An Asylum For Me?

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Posted June 15, 2018 from India

Dear Madam Jensine,

This story is in response to the email I received from World Pulse in connection with the Celebration of Women Empowerment from the 26th of June to the 26th of July, 2018.

I shall be much obliged if you find the story worth publishing. With warm regards and best wishes,

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 life 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. As 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 siblings 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 used 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

This post was submitted in response to Share Your Story On Any Topic.

Comments 32

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jlanghus
Jun 16, 2018
Jun 16, 2018

Hi Rathin,

How are you doing? Thanks for sharing your sad story with us. Do you know this person or is it a fictional piece? If it's fictitious, you have quite the imagination there:-) Hope you're doing well. Have a great day!

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Jun 16, 2018
Jun 16, 2018

Dear JILANGHUS,
I wish this time I could tell you that the story was completely fictitious. Unfortunately, it is a mix of facts and fiction. More of reality.
As the story relates to someone very close to me and I came to know of my limitations not being to help the person in any way, I think it will be best for me to keep mum, at least for the time being.
There are four mistakes in the story. I will correct them as soon as I can make the time. Love and respect you all at World Pulse for the great job you are doing. Happy Weekend and stay forever blessed.
Sincerely,
R.N.Bhattacharjee

jlanghus
Jun 20, 2018
Jun 20, 2018

Hi Rathin,

I only just saw your comment. It looks like you have quite the following with this story. I'm sorry to hear this is real:( I wish you could do something for her:( Hope you're having a good day.

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Jun 20, 2018
Jun 20, 2018

Dear JILANGHUS,
It's always a pleasure to hear from you. Like I wrote to you earlier, every bit of this story is true. You are right in asking me to do something for her. I wish I could! Last time three of us paid a visit to the asylum, we were sent back under someone's strict instructions. The people in charge told us that such visits were making her agitated, which is not good for her at her age. One of us wanted to call a lawyer relative of ours, but that would have complicated matters. Besides, my sister seemed to have accepted her fate.
Thanks for your concern. As a friend, I would request you to pray for her.
With regards and best wishes,
Sincerely,
R.N.Bhattacharjee

jlanghus
Jun 20, 2018
Jun 20, 2018

So, are your visits agitating her or are they just saying that to make you stop visiting? How would contacting a lawyer complicate matters? It sounds like she is suffering:( I don't know how she could accept that...

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Jun 20, 2018
Jun 20, 2018

I did write a long reply to yours but it got deleted as soon as the connection was lost.
Anyway, I will try to inform you about her progress when I go down during the summer break.
Till then, let me keep my fingers crossed and let's pray for my sister's peace of mind and health.
Regards.
Sincerely,
R.N.Bhattacharjee

jlanghus
Jun 20, 2018
Jun 20, 2018

Okay. I hope her conditions, health and environment improves. Indeed:)

Tarke Edith
Jun 16, 2018
Jun 16, 2018

Help sisters Rathin thank you for sharing you story, sister the hard times you pass through in your early age l hope it has bring you to be lectural today in your life many thanks to you and to your late dad for whom you are see you sister.

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Jun 16, 2018
Jun 16, 2018

Hi, Sister Turkey,
Many thanks for taking the time to go through my story. I am just the writer of the story, which is based on the life of someone closely related to me.
Thanks for the kind words, anyway. God bless.

Stephanie Mah
Jun 16, 2018
Jun 16, 2018

Hi sister Rathin thanks for sharing your story, it has never been your fault, God knows why every thing happened that way . he will really never let us down keep trusting in him . have a blessed time sister.

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Jun 16, 2018
Jun 16, 2018

Dear Madam Stephanne,
Thanks for the positive comments. I am sorry to say that it is not my story. I am just the writer and thought that it would be best to write the story in the first person.
If you like the story, please pray for the 79-year-old woman in the story.
Have a great day and stay blessed.

Mayokun Toye-Olukotun
Jun 16, 2018
Jun 16, 2018

Thanks for sharing the story.

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Jun 16, 2018
Jun 16, 2018

Thank you for your time to go through the story too. God bless..

Jun 17, 2018
Jun 17, 2018
This comment has been removed by the commenter or a moderator.
Rathin Bhattacharjee
Jun 17, 2018
Jun 17, 2018

Dear Mr./Madam Jose,
Please forgive me for taking you as a man. I could have checked it out but our Mid-Year Exam starts today. Naturally, I am going to be busy.
You are very correct about Rathin being a male name. There are hundreds of Rathin in the world and a quick Google search will tell that not even a single of them is a female. Besides, I am the only Rathin in Bhutan. I never tried to conceal my identity anywhere in this esteemed forum. If people take me for a woman, is that really my fault?
Let me quote your words: "A male person has no reason to write, sitting in his asylum, without reason." I am not sure if you are trying to tell me that World Pulse is an organisation concerned with the welfare of women alone and no man has the right to contribute to it. If that be the case, I have to write to the organization to find out how far the view expressed by you is true and work accordingly.
By the way, this story is not based on imagination. It is based on my sister's life. Every single incident narrated in the story is true. But unfortunately, no legal step can be taken against the offender/s as my sister is a Gandhian in the truest sense of the term.
I have been contributing to this great organisation mostly in response to their request. I have also tried to depict my women characters in the best way possible. Even then, if I have hurt anyone's feelings or sentiments, let me offer my sincerest apologies.
I have the greatest of respect and admiration for women across the globe.
Let me apologise to you as well for the tone and content of your comment seem to be quite harsh and accusing.
I have always tried my best to be truthful and honest.
Thanks for going through the story. God bless you.

Chinyere Okoh
Jun 17, 2018
Jun 17, 2018

You are amazing. Thank you for sharing this great story. I can only imagine what you went through. Even now as I read this, I seem to picture your emotions. But I thank God that you have been so strong. Indeed a great source of inspiration.
Thank you...

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Jun 18, 2018
Jun 18, 2018

Dear Madam Okoh,
Thank you so very much for your kind words. I do wish that I could do something for her! Last time I visited her, I asked her why she preferred living in self-imposed exile to living the last few days of her life with her own people. She asked me to take her back to our ancestral home. For that I was asked by the authorities to seek consent of her daughter-in-law. I couldn't bring myself up to the task. I realized then how helpless I am. "As flies to wanton boys, we are to Gods," the Great Bard also warned us, "they kill us for their sports."
Sorry, if I have deviated and misquoted the great quote. Take care and stay blessed, always.

Chinyere Okoh
Jun 25, 2018
Jun 25, 2018

Thanks....What is important is that you have done your best. Be rest assured it will get better. Please keep me updated on this. Take care

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Jun 26, 2018
Jun 26, 2018

Dear Ma'am Okoh,
I do wish I could say that I have done my best. The fact of the matter is my hands are tied. There is not much anyone can do for my sister anymore. So please pray for her. I will try to keep you updated once I go down but I ain't sure if I'll be allowed to meet her.
Thanks for your concern and comments. Take care and stay blessed.
Sincerely,
R.N.Bhattacharjee

Chinyere Okoh
Jun 29, 2018
Jun 29, 2018

Thank you dear...an opportunity will arise. Even with hope crushed. A remnant remains. Your efforts are truly commendable

Suh Diviner
Jun 18, 2018
Jun 18, 2018

Dear Rathin,I read through your post with tears in my eyes. In my country, the aged are catered for by her children or grandchildeen. I am a living testimony. I am very sorry that you were deceived and fausly accused of being hysterical at every visit rendered to you. I love every phase of your post. You sound much better than anyone in the asylum.
How i wish i could come visiting you so that you dont feel lonely.
However, distance is not a barrier.
I want to tell you how much i love your post and that you encourage me a lot.
Love from Diviner.

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Jun 18, 2018
Jun 18, 2018

Dear Sister Suh Diviner,
Let me tell you at the outset that I am just the narrator. The lady in the story is my sister
I am happy for your being a 'living testimony' of the love and care that people your age deserve. My country, India, doesn’t lah behind in that respect as well. Unfortunately, things are taking an ugly turn for the worse of late. Many educated and foreign-returned people don't seem to care for the aged as much as they should. Western culture has its disadvantages as well, I reckon.
Thanks for loving my story. Sorry about making you emotional. If you love my writing, do please pray for my sister.
With love and regards,
Sincerely,
R.N.Bhattacharjee

Suh Diviner
Jun 19, 2018
Jun 19, 2018

Hi Rathin,
I will keep praying for her.
I catered for my grannies and i am still catering for them. Extend my love to your sister my dear and tell her that she is on the minds of all of us on worldpulse.
Much love !

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Jun 19, 2018
Jun 19, 2018

Dear Suh Diviner,
I can't tell you how touched I'm with your soul-soothing words. I will try to convey the message to her when I go down to my native place during the Mid-Term Break, by the end of this month. I ain't sure though if she will be in condition to hear my words. That's what hurts me so much. I couldn't even dream of such a tragic end for one of the bravest and sanest women I have ever seen in my life.
Thank you once again, Madam Suh for your prayer for my hapless sister. God bless you.

joyce nelly
Jun 19, 2018
Jun 19, 2018

Wow my dear sister I felt so touched while reading your story .They say life truly isn't a bed of roses but they is always hope and the zeal to keep fighting and not to loss hope.its a real master piece in deed

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Jun 19, 2018
Jun 19, 2018

Thanks for liking my story sister Joyce. Life is all the more beautiful so long as there is Hope for each one of us, Sister.
Stay blessed and have a great day.

coolasas
Jun 21, 2018
Jun 21, 2018

Very moving. If this story is as real as it sounds, I would love to extend my love to the women in the story both the one confined to the asylum and the daughter-in-law. Both may find love in each other's life before it is too late. I hope your friend in the confines of the asylum continue that many people love her and believe that she had done great for herself, her family and others.

Unfortunately this story is not isolated. Many women are persecuted because of their status, intelligence, convictions and love of life. Worst is if other women do the persecution.

Looking forward to reading more from you on this story.

Love, Coolasas

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Jun 21, 2018
Jun 21, 2018

Dear Coolasas,
Thanks for your thoughtful words. It will be really nice if my sister ( not my friend), 'in the confines of the asylum' , continues to believe and draw strength from the simple truth that many people do love and respect her. They will keep on doing so, hopefully, for a long time to come. She has done so much for an entire family. The best thing about her contributions is that she never let her right hand know what her left hand was doing.
Your assessment of the present world scenario is spot on. Thanks for the kind words again. Stay blessed, sister Coolasas.
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.

Bim Adegbite
Jun 29, 2018
Jun 29, 2018

So much loss, so much pain. I sincerely hope there is an end in sight. To live your days in isolation is not to live at all. I hope your sister finds peace and I pray for a speedy and much better outcome so that the rest of her days are lived in freedom and with joy she so deserves. I hope by sharing your sister's story there are some on here that will take on her case. Thanks for sharing and may you be gifted with wisdom and favor to assist her in the last leg of her life. God bless!

Rathin Bhattacharjee
Jun 29, 2018
Jun 29, 2018

Thank you so much, Sister BIM. I really appreciate the thought guiding your whole writing. When you find your son dying in front of your own eyes, when you are forced out of your own home, peace seems to be the last thing on your mind. There is no joy, no freedom, no charm in such a life. I heard her tell me some 10 years back that she had lived a contented life and she would be grateful to God if He calls her back to His Abode. But strange are the ways of The Almighty!
Anyway, thanks for your prayers. God bless and all the best wishes.
Sincerely,
R.N.Bhattacharjee