Monday, June 6, 2011
The Falling Nest
When two birds meet, they make a small nest. Their home, their haven. Make love, lay eggs, hatch them, crack them, feed them, raise them till they grow and leave the nest. The two birds fly away till the next season arrives. But then what happens to the place where they created a beautiful family together? Meanwhile, wind, heat & rain destroy that emblem of love. Do the birds really care? But we humans do. We have a habit of getting attached to almost everything. Our first bag, first book, first pen, first love letter, favorite cap and old greeting cards - we almost cry if any of our prized possessions seemed to go lost. The biggest object of attachment is the houses we live in. Especially the ones built after years of handwork, misery, budgeting, compromising & sacrificing. The kind of houses middle class posses with great difficulty, when they are in their middle age.
Shayamal aunty was definitely one of them. She was married when she was seventeen. Had never seen any other man, other than her father before, before her marriage. Balram uncle, a poor middle level officer in a poor government office, an adorable husband and a good father. This is what middle class people are made of- good morals, good relations, everything good yet live in misery.
Their’s was a beautiful life. Two daughters, as beautiful as their mother. Were sent to reasonably good schools, good colleges. They grew up to become smart working women. Find their suitable partners, got married & went to different countries. Leaving the two love birds alone all again. So many years had passed so many memories, many disagreements & fights yet they grew fond of each other even more with every new year. 30yrs of togetherness & many more to come, may be. May be not.
It was their 31st marriage anniversary. As always, their plan was to watch a movie then dinner & a long drive. Movie was nice and so was the dinner. But the long drive was their last drive together. They met with an accident on the highway. Thanks to a drunk driver
Shyamal aunty was a brave heart. She took this devastating fact very gracefully & started living alone in her house, which her husband had made of her, to keep her safe & secure. Safe from the cruel world outside, secure from all the insecurities in the world. Both daughters insisted on her staying with them but she simply refused to leave the house. Was really fond of the place. Everything in there reminded her of him. She could feel him all around the place.
Fifteen years passed away. Daughters couldn’t visit her anymore. Neighbors were too busy to think about the old woman. And as a strong woman, she hardly attracted any sympathy or help. She was too happy to stay alone, left out, independent. But that house was not in a very good condition. It had grown old. The walls and the doors were swollen because of seepage. Last earthquake & the fragile state of the house had brought several cracks in the walls & the ceiling as well. But Shyamal aunty would not see those cracks from her poor eye sight. No body had an idea about the sorry state of the house & the risk which was growing on her head with every day
In one of the rainy seasons, a piece of ceiling came off. It was then that she realized the deteriorating state of her home. The home which she & her husband had created together. It was an emblem of their love. But when their love could never fade why this emblem had to?
.Though she had an option of going to her daughters & keep herself safe. But this house & her attachment to those bricks were more than her attachment to her own life. She just couldn’t leave. After every rainy season the house would grow weaker.
After one such rainy season, one earth quake hit the place. The intensity was not very high, but the house gave up all its remaining strength & came falling down on the ground. Shyamal aunty, though had a very option of stepping out of the house, she just sat there in that rocking chair which belonged to Balram uncle. Nobody in the neighborhood noticed the possibility of her death. It was only after days of daughters being unable to talk to their mother, that a complaint was lodged. When the police came with the M.C.D & the debris was removed. There she was sitting on the chair, white hair, face full of wrinkles yet beautiful. And more beautiful was her smile which could still be seen on her peaceful face