When I met her for the first time it was the final year of my high school. We went to attend the marriage of one of our relatives. My uncle and aunt had a daughter who had no sibling. She insisted her parents to attend the marriage so that she could meet us, the closest substitute of her own brothers which she never had.
My cousin had already finished her graduation in physics and while her parents were busy finding a suitable groom for her, she was undergoing some professional course with a hope that probably after marriage she will be allowed by her in-laws to take up some job.
I was mesmerized when I saw my cousin, she looked like a one who just popped out from a fairytale story, and everything was like picture perfect. And suddenly in front of her we, me and my three brothers, looked like uncivilized brats.
Next week my Kakima visited our house with her family, again due to the insistence of her daughter.
Soon we all became eager to meet our newly discovered sister and also to become closer to those whom we thought to be polished and cultured. My brothers who were all elder to me started frequenting their house, I being the youngest and not permitted to travel alone was left alone at home just waiting anxiously to hear every bit of details of their visit upon their return from my Kakima’s house. How successfully the brother-sister bond was built more than 20 years after she was born was and is still unclear to me.
The relationship of siblings like any other relationship is a deep mystery.
It starts with jealousy for suddenly taking away the attention of the parents.
Gradually starting to accept knowing “it” is not going to go away, taking a vow to hate for the rest of the life for taking away “love of parents”.
It strengthens every time when one complains against the other and then start opening each other’s Pandora’s Box and being punished together, as the tear gets evaporated still keeping its mark on the cheeks, promising each other not to betray again but breaking the promise soon; stealing food from the kitchen when the mother is resting after a day’s hard work and being caught by the other and immediately sharing half or more of it, depending upon the negotiation and/or exploitation skill of the other, as a price for maintaining silence, , gradually helping each other breaking “house rules” and keeping secret with a promise of returning the favor.
Then one day suddenly realizing that there is a bond with no string attached and thousands of miles of distance will not be able to weaken it.
There will never be fear of being judged, no need to impress upon and there will be no lack of spontaneity.
I saw Kakima again one year later. This is exactly the time when they found a match for their daughter, a perfect match for a middle income group family, an engineer, in a very good position, exactly the kind of match they had been looking for. But this is also the time when I lost my mother. It is like two people met and spoke “I have news for you” at the same time and both fell silent.
No news, whatever good it could be, can bring any happiness in front of a death, death overshadows everything. It is like a black hole which absorbs every bit of happiness from everything that comes near its horizon. Just by knowing “it is there” can make people behave in a different way.
Its power is unchallenged but probably controlled by the “helpless” crying sound of a new born.
We met again almost 6 to 7 years later when her only daughter died leaving her four year old daughter behind. The impending duty to her grand-daughter kept her going during those most difficult days.
Almost 16 to 17 years after that her husband died. Her grand-daughter was becoming more responsible every day and she used to visit her grandma during her music, dance and other extra-curricular activity classes for which the venue was always her grandma’s house. Otherwise her granddaughter was living with her father who again was living with his old parents taking care of them. The two houses were at a walking distance from each other.
Few years later, she phoned me, I was living in New Jersey at that time. She sounded very jubilant to share the news of her granddaughter moving to US to do her Ph.D.
Almost 10 years after that I got the news that Kakima passed away in Dwarka when she was on a pilgrimage with her guru-brothers and guru-sisters.
After her grand-daughter left for her Ph. D. program, she found ample time for herself. Her son-in-law left for US after his mother died, his father died few years before his mother’s death. He had no real reason to stay back in India. Kakima started frequenting all religious places with her guru-brothers and guru-sisters. She started spending substantial amount of time doing her puja, prayer etc. She even made a trip to Europe once with a travel and tour company during this time.
In Dwarka, which was her last pilgrimage, she felt slight discomfort, felt shortness-of-breath. The people who accompanied her called a doctor, in five minutes time she passed away.
Mortal remains were cremated at Dwarka, only the news was brought for her relatives.
Kakima did not leave behind a teenage son who would miss her on a rainy night and will silently cry in the corner of her house. Nor she had her daughter anymore who would cry for her. The only sound which could be heard today is the howling sound of the wind failing to make a forceful entry through the windows of her apartment, in which she lived the last 10 years of her life, all alone.
Author: Mintu Ghoshal
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