There is a saying,
"When there is a Storm outside, We should be calm and peaceful inside."
This is a story which is true, and, is still an ongoing battle, and as you read you will realise how it proves the saying stated above wrong. Instead it has made me realise the reality of life is
"When there is a storm inside, To be calm and peaceful and maintain your true character with dignity outside is Strength."
She got married to my cousin brother long years back. For me she was the loving, pampering, sweet, adorable Bhabhi. I was just in class 10th. Those were the days when summer holidays meant going to Nanihal and Dadihal, all cousins getting together at paternal homes and having a blast, even if, mom and dad would not join us. And, I was always very keen to get away from home, books, studies, disciplinary itenary of mom dad, and, run away to either my Mama and Mami or to my Tauji and Tayeejee.
And I even was ready to and would travel alone.
My father's home is in Faizabad, near Ayodhya. And, there in the palace of my grandfather Raja Mohan Manucha, the customes were at that time still the absolute zamindar family kinds.
Well I am penning all this down today, 30 years later. At that time, I really cared a damn. I was the daughter of the family, pampered, the princess and treated like one. And, she, my most favourite Bhabhi being my best friend.
The whole day I would tag along behind her like a real chamchi. She has always been a favourite of the whole family too.
A very highly educated lady, and, married into our family, where in that city, she definitely was not going to be able to exploit her knowledge and strength as a very very wise woman. That was her submission to her parents.
Identity as Kalpana was put to ashes in the fire as she went round and round seven times with my brother.
From kalpana she was now given a new identity without being asked, explained, or, requested. And she had not acquired a degree to play these roles.
Our palace like kothi in Faizabad has been ever since the epicenter for all and sundry family occasions, get-togethers, meetings and the works, since, all were born and brought up there, including my dad.
And she, my Bhabhi, was the one organising comforts for all of us, almost alacarte at times. The kitchen, the menu, medicines for the elders, chaos of the children, my brother, her babies, the band wagon of servants, social courtsies with all family members living in the Kothi, keeping all at peace, and, never a complaint.
It was like life there would stop if Bhabhi went away.
In her children, the middle one, Geetika, my niece, a very intelligent girl, always wanted to get out from there. She hated to see her mom like this, but, she followed the rule of maintaining a calm persona on the face of it, when there was a storm inside, and, this to keep her mother, my bhabhis honour.
After schooling she got out from there, went places, studied as well as she could, on her own, walked the path, and, acquired skills beyond just degrees and before anyone of us realised, she stood strong in front of the family as a computer Wiz kid. No great money spend, least help taken from family members living in big cities. She managed it all.
There was one thing killing her inside, and, that was, her concern for her mom.
Bhabhi was everyone except Kalpana, her real self. She had left behind herself long years back, in fact, at times, if she was spoken with as Kalpana, the girl with her degrees, her education, her dreams of an identity of her own, her dreams of a life she had once thought of, she would go blank and with amazing diplomacy change the topic, leaving us all, from the eldest member of the family to the youngest, believing, that Bhabhi never had dreams, and, she was happy being everyone except her own self. In fact she was never Being but only Doing, all those 35 years.
The harm started happening, there was a small problem, which started with headaches, weakness, and, some other symptoms.
But, she never said anything to anyone, she was so busy keeping the family spirit, the relationships, alive. She was so busy playing host to all of us and being the sole edifice to the elders, that, her own health, was silently put into, an unknown, unseen, place by her, where, even she did not tread.
Slowly, gradually, we all grew up, holidays stopped, her own children went their own way, the elders needed more care, there were losses, as the elders grew in age. Time went by, but, Bhabhi, stood where she was, her roles kept changing., and, she with much ease and calm embraced all that came her way.
Not a word about the symptoms she could now see, as they had started taking a toll on her health. They were becoming visible to the family too, but, she was almost indispensable, and, in the greed of who will cater to all role plays if not she, the family, let the symptoms lie low, with a few medications here and there and visits to local doctors.
Her daughter Geetika was worried of an unknown storm, everytime she went home, she died a hundred times, to see her mom, playing roles, flawlessly, silently, and, hiding her symptoms, which clearly indicated a major problem. And, everytime Geetika would rake the chapter of her health with Bhabhi, of letting go everything and move with Geetika to Delhi, and, get complete check ups done, Bhabhi would defy, deny, refuse and Geetika would with annoyance leave, cutting short her holiday.
Finally, her fears became reality, and, Bhabhi collapsed, and it was detected that there was a tumor in the brain which must have been just a small thing, had it been taken into cognegence and treated at the right time. But, it was too late. Lucknow was the closest she could have been rushed too, and, medications started yet again, a little recovery and defying all support, advise and the plea of her helpless daughter Geetika, Bhabhi yet again wore her robes of the edifice, killing kalpana.
Finally, the day came, when she crashed beyond her capacity to carry on, and it was revealed that it was a cancerous brain tumor, which had not reached the stage of misery because of destiny, but, because of negligence and because Bhabhi had killed Kalpana 35 years back.
Geetika rose from the girl living with friends as PG and working small time, as an engineer. She invested money and mind, started her own set up, a business with her best buddy, her best friend, and, as she started doing well, she hired a flat, moved in, made it very comfortable .
And then she shunned away all who refused to let go of Bhabhi, and, with a lot of strength, will power, and, clarity, took her mother, Kalpana with her to Delhi.
Geetika has been fighting this battle for almost 4 years now, as I remember. Check ups, the best of hospitals, the best of doctors, surgeries, cemotheraphy sessions, medicines, in and out of hospitals every few days.
And alongside she has been putting in her best in her business which has grown, big enough, for Geetika to be able to in reality manage it all single handidly.
Afcourse the family did their job well, including me, protocol visits, sitting outside operation theaters, phone calls, extending verbal help, assuring Geetika that we were all there, and the works.
Afcourse the family played their role well, as defined in the dictionary and as to be ticked in that unseen attendance register.
Bhabhi has been through hell ever since till date. From loosing hair, to loosing memory, sudden attacks of illness to the weak body, to a state of being crippled and dependent for everything on someone.
Every major surgery, checkups, as the state has been detiorating, with all sure the worse was to happen, even the doctors announcing their decision,and, Geetika fighting destiny and the prediction of the skies.
She did not and has not and will not give up. Bhabhi is now kalpana, but a silent kalpana, bed ridden, can't speak, maybe can listen, a nod sometimes, a smile is like a drop of water in the barren deserts.
Finally Geetika won in her battle to get Kalpana back from the role plays, but, in a state where Kalpana doesn't know she is Kalpana.
Geetika stands strong, no marriage, no personal life, nothing, the last four years she has just been the daughter .
No refuge, neither emotional, nor spiritual, nor conversational. She has no pillow to wet, no tissues to wipe her tears, no shrink to say it all, no place to run away where a hand will bless her and say all will be well. And all this not because, she couldn't have done it, all this because, either she could have wet her pillow, spend time venting out, spend time visiting places seeking blessings, spend time listening to all and sundry and doing fangshui, vastu, spiritual relief measures, or, she could have fought the battle strong till date as I pen this down, to keep her mother, to keep Kalpana a reality.
I spoke with her today, and, in my ignorance asked her to read my writes to Bhabhi, and, she answered saying "Bua, mom doesn't speak anymore, she can't, and, is yet again suffering from fever. The body is become so weak that it can't take any exposure and reacts. How I wish Bua, my mom could be the same. I want to be the pampered daughter once again before it is too late "
I was silent, and, looked around, and, saw so many kalpanas and Geetikas. A little bit in me too. Dearest readers, stop it, don't kill the kalpana and don't give birth to another Geetika. Please, defy all those dictators of customs and traditions, which bring misery. Let Kalpana and Geetika be, don't, kill their identity.
Was it the sacrifice,
Was it the negligence,
Was it the role plays thrusted in ignorance, disguised as duties of the traditional daughter in law concept,
Or was it just the benevolence of the Woman who God made for all those roles, because HE could not be everywhere.
I don't know.
I have no answer to give to myself. Is there a power of the HIM we believe in, of the HIM we bow to, of the HIM we seek from . If yes where is that power.
If HIM does not show that HE will reward goodness and hit back the ruthless,then soon enough, belief in goodness will start dying.
Geetika has a storm inside and is calm outside.
Many of us too are in the same drape.
Kya itnee saree achayee milke kaynat ko majboor nahee kar saktee kee humaree shidat, humaree chahat, humare samarpan , kee humko saza na mile.