Last year was a difficult year for me. My father-in-law had been in and out of the hospital or should I say ICU. The story that I am going to tell is about a woman who I met in the hospital waiting room. She had lost her husband a couple of years ago. She was there for her father, who had suffered a stroke. Blame it on my mentality or just blame it on the way I was shown the world- I thought may be her father was stressed looking at his widow daughter with two sons, trying to make the ends meet. That's what widows do, don't they? Trying to make the ends meet. Her life story was an eye- opener and I am still reeling under it.
It was an unusually warm summer morning. Mr Bakshi, a Vice-president in a Multinational bank had gone for his usual run. He was an over-ambitious go-getter. He was the youngest vice-presidents in the company. He seemed always awake and always on the go.
By the time he returned home, he was panting and sweating profusely. He looked really happy as he ran a mile extra. He always prided in being fitter than most of his paunchy colleagues. He sat to cool himself and drank a bottle full of water to calm his nerves.
Dayananda Bakshi, his wife, a columnist in a local daily looked at him as he kept rubbing his eyes. "What happened? Got something in your eye?" she asked.
"Don't know why everything looks hazy? Maybe I even strained my left hand, there is a sharp pain. Oh, it's going to be a bad day." He said while jerking his hand. “There is something wrong..." before he could complete his sentence he slumped on the bed. His body still and eyes shut. Dayananda ran to him, she did whatever she had learned in her First -aid class, from mouth to mouth resuscitation to pumping his chest. But his body refused move. She didn't know what to do. She immediately called the watchmen and with their help she got Ajay into the car and she drove to the hospital only to know what she already knew. Ajay was no more.
To be honest, in the first month she didn't really miss Ajay. She was surrounded by her in-laws, who had come over from Ludhiana, her parents and well-wishers.But soon everyone left, to resume their lives and emptiness struck - emptiness of the heart and home. She kept wondering, where Ajay go wrong, he used to eat healthy and exercise regularly. Stroke should not be one of the reasons of his demise, but strangely it was. Soon she started searching the net for answers and she got one. The reason was lack of sleep and stress related work. She looked around her 2 bhk home in upscale Bandra locality. "I need to have a house of my own. If you can afford a house of your in Mumbai. you know you've made it." Ajay would often say. He did finally own a house but at a terrible cost.
Reality started setting in, and she had to be practical if not for her, for her children's sake. she had to make tough decisions. She could no more afford to pay the EMI of the house and the car. She decided to sell both. Thank god, the price of the house had almost tripled in last 11 years, thus making it easier to pay the loan and have a comfortable living. His life insurance was a major cushion. They moved to a quiet neighbourhood of Panvel.
After a stressful 6 months, her sons being the only pillars of hope, she decided to take them on a holiday to Mahabaleshwar. It was a nice peaceful holiday, while returning back she saw a woman in her 60's with bagful of vegetables walking home. Children riding bicycles were laughing and having fun. She instantly knew this was where she wanted to be... away from the maddening crowd.
She decided to leave Mumbai and settle in Mahabaleshwar. That town had good schools and open spaces which Mumbai so miserably lacked.
Currently, she is living in Mahabaleshwar, writing from home and in her spare time teaching under privileged adivasi kids. Her kids have settled in Mahabaleshwar, her younger son who was asthmatic, hasn't had a single asthma attack since they shifted there.
"Why Mahabaleshwar? I don't think they even have a good hospital." Now this is what happens to you when you spend 6 months running after doctors. You ask stupid questions.
"Renu, you don't need a place near hospitals, you need a home where multi-speciality hospitals are not even needed. You need a home where there is fresh air, clean water and open space. You need a home where quality of life supersedes all the superficial material wants. I have learned it the hard way; by losing a man I loved the most."
The story did get me thinking... for a long time. Finally I asked " I think you should marry again, you are a young woman, don't you think you need a man?" I at times marvel at my capability of coming up with stupid questions.
"What do I need a man for? I am still in love with Ajay. I have two boys that continuously remind me of him. One is his splitting image and the other acts exactly like him." She said laughing.
"One day, they'll leave. They'll move on with their lives. Loneliness kills too... you know." I said wondering why it didn't strike her.
"Who told you, that you need a man to be happy? The thing I have learned in all this is that you are your very own happy ending. If you are happy and at peace with yourself, that's your happy ending. If there is a smile on your face before you go to sleep that's your happy ending. You are your own Happy Ending." She said.
The above post is written for https://housing.com/lookup.
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