I looked at him; with black shirt buttoned till top and blue jeans, he looked funny with uncombed hair and those dark circles under his eyes. I have never seen this version of him. His trick to look like a heartbroken man in despair was working to a certain extent on the onlookers, with that over grown beard and moustache. But definitely not on me for I was his wife for long 6 years. What shrewd thoughts are dancing behind that masked expression, malice behind the sweet smile, and goal behind the scheming little gesture, I knew it very well with my past experience with that son of the wicked witch. As for the witch, dressed in black salwar, sniffing her nose, holding my two years old son in her arms like a caring grandmother.
“You will pay for your debts, before you leave this world” I screamed at her. But like always she ignored me and continued wiping her crocodile tears. My heart was turmoil when my eyes fell on my mother being consoled by my sister. In her loosely fit sari blouse and green draped sari she just looked at me in silence. There were no tears, no sniffing nose just a blank look. Taking care of me, keeping the smile on my face had already drained the energy from her 65 years old body. How I wanted to hug her and say “everything is going to be alright mom, you don’t have to worry about me anymore”. I was grateful to my sister for standing by her side with her arms around defeated shoulder and comforting. The priest went on blabbering, making the cross sign, sprinkling holy water on me and around me, preparing my eternal resting place where worms will feed on me, enjoying and burping. I risked a last quick glance at my motionless body in casket for I am going to recall it in future whenever I want to remember my final journey.
Clad in a cheap red shimmering sari, which I picked for myself for my own funeral and jasmine flowers adorned on my then small now bulging head I looked funny. “Is that really me?” I asked myself. May be tumor growing inside my head made me look funny I justified. ”Oh god, I look like a woman suffering from mumps”. I laughed out loud for no one was there to restrain me from doing so. I twirled with joy enjoying this new freedom. I looked at my static body again, below my chest I was submerged with dark red roses, blooming jasmine, carnations and flowers I didn’t know. I felt so heavenly, I craved for flowers when I was alive and after my death I was showered with them. Consolation prize of dying I assumed. My grin widened when my eyes fell on my neatly shaped eyebrows. “Just perfect”, I said.
My time was up the moment I left my deceased body. On my begging god let me venture little more into this world of living. I had to see my son for one last time, dead or alive there is no boundary to a mothers love. Blame it on my tumor I was snatched away from the precious moment with my son, I craved to shower his face with kisses and hear him giggle, thrived to hold him in my arms and sing a lullaby, watch him sleep peacefully . With all the privileges gone with my breath I just have to satisfy my desperation just by merely watching him.
“She died so young, feel sorry for the kid, suffered a lot,” people went on expressing their views even when I wasn’t interested to know. Darn them, “Shh,can’t you all just keep quiet for a minute” I grumbled loudly but like the witch they ignored me and continued with what they were doing.
I looked at the priest who was quiet, then all of sudden he signaled at the men standing near my cozy, warm, forever sleeping bag. But before they could make a move my husband hurried to me and kissed my forehead like a loving husband who is going to miss dearly, while I shivered not with delight but with hatred. For the 6 years of marriage he gave me nothing but tears, yelling and beatings along with his mother, and now when I am finally free from his clutches he pretends to be desolated for the benefits and sympathy of the world.
Freshly out of college, with vivid colorful dreams of future I was working as an accountant in a small firm. With my shy smile, jet black hair and average height I was able to capture many proposals. Like a normal girls I dreamt of a loving husband, adorable kids and caring family.
Fallen for his twinkling eyes and charms on the first meet in presence of our elders I couldn’t imagine marrying anybody else. When my mother tried to convince me to reconsider my decision after hearing his great deeds from other people, my decision was still the same. Even though it was arranged marriage I went to callous willingly, how I wish I had listened to my mother then. My husband seemed to be a good man, with his care and love I bloomed like a camellia in autumn.
When I boarded the flight to Dubai with my husband after a month I felt like a contented woman. “Happiness is short lived” something I totally forgot, lost in the arms of my husband. With every passing day my husband’s real face surfaced like a dead body from the bottom of the sea. Bored whole day in the cramped four walls I looked forward for his arrival in the evening. But his late night banging on the door, followed by the yelling’s for opening the door lately killed my dreams with sling shot.
His increased abuse, gibe, foul language and thrashing martyred my smile and happiness forever. When I expressed my wish to work to escape the boredom he blindly said no carrying out his mothers orders smoothly, without even questioning once. I wanted to kill myself just in 3 years of my marriage, but when I realized there is a new life dependent on me I cried my heart out. I did not wanted the little one to bear the same ill fate like me filled with tears, sadness and hatred. Heavy bleeding during third month of my pregnancy and the continuous headaches, I hoped for a miscarriage, for the new innocent life will be free before even its come into this world.
After nine months when Samuel was born I was overwhelmed by my motherly love but I feared for his future during the silent nights. When my headaches were beyond control I saw a doctor who after doing all kinds of tests, avoided my eyes and slowly whispered “You have a tumor growing inside of your head which is in the final stage”.
My life was shattered because my son was too small, incapable of fighting his own battles. My mother begged me to come to her but I stayed with my husband for I didn’t want to be a burden on her. Already I was an entity who had lost her identity and I preferred it to be that way in my last days, gulping my pain, wiping my tears in the silence of night sleeping next to my sleeping baby
Abuse, yelling from my husband multiplied, my medication, at least, eased the pain I was going through, although it didn’t prove to be a complete cure. Few months later my husband’s blunt no to spend money on my medication and exceeded exploitation forced me to pack my bags and go to haven of my waiting mother. “To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part”, our wedding vow laughed at me with my husband showing his back to me when I needed him the most.
My mother was shattered seeing my bloated head, sunken eyes and the 2 years old little Samuel clinging to me, with fearful eyes glaring at her. I tried to be brave with a fake smile on my face but the knowing look from my mother was enough to wet my eyes. At the edge of life, I was happy with my mother; who fed me, took me to hospital, cleaned my puke on bad days and my sister, who boosted my energy with her amusing dialogues.
The final blow came when on one fine day my husband along with his mother came to see me. Glaring at them in my doorstep I could feel the well planned deceit.
“I will take Samuel with me” my husband muttered sipping the coffee my mom offered.
“What for, he is doing just fine here” I replied trying to sound not so anxious.
“You don’t understand Jude, he has to see you suffer every day. It’s not good for him at this young age.” My mother-in-law pitched in.
“Get out of my house” I wanted to yell at them but instead I replied calmly “He would rather see me suffer everyday than stay away from me”. They walked off taking their air of arrogance, hostility with them, but I knew they would be back and not stop until they got what they wanted.
Aware of their motives to separate my son from me, I met a lawyer to make the necessary arrangement so that my sister would get my son’s custody after I am gone to the world of dead. But before I could discuss the chances ,my tumor blackmailed me shamelessly; I was hospitalized. When I sat in the car for my one way journey to the hospital deep down I knew it was my last visit, freedom from suffering, pain was just arms away, I could literally feel my freedom. All I wanted was a little time but time was the one thing I didn’t have in my wallet . I wanted to screech at god, tell the tumor to stop its advance and death to fuck it self. I didn’t let my eyes shed tears, I didn’t let my spirit shrink, I didn’t let the painful headaches eradicate my smiles for my son’s sake who looked at me with hopeful eyes, hope to walk with his mother again, nag her and sleep into her arms.
I was in and out several times in my final week. On one such day I was coming around after painful headaches when I saw my husband, his mother standing near me, holding my son with triumphant grin on their face. I wanted to stop them, I wanted to shout at them not to touch my son with their stained hands. With my medicine working its wonder I was lost to the world of dumb before I could open my mouth. When I came around after a day my son was not around. I wailed with whatever little energy I got, I cried with my defeat, how can they separate him from me for I needed him more than anyone during my final moments.
I didn’t have to wait for long, that night I abandoned my abused, diseased body to rest peacefully for eternity. I was happy in a way but sad in another for I can’t be around to look after my son.
As I looked, my husband backed out crying loudly when my son just looked at me and whispered “Mommy”. My heart throbbed with despair. It won’t be very long before he forgets my face,my loving embrace, my name and his dear mommy.
As I watched, they first covered my face with pure white hand kerchief and whole body with white cloth.
“white or color, old or new, I am still feasted by worms. Don’t you understand, it doesn’t matter” I said.
Then all of sudden they started pulling out the flowers from the casket
“No, wait. Please don’t do that, I love flowers. Let them be with me on this victorious day. Please Sir” I went on begging but they did not budge.
“Oh Jude, Jude, my dear Jude” I could identify my mother’s helpless whimper. Someone closed the casket and lowered it to freshly dug grave. Some threw the mud while others the flowers, bidding me their final farewell. From mud I came to belong to mud for now and for eternity.
“Before you are born your fate is written by your creator, my love will always take care of you my darling, it will protect you from all the danger.” I said looking at my son whose eyes were closing with exhaustion.
I smiled, with my short painful journey coming to an end, there was a beginning to my new journey of freedom. I was happy for I could laugh again without any worries, after all I am a free soul.