It was the first thought that came to her as she woke up. Anil was gone. And, soon, this bedroom, the house in whose eastern corner it sat, and the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old red hibiscus and the half-grown mango tree they had planted together, all those would be gone as well. It was the strangest feeling ever. But, she knew it had to be done.Her bags were packed and ready to go in the corner. She made her way to the kitchen, looking at the many photographs that lined the walls of the corridor.
Just walking through the rooms brought back so many memories. The pictures on the wall, the marks on the furniture, a wall piece or a painting reminded her of the many things they had done together. They had very lovingly decorated their house. Nothing was just a piece of furniture or décor, it held special meaning to it, a memory. The many laughter’s that they had shared, seemed to echo in the rooms. These memories always felt like a warm blanket on a cold winter night.
She kept her kettle on the gas, and as the water shimmered, Maya thought back about that day. She still remembered the day vividly, as if it had happened just yesterday. It was their 35th anniversary. Maya had been sitting in their garden that morning, sipping her tea, as she usually did, waiting for Anil to wake up. However, when there was no sign of him, even after she finished her tea, she went looking for him. Anil was still asleep. Maybe he is not well, she had thought to herself and quickly touched his forehead, but it was cold. She checked his pulse there was nothing. She shook him wildly as tears started welling in her eyes calling out his name, but there was no movement. She ran to get her cell phone and called their family doctor, asking him to come urgently. She sat at the foot of the bed, staring at Anil’s calm face. He just seemed to be in a deep sleep. Her phone rang, she picked it up and heard her son and her grandchildren sing “Wish you a very Happy Anniversary Maa”, but with tears rolling down her cheek and a trembling voice all she could say was “Anil is not waking up.”
Everybody was shocked at Anil’s sudden demise. Maya was beyond stunned. She continued as if she was in a trance. She felt hurt and broken. Her biggest anchor in life was gone. She didn’t know how to react. She didn’t remember much of anything that transpired after this. She had been mechanical in her response. Today Maya knew she had been in deep shock and at the onset of a dark depression that had gripped her for more than a year.
After Anil’s death, Maya had believed that she could lead a normal life alone and had refused to go to USA with her only son. How wrong she had been! As days passed, Maya had became withdrawn, a recluse. She hardly cooked or cleaned. She just spent her days laying in the bed. Maya would just open the door for the maid and go back to bed. Earlier she usually had some regular social talk with her daily. Maya hardly spoke to the maid now. She always appeared to be in some deep thought. At times she would speak with Anil’s belongings or pictures as if he was still with her. The maid had been in their house for a very long time. She first thought Maya would tide over this. But when nothing seemed to improve even after 6 months, the maid got worried.
Earlier Maya and Anil would talk to their son every week either on call or Skype. Lately, Maya would never be online to chat with him. The son was getting worried with the increasing frequency of unanswered phone calls by his mother. He started connecting with their neighbours and they in turn, got in touch with the maid. What they heard from the maid shocked them. Maya had always been an independent woman, a professor for 20 years and a strong willed healthy woman. Everybody knew at once that something was terribly wrong. Things moved quickly after that. Maya’s son came back and took her to a local hospital. She was diagnosed with depression and quickly put on medication and grief counselling. Today after almost six months of intense therapy and medications later, Maya was feeling more like her old self.
Maya and Anil had a love marriage. As both their parents had lived all their life in a rented house and worked at the mills in Bombay, owning a home had been important for them. After marriage, they had worked very hard to ensure that they had enough savings to own a house. From the moment they were working, they started putting aside some money, to be able to buy a home of their own. They didn’t mind a small place, but they wanted a nook to call their own. Maya had always found a strange support in the house and after Anil’s demise, she had believed that the support would be enough to tide over this grief. But she had been wrong.
Today she knew that she needed the people who loved her and cared for her more than the memories the house held. She had agreed to move in with her son in the USA. She knew it would be a constant battle and the future could be overwhelming, but she knew she could conquer her fears only if she was with her loved ones. Maya was finally ready to let go and make a new beginning.