chosen life partner and now Aashi also wants to walk the same road.

When she spoke to Aashi about the matter, Aashi told that due to Vidisha’s past she could not muster the courage to talk to her directly about marriage, instead, she spoke to Raman. Vidisha had a failed marriage but she still believed in love and was hopeful that Aashi’s love would take her to great heights. She agreed with Aashi’s marriage.

It was a quiet ceremony. When Aashi was taking leave she went to Raman and pleaded with folded hands to look after her mother. Before leaving she had a glance at beautiful flowers that had bloomed in her garden. She touched the flowers and seemed as if requested them to take care of her mother.

Things were going as usual. Vidisha noticed that Raman had developed a silence in him. She tried to know the matter but he could not say anything. Next day early morning Vidisha was looking outside her bedroom window. It was her bedroom window from where she would ascertain Raman had come to park or not. She was waiting for Raman to come to the park so that she could join him in their daily walk. But it was too early. Suddenly she saw Raman outside his flat but surprisingly for the first time Vidisha saw his entire family together at that time. They all sat in the car and went. Vidisha was happy to see that finally, that so-called cultural gap has fallen. She thought they might have gone for an outing. Raman did not come for days. Vidisha realized he might have gone for some pilgrimage. She was feeling lonely but was happy for Raman. Sometimes Vidisha used to look at her garden and sometimes outside her window looking for Raman. But nobody was there.

Next day Vidisha saw Raman’s son coming out of his flat along with his wife and son. As usual, they got into their car and went. Vidisha was very happy to see them. She hurriedly went to the park and was waiting for Raman. But he did not come. 2-3 days passed but she could not see Raman. She was a little worried. She thought of visiting his flat to know his well-being. In the evening when she saw Raman’s daughter-in-law, she went to her and asked Raman.

His daughter-in-law was not much pleased with this question. She bluntly said that they are shifting to the USA and as nobody is there to look after Raman so they have sent him to old age home. After saying this she went inside and banged the door. Vidisha stood motionless for a while. She returned to her flat with a heavy heart. She confined herself in her house.

Once again her ill fate had played its move which shattered her completely. Though it was spring season autumn had fallen on her garden. When Aashi came to meet her she was shocked to see the condition. She asked her mother about the problem but Vidisha was not able to convey. She could only say that her spirit has lost somewhere. Aashi asked about Raman also then Vidisha told that he has left. Aashi left with a promise from Vidisha that she will take care of herself. And Vidisha assured her same.

Vidisha returned from her past. While looking at her garden Vidisha realized that she had to take care of the plants of her garden and society park also. Raman and she had planted them together and it is her duty to look after them in his absence. Maybe someday Raman would come and would be hurt to see the plants dying. She immediately went to the park. She looked all around and realized that plants need utmost care. She bought some fertilizers and started sprinkling them over plants.

Suddenly she heard a familiar voice which was asking her not to throw fertilizers like this. She turned back and was surprised to see Raman standing there. Aashi was also there. Aashi moved forward and hold the hands of Raman and Vidisha. She put Vidisha’s hand to Raman and said that they both need to take care of each other and should live as life partners. They stood quietly and felt that luck has given them a new lease of life. There were rain clouds and it started drizzling which washed the dust from the plants and there was a new shine on them.

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