The Lucky One (Part II) - Week 6
The Lucky One (Part II) - Week 6
Fortunately, during the second world war, being married in the Shaikh household, Edna did not have to go through all the horrid tragedies that she would hear of some of her family members in Poland go through. There was no scope for her to even vent out her agony at times for fear of jeopardizing her identity which would then cause terrible consequences for her in-laws. It was in these dire circumstances that she bore Sakia.
After the second world war, the Shaikh’s decided to move to India. Eventually, even the Rahman’s decided to leave with them. The two families lived in India for a good 18 years and then decided to return back to Israel.
Ariel and Avigal although found their safe haven in Israel in terms of the world war, they felt cursed by the inception of the Israel Palestine skirmishes. Eventually, they decided to move their base to Mexico in a year’s time. They spent a good fifteen years there accumulating much wealth and name before returning back to Israel. They chose to leave Poland for good.
The Palestine conflict worsened in the eighteen odd years during which the Rahman’s and the Shaikh’s inhabited India and Shaina would often question if there was peace anywhere in the world. Her years in India were spent in this happy contemplation and very often she wondered as to why was it necessary to go back to Israel. Over the years she had grown to not belong to any country as such. While her family was in India, she was intermittently living with Edna, aka Ada, in Israel, ever since she was fifteen years of her age. Ada and Asad although members of the Shaikh household, did not get along with them. As a result, they would shuffle between countries. Not that the Rahman’s approved of this, but they could not do much about it. As much as they could not do much about Shaina wanting to spend time with Ada.
While in India the Rahman’s and the Shaikh’s had collaboratively established their base in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh. They primarily dealt in the furniture business and life was kind to them while their stay. After Shaina’s alliance was fixed with Aejaz they decided to move back to their roots. It was while Shaina was intermittently staying in Israel with Edna that she had met Aejaz once, and, fell in love with him. A part of her felt liberated when she expressed her love to him. Eventually, Edna helped fix the alliance as if it was an arranged one. No one knew the secret, except for the two of them.
During her stay in India, Edna had a neighbor who was from Sri Lanka. She was a Tamilian and they both used to spend a good time together while Asad was at work. Her name was Lakshmi. Edna liked Lakshmi’s culinary skills and Lakshmi was fond of Edna’s ability to do embroidery. They would often spend time chit-chatting and gossiping about their personal lives. As Shaina was a frequent at Edna’s house, she too was well conversant with Lakshmi. Lakshmi had a granddaughter. She was her only kin left after having lost everybody in the Sri Lankan Civil War. In a way, Lakshmi bonded with Edna more because they had a common ground to share. The losses of the World War for Edna, and, those of the Civil War for her.
Like most girls of her age, and community, Soujanya had opted to be a nurse. There wasn’t much support available to her except for her grandmother, Lakshmi who was growing old by the day. She felt compelled by the need to settle down in life and relieve Lakshmi of her responsibilities. Soujanya was a very giving person for the kind of hostile environment that she had to grow up in. This quality of hers was what got her attracted by a doctor in the residency of Apollo hospital, Mr. Srinivasan, where she was studying for her nursing course. The initial sparks turned into deep love and care for each other and they both decided to get married. Lakshmi too was very happy!
After Soujanya’s marriage, Lakshmi decided to move to Israel with Edna and Asad. There wasn’t much left for her in Anantapur and her friendship with Edna seemed like a suitable support to start her life elsewhere. So, when Edna and Asad decided to wind up their transient life in India with the other Shaikh’s and the Rahman’s, and, move to Israel permanently, Lakshmi followed them. She always wanted to volunteer for some cause, but her responsibilities had kept her captive for so long. Now that she was free, she felt the Israel Palestine conflict calling her. She enrolled herself as a caretaker for the victims of the war in one of the Israeli government-run centers and started a new life away from India.
It had been almost fifteen years that Mrs. Breina Bach had been visiting different countries and staying away from Ariel and Avigal who had now established a humungous jewelry business in Israel. They did not have any children, but they were happy as hell. They had found each other and that was all that mattered! Being the kind of non-interfering person that Mrs. Bach was, she had never questioned her daughter about having a child after having realized that Avigal could never have one. At 97 years of age, she felt the need to be around her daughter and her son-in-law because it was no longer possible for her to be on her own. Unfortunately, she had been detected with Alzheimer’s and now, life as it once was, was history.
Somehow, Breina managed to reach out to Avigal, and, when informed about her illness, Ariel was more than happy to receive his mother-in-law. He remembered his promise of looking after her and instantly made all the arrangements for her in their palatial house. As days passed by it became imperative to have someone look after Breina 24/7. She could not be left alone at any moment and so, both Ariel and Avigal decided to hire a full-time nurse-cum-caretaker for Breina.
The requisition in the Israel Nurse’s Portal (INP) was picked up by a job board in Kerala according to the perfect qualifications for the job. Soujanya, who was then settled in Kerala with Srinivasan, had specialized in care for terminally ill Neuropathic patients. She had a son now, Saumil, who was four years old, yet, she accepted the job and decided to be away from the family because it would mean that she would get to spend some time with Lakshmi, after all these years.
Srinivasan was not very happy with her decision and it took her a good three months to convince him. Meanwhile, she notified the job board about her notice period and accepted the offer. Very soon she was to live with the Acker’s taking care of Breina and meet her grandmother, both being the reasons for her very existence.
Breina had seen the two world wars, had suffered from the Covid disease thanks to the Wuhan virus which was apparently let out by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which is currently adjudged to be nothing less than the third world war, and, recovered from it, and, here she was, in Israel while the Pandemic was still not over, in the midst of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Paradoxically, she had survived the worst of the humanitarian crisis and was now being treated for something completely different. Sometimes, Ariel could not come to terms with this. Neither did Avigal. Breina was a fighter. And that is what they wanted her to be.
Soujanya was appointed as Breina’s nurse and caretaker and she was really good at it. She used to live at the Acker Villa, in their guest house. After the day’s work was done, she would head back to the guest house, light up a diya in front of the small temple that the Acker’s had allowed her to accommodate, and cook a light dinner for herself. She would then call up her family back in Kerala and speak with Saumil and Srinivasan for a good hour or so. On weekends, when a substitute nurse would be made available, she would make it a point to visit the camps where Lakshmi was working. On some Sundays, she would also go with Lakshmi to her house which was adjoining Edna’s, and have lunch with all of them. Shaina’s wedding preparations were on and that had added some zest to the environment... Life, although in transition, was going on well for Soujanya.
One Sunday afternoon after having a scrumptious meal cooked by Lakshmi, they both sat back talking before a short afternoon nap. Soujanya was excited to show Lakshmi Saumil’s recent fancy-dress photos which Srinivasan had sent to her via WhatsApp the previous night. As they both scrolled through Soujanya’s phone, there were few pictures of the Acker’s and their house. One of the pictures had an image of Ariel and Avigal through three decades of their marriage. When Lakshmi saw that picture, she felt that she had seen the man in the photo somewhere.
Lakshmi was startled when she realized that it was in one of Edna’s old photo albums that she had seen that man. Without speaking anything with Soujanya, Lakshmi rushed to Edna’s house and asked her to identify the picture. Tears filled up in Edna’s eyes when she identified Ariel.
That same evening Edna left with Lakshmi and Soujanya to visit her brother whom she had not seen for so many years. Ariel was shocked at this happy coincidence and could not stop crying either. No one realized how the minutes turned into hours and the hours turned into a day. The night after, Edna returned back home with Lakshmi and was happy that after so many years she had finally met someone she loved so dearly from her family. It mattered a lot to her, especially in the face of the ongoing Hamas attacks.
At night after Lakshmi left, as always, Soujanya was speaking with Srinivasan on the telephone. She was telling him about all that had traversed through her life in Israel in the past one day when a rocket hit the Acker guest house. Before she could check the warning signal on her mobile and escape to a safer shelter, Soujanya was burnt to ashes. Srinivasan had been particularly worried for her since the past few days and was insisting that she should come back home. But Soujanya was persistent in fulfilling her duty, serving and taking care of Breina. He was only fortunate to hear her voice only a few moments before it was permanently silenced by a ruthless war that seemingly had no end. A war that often led him and many others like him to question, “Who is winning exactly?”
In the morning when the news reached the Acker household they were filled with regret. Lakshmi was informed about Soujanya’s death, and, on hearing, she suddenly felt that her life had no existential meaning anymore. But in the moment that followed, she remembered Saumil and decided to move back to Kerala to take care of him, at least till the time Srinivasan could get a hold of himself.
As Ariel completed the formalities with the policemen, he happened to look at Breina who was standing on the terrace with Shaina who used to at times insist on visiting the Acker’s to spend time with Breina. That evening Shaina was particularly excited because she was to go with Aejaz for buying her wedding dress. And, looking at them Ariel felt, “Breina is the lucky one. She cannot remember anything. If she would have, she may have not liked what she was witnessing anyways. Yes, she is the lucky one.”