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A Broken Soul

By Ankita Kakoti

“My story holds within itself the art of being able to get adjusted to situations one would never desire for”, Rama said to Soma. ‘Rama’, the protagonist of this story is a beautiful and gorgeous lady, with her eyes twinkling like the stars and her smile mesmerizing like the calm breeze across the sea. But today, Rama is not the one she used to be. This story is about Rama and the circumstances that compelled her to reach the stage, she is presently in.

‘Nainon mein neendiyaan

Neendiyon mein sapne

Sapnon mein sajan, jabse basa’

The song from ‘Silsila’ was playing in the background as Rama sneaked through the window to watch Dev approaching her abode in his horse, dressed as a groom. Yes, finally after seven years of love, Rama and Dev were getting married that day. Thousands of dreams and thousands of expectations were about to come to life. Firecrackers were bursting and orchestra playing while the love birds were tying the knot for life.

Dev, working in the Department of Forestry lived with Rama in the quarters. Their house was small, but filled with love and happiness. After about two years of their marriage, Rama gave birth to a baby girl, they named her Anisha. Anisha was the apple of her father’s eye. They were very happy together. It was like Rama and Dev were blessed with everything they ever wanted.

Time passed and when Anisha was seven years old, Rama gave birth to a baby boy. Anisha got a little brother and they named him Tanveer. Tanveer, as a baby used to be very quiet and calm and he was a favourite to their neighbours as well. Now, the family was complete and Rama and Dev wished for nothing else as they had such a sweet and alluring family. But then, everything came to a halt when Tanveer at the age of 2.5 years was diagnosed with an infection is his right eye. ‘Cataract’ is what was said by the doctors and that this is something which cannot be cured without operation. It was like Rama’s life began to change from that point itself.

Rama and Dev decided to take Tanveer to Sankara Netralaya, Chennai where their son could be treated by the best ophthalmologists of the country. And so was done. They went across their state for their son; so that he could be given the best treatments. It was not only once that they had to visit the hospital, but it was seven to eight times that they had to go for check-ups and Tanveer had to undergo four eye operations each within a time interval of about 1.5-2 years. The family became used to the schedule of going for treatment every six months and Tanveer also became used to all the treatments and medications. Although not very free from stress, but the family was trying to come back to the happy state, as they used to be earlier. Time passed and Anisha passed her boards and Tanveer was promoted to third standard. Anisha, as per her dreams got admission into one of the best colleges of the state, ‘Brookian Academy’. Everything was now fine for the family.

It was July 17th and Anisha had come home for her summer vacations. Rama was in the kitchen when a voice came from the fields asking, ‘Where is Tanveer?’. It was the voice of Mr. Kumar, a colleague of Dev. Dev had gone for the duties with the other staff. Rama answered from the kitchen that her son was not at home. Immediately after hearing this, Mr. Kumar rushed back shouting out to everyone, “It is Tanveer’s cycle, he has fallen into the lake.” Rama and Anisha rushed to the spot and to their shock there were people all around the lake searching for Tanveer, but was unable to find him. His cycle and slippers were lying beside the lake. After about half an hour of the search, they found the boy and without wasting a single minute they took him to the hospital; but it was too late as Tanveer was no more. Rama and Anisha felt like everything came to an end. Dev arrived about an hour later and felt down senseless seeing the dead body of his beloved son. It is really shocking how life comes to an end. The once happy family was now shattered into pieces, they could not decide how to move on with this void within their existence. But this is ‘life’ and it must go on. So, here ends a chapter of Dev and Rama’s dream family.

The vacations were over and Anisha was again sent back to hostel. But unfortunately, she was not being able to adjust to the environment. Returning from classes, she used to remember her brother every time and kept on crying for long periods of time. This went on for many days, almost about one and a half months. It was getting very difficult for the girl. But, by God’s grace came into Anisha’s life the best of her friends, Lisa. She helped her come out of the terrifying situation and stood with her in every single step of her life. Things gradually went back to normal as years passed. The family once again started their journey of being happy and laughing out together. Five years have passed and Anisha was now doing her Master’s as Dev started to work on building their dream house. It was very difficult for the family to come to that state, but as it is well known that if God gives us problems in life so does, he gives us the strength to handle it and cope up with it. So, with lots of hurdles Dev and Rama’s family was once again trying to come back to its normal. Many people have advised them to try for another child once again, but thinking about Anisha’s future they never tried for the same, they were happy with their single child.

Years have passed, it was almost eight years that Tanveer left them. Dev was in the middle of his dream house construction and Rama was happy and proud to see her husband excited for what he was creating. Anisha completed her Master’s and by God’s grace she immediately got admitted into the Ph.D. program of a Central University. Things were going on very smoothly. Then came into picture the so-called Corona Virus. The whole world was threatened by the infections of COVID-19. Many people lost their lives, many families got shattered. Many kids became orphans and many homes destroyed. Fear and anxiety embedded the minds of each person of the country. It was the time when Prime Minister of the country announced total lockdown in the entire country. Life was becoming very difficult for everyone in the society, basically life became hell for the daily wage earners. Poverty and death were hitting the country very hard. Every single person in the society was worried about the situation of the country and the consequences of such a deadly pandemic.

It was a rainy morning and Rama was busy with the household chores when Dev suddenly decided to get a test for COVID done as he had been suffering from cold and fever for about a few days and so was Anisha. Rama, although not willing to go for the same however decided to do it for the satisfaction of her husband. They went to the nearest test centre, but it was not active during the time. Rama felt like giving up on the test but by the time she could say anything Dev turned towards another testing centre which was a bit far from the place. So, the family reached there and to their surprise all the three of them were tested to be COVID positive. Now, they were to be sent to the nearest quarantine centre in the ambulance. However, on the request of Dev and Rama, the doctors allowed them to go to the centre on their own. So, the family came back home, packed their necessities for seven days and went to be quarantined.

They reached the centre in the evening, where there were ten beds in each room. Two rooms were allotted for females and one big ward for males. The centre was quite messy and the washroom although clean, was a bit distant from the male ward. There was no way out but to live there for seven days or until they were tested to be COVID negative. Days passed and the family got accustomed to the way there. It was like they were experiencing something they have never been through before. The people there were from different places and from different background, but all of them living under the same roof.

It was a daily routine of the doctors to come and check the oxygen level and temperature of the patients, once in the morning and once at night before serving dinner. So, things were going on normally. It was the fourth day and the nurse had come to check the oxygen levels of the patients in the female ward when Rama asked, “Is the oxygen level of my husband normal now?”. Anisha, not being able to get what her mother was asking the nurse looked at her when the nurse said, “It’s a bit fluctuating between normal and low, but there’s no need to worry because it will definitely get back to normal”. Immediately after the nurse left, Rama rushed to find Dev resting in bed looking towards the roof as if he was thinking something very deeply. Rama asked him, “Are you okay?” Dev said, “I think my oxygen levels are gradually going down”. Rama immediately rushed to the doctor and asked him to check Dev. The doctor after examining him for sometime said that he needs to be referred to the Civil Hospital of the district and in the meantime, he needs to be given oxygen there itself. Anisha rushed to her father to see him sitting down, all nervous with all that was happening to him. Seeing his daughter, he said, “Come Maa, sit down near me”. Rama however asked Anisha not to sit in the same bed because she might get more infected. But Anisha, looking into her father’s eye sat beside him and checked his oxygen levels every time.

After about half an hour the ambulance arrived and asked Dev to get into it as he was to be taken to the Civil Hospital. Rama packed his bags and Anisha came out with her father to the ambulance, however the mother and daughter were not allowed to approach the ambulance. Anisha asked her father, “Baba, are you frightened?” Dev turned back and said, “No Maa, I am not, will see you…bye.” The ambulance left and tears rolled down Rama’s eyes seeing her husband leaving in the ambulance.

The ambulance reached the hospital after about 45 minutes and Dev was admitted in the general ward where he was being given continuous oxygen. On the other hand, Rama and Anisha could not even have their food, for their loved one was not with them. The next morning, Rama called Dev and asked him whether he was alright and to her happiness, Dev was smiling and talking to her with bundle of love. Anisha woke up and called her father again and he talked to her sweetly too. They were now fine as Dev seemed to be happy in the phone call. In the meantime, Rama informed her family members about the same and some of them immediately went to the Civil Hospital to see Dev, whether he was fine or not. Dev seemed to be okay, but quite nervous to them.

It was about 4.30 p.m. when Anisha called her father. She asked, “Are you okay?” The reply came, “No Maa, its decreasing gradually”. It seemed that Dev was not being able to breathe properly and he said that his oxygen levels were going down and down. Anisha immediately disconnected the call thinking that the oxygen mask was to be removed while talking and it will affect her father’s oxygen levels. When Anisha told Rama about the matter, she immediately called Dev, but he did not receive the call. She kept on trying after every 15-20 minutes, but there was no answer to the call. At about 10.30 p.m. when they were about to have dinner, suddenly a call came from Dev’s elder sister saying, “What happened to Dev?” Clueless Rama knew nothing and her fear had risen to its peak. Rama and Anisha both began to call everyone in the family asking if they knew anything about Dev, but none knew anything. At last, Prabal, Rama’s elder brother picked up the call and said that Dev was alright and that he will take all of them to a better hospital the next day. Rama and Anisha could not sleep that night. They kept on praying for Dev the whole night. Anisha tried calling her father again, but there was no answer.

The next morning, at about 10.30 a.m. everyone from Rama’s family had gathered outside the quarantine centre. Some of her friends were also there. Prabal requested the doctor to perform their COVID test as early as possible so that they can be taken to the hospital to meet Dev. Rama was a bit confused and anxious that all the family members were waiting for them to be taken to where Dev was. The tests were done and Rama was still positive but Anisha negative. Rama was given a face shield and now they were being taken to the district Civil Hospital. After reaching there, Prabal asked them to wait outside till he does the formalities so that they could meet Dev.

Prabal came out after about thirty minutes. He came to Rama and started crying and said, “Rama, my sister, Dev is no more! He passed away yesterday”. Rama and Anisha were shocked and a silence prevailed as Dev’s body was taken out on a car to be taken to the cremation ground for ‘Mukhagni’. Rama then bursted out crying for her husband and Anisha just looked at the dead body her father and cried saying, “I should have been with him. I should not have sent him alone into this”. They reached the cremation ground and looking into her father’s eyes for one last time, Anisha performed the Mukhagni on her father. And Rama just stood still looking into her husband’s body that was now burning with the highest intensity. Again, a chapter of their life came to an end.

The wind blew and the sun set as Rama and Anisha sat on the back seat of the car, looking out and wondering how life can be so shocking and unfortunate for someone. They reached home at around 6 p.m. Anisha sat on her father’s bed holding tight his blanket and crying out loud, and Rama looked into the mirror to recognize her new self with a bare forehead. A sweet and happy family had now broken into pieces and the mother daughter duo sat beside each other to stare into the picture of their family with their tears rolling down their cheeks to touch the ground.

Rama and Anisha today live in the house that was being built by Dev but completed by Rama. And every single day of their life reminds them of the emptiness within their existence and how unfortunate life has been for them. And all of these compelled the once gorgeous Rama to come to a stage where she presently resides.

By Ankita Kakoti

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