Thursday, July 30, 2015

TELL ME SNEHA, IS THIS FAIR?





Pic.: Indu Varier

At seven in the morning, today, my wife received a call from Anita, her cousin. “Rebecca expired at night,” was the sad news.

“Oh, not again!” was my wife’s immediate response.

Rebecca got married to Anil, a cousin of my wife, some twenty-five years ago. They were madly in love with each other and got married at a very young age against the wishes of their respective families… Soon, their two daughters – Aleen and  Ayril – were born…

Anil, an enterprising young-man, faced a business setback from which, he couldn’t somehow recover. They had to sell their house to pay off their creditors, and ever since then, they have been moving from one rented place to another…

Seven years ago, Anil died of a massive heart-attack He was 41. Rebecca was left shattered… She did not have a job… Aleen, the elder daughter, had just started her first-year engineering… Ayril had entered her ninth standard…

“You need to cry… You need to grieve,” I remember the Priest consoling Rebecca, who stood sobbing next to her husband’s coffin, “Time heals… Time brings you strength.”

Soon after her husband’s death, Rebecca began to work for an NGO and began to carry her burden with lots of grace and dignity. Aleen continued with her engineering… But, Ayril, who was extremely attached to her dad, developed cancer and suffered a lot. She had just started going to college but was forced to give up… Just a year ago, Ayril lost her battle to cancer…

Life moved on for Rebecca and Aleen… By now, Aleen had completed her Engineering and started working in Pune… Rebecca, who lived all alone in Mumbai, continued to live with great dignity…

A few days ago, Rebecca was admitted to a hospital for her uterus operation… But, then, early this morning, she died of a massive heart-attack…

 Aleen is left alone!

So, you can understand why my wife had exclaimed - ”Oh, not again!”

Yes, why this should happen to some people… again and again, with such frequency? Does time heal? Does it really give us strength to bear our burden with grace and dignity?

I really do not know… The answer, I believe, depends on what meaning we try to derive out of the triumphs and tragedies we encounter in our lives… The meaning can be only personal…

Aleen is brave… When she had paid her tribute in the church, on her little-sister Ayril’s funeral, she had left not a single eye un-wet… But, what was amazing was that Aleen’s voice did not crack a bit… I knew how tough Life had made her!

So, Aleen will survive with even more grace, dignity and strength…. We will all pray at her mother, Rebecca’s funeral, today.


I had no plans to write about this. But, Sneha, one of my eleventh-standard students, triggered me off…

Sneha had trouble getting admission in a decent college despite her decent marks. Well, with  great difficulty, she got in one of the nearby good-colleges. She wanted Maths,… She did not get. Well, that’s one of her complaints. But, she got the morning shift she wanted. Now, suddenly, they have asked her to move to the afternoon shift… This is a ‘huge problem’ now for Sneha… All her friends are in the morning shift, you see! She called me up, an hour ago, and started complaining to me… “Sir, this is not fair… this is not fair… this is not fair!”

I let her complete all her ‘unfair’ rant… Then I asked her, “Over?”

“Yes sir,” Sneha said sheepishly…

“Now, listen to this,” and narrated to her Aleen’s story…

When over, I asked, “Tell me Sneha, is this fair?”

There was no answer…

So, I decided to write this.


GERALD D’CUNHA

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