Second Innings8 mins 20.2K 8 mins 20.2K
Tring…. Tring…. The alarm screamed, and Latha woke up and checked the time. It was 05:30 a.m. She quickly got up from the bed, did Namaste to the Ganesha Idol, which was kept on the desk beside her bed and went straight into the bathroom. After her morning chores, she went into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. It was her birthday, so, she had planned to make her favourite Idli, Sambar, chutney and vada.
Around 7 a.m. Her husband Prabhu woke up and started screaming from his bed, ‘Latha! Where is my bed coffee?’
‘Coming….’ Latha made fresh filter coffee and poured on to the coffee cup and took it to her room and said, ‘Tada! Here is your bed coffee.’ Offered him coffee, giving a pose.
Prabhu made faces and said, ‘You know that I have a flight to catch, then why didn’t you wake me up?’ He grabbed the coffee cup from her hands and started drinking.
She waited for few seconds thinking he would wish her birthday. But he had forgotten about it completely. He looked at her and said, ‘Why are you staring at me like this? Is breakfast ready?’
‘Yes. You get ready, and I'll serve breakfast.' She said and walked out of the room dumping her excitement.
After few minutes, he screamed again, ‘Where is my blue shirt?’
She immediately ran into the room and said, ‘It is inside your cupboard itself.' She then removed the shirt from the cupboard and gave it to him. ‘Ok, get ready and come. I'll serve you breakfast.'
‘I am already late. I don’t want to miss my flight. I’ll have something in the airport.’
‘But I woke up early and prepared so much of food. Every day you are busy, at least today can’t you sit with me and have breakfast?’
He held her shoulders and smiled and said, ‘Why, what so special about today? Is it because I’m going to Pune for two weeks and you would miss me?’
‘No! Because… Leave it. Nothing.’ She shrugged her shoulders and sat on the bed.
‘Oh! Come on Latha. Now, don’t start your emotional drama. I must attend that conference. It was planned way long back. So, please don’t complain. Don’t worry I have told my office watchman to guard here at nights. He will come by 6:00 p.m. and leave by 6:00 a.m. Don’t be scared. This is not the first time you will be alone.’
‘Ya. I know. This has become part of my life now.’
Prabhu had to leave home as he had a flight to catch. So, soon he went waving at her.’
It was 8:00 a.m. Latha felt terrible, as her husband didn’t even remember her birthday. But it wasn’t the first time that he had forgotten. So, she cheered herself and served breakfast on the plate and said, ‘Happy birthday, Latha. So, you turned 58 today. Huh! You have become old. Wonder why people celebrate the birthday, even after knowing that we are getting closer to our death?'
She took a piece of idli, dipped in chutney and then sambar and ate. ‘Hmmmm…. Yummy. Whatever it is, nothing better than my idli, chutney and sambar. I am a great cook. No one can beat me in this.'
Soon she heard a doorbell ring. A smile emerged on her face, and she quickly got up and said to herself, ‘I think he remembered and came back to wish me.’ She ran towards the door and opened it.
‘Hi! Happy birthday, Aunty.’ Said Swara.
‘Hey! Swara. You remembered?’
Swara was her sister’s youngest daughter. Even though she was half her age, she shared everything with Latha. They were good friends.
‘Of course. I remember. That’s why I came to stay here for a couple of days. Uncle had called me last week and told me about his 2 weeks plan to go to Pune. So, thought of spending some time with you. So…. what did Uncle give you for your birthday? Did he surprise you? Tell me everything.’ Swara asked excitedly.
Latha said what happened with a sad face.
‘It’s OK, you know that Uncle has a history of forgetting things. So, don’t be sad. I’m here now. Let’s celebrate.’
Latha served her breakfast, and both started planning their day. Swara noticed that Latha had lost interest in everything. No matter whatever she suggested, Latha blamed her age and rejected the plan.
‘Oh! C’mon Aunty. Why do you always blame your age? You’re not that old. You are just in your 50’s.’
‘So, what. You still have your life. Do you want to spend the rest of the life just in the kitchen? Don’t you want to explore life?’
‘In this age?’
‘Why not. Age is just the number. I don't understand, even mom does this all the time. OK, tell me what have you done at your young age?'
‘Means, anything like apart from going to college, learn cooking, or taking care of the house?’
Latha thought for few minutes and gave a blank look and said, ‘Our parents were not that supportive. We were not given that much of freedom to even think about choosing our college or marriage. You know how conservative is our community.’
‘What did you do after marriage? Uncle is quite supportive.’
‘Ahhh…. After marriage, life changes. Even if your husband is supportive, we need to think about the family. I was married at the age of 18, and within a year, I was pregnant. So, never had time for myself. I had to take care of Smitha. Her school, her tuitions, engineering college, marriage then her baby…. Never realised how fast days went by and now, I am 58. What will I enjoy life now? Leave it. You tell me? Any boyfriend?’ Asked excitedly.
‘I understand, you had so many responsibilities at your young age so, you couldn't enjoy the life. But you are free now, please don't waste it by blaming your age.'
‘Oh! Leave it Swara. Why are you so adamant. I can't do anything that I wanted to do in my young age. So, why are we even bothered to discuss these things?'
‘Because I want to change your perception towards your living at this age. I want you to understand that till now, you lived for your family. Now, live for yourself. Please don’t block your mind by giving age as the barrier. No matter how old you are, you can still live your life the way you want. Now, let’s make a bucket list. Means let’s write down the list of things that you wanted to do when you were young, and let's see if the age comes in between.’
Latha frowned and said, ‘Huh… I don’t want to do anything.’
‘Oh! C’mon Aunty. Ok, at least tell me one thing that you wanted to do.’
‘When I was young I wanted to buy a two-wheeler. But my parents never bought one for me. But now, I don't think I can learn it. Because, by the time I even learn balancing, the 2 weeks will be gone.’
‘Hmmm… Ok. So, why don't you learn the four-wheeler instead? I'll teach you.'
With a lot of convincing, Latha finally agreed, and everyday Swara and taught driving. Initially, she had problems facing her hesitation towards learning new things but soon, she started feeling comfortable driving. Both enjoyed their time, and Latha felt happy about herself learning to drive, which she never thought of doing even in her dreams. She thanked Swara for coming and changing her perception towards her age and to break the age barrier in her mind.
After few days Prabhu came back, and Swara left. Latha told everything to Prabhu, about how Swara taught her driving and now she can comfortably drive in traffic. Prabhu made fun of her and didn’t even wait to listen to her. He went into his room and got busy with his work. After few minutes, Latha brought coffee and saw his files and papers scattered all over the place, and he has fallen on the ground and gasping for breath and suffering from chest pain. Immediately she understood that it was not just a pain, but it could be an attack. So, she quickly tried calling an ambulance, but it was taking some time for it to reach. She took a deep breath and decided to drive him to the hospital. She helped him to sit inside the car and sat on the driver seat. He looked at her and asked, ‘Are you sure you want to do this? I think we should wait for the ambulance.’
‘No. I’m sure, I can do this.’
She drove as fast as she could and reached the hospital. The ward boy brought the wheelchair and took him straight to the operation theater. His life was saved because of her quick decision. Once he was moved to the ward, he looked at her and said, ‘Thank you for saving my life. I always thought that you are soft and never would take such steps. But I'm happy that you proved me wrong. Sorry, you had to wait 40 years to learn driving. I could have taught you, but never thought that would be necessary. But I'm proud of you, today.'
Latha felt extremely happy and decided to share her happiness with her neighboring friends by teaching them to drive. She also opened a women’s club called “40Plus” which helped women over 40 years old, to fulfill their buried wishes. She soon had many members joining in and got busy. She arranged many classes like; swimming, dancing, yoga, aerobics and also traveled places. She totally forgot about her age and welcomed her birthday every year with a new wish list. She helped many women to change their perception towards their life. She made a promise to herself, ‘No matter how many days I would live, I promise to live to the fullest. I will explore myself by learning new things and would help others to do so.’
From then she never stopped learning….
PS: We never know, whether how many lives we lived or would be living. What if, we had wasted every previous life by just thinking, that I will live my next life better. Every life is important. You just need to take the first step, rest will be followed. No matter what age you are, you still get to taste the life. Don’t stop living until you stop breathing.