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The Journey Ahead, Alone

by Gitanjali Maria
(Mumbai)

Rama sat on the sofa trying to hold behind the tears that welled up in her beautifully shaped eyes as visitor after visitor came to pay their condolences. It had been two weeks since her husband, Rajeev, passed away and even now the flow of friends and well-wishers who came to pay their respects had not stopped. It was difficult for Rama to control her tears but she mustered up all her strength to put up a brave face in front of the visitors. Back in the privacy of the four walls of her room, she emptied her tears as she wept into her pillow, remembering all the good times she had with Rajeev and all those moments in her hereto future life that she’ll miss him badly.

They had been married for 29 years and had two grown up children, mending their own jobs and families that they had just begun. Rama remembered the first time she had met Rajeev. That was over three decades ago. She had just graduated as a journalist and was assigned to cover the local murder case verdict. The offender had been awarded life sentence and she was supposed to interview the public prosecutor. But before she could meet with him, she had to go through the formality of going through it his assistant and junior. Rama was not at all impressed with the junior lawyer as he tried to hold her up and postpone her rendezvous with the senior advocate. But right from the start the junior lawyer was smitten over by this persistent and pretty journalist. He loved her features, especially her eyes and also her passion and dedication.

Their second meeting was at the local police station. He had come to bail out an innocent but wrongly convicted man and she to do her fiery reporting on the same case, armed with a multitude of evidences she had digged out from various sources. He was happy that at least this time she was on his side and together they decided to take up the man’s case and prove his innocence. They met frequently in dingy coffee shops and isolated parks to work on the case as they didn’t want to be seen working together for it.

The case was finally judged in their favour. It was Rajeev’s first big case alone and he was very excited. He took Rama out for dinner after winning the case to say thanks. It was then that Rajeev felt the impulse to express his love for her. He proposed to her. Rama had mixed feelings and was confused and politely declined it and replied that it was better that they remained friends. Their family background and upbringing were too different to even think of such a union.

Their friendship continued and they met each other over cups of coffee, burger and newspapers. Their friendship slowly boiled over into fierce love and they felt that they couldn’t live without the other. They decided to let their families know about their wishes. Both the families were adamant and opposed the idea strongly. They even threatened to end Rama’s career. But both Rajeev and Rama believed that their love had to triumph over the petty issues of caste and creed and tied the knot against their parent’s wishes on 23rd August, three years after courting each other. Their families disowned them and they had to move on to a new city, to start a new life.

Life did have its petty fights and simple joys, the angry silences and the joyous celebrations. They moved on well. Rajeev ascended in his career and established himself as a capable and well-known criminal lawyer while Rama was a leading writer and journalist. Over the course of time, they were blessed with a son and a daughter, who brought light and happiness to their lives. They dotted on their kids who grew on to become able, deserving and loving and chalked ambitious career plans for themselves. Both daughter and son married and with good jobs in hand, settled out of the country leaving the parents back at home. In the absence of the children, Rajeev and Rama had grown closer to each other than before.

It was just few days after his retirement that Rajeev was detected with bone cancer during one of his regular health check-ups. His health started deteriorating rapidly even though he tried to keep a cheerful and optimistic face outside. He didn’t want to leave Rama in tears and so used to always try to be jovial and hide his pain and fears. He fought the killer disease valiantly, but finally succumbed to it after 13 months of brave battle. Though Rama had prepared herself and had had this thought in the back of her mind for some months now, when the time of his death ultimately fell upon her as a building collapsing in an earthquake, she was shattered and devastated. She felt as if the pillar of her support and strength has been just demolished. She felt as if her walking stick has been stolen by somebody and she couldn’t carry on further without it. The void his leaving left could never be filled.

She sat motionless in the armchair in her room, staring at the wall, reliving all the past times, recounting the warmth and happiness it had given her.

Sanya, her granddaughter and Avin, her grandson came running into the room and jumped on to her lap, all playful and happy, calling, ‘Grandma, tell us a story’. She smiled at them and putting them onto the bed, recalled the story of the old man and his quarreling five sons. As the story got over, the children went off to sleep. Rama switched off the lights as she too prepared to go to bed, waiting for the time when she too would be completely at rest and alongside her beloved one.

Till then she had to move on, alone.....

End

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