An Asylum For Me?

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Posted June 15, 2018 from India

Dear Madam Jensine,

I have just finished writing a story in response to your email regarding the Celebration of Women Empowerment from the 26th of June to the 26 of July, 2018. Unfortunately, I do not know where to post the story. If you be kind enough to help, please, I shall be much obliged.

With regards and love,

Sincerely,

R.N.Bhattacharjee

An Asylum For me?

As I am counting the last days of my life, the thought uppermost in my mind is this – is there no Justice in this world? My friends at World pulse, let me share today the story of my with you all in case it helps anyone like me.

I am 79 now, rotting in an asylum somewhere in the north-east of Kolkata. No one comes to visit me anymore. In a dingy room on the second floor of a ramshackle building, I spend my days along with another lady like me, who goes on blabbering and hallucinating throughout the day. I wonder if she has ever bothered to look my way. Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention two other friends of mine. They don’t stay with me though. I mean, they are treated regally, being the owner’s pets – an Alsatian and a Doberman. They are taken such good care of by the maids working here that I feel envious of them. I get all jittery every time the Doberman called Don wanders into our room. Oh, God! These flies! Can’t someone even help me by plugging on the mosquito repellent or something? Is this what I really deserve for trying to be a good human all my life? Okay, then. Let me share my story from the beginning in case, I do not get to see another glorious sun-up again. Let me then leave it in your hands to decide for yourselves whether I deserve such a fate or I am being punished for some sins I may have committed unintentionally or in one of my previous lives.

My early recollection of childhood days starts with my grandpa, who was a great scholar of Sanskrit. I would find him engrossed in translating The Mahabharata, the Indian epic for hours. We had servants numbering more than the people living in our house. And mind you, ours was a joint family. Some of the best lessons of life I learnt just by growing up in such a big family. The other great lessons I learnt from my parents.

“Minu, can you please lend me a hand, bathing your siblings? Your Baba’s to go to college early today for a meeting with the School Managing Board? And Minu, can you go to Baro Pissi’s (Paternal aunt’s) to see why she’s been asking me to meet her lately?’ Ma called out to me from the veranda outside our dining room. She was blowing into the mud oven to keep it going.  She had tears welling up in her eyes due to the smoke coming from the coal. This happened after granddad’s death and Dad fell into hard times. Though my dad was quite modern in his outlook, I was admitted in one of the best girls school along with my eldest sister. 

I was never an ordinary student and my teachers simply gloated over my achievements. Anyway, I passed the Matriculation Examination (Class-X) with record marks. All were elated including Ma. She was the least expressive of all my relatives and any praise coming from her was like catching a glimpse of the sun on a cloudy day.  I had barely completed my college, when Dad found himself in a tight corner. He had risen to the post of Principal of a Grade-1 college in Kolkata by then but there was some kind of conspiracy against him and soon he was sacked from his post summarily. Those were the dark days of our life. Those were also the days that finished off dad both physically and mentally. He fought tooth and nail against the Government for the disgrace meted out to him and the case continued for 17 long years. By the time Dad was acquitted of the charge, he had already past his prime. Sitting on the easy chair, in a robe bought for him by my brother who had recently started working as an Assistant Professor of Economics somewhere in England, dad looked regal even at a time when old age was slowly catching up with him. The days were to leave our family in abject poverty. I am not sure if one of my sibling who died during this period, died due to hunger or poverty.

Finding the person I had come to look up to withering in that manner, I realized that I had to grow up faster than the other girls of my age. I did exceedingly well in the Master’s as well. Getting a job in government service was not as difficult in those days as it is now. I started working as a Lecturer before my M.A. result was out. The day I handed over my entire pay to dad for the first time, you should have seen him. I saw his face glowing after ages. I tried my best to help him financially as much as I was capable of.

By the time I got married, Dad was in his late sixties. As my husband, an engineer by profession, did not need any financial help from me, I tried to help my dad and his family in whatever way I could.  It pains me no end to say, something I could never think of sharing with others during my hay days that I always tried to help the poor and the downtrodden. I did so thinking about the hard days of my early childhood. I know no one will ever express his or her gratitude to me as these are the ways of the world, but I’m thankful to God for not letting me be a self-centred woman.

Just a few years before Dad’s sudden demise, I got transferred to one of the most reputed colleges in Kolkata at that time, the Presiensy College. If I had any pre-conceived notions of women empowerment and all, they were jolted by the time I started teaching. The best college was manned by some foreign-returned educators, least bothered about the standard of eduction prevailing in Bengal at that time. Money was the be all and by all in their lives and they didn’t mind committing the most heinous crimes for the sake of being rich. Surprisingly, most of them were from very rich families with all kinds of political affiliations and backing.

It was a mistake on my part to raise a voice against them or was it?  I started vehemently protesting against the menace of the Coaching Culture which was fast being a part of the Education System in Kolkata. Students did not bother to attend classes regularly anymore. They did not have to worry about attendance or anything as long as they studied in the private coaching centres run by some of those high-society colleagues. I was a mere plaything in the hands of the games makers and within no time, was transferred to a remote college in Bengal. Even then, God was good to me and I had my son to take care of.

‘Like father, like son’ – the saying held water in his case. He graduated with First Class Honours from Jadavpur University. My pride knew no bounds. I thought, no matter how corruption reigned supreme in the society, God was great in granting such a son to me. My son would address all this injustice and corruption. But within a few years of his marriage all my dreams and hopes regarding my son – were dashed down the drain.  I tried to keep him away from all evil eyes with the intention of making him a real man of the world. In 2014, under mysterious circumstances, he was found lying on the floor of the 5-Star hotel in Hyderabad where he had gone to attend a meeting as the CEO of his company. I could hear someone crying pitifully when his body, especially his head, covered in bandages, was brought before me just before his final rites. God, what was his mistake or was he being punished for the sins of his mother? I’ll never know the answers in this life.

Anyway, to come back to the concluding part of my life-story, I had always been extremely proud of the fact that I was an independent lady. I had bought one apartment with my hard-earned money in a very posh area of Kolkata. After my husband’s death from long ailment due to old age, I also came into possession of the house he had had constructed in the Salt Lake City. AS I had trouble adjusting with the widow of my son, I quietly, uncomplainingly moved to that house after my son was gone. But then one fine day, I was picked up from there by my driver with the assurance that he was taking me to my brother’s at a place called Behala. That’s how I was dumped in the asylum. My brothers and some members of their families use to visit me initially. Then instructions were passed that no one could meet me without prior approval of my son’s widow.  She said I was getting hysterical after those visits. People naturally stopped coming.

I am tired now. I have been since those days when my late mother would say that there is a God and He is the Master and Maker of the whole universe. He never forgives the sins, though He is forgiving even to the sinners. Sitting on my chair by the window, in this dimly-lit room, I remember my late mother’s words. I find it difficult to get up with the frail and feeble hands. My only companion of the moment is the other lady, who is sound asleep, snoring.  I finally get up with a renewed attempt and lie down. My mother’s words keep ringing in my ears:

God will never let His true devotees, the truth-seekers down. He will be waiting at the Gates of Heaven with open arms for those who have faith in Him.”

The End

Comments 14

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Tarke Edith
Jun 16, 2018
Jun 16, 2018

Hi sister Rathin thanks for sharing your story on our platform you know because of the hard times you pass through in your youth age have been stepping stones in your life today many thanks to your dad for a good upbringing of your life

Chinyere Okoh
Jun 17, 2018
Jun 17, 2018

Thank you for sharing. Touching story.

Olubee
Jun 22, 2018
Jun 22, 2018

Dear Rathin,
I am moved to tears reading your storyline.Its really sad how people can treat their fellow human so bad. Where is their conscience?
Is there no way you can write to the authority in your country,so you can go back to your own house,get house help and live in peace?.Get a lawyer and fight your release from this asylum that has made you so unhappy.Please don't live the matter to fate, fight for your right,and right to your property and life. I pray God be with you as you take steps to be free.

With much love,

Bukola Taiwo
Pathfinder Initiative
Nigeria

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Jun 22, 2018
Jun 22, 2018

Dear Madam,
Let me, first of all, tell you that I, Rathin Bhattacharjee, am the writer of the story. I decided to write the story in the First Person Point of View, mainly for effect. The story is based on my own sister’s life.
My sister is elder than me by almost thirty years. She doesn't belive in maligning or besmearing others. I came to know about her sacrifices mostly from my late mother. I never expected her last days to be so painful, pathetic, ignominious and desolate, cut off as she is from everything she called her own! I can only echo your words: Where is our conscience?
I have also come to know my limitations and helplessness by observing her in her hours of disgrace and loneliness, from a distance. What can an ordinary person like me do when most of our relatives preferred to wash their hands off the matter? The best thing to do, so have I realized, is to let it be without making a fuss, without raising a hue and cry. Some things in life are best left, not to fate as some would have me believe, but to the discretion of The One Above.
Thanks for your concern, Sister Bukola and thanks for being the good human being that you are.
With love and regards,
Sincerely,
R.N.Bhattacharjee

Ndimofor Aretas
Jun 26, 2018
Jun 26, 2018

Dear Rathine, your story is really heart touching and I couldn't help but feel a little tear escape from the corner of my right eye as I read it to the end.
Being a teacher myself, I can imagine what is means to be transferred from a well established campus to the interior remote schools where you have more to worry about than delivering the lessons as they ought to.
Your story also made me understand that you have a good heart and the one thing I know is that no matter how bad you may be feeling now, you are still better off than if you had let bad things happen to those whom you were able to help.
I can at this point only encourage you to stay positive and optimistic. I am praying for you.

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Aug 23, 2018
Aug 23, 2018

Dear NDIOMFOR,
Thank you for the kind words. Do please pray for my sister. I've come to look at the whole thing like this (This is how I'll have to console myself for the rest of my life!):. God singles out some of His most trusted devotees for untold misery and suffering as others are incapable of coping up with them.
I visited her at a private nursing home when I went down last time. The next day her daughter-in-law had her shifted to somewhere else. Somehow, I didn't have the heart to go there accompanied by her daughter-in-law. My sister, in my humble opinion, deserved a far better treatment from Him.
Thanks for the concern. God bless.
Sincerely,
R.N.Bhattacharjee

blueflamingo
Aug 21, 2018
Aug 21, 2018

This is the exact way to share your story. Thank you for bringing awareness to it.

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Aug 23, 2018
Aug 23, 2018

This is based on a real life story. I just wanted to share it on such an important platform to mitigate my pain and inadequacy.
Thanks for liking it. Stay blessed.

Robin Parisse
Jan 11
Jan 11

Rathin, my heart aches for you. You should be sitting in your own small garden enjoying your remaining years filled with beauty and homage from others. The act against you, by your son's widow, rattles my mind. The fact that you have no rights to leave should be unfathomable in today's world. Are there no legal rights that you have that someone could champion for you? I wish it so. Your accomplishments, your story begs to be heard. You need to be heard. Seek some authority, or relative or religious leader to assist you -- may the days of your life only grow brighter from here on out. I wish you well.

Rathin Bhattacharjee

Thank you, Robin, for your kind words and prayer. My sister passed away in last September. I couldn't be there during her last hours or days. Her daughter in law had her shifted to another place by then. But from my wife who happened to be there at that time, I learnt that sister looked divine in her death, as if, finally, she was sleeping peacefully and being reunited with Our Maker.
Life, most probably, is like this, Robin. I expected my late sister to have a great deal of name, fame, recognition. It didn't happen that way. She left quietly a dissatisfied, lonely, deprived woman. But God wants the strong-minded people to suffer most in this world, not someone weak hearted like me. Don't you agree?
With love and best wishes. God bless you.

Robin Parisse
Jan 11
Jan 11

'Everything in our lives is either a consequence or a creation and it is our perspective which determines our experience,' stated Arik Xander.

Do not discount yourself. We are all human. We all suffer, love, give, forgive, ....and, more. You certainly do not come across as weak hearted. Find your song, your truth, and fly.

Your sister lives on in your words, your thoughts of her, your actions because of her. Be strong-minded with a big heart.

blessings, Robin

Rathin Bhattacharjee

Dear Robin,
Your letter touches my heart, especially the last few lines beginning: Find your song, your truth, and fly./ Your sister lives on in your words....etc.
I am a very ordinary person and I realize my limitations more with each passing day. I doubt it very much whether I can do anything more for a sister who personified Sacrifice, Love and Righteousness in the best way possible.
I don't know if you,Robin, are senior to me. If you are, bless me never ever to forget such a gem of a human being as my late sister was. I have already written the draft of a novel entitled "Didi" (Sister) dedicated to her, but I am not sure if it would see the light of the day. I feel sorry for not knowing much about publishing or the publication world, for the matter.
Let me thank you once again, my friend. for your kindness. May God be your greatest strength always. With love and best wishes.

Robin Parisse
Jan 12
Jan 12

If it is your goal to publish: you can publish on this platform or do a search on self-publishing. Amazon even. Or maybe there is in your community a writers group who can assist you. Much luck!

Rathin Bhattacharjee

Thank you for being so kind and helpful. Let me see what I can do. Till then take care. God bless you always.