She was unwell since the last one week or so. Living all alone in a house full of people is difficult but she did. They did not realize what they were doing to her. Her calls went unanswered. Her silence was shouted at. I knew her since forever and each time I visited her I saw her silence increase further. Her ‘man’ no more cared for her, or even if he did she could no more feel it. He lived away leaving her behind. Each time he visited her she felt the world turn round. The delight on her face spoke for itself. She told us stories of how once upon a time a wonderful world surrounded her. There were the elders and there were the young ones. A perfect blend of what bliss is made of. She was happy to be married, happier to have kids. The same woman – the ‘Godmother’! She was beautiful and intelligent, hence desirable. She was rich, hence loved. She was what they wanted her to be like. But no more. Time changed. Her glory lost, the beauty redefined, the intelligence forced to the pits. A small beautiful woman – an era gone by!
I stand today a witness to the curse. Years of silence, of being alone, of being unwanted, of being undesired. I shout to her to ask if she wants me to pick up the phone which was ringing incessantly since the last ten minutes. She could not hear. She wasn’t accustomed to the idea of being shouted to, for they all shouted at her. And then when she hears me, she clings to her saree and tries to come running, slightly limping, slightly bent. I wonder if she is expecting a certain call. I do not ask her. She looks blank. The call went unanswered. I asked her if she wanted something, she smiled and said nothing and then when I was walking past, I heard a faint quivering voice saying – “a bit of love, a bit of attention and a little support to the old woman would suffice!”
I could not turn around. Did not have the courage to. I walked past wondering if family actually did make a sense, if old age could be anything more than a curse! The fairy princess. The bejeweled queen. The personification of grace and poise. The foundation of the home that once was. The old woman – the ‘Godmother’.