Friday, January 13, 2012

Hope against Hope

The evening was cold and dark as I entered a fenceless compound that had been brazenly encroached upon. The dilapidated structure, a little further down the path, which was house to at least two families stood bravely bearing the painful scars of a mulilated relationship between two brothers .

Had prepared myself for sad faces and a glum meeting as I rang the door bell reluctantly, as if still seeking an excuse to avoid this encounter. The excuses would have worked, in fact no one would hold it against me had I chosen not to visit this couple. But it would be a little cruel on my part if I had not come. I would hold it against my ownself for a long time, if not for the rest of my life.

The lady of the house opened the door. Wearing a musturd color neatly embroidered woollen shalwar kameez and a smart maroon jacket, hair styled elegantly, she was smiling. My lips also curled into what must have looked like a smile...
I did not know if her's was an artificially pasted one. But I knew mine was. It was just not the kind of atmosphere that makes one happy.

She welcomed me to the huge and graceful drawing room. It perfectly reflected the personality of its owners. Our conversation began on a much expected gloomy note as she and I discussed her husband's health. He was suffering from cancer and the condition was not getting any better even after getting the best of treatment available.

Both her sons are away from home for work. She is a Professor, now deputy director of the training institute that trains the teaching staff of the University. Her husband had a flourishing business before his health made it impossible for him to go on working. She said she would happily move to another job if it would take the couple closer to at least one of the sons, and away from this daily grind of unpleasantness. Surely if all their prayers cannot be answered at least this one should long have been.

Not that I did not sympathise with her, but helplessness thy name name is human being. I wanted to get over with this uncomfortable feeling of powerlessness at the soonest. The first opportunity I got, I told her most politely that I would better leave. But her hospitality amazed me.
"How can you go without a cup of tea?" She asked me, and without waiting for an answer, she was already on her way to the kitchen.

Over hot cups of adrak-waali-chaai and samosas we chatted of other things. It was like a break she had been most eagerly seeking. I could feel the sense of relief she was experiencing from being able to put the agony of a painful existence behind her, if only temporarily.. She was beaming like a winner at having wrested from the clutches of suffering more happiness than life allowed for her.

She then took me to the adjacent room to meet her husband.
He was so weak and frail that from under the mass of a shimmering sea-green silk razai his head popped up with some difficulty to rest against the pillow...
She instinctively went to his side and made him comfortable.

He had to make an effort to speak, but he talked pleasingly. Right in front of my eyes was a lonely middle-aged couple, struggling to stay afloat in the midst of devastatingly stormy high seas.

For every smile that lit up her husband's face I saw her shine with a thousand rays of hope. Life is strangely very easily optimistic.

Her smile was for real.
And this time round mine was real too.

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