One of those days, when it rains unceasingly and I have to hurry up in the subway to catch the bus to go to my workplace. My hair looked disheveled as I tried to pull up the hood of my raincoat over my head. Water dripped from my hair. Suddenly my phone rang. I looked a bit alarmed as I was expecting some colleague of mine who would call me to adjust her classes. Thankfully it was not one of them.
It was my cousin calling me up.
Her name was Tina as my siblings and I lovingly called her. She was all of twenty- six, tall, dark with a warm smile and sensitive eyes which looked eternally blissful. All my siblings and I were married. We had arranged marriages and were living comfortably so now it was her turn to get married. She was working as a receptionist in a hotel located near the Airport.
“ Didibhai, I have married”
“ So who is the lucky guy?”
“ His name is Krishna. He is a driver by profession. He drives his Uncle’s car who happens to be my Boss”.
Her ecstatic voice made me shudder. I could no longer keep track of what she was uttering. A driver by profession, my cousin had committed a blunder. What more could I say when there were so many young men with lucrative pay packages who were interested in her. She had chosen a taxi driver over them.
“ So, where are you staying?”
“ In my in law’s place”
I ended abruptly. There were pangs of despair pricking in my heart. My cousin was a girl having a lavish taste. She wore jeans which cost two thousand rupees. My Uncle happened to be a LIC agent, who had spent all his money on his dear daughter’s education and upbringing. He was a man of strict principles. Other than that he took special pride in the fact that he was a Brahmin. I really did not know how he would be able to tolerate his daughter’s discreet behavior. The incident or accident as he would term it would ruin him.
Two hours later after reaching my workplace, I called my Aunt. She was crying over her daughter’s betrayal. Krishna had always visited the household as a friend. Never had my Aunt suspected anything existing between them other than friendship. She would be doubly accused by her husband now. First, for trusting her daughter unquestioningly. Next for hiding the affair from her husband. My Uncle would never understand her wife’s naivete.
A squalor would perpetuate now, a big fight would break up in the house. My thoughts jammed in, I worried about my cousin’s future.
The day went on as usual. Although melancholic I trudged my way to most of my classes with my chalk and register in hand. I shouted hoarsely like a professor in engineering college is supposed to do. I later came out and sighed if only my cousin had married an engineer. I spent three or four days quietly without talking with anyone. My Aunt had lost her mother when she was one year old. Probably she deserved better in life I thought, rather than seeing her daughter getting married to a low caste taxi driver. I am a typically convent educated person so my schooling had taught me restraint rather than getting involved in fits of passion. I supported my Aunt over my cousin, autumn leaves I sarcastically meditated on her sudden marriage to this boy.
Since Tina’s marriage, one week had passed now. I had tried to hold all my premonitions regarding their marriage. My Uncle was an angry and emotionally devastated man. Tina knew her marriage would not be accepted easily by her family. She had married in a Kali temple and moved to her in law’s place. They were businessmen who owned two shops and a two-storied house. Tina had been welcomed to the house by her mother- in- law but her father- in- law was adamant. He was of opinion that Krishna had married without consent so he should try to provide for his wife instead of depending upon them. They had thus no option other than moving to my Uncle’s place.
Krishna’s Uncle had removed both of them from their job where they had previously worked. They both were now looking for a job. The young couple’s struggle had begun together. With whatever little savings they had accumulated, they had rented a small house. They came every day for their meal to my Aunt’s place. Meanwhile, my Uncle shouted at both of them. He blamed both of them as irrational. He even tried to convince his daughter to leave Krishna. But Tina remained firm and unmoved. She said she loved Krishna and come what may they would stick together.
After some weeks the matter had settled down, I thought. I hardly found the time to visit them. My mind had moved from a state of fear to stage of gentle reconciliation. We were hoping for things to work out for themselves One day while I was fast asleep my phone started ringing. As I picked up the phone my mother’s voice cried “ Tina has committed suicide. Your Aunt is ill. She has been rushed to the hospital.”
I was shocked and petrified. On that fatal day, my Uncle had scolded her and told her to stop eating at their place. She was angry and felt insulted and had walked out grudgingly. Nobody had followed her. She had slipped quietly into the house, taken a chord fastened it to the fan and hanged herself. Her husband had found it fifteen minutes late. She was already dead by that time.
I do not know what drove her to death. Was it love or reality that kept weighing on her soul? I knew no answer, I only know what happens when we fail to empathize. We end up losing our loved ones. Once again, it was raining today and as I was getting drenched I just hoped it washed away my tears and cleansed my heart.