I always wanted to write this article, but found myself on wrong side of time and motivation to do so. But somehow, now that i am set to do so, i shall make an attempt to do so. This is a tale of acute positive attitude, never die spirit and how exactly to live your life. No, you really dont need to attend lectures of those colorful spiritual babas who seldomly practice what they preach. All you need to do is to keep an eye open, be sensitive to happenings around and you see so many faceless characters which teach you how to live. The protagonist of this tale, a married couple rather, is one such faceless character which could easily gel into crowd without trace.
I happened to meet this jolly good couple as our neighbours when i was in seventh standard. And what a nice couple they were. They were only two, for their only daughter was married off and was settled in her family. They had nobody else, their’s was a love marriage and didn’t they loved each other. Yes, they had their share of problems, who doesn’t have it anyways? But they had their share of problems a tad bit more than others i guess. But they had learnt the art of tiding over crisis without losing their composure and with the hope that spring will surely come after snow. The man, whom we used to call as Kaka (Uncle) was around 50 years old, a man of different taste, he had a gift of gab, was into profession of his choice, he was into Marketing and made a very good salesman. He had worked into most of the major companies of that time and his career graph was on the rise. But.. for one vice he had.. His frequent travel schedule, tensions of meeting targets etc has made him to turn to alcohol. And at times, he drank his heart out. On some days, he would leave his house well dressed from top to bottom, nicely pressed clean shirt, matching trousers and tie, added with goggle, that made him a smart person. And we teenagers would adore him and always thought to be alike when we grew. Only to see the man returning with soiled clothes tottering to reach his home. What a painful sight it was, his wife would take him back, made him feel at ease, gave him food and would ensure that he is at comforts. But at most of the times, the poor lady would end up facing the day’s frustration of her husband. He would beat her black and blue.
Come next day, all the storm would settle and the man would seek forgiveness and the lady would forgive as well and they would burst into laughters as usual. On sundays, they would go to theaters for movies and would make most of their happy moments, sometimes at the envy of others. They had decided that they would not care for their future and would just enjoy the present moment. Not exactly a good thing to do. But they had no other options. For the man was a job hopper and sometimes at stretch would remain unemployed, which would suck off their savings.
The lady, her name aptly described her, Asha.. She would sometimes say, with a tinge of tears often rushing out from the corner of her eyes, “Asha amar aste..” Which roughly translated as “Asha (Hope) is eternal..”. The woman would always dream of good days, good fortune. She would say, that her days would turn, her husband, a talented man, would reach his expected heights and there would surely be a turnaround in their lives. She was hoping to receive a good amount of fortune from her maternal side. But the lady always laughed, sometimes, laughed at her destiny, sometimes just to hide her sorrow, sometimes just because she was habituated. Not a single soul could see her in grim mood, a wide enthusiastic smile always accompanied her, which made her friends with known and the unknown too. She was a familiar face in the town mainly because of her smile. She was Mausi of the entire locality then.
She had many a sorrow, one of the sorrow was that she had no son, and that there would be no one with them at their last moments of life. She was also nursing one sorrow, about her daughter, for she always was with them only in good times. When the family used to face torrid time due to joblessness etc the daughter would stay outbounds, whereas when they had enough money the daughter would come alongwith her husband and kid to share the good times. That was one pain the lady always expressed openly and at times said, “mark my words, when we die my daughter would not be around”. Had she forewarned the future?
As days passed by and as the couple grew older the man did not get the kind of job he needed, for the demands of the job required a younger and fitter person. The man started doing many errands, but, that was hardly enough for them to meet ends. Their bad time had perhaps started.. But no, the smile on their face had never departed and neither the hope of the lady that their good days were just around the corner.
The days turned so worse, that the lady fell fatally ill, had severe heart and sugar ailments and here was her husband who was almost penniless. He tried to mobilize funds from all sources, neighbors also pitched in with their small shares of help, but could not meet the required funds. He almost helplessly drafted one appeal letter and got it xeroxed and requested all the neighbours to circulate it in their offices to mobilize funds. All this could not help.
When i went to visit the lady in the hospital. She was serious, was not able to talk properly. I could not see her condition, I was almost into tears. I went to the nearby hotel and got her milk. The man, could not control his tears then, and told her “bagh asha aplya vijay ne tula dudh anlay…” (See Asha, vijay brought milk for you..”). The lady too almost wept, but with that patent smile on her face. She, in a very low breaking voice, told me to keep an eye on the postman as she could be receiving that elusive letter of property from her maternal side. Her maternal side had cut off the relations with her some decades ago when she eloped with this man. But then, she was Asha… the eternal hope…
The next morning, we got the news which was not coming to us as a surprise anyways.. The lady passed away.. The entire locality was as if doomed into grief. Her last journey matched to that of a leader.
The man howsoever bad he was had loved his wife dearly, he could not stay alone in that house anymore, he shifted to some other locality, we heard that he had taken up drinking as his only purpose of living. And on one fatefulday was run down by a speeding train while crossing the railway tracks. Nobody knew this till around six months and the guy died anonymously.
And yes, the lady was right, her daughter was nowhere to be seen around..
But, did’nt that lady prove her name right, she taught me how to remain positive, how to keep smiling always and even more when you are in bad weathers.
Really Asha Amar Aste… Hope is Eternal…
She will be, atleast for me…