Life is highly unpredictable. In spite of the best-laid plans, you never really know what’s going to happen.
Sometimes life takes such U-turns that you start doubting your control over your own existence. Something like that happened to me. Now I am just spending life, but not really living it.
I belong to a business class family. My father owned a small grocery store and part-time lending/borrowing (finance) business in my hometown. I was good at studies so my father always wanted that I should pursue a good job instead of joining him at the store. We were a normal middle-class family of 4 members - Me, My elder sister and Mom Dad.
After I completed the 12th standard, I never spent much time at home. I moved away from home for graduation and soon after, had to move to another part of the country for my job. In the meantime, my sister got married and coincidentally she settled in the same city I was working in, along with her husband.
Things were going well. I used to visit my parents for a couple of days on the weekends. Since my father wanted me to stay away from the family business, he never discussed much the store or the finance business he was running. I was 29 and doing well at my job and I was looking forward to a work trip abroad when my parents started looking for a suitable match for me. My father had been diabetic for a while, so it was never felt like a disease to us. But the prolonged effects of diabetes started affecting his kidneys and his creatinine levels started rising. Since I and my sister lived away from home, mom was alone in having to deal with his health issues. Gradually my father started getting weak, externally and internally. His immunity declined. When I noticed major changes, I asked him to come to the city I was working in for a medical check-up and treatment. My parents came and after the check-up, the doctor suggested that we admit him for 3-4 days but my father declined and just took the medication and left.
Things seemingly went back to normal. After about 3 or 4 months I got a call one morning from mom telling me that they have found a match for me and that the girl’s family want to meet me before finalising the alliance. That weekend, I visited home and met the girl and her family and things were finalised. The same evening, Dad came home early from the shop and said he was tired and wanted to rest and went off to sleep. At night we woke him up for supper but he didn’t say anything and just kept sleeping. Figuring that he was tired and not wanting to disturb his rest, we let it go. The next morning, we tried to wake him up again but noticed he was speaking words which didn’t mean anything and he just couldn’t get up from the bed. I knew then that something was seriously wrong. We immediately called the family doctor and it was diagnosed that he had a brain stroke.
The left side of my father’s body was paralysed and he couldn’t speak. He was admitted to a hospital where his condition did not get any better. A month later, he passed away.
A weekend turned my life upside down. This sudden death of my father shook me deeply. I didn’t know what to do. I was not prepared for the responsibilities that fate had suddenly laden upon me. But this was just the beginning of our troubled times. By the time, the ceremonies attached to the last rites were performed; 10 days had passed since his demise. It was time for me to decide what to do with the unfinished pieces of my father’s life. And the most important of them was his grocery shop and the finance business. The Grocery shop was doing fine. The 2 old helpers were handling it well but they were looking up to me to take over it which I was very doubtful about at the moment.
But my father’s finance business was another matter. My mother had mentioned once that it had been running into losses for the last few years. So, I had some clue that there would be some financial liabilities. But I was in no way prepared for the magnitude of the burden that was about to hit me.
When I went through the documents, my jaw hit the floor and I felt sick to my stomach. I saw that the debt was worth 50 Lakh Rupees!
And that was just the documented debt. I came to know about more undocumented debt when people started coming in through our doors and asking for their money. The True colours of the relatives and the so-called “well-wishers” started to reveal themselves. My uncles (father’s brothers) who had made grand proclamations just a few days ago were nowhere to be seen in our hour of need Not even for emotional support. No one, not even a single person stepped forward to tell me not to worry or offered any help. It was just me and mom left to fend off for ourselves. Life was terrible and I could not imagine how Hell could be any worse. Honestly, suicide crossed my mind but then thinking about mom made me step back. But depression dug its claws deep into my soul.
I took huge loans to pay off the debt. A year later and following a lot of emotional drama from mom, I got married after a year to the same girl I was engaged to. I wish I could say otherwise, but the marriage didn’t change much for me. Except that maybe I had a little more emotional support and people I could rely upon including my in-laws. With the loans and some help from my in-laws, I managed to pay off many people over time.
JUST ONE weekend had turned me from a successful senior software engineer to a highly indebted depressed suicidal small-time shopkeeper. I guess that’s what they call destiny.
It has been 2 years now since Dad passed away. I have paid off almost everyone but now the loans I took to pay the debt are still pending. Maybe with the shops' income, I will be able to pay that off gradually too.
But the depression refuses to lose its grip. Friends, Relatives…I don’t socialize with anyone anymore. Having seen what people are really all about, I think I hate everyone.
So dad’s death changed me and my life forever...Now I am leading this meaningless, aimless existence because…because isn’t that just what you are supposed to do? Alive and breathing on the outside but left an empty husk within. But Still, I will live. But still, I will survive.