It’s a story about the unconditional love of a husband for his wife…
There was a poor man in our neighbourhood who lived with his small family, wife and a daughter. He worked hard to keep his close-knit family happy and contend. He and his wife doted on their only child, an angel amidst their ordinary life. The perfect child a couple could be blessed with. She used to go to a small school run by the local charitable trust. Her good behaviour and sincerity towards studies earned her immense affection from fellow classmates and teachers alike. In fact, she was tutored by two ladies, parents to two of her classmates, for English and Mathematics, without any fee! The ladies were more than eager to help this irresistible angel. What more could her parents ask for!?!
Years passed by and their otherwise unexciting life chugged on. The poor man, through his hard work and wise spending, managed to build up a sizeable savings. His wife chipped in with her occasional earnings by catering to local ladies’ card-parties. She had no exposure to exotic snacks, but was a smart assistant in the kitchen, hence, much in demand. The man knew that whatever shortages were there in his life wealth-wise, God had been very generous, first, while creating his wife and, then, by creating their daughter. In all, he had no complains. Their angel blossomed into a young girl and soon the time came for her to appear for her high school exams.
When his daughter passed high school exams with distinction marks, a proud father, without a second thought took out all his savings and got her admitted to the best available college in the country. The entire neighbourhood, including the trustees of the charitable school, took turns to give her farewell parties. After all, she had grown up in their backyards, under their tutelage and affection. Her mother couldn’t decide which emotion to give in to; immense sadness at having to let go of her child or immense pleasure over the deluge of blessings and love received by her daughter. Finally, she decided to have faith in her husband’s decision, her daughter’s intelligence and every well wisher’s best wishes.
The man accompanied his daughter to the residential college, almost at the other end of the country and ensured that his angel settled down comfortably in her new abode. With a heavy heart, but a brave smile, he blessed his daughter and left her at the mercy of the strangers who were now to become responsible for his daughter. He knew he would not meet her soon as most of his savings were spent and his earnings would not permit frequent cross-country trips.
Days became even more unexciting for the couple. The only spark came on Sundays, when they would receive their daughter’s phone call at their neighbour’s home. Although, they felt terribly obliged, repeatedly taking the calls there, their neighbours were good Samaritans, who understood the pain of sending their flesh and blood so far away.
Two long years passed. The parents were counting the days left for their daughter to return. Still twelve months left. Hopefully, she would be able to join in the next new-year celebrations at their neighbourhood.
Amidst this daily dream and wishful thinking, came a call from the college, requesting the presence of the father on an urgent basis.
Mindful of his daughter’s recent elated phone-call informing them about having passed a scholarship exam for higher studies, the father ran across the country, all the time wondering how to fund his daughter’s next ascension up the academic ladder. He was sure that, that was the reason for this untimely summon. He smiled whenever he recalled how his wife had clamoured to barter her gold ornaments to provide him with funds. He had stopped her with the assurance that since their daughter had won a scholarship, whatever additional fund was required would be managed by him. The gold ornaments would be required soon enough for her marriage.
Never should a parent of an angel have to face what that poor man faced upon reaching the college.
His angel, nurtured in love for twenty years, lay lifeless, in front of him, blue from the ice bed on which she was kept waiting for her father to take her back home. The ice could not hide the bruises on her body from her otherwise numb father.
He was beyond feeling any pain such was the intensity of the shock. Not for once did he utter her name. He stared at her as if expecting her to wake up and get down from the ice bed. He kept staring for hours, while nervous strangers flitted about him, some coughing embarrassedly, some clearing their throats repeatedly and some daring to keep their palms gingerly upon his shoulder. All were waiting for the father to break down in sorrow or erupt in anger. All were trying to hide their faces against the onslaught of questions that would soon follow from the grief-stricken parent.
Finally, when someone whispered in his ears, “Does her mother know?” the man came out of his trance. Everyone around him braced for the emotional attack. However, he just mumbled a request to be able to cremate his daughter in that city itself. An incredulous lot of onlookers, including the college management and the police in-charge, recovered hastily and quickly arranged for the wishes to be carried out. They realised that the loss of his child could not be compensated by offering explanations or condolences or promises of pinning down the culprits. She could not be brought back…she could not be bought back!
What none of them realised that, the man had bade goodbye to his daughter in all finality, had stared at her long enough to last him his life and had managed to smother his agony with one single thought- his wife.
He might have failed to ensure lifetime happiness for his daughter, but he resolved to double his efforts to ensure lifetime ignorance of his wife regarding their daughter’s demise. A father was the care-giver, but a mother was a life-giver. She could not, would not, allow herself to survive if she learned that her angelic creation lived no more. And, he could not withstand a life without his wife. Even if she were to survive this trauma, she would be emotionally dead. He believed that every living being had a pre-ordained life span. Probably, his daughter had only so many years to live. However, he knew that his wife did not agree with this philosophy. She would somehow find ways to blame herself for her daughter’s loss.
Thus, upon his return, when his wife asked about their daughter, he said “A LIE....."
“She was not there at the college. Apparently, she eloped with some senior of hers. The college authorities had called me to ascertain whether I would seek police intervention to search for her or let her be.”
A safe lie.
His wife would curse her undeserving only-born, but still survive in the knowledge of her being alive and perhaps, married. If he knew his wife well, very soon, her curses would change to prayers and blessings for her daughter’s happiness!
“She told her roommate that she was tired of her parents’ pennilessness and unexciting life. She had found the perfect opportunity to acquire all her desires and had no wish to return to the life of destitution.”
A secured lie.
A doting mother, no doubt, but a staunch champion for her husband. She would never, ever wish, let alone, dream, of seeing her daughter’s face again! In fact, if he knew his wife well, she would soon be treating herself like a childless woman!
True to his assessment, his wife cried for a while, ranting at the unfairness of life, the futility of leading a life of prayer and hard work, the foolishness of assuming good upbringing would ensure good future and finally, the uselessness of ‘higher studies’!
Then, she became quiet. She went back resolutely to her daily grind of house work, care for husband and occasional catering-outings to bring home extra earnings. In fact, she increased her earning outings. As if, she wanted to compensate her husband’s financial loss arising out of an ungrateful child. In a way, she did blame herself for her husband’s loss.
The man could not bear to see the burdened wife, but he managed to hold onto his lie, because he knew that the truth would burden her beyond endurance. In fact, he also started believing in his lie. Not because the memory of his daughter was fading with time, but he had learnt that such a belief could stop the frequent pangs of pain that his heart felt. He was afraid to allow his heart to feel those pangs. He could not desert his wife so soon.
Thus a lie became a truth!
When it came to true love, neither condition nor anything else matters…