Divinity: Between Ma and Me!
There are firecrackers being burnt outside my dingy room. It might be Diwali, the festival of lights in India. Inside my room, I am curtained out from the other lucky lady like me. I am waiting for sleep to catch up with me. I do not seem to do much anymore. I wake up early, am fed three squares meals a day, bathed, bitten by the bedbugs, ordered around the whole day long, tucked under the blanket (though it is still summer in India, I feel desperately cold most of the times), and asked not to create a scene. Oh, I forgot to tell you that I am getting very good at creating scenes of late like I did when my Bouma, daughter-in-law, came to visit me. She comes at the start of every month. To her whether I am dead or alive, matters little. Some days she doesn’t even get inside my room. She comes for my signature. My signature, despite my present condition, fetches her 65 thousands per month, a huge sum considering that India is still considered to be a developing country. When she came into my room to keep everyone away from any suspicion, I made a scene. I acted like real mad. Not much acting was necessary though. Between you and me, I was really mad at her that day. She is so shameless. She is sitting on a goldmine, even then there is no end to her greed. I yelled and broke loose and tried to do all I could to implant the fear of God in her. The nurse got so panicky that she called the In-charge, who in turn called the doctor, to cut a long story short, I got sedated. Bouma left happy. She got the monthly cheque signed by me. But I can’t blame God. My late Ma, the person I am most thankful to in my life, taught me that. She would hold me by the hand in the late afternoons, lead me to the altar room on the left side of the courtyard and tell me, while preparing for the evening puja, stories of God. She would tell me time and again that whatever He does, He does so for a purpose, for a reason. He loves all of us equally and never can be unfair or unjust. Besides, I had the best of life. Though from a middle-class, Brahmin family, I was an outstanding student, studied in the best college by my own merit, started earning when most of the Indian women my age, were supposed to be behind the veil, got married, raised a family, was recognised as an outstanding teacher as well. But all this pales into insignificance in comparison with the most precious gift God bestowed on me, my son. He was everything that a mother could ever pray for. By 24, he was working for one of the most renowned companies in India, The Reliance Group of Industries. His rise to fame was as meteoric as his fall. His fall began with his marriage. I liked my would- be daughter-in-law the first time my son brought her along. She was not only smashing, she was educated too. But things started deteriorating between us from the start. Finally, I decided to shift to my other house at Salt Lake City in Kolkata. My only son died a few months later. He died of a massive stroke the day he joined a new company and called me from my other posh residence at Dhakuria. I still find it difficult to come to terms with his sudden death. How could someone die a few hours after having sounded so excited, so eager to meet me on the next day? There are things in this Life that are better left unasked and unanswered. By the way, I forgot to tell you that I owned two palatial houses in the city. You see, God’s been good to me. If He’s making me suffer in this dark, dingy room with one 60 voltage lamp lighting the entire room, I cannot blame Him. I have had my share of name, fame, money and all. If I am alone today without all the people who were close to me once, there must be a reason. Besides, this way, waiting day by day, for the final sleep to come to me, I think, I have grown closer to Him. I never question His wisdom. I know He is tired, having to take care of zillions and zillions of sentient beings including me. If all of us want happiness, success, a life full of achievements and wealth, who would share all the sorrows, suffering, pains of loneliness and the fears of old age? I may be battered, bruised and broken by some cruel acts of Fate but my faith in my late Ma’s words haven’t been shaken a way bit. I forgave all my siblings for their palpable indifference long ago. I have recently forgiven my Bouma; she is after all the mother to my only link and hope to the future, my grandson. I know sleep will take hold of my tired limbs soon. There is a more paradise like world, a world of love; a world of unimaginable freedom, free from hatred, jealousy, suspicion and injustice; awaiting me. I can see my late Ma there in the exquisite brightness and brilliance, smiling down at me, waiting for my earthly sojourn to be over inorder to hold my hand again like she used to. She will lead me to the One, the omniscient, the omnipotent and the all merciful. The firecrackers of Diwali outside light up the world and may be, bring a ray of hope to the hopeless and homeless, to those who are in a far more pathetic condition than the one inside this dark, dingy room.