LIFE AND DEATH IN THE TIME OF “CIVIL” WAR

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Her eyes were begging everyone to say it was all a joke and thereby relieve her. A faint hope was still in her eyes, and the sorrows in them could melt platinum.
“Aamaa, it can’t be true. He said he is coming back soon.”, She said. But her voice was hardly audible in the noise.
“They’re all pulling practical jokes on us. They think we’re fools. He can never leave me. He still hasn’t seen this newborn son of his. He said he was going to make it for our son’s nwaraan , she added in her faint shivering voice filled with the hopes that the others would support her in her present post-natal period and assure that everything was alright.
Quite a few women from the neighborhood had already gathered around her and continuously gossiping.
“Poor Radha, she just had a son, just a week old baby, and she looks lost for her husband today. “ One of them whispered and the rest of them helped her to continue their favorite pastime, gossiping sadistically. “Tch-tch-tch…………, what a poor fate!”
No one was there to hold Radha and help her to be strong enough to face her fate. All they did was shower sympathy on her, making her weaker with their every single word. Their condolences were making her feel that she was a weak, poor, uneducated and helpless women left alone and doomed to face this cruel world with the responsibilities of her son and in-laws in her weak shoulders. She was sinking deeper and deeper into grief but her heart still didn’t believe what had actually happened to seal her fate.
“Let them wait for a few hours. They’ll be shocked to see him coming, smiling and entering the house. I am not going to talk to home for a week for playing such a joke……” She was murmuring under her breath and praying for her belief to be true.
“He is too young to die, do you all hear me? God can’t be this cruel. If someone has to die, let it be me. Aamaa would look after my son. But how can his place be substituted by me in terms of responsibilities? How can I look after them all? God, take me with you but spare my husband. Let all this be a joke, just a nightmare……….”
Radha suddenly broke into frantic cries. But there were no shoulder for her to lean on and weep until everything would be alright.
Chandri, her mother in law had not spoken to anyone since the news arrived. She was sitting by the window, remembering the days of her son’s childhood, his youth, his wedding, She was trying to treasure all those moments she had spent with him so that she may live with them safely treasured inside her, her son’s first home. Her eyes were unable to shed tears.
“A mother smiles in her near-death experience during delivery because she knows her creation is coming alive. Bit my creation now is dead, lifeless. How can I bear this? How can I see my baby lying lifeless in front of my eyes? What I am going to say to his son? What will happen to my daughter-in-law? How can I see her in plain white mourning cloths when I am still in my colorful saris? God how can you be this cruel? Why me……why……..?”
She took her infant grandson from his cradle and looked for her son’s traces in him. After a while, she could no longer look at him. He reminded her of her son.
The baby was crying now, perhaps terrified by the noises going around him, or in need of his mother’s milk.
“ Babu, please don’t cry. Now you are the only treasure of this family, our only son’s last token of love. You should be very strong to face this world. Who knows what is there in store for you. Let your mother be alone for a while. She needs to be by herself, she won’t be able to handle you for a while………she………..”
Chandri was unable to continue and broke into sobs fondly yet sadly cuddling her grandson in her arms.
A long siren of shankha was heard at a distance. This meant the remains of the dead man were brought home.
The body was covered in blood. There were marks of bullet wounds at places. It was obvious that he was severely beaten and then shot dead.
His father, Ram Bahadur, was too shocked to react at any thing. But he didn’t shed a single drop of tear.
He thought, “After all, I am a man. I should now support my grief-stricken wife and my daughter-in-law and raise my grandson. I should tie my heart tightly and fight back my tears.”
Fluttering his eyelids to fight back his tears, he prepared himself to face his son’s dead body and receive it for the final rites.
“Bichara Ram Dai, what a day for him! He has to attend his son’s funerals at this time of his life……………”
This was how people around him were expressing their ostensible sympathy for him and his bereaved family.
Radha, after seeing he husband, was too shocked to react. She clung to her head and screamed until she could no longer do so. She plunged her head into his cold bosom and wept until tears ran out and her eyes could no longer bear the pain.
They wiped her sindoor and smashed her bangles, tore off her colorful furiya and clothed her in plain white cotton. Today onwards this was her fate, her identity, her life until she, too, would be lifeless like him, which was still a long way to go.
She strained her eyes to see them taking away until she could no longer see any thing due to the tears falling through her eyes. She ten turned to her son who was fast asleep in his cradle and decided to go away from this place, this land where her husband was killed just because he was not one of them. He was one of those they had ambushed, looted and then killed when traveling on the highway to their village to their families. He was a victim of this slow poison called “civil war”, spreading like an epidemic in this land
She decided to go to a land where all were humans by heart, where all were one big family. It ought to be on this earth, just as Ravindra Nath Takhur had described in one of his poems:
Where the world hasn’t been broken up
Into fragments of narrow domestic walls…….

4 comments:

{ rodaam } at: February 14, 2009 at 11:51 PM said...

Really great blog n i ve become ur fan thanx sneha keep it up!

{ rodaam } at: February 14, 2009 at 11:52 PM said...

i ve become ur fan by ur blogs n candid nature thanx sneha keep it up!

{ Mariel Seeks } at: April 29, 2009 at 2:05 PM said...

Perhaps i have not said this, but...You're great. Catched my attention from the fisrt senetnce!!

{ chetansil } at: May 4, 2009 at 12:08 AM said...

Thank you everybody, I will keep it up to carry on your expectations.
Would like to hear more from you all!!