Indu reached college on time and completed all the formalities. But it took lots of time at college and it was almost dusk; when she managed to get the appointment letter. Indu rushed back to Ernakulam railway station to catch the passenger train. But by the time she reached the station, the train had already departed.
She looked at her wrist-watch, it showed 6.51 and that made her more nervous. She couldn’t think of any other alternative as next day was her marriage. She didn’t want to give her father any sort of tensions. She thought if she hired a cab she can reach before 9 o'clock at Thrisoor.
Hurriedly she looked for a cab and telling her destination and settling the fare with the driver, got into it. It was then that she realized how tired she actually was. After her marriage was fixed life had become so hectic. Above all, she was travelling that whole day. A lingering headache was troubling her badly. She wanted to have medicine to get rid of it but then remembered she didn’t have even a morsel of food. Soon she opened her handbag and ate few biscuits and drank some water along with popping a painkiller. She thought if she slept for some time she would feel better and fresh by the time she reached home. The journey was about a couple of hours long, and the breeze was so soothing and she saw the beautiful dusk through the window. Sun was going down and the horizon was beautifully reddish. She closed her eyes slowly…
She saw herself in the wedding dress and felt she was looking more beautiful than ever. She saw her father doing the ‘Kanya Daan’. She noticed how happy and content he was looking. She could hear people commenting how the couple looked like ‘Made for each other’. She saw her first lecture at the college and saw how students loved her classes and never bunked. She saw life with Manu and felt how beautiful life is. Slowly she slipped into sleep.
Suddenly she felt something unusual. A kind of disorientation made her wonder where she was. It was so dark outside and she was in the car and car was halted at some lonely place. By the time Indu recalled things; she saw the driver was forcing him on her. She used her whole strength to rescue from his clutch. But he suddenly tied her hands together above her head and pushed some clothes into her mouth to make her silent. She started feeling suffocated and her defense was getting weak.
In that hour, she cursed self for the first time for being born as a woman. She hated herself for being so delicate and ambitious. She was being brutally attacked by a man who ruptured her body like a wild animal. All the dreams turned out to be nightmares. Her body was under tremendous pain and the torment was going on like never ending episode. She couldn’t bear the torture anymore. She wished to embrace her death, .at that moment death was more tempting to her than life.
Krishna Menon was in his early 50’s and was a headmaster in a government school in a village at Kerala. With respect and love, everyone called him Menon Sir. He was an idol for the whole village. He symbolized morals, ethics and values and was highly philanthropic as well. He spent half of his earning for the education of poor kids whose parents could not afford it. That was a tradition he had been following since ever since he joined the school as a teacher. Because he believed education is the real wealth and the strength of future generation to build a better nation. That was the commitment he had socially.
Menon Sir had a beautiful wife Radha Devi and lived in a small house near the school. Even after 20 years of marriage they were childless and that was the only pain they shared in silence. Yet, they felt complete! A couple made for each other. They both believed in simplicity, hence lived a simple life. Radha was religious and used to go to the nearby temple daily and it was part of her routine since she had come to that village after her marriage. She was soft spoken with a noble heart and everyone liked her so much. Her inner beauty reflected on her face as a grace.
It was the August of 1991. Onam season was the biggest 10 days festival where all celebrated Onam with same enthusiasm, irrespective of religions. Though, the sky was not clear and having rain-clouds here and there reminding monsoon is yet not over.
Thiruvonam, the most important day of the season was so pleasant and warm. The sunny atmosphere had the aroma of the season and breeze was carrying the energy spreading joy to the lives of people. Onam was always very uplifting to all Keralities.
For Radha, that was an unforgettable Onam, because of a beautiful reason. That day was she had come to know the happiest news of her life. She waited for this day for the last 20 years with an undying faith. At last the good news came as a blessing.
Yes, she got pregnant!! First she couldn’t believe though the wait was so impatient and desirous. She went through a mix of emotions. The truth brought radiance to her face and was reflecting as joy.
“All the prayers got answered, it was worth a wait,” she said in a low voice and smiled. She couldn’t wait to share this happy news with her husband.
During Onam season, schools closed down for 10 days and Menon loved to spend most of his leisure time either reading or gardening. Radha never disturbed him when he used to read unless, something was very urgent or important.
When he saw, he asked, “Radha, is everything fine?“
Without answering she went near him and sat down. He was still looking at her. She slowly took his hand and kept it on her stomach and smiled. Suddenly his eyes widened with amusement. She understood what he was silently asking. She held his hand as if confirming and erasing his doubt.
"Ohh Radhaaa!!" the expression on his face was beyond definition.
She saw joys of tears flowing and was glistening with pride. He hugged her gently and patted on her back without uttering a word. Perhaps that was the most beautiful conversation they had till date.
Certain emotions don’t require words but just silence. The way silence conveys the intensity of emotions, words may not in such special moments, they realized.
The would-be parents enjoyed the happiest phase of their life. Their life seemed more meaningful and the leisure was more joyful. They weaved many dreams for their baby. Many evenings they went to the temple together and shared their joy with many people. The whole village was so happy for them. Even the stars and moon were part of their joy.
They impatiently waited for the day. Next 9 months went like the 10 days of Onam. Every moment seemed so blissful and at last, that fateful day came. Radha gave birth to a baby girl. Menon Sir and Radha became proud parents for the first time. It was supposedly the most beautiful day of their life. Unfortunately!
Radha was in her 40’s at the time. Her body couldn’t bear the pregnancy-related complications. Excessive blood loss made her so weak and made her case her medically-challenging. Doctors failed to stop the bleeding even after their best of efforts. Her vital statics were alarming and they feared the worst. In those moments of struggle she realized, death is approaching her fast. She gathered all her strength for the only desire left in her life. She wanted to see her baby once.
She murmured in vague voice, ”Doctor, may I see my baby once… before it is too late…?”
She was visibly tired. There was a meaningful pause. Doctors and nurses looked each other helplessly. They knew it was her last wish and the worst could happen any moment. They immediately brought her baby. Her baby looked so angelic and pinkish.
Radha saw her baby for the first time. Instantly her eyes sparkled like stars. All her sufferings and pain vanished into thin air. She felt a sense of completeness, a sense of bliss that she had never felt before. She realized how the bundle of joy had transformed her into a mother from a mere woman. Her baby made her complete. She comprised all the love and blessings for a lifetime and kissed her baby with trembling lips. That was the first and last kiss of a dying mother. The intensity of emotions and amount of pain she had gone through in those moments was beyond imagination. Her bosom was spilling love and she wished if she could hold her baby in her arms forever. She felt life and death simultaneously.
Radha has gone forever before Menon could say anything or hear anything from her, she breathed her last. The void was more than he could bear, imagine or contemplate in life.
Radha was not just his wife but a soulful shadow for him through all these years. Till date, they had shared all their joys and tears together and never ever lived apart from each other. Now she had left and the empty space looked irreplaceable. He knew without Radha his life was incomplete and insignificant. There was no desire left in him to live. He was broken completely. In silence, the tears were frozen and never shed and sealed in his eyes as pain. He knew it would remain in his eyes as long as he was alive.
Radha’s last smile was so haunting, yet the look was so assuring, he remembered.
He knew what her eyes and smile had been saying so loudly even in that silence. Their daughter – the joy, she had left for him would keep him alive even in her absence. Yet nothing could console him in that hour of great loss. The baby was lying on his arm and was crying badly as if she too was aware of the tragic truth of her life. A baby lost her mother too, reality burnt his heart like a pyre. His wife’s mortal body was on the flames in front of him and was burning into ashes.
He uttered firmly in his heart, ‘’Radha, I would fulfill all the dreams we weaved together for our baby and it is my promise to you. I would be her mother and father, for the rest of my life.”
He stood there for a while looking at the flames, with a heavy heart he returned.
Days passed and time was the best healer, it proved in the course. Life had to move on irrespective of any tragedies. It should not be stuck and that is the universal law.
Radha remained ‘a sweet pain’ for him. Her memories were the fuel for him. He learned to overlook his pain. The joyful presence of their daughter helped him to cope-up with the great loss of his beloved wife. Gradually he started enjoying parenthood and its responsibility. Slowly Indu had become the most beautiful part of his life. He used his full energy to bring her up the way they both dreamed once.
Indu not only carried the beauty and nobility of her mother but also the aspirations and morals of her father. Indu was loved by all and was a darling to all. Academically she was always the topper and made her father proud. Like her father, she also had the same aspirations and dreams. She wanted to become a teacher when she grew up and wished to educate as many students as she could, like her father. She idolized her father.
Years passed and she completed her graduation with the highest percentage. She wished to study further and enrolled for M.Ed. She cherished a secret dream to top in the state. Indu wanted to make her father so happy and proud. She was aware, how her father had raised her single-handed and what all sacrifices he had made to give her this life. She could do anything to give him this joy because she believed her father deserved the best. She studied so hard, day and night.
She was getting more and more nervous when the result day came near. But when the news was out it was like a forest-fire. Indu was able to bag the 1st rank with her sheer ambition and dedication. It was, in fact, a gift of love for her father. The whole village was celebrating this joy. Indu had not only made her father proud but the entire village too. There was felicitation function for Indu. On the stage, she made a memorable speech and it was truly touching.
With love, she handed over the memento and mark sheet to her father. Indu said in a low voice, ‘’Daddy, this is for you. Without you it wouldn't have been possible.”
Menon Sir got overwhelmed and was unable to say anything. He felt a lump in his throat. His eyes were flooding with joy. He kissed Indu’s forehead and blessed her immensely. He wished Radha to be alive to see that day, but somehow he was sure she was seeing all these from the heaven and feeling proud and happy the way he felt. That thought made him happier.
Indu’s marriage was one of the dearest dreams the parents had for her. Once she gets settled in life, he could rest peacefully and spend the remaining life in the memories of his beloved wife. That was how he wished to spend the rest of his old age. Menon Sir started looking for a groom while she was pursuing her post-graduation.
Manu was in his late 20’s and was a college lecturer at Maharajas College, Kochi. He was tall, handsome and well-mannered. He belonged to a cultured and educated family. Manu and Indu met and liked each other. They agreed for this match because of similar interest in career, likes and dislikes. Both families were satisfied equally. They decided to have an early marriage. The marriage date was fixed for 10th October 2014. Everything happened the way a father could have desired. He felt so happy and blessed and thanked the Almighty.
Menon Sir started preparing for the marriage with a new vigor. Indu got interview calls from few colleges and she managed to appear in the interviews in between. She got selected at almost all colleges because of her high caliber and rank status. But she preferred to join the same college where Manu worked.
It was one week prior to her marriage, she got a registered letter from the college. It was a final call for accepting the appointment letter. They had requested Indu to visit the college on 9th October to complete the last round of formalities, before issuing the appointment order. The schedule was so tight due to marriage however she was left with no other options except to spare a day for this important task.
Reluctantly Indu shared the matter with her father. He got uncomfortable and disagreed first. He never liked the idea of Indu traveling to Kochi on 9th October, the day just before her marriage.
He asked her, “Indu can’t you postpone this for few days?”
She knew she had to convince him at any cost as she couldn’t avoid this trip.
She replied, “Daddy, don’t worry, your daughter is grown up now and going to be a lecturer soon. I will go early and come back by evening.”
She said it mischievously with a smile to make him at ease. At last he had to agree.
On 9th early morning, she left for Kochi. All through the way she was excited. The thoughts of the coming days made her blush like a bride. She felt life was treating her so well.
Her eyes welled up, covered in blood and darkness covering her modesty. She sobbed, but no one could hear her mourning. She wanted to be held tight by her mother. She called her in a mute voice. She breathed deep, "Mommmm….. plssss….. helpp….. meeee….."
She breathed deep. She remembered her dear father who was away and waiting for her impatiently. She breathed deep.
A bright light was descending from afar. She saw her mother for the first time. she looked so calm, so peaceful, so beautiful. She smiled at her. She was coming close to her. Her presence was so comforting to her. She held her hand and Indu cried loudly, so loudly that the voice echoed in the darkness.
Radha held her daughter tight. Indu felt as if she was merging into her mother. She felt calm and a light was floating in the air. All her sufferings and pain had gone. She saw her body below, wrapped in red colour, her forehead adorned with vermillion.
“Lust can destroy my body but not my soul. The soul is pure and immortal, I realize!. I will come back again to live my dreams, till then let me live through ashes.”