Monday, July 28, 2008

Beyond It All

by Ayesha Parveen 15 Sep 2008
Category: LifestyleThis story has been read 83 times.

Jyoti went to visit her friend Neha when Krishna, Neha's son, called to tell her his mother had terminal cancer. Both the women, being octogenarians, could not now meet often, but had been close friends for over seven decades.

Neha hugged Jyoti and her eyes said she was glad to see her friend. Although both had lost near and dear ones, it was difficult for Jyoti to find the right words for Neha and there was awkward silence as they clasped each other's hands. Then Neha started talking. She talked about her dead husband Rajiv and about her school days that she had shared with Jyoti. She said how much she had loved Rajiv and how her industrialist father was disappointed when she had decided to marry Rajiv, a struggler then. Neha had been only nineteen when she had eloped with him.....

Jyoti knew Neha had not been happy with Rajiv and their having or not having money had nothing to do with it. Rajiv did not love Neha. Theirs had been a passionate affair which soon after marriage turned cold. Things became worse when tragically, their ten year old daughter Pushpa, was killed in an accident. Rajiv, who had been out of town on a business trip, had blamed Neha for it. Unable to come to terms with the loss of her child and feeling alienated from her husband, Neha withdrew into a shell. Rajiv focussed his attention on making money and over the years, became a successful businessman, highly respected in his community.

It is a mystery how sometimes love survives even in a neglected person's heart. Now Neha, on her deathbed, was asking Jyoti if she thought Rajiv had loved her after all. Jyoti knew he had not, but lied to her friend. She said, Rajiv, though unable to express his true feelings for his wife, had loved her all along. If Neha was in denial of the reality of her marriage, she would be shattered if Jyoti gave her the harsh truth. This realisation had made Jyoti lie and she was heart-broken herself when she heard Neha say, "Then, my life has had a meaning inspite of all the agony."

Had Jyoti done the right thing by lying to her childhood-friend? She was very uneasy in her conscience as she said goodbye to Neha and returned home. That evening as she sat in her verandah, with the soft wind blowing her even softer silver-white hair, she remembered her own marriage.....

Dhruv was only twenty-two when Jyoti, almost thirty, had married him. Love-at-first-sight worked magic for them. Even though both sets of parents were uneasy about the match, ( they thought he was too young to shoulder the responsibility of marriage and she, too old for him ) Jyoti and Dhruv went ahead with it. They went to the marriage registration office and became husband and wife, avoiding the traditional ceremony with the marriage vows of their communities which they considered unequal.

Dhruv and Jyoti had had the good fortune of having, what their family and friends called, a "rock-solid marriage". They had been there for each other all along. Dhruv died when he was sixty-two, but to Jyoti, even fifteen years after his death, it seemed that he had gone for a walk in the garden and would return soon.....

The next morning was unusually bright and warm for a January day in Kolkata. Jyoti opened the Geeta and turned to the last chapter. There were tears in her eyes as she read :
" Sarva dharmaan parittyajjya maam ekam sharanam vraja
aham twaam sarvapaapebbhyo mokshai shyaami maa shucha".

(Bhagwad Geeta: mokshayog; shloka 66)
She took refuge in the Lord Himself and knew she had nothing to fear or mourn.

Jyoti put back the Geeta on the table and closed her eyes. The sunlight flooded her verandah ( Dhruv had loved this part of the house very much ) as her grandson Manoj saw her asleep in her armchair near the door of her bedroom. She smiled at the child and walked to the verandah, knowing what to expect.

Yes, Jyoti's Dhruv had come to take her. Together, husband and wife went Home.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Moving On

by Ayesha Parveen 20 Nov 2008
Category: Others.This story has been read 221 times.

Mano and Antariksh were great friends. Their friendship was such that there was nothing happening in one 's life which the other was not aware of. When Mano had a problem with her father, it was Antariksh who helped her; if Mano decided to have pizza, she made sure she bought one for him too.

Antariksh was in love with his co-worker, Daisy, and the first person he told about his love was Mano. Who could understand him better than his dear friend Mano? She was overjoyed and wished him all the happiness possible. Antariksh was supposed to marry in July, last year, but it was postponed due to a sudden crisis in his family. During this time, he was also somewhat unsure of Daisy's feelings for him. Perhaps the family problems were affecting her friend, Mano thought, and advised him to spend more time with Daisy. This seemed to help as Antariksh declared one day that things were smooth between them again.

Antariksh married Daisy in November. Mano was there, the happiest guest. As she looked at the resplendent bridegroom, their eyes met and his reflected the happiness that was there in her. Antariksh's best friend was there for him, at the happiest moment of his life.

As the months passed, Mano, however, could feel that Antariksh was moving away from her. He would not call and sometimes not respond when she did. At first she thought he was busy settling down in his new-found happiness but was hurt nevertheless. But as always, she gave him the benefit of the doubt and was there for him on 31 January, his birthday. She had taken the trouble to choose a present which he would like, as well as bring his favourite cake.

The next day was her birthday and she had expected at least a phone-call. It did not come and something snapped inside her as finally, she faced the truth: he did not care for her feelings any more.

Was Daisy feeling threatened?
Had Antariksh fallen in love with Mano and feeling guilty, was steeling himself against her?
Did Mano expect too much from him?
No answer.

Mano, however, got a priceless present on her birthday; she gave it to herself: the realisation that sometimes, it is better to move on. She wished Antariksh and Daisy the very best and finally let go of him.

Last week, I ran into Mano. She looks happier than she did in February and said she is at peace with herself. Learning to invest in herself, she practises yoga and has become a vegetarian. Mano and Antariksh have not spoken to each other in months, but this does not affect her any longer.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Friends, across the continents

- by Ayesha Parveen 14 Nov 2008
Category: Others.
This story has been read 167 times.

Asha was hurt and did not know what to do. If men, who had been her colleagues for years, could be so insensitive, she did not know what to expect from others. Being orthopaedically-challenged, Asha needed a pair of crutches to walk. It was a Wednesday in May when three colleagues were giving a treat and the food was laid on a side-table in the staff-room. Naturally, not having a third hand to carry a plate, Asha had expected that any one of her work-mates would bring her the food.

Soon, she found herself surrounded by ten men (including the three who were giving the treat) busy eating; all she could do was flip through the pages of a book. This went on for about fifteen minutes and then the room-keeper arrived and offered Asha a plate.

What was it, Asha wondered, that had made those colleagues behave the way they did? She knew she would perhaps never find the answer, for it was their decision to be uncaring and insensitive. But, being hurt, she needed to heal and asked God for help.

Years ago, her former teacher Ramola had said Asha had a flair for writing. Though Asha never believed she could write well, technically-speaking, she knew she could pen her thoughts and feelings. Now she turned to blogging. She started writing about her experiences and about her values.

Soon, she was lucky to connect with Shaan, a blogger from a far away land. When she read his posts, she could see a reflection of her own values. He talked about compassion, generosity and inner-reality. She spoke of love, kindness and inner- wealth. Asha started healing while reading Shaan's posts and knew she had found a friend in him because only a friend can heal a wounded heart.

Across the continents, they held hands and she was grateful.

“Under every grief and pine
Runs a joy with silken twine.”
– William Blake