After 4 hours, sitting near the mortuary in the Meenakshi hospital Madurai, she was not even able to remember how she reached there from Chennai. All she remembers was the strangers voice from her husbands mobile telling that her husband has ended his life in one end of a small rope. Her 2yrs old child was sleeping in her lap. Roopa was silent, except for the silent tears. The stretcher was brought out of the mortuary, she looked at Shiva’s face, it looked peaceful, as if he was sleeping, she kept staring at him, and suddenly everything around her went black, and dark, she fainted.
It was 2 days after the Funeral, "Why Shiva, why did u do it?" her mind asked for the thousandth time. The police report said that he had committed suicide by 2:30 early morning, and no suicide note was found in the room. However an SMS was sent from his mobile to hers and it was opened by the police and they were not able to reach anywhere with it. All it said was, "I am sorry Roopa, please don’t hate me". Not just the police even Roopa couldn’t reach anywhere with it. But some thing in her was urging to know the truth.
She had known Shiva for the past 5 yrs he had been working in her fathers firm and for an year they were very good friends, the marriage proposal was her fathers idea, and when asked, Roopa had no reason to say no, but Shiva remained reluctant and kept telling that she deserved better, considering their status difference and the fact that he was an orphan but this proved the goodness in his character and thusthey were married, after that their was no reason for her to look back, those were the best days in her life which now she can only cherish and not get back. When her father died after an year Shiva took over the firm with ease and started growing up the ladder. This time he had gone to Madurai for a business meet for 3 day but never came back.
She couldn’t sit like this and mourn his death, she wanted to know the reason. She set out in this mission after 2months to Madurai. She enquired the hotel he stayed, people he met but it was fruitless. None of them knew any thing about it. Roopa sat down in the hotel restaurant dejected and crest fallen. Silent tears came down her beautiful cheeks. If she didn’t find out the reason, she cannot remain peaceful even for a single day. She stayed in the hotel for 5 days but in vain. She knew nothing more than when she came for the quest, it is not good to stay in this alien place any more which took her husband away from her. She decided to leave for the sake at least for her daughter.
On the last day she was packing her belongings when she heard a knock in her room, she opened the door to find a young girl of around 20 standing there wearing the restaurant uniform of the same hotel. Roopa was confused.. yet she let the girl inside, the girl smiled a bit and was now scanning Roopa from top to bottom with an awe and spoke, “You are as good looking as your character, and I am very much grateful for what you have done.. “ Seeing the puzzled look in Roopa’s face she smiled a little and continued, “My name is Lakshmi, I work here in the restaurant and I know your husband very well, I guess more than you know him(with a sarcastic smile)”. It took some time for these words to sink into Roopa’s heart. She sat down with a dejection. Lakshmi saw this and understood what Roopa might have conferred.
“No Roopa mam it is not as you think.. I knew your husband right from my birth, for we shared the same Womb, he was my elder brother. Ours was a rich family and we lived in a nearby village. My father was a cotton mill owner from Child hood my brother was as selfish as anybody can be. He never cared of others all he cared was only about himself. Father doubted him for his character. He used to ask my mother what would happen to us if he died, will my brother take care of us? and mother will always console him. But one unfortunate day, his mill was burned down due to an unfortunate fire, and father’s tender heart couldn’t stand this news and so he passed away after few days of treatment in hospital. And we were let alone, but my brother Shiva was not as we expected. He took the family in his shoulders and started working in our village. He was the only one educated in our family, he convinced us saying that he would get a better job in city, so we started off from our village with what ever was left off, it consisted of a small sum of money from selling a property of ours and a small gold chain of my mother, which you are wearning now", she said pointing to Roopas neck, where she had the first giftfrom her husband. Lakshmi continued . "Madurai city was not an exception for our ordeals, we suffered a lot, and we stayed in that bus stand over there, so after struggling with us for 10 days, my brother took with him what ever was available and left.” Her voice choked with emotions and sadness. She paused for few minutes and continued, “I was just 15 at that time .. can you imagine? I don’t think you can even imagine our plight. We used to beg for food and we went through all sort of sufferings that any women can think of.. Now after ths many sufferings, we have a small petty shop in the bus stop and I work here in the Restaurant”. She paused to wipe off few tears and continued again, “On that fateful day, I met my brother after 5 years, I remembered him very well but he did not recognize me, but my mother, he understood her the moment he saw her coming to the resturent to meet me, I don’t know what happened next, I saw him speak to my mother and he walked to the restaurant. There was tears in his eyes, but that did not pacify my heart, he looked at me long enough and kept his hand on my head and left. Next morning I heard about his end. I never regretted or cried and I thought that he deserved it. But seeing you I couldn’t be as stone hearted as I was with him, I knew that he was a changed man, and the reason should just be You! I am grateful to you, I know my fathers and my brother soul are in heaven now. Thank you for that” saying that she walked off.
Roopa neither stirred nor cried, she sat there silent for so long, that when she looked up again the sun has gone down. She cancelled the ticket for that day, booked for the next and went to look for her family. After much persuasion Lakshmi heeded to go with her only if her mother agrees. Roopa went to her mother in law, she was a lady of 50 or so and had such a gentle and kind face which reminded her of Shiva and told her that her husband has underwent his penitence for the sin he has committed and she should forgive him, for his soul to rest in peace. So saying he touched her mother in laws feet. Next day after noon she was in her house with her family. Her child will not grow up as hopeless and lonely, Roopa had duties to Perform not as daughter in law or sister in law, but as a daughter and sister….!