The phone rang.
Riya looked at the name in surprise. It was a call from Riti, her cousin and a very close friend, but things had changed between them.
Riya attended with a casual Hello. There was anguish in Riti’s voice when she said Hey.
Riya: Tell me, how are things going on? (with an attempt to take the conversation to the next level)
Riti: An emergency, our uncle met with an accident and is on the way to the hospital.
Riya: Nothing serious right?
Riti: You start asap, I am waiting for uncle to pick me from office. We’re going straight to the hospital.
Riya: Ok. I will. Take care.
Riya called her dad to know what’s really happening? All she heard was her father weeping asking her to start immediately. The most haunted words came from his mouth after that, ‘Your uncle is dead, my brother is dead.’ She started weeping, she asked him to take care and that she would start immediately. Riya told her team about the news and they asked her to leave and take care. They had asked a few questions, for which she did not have any answers. She just left.
She wasn’t crying till she told the word ‘dead’, what is that word doing to her? Once she was waiting for the lift, she was back to normal, questions started popping up. She was in her own world. She knew where she had to go, but she had no clue what was left for her to see. By the time she boarded the bus, she was in deep thoughts jotting down all that came to her mind. Writing was also a way of venting her thoughts. Suddenly the roads were crowded and she thought there was an accident. The conductor in the bus informed that there was an earthquake before sometime and tsunami alert was raised asking everybody to start early. She realized that Tsunami had already hit her family but she was still unaware of the after-effects that is yet to unfold.
She was very normal on the outside, but her insides were taking a toll on her. Her mind was working overtime to figure out how it happened and the constant question was Why now? She started writing down all that she thought that could make her come to normal and shut that mind-voice. A piece from what she wrote:
The last time my dad was in tears was when his mother died. Uncontrollable crying by dad is making me think they’ve conveyed very less information to me. He is seeing what happened for real and is not able to say it in a sentence. That’s how broken he was. Mom had called and she had no words to say other than ask me Have I started? The loss for her was as Big as my dad’s. The only person who has been more like a brother to her is dead. The biggest support in the family is lying down like a stone. He always had the knack to ease this family with his laughter.
I always knew he liked my sister more than me. I used to ask him repeatedly, who was his favorite? He answered that with a smile every time, You too dear girl. I would look at him and say, you’re mean. My aunt would laugh and say you’re my favorite. I knew that was true to an extent though she loved my sister more. I never took this to heart but I loved asking him just to see that perplexed reaction on his face which looked more child-like on a 55+ man. I wonder who will be able to answer that without throwing an angry look ever again.
It took her close to 3 hours to reach with traffic in every corner.As she entered the house she could realize that the roles were being shifted. She knew she had to answer all the now child-like adults with extra care. They have become fragile. She was confronted with dejected faces waiting for the words, ‘He is alive‘ more than ‘Everything will be alright’. But she dint have the heart to say it to them for she did not really know what exactly happened. She saw her aunt with the sindoor on her forehead. She knew that was the last time she would be seeing that. That big red sindoor which made her look more beautiful was a significance of a happy married life. They were one amongst the couples who you could see and believe happy couples and happy marriages still exists(existed).
She held her in her arms for sometime and sat there listening to her talking about how he took care of her before leaving her. She had personally not listened to her aunt share all this with her. It was time to listen to her stories. The companionship that every couple longs for, irrespective of the fact that they are surrounded by a 100 people is what the better half provides. Riya was only getting theoretically strong about companionship and she has met couples who did not just look great together but happy and bright too.She wished there would come a day when she meets someone like that. Now she knew that even after 25+ years of wedded life, memories were the only ones that she could take with her. Being reminded of the person we love in every thing we shared and embracing it as another memory into our minds seals the love in a much better way.
She called her cousin to know their whereabouts and what time they’ll bring him to the house. She was shocked to hear the real news.
To be continued..