All this happened almost 6 years back. But that particular day will remain etched in my mind forever. We were on our way to our native place, Jodhpur with my mom’s body. It had been a long journey indeed. My brother, my boyfriend and I had spent 13 long hours to go from Ahmedabad to Jodhpur.
We were seated in an ambulance beside my mother’s body which was placed in a casket.
When I reached home, the first person I called was my aunt. We told her that we had reached Jodhpur. And she said, “What do you want me to do?” I was literally shocked to hear her words. But she quickly changed her tone and said, “We are on our way. We will reach within half an hour.”
The moment we reached home, I started cleaning our house. My brother and I had been with our mother all this while because she needed our attention while she was undergoing treatment. We then brought the casket into the house.
We were scared to open the casket. But all our relatives and neighbours arrived before we could do so. When they opened the casket, I just could not look at her.
She was so cold. I could not feel her warmth when I touched her. It was the most horrible experience of my life. I still don’t know how I managed to keep my calm at that time. They then took her for her 'antim sanskaar'. That was the last time I saw her. Two hours after she was cremated, my relatives started gossiping.
They said that my mom had died because I had left home to pursue my career 6 months back. I was shocked when I heard them say this.
I could not help thinking about those happy days that we had shared 6 months back. My mom had come to drop me at the airport because I had been placed in a very good organization after I finished college.
She had been happier about it that I was. I had been doing well in the past 6 months. I had even come down thrice to meet her after I had started working.
My entire extended family had been against my decision of leaving home or working. I was 22 years old. And according to them, that was the right age for me to get married – not pursue a career.
Perhaps they were jealous of me because I now had a very good job with a great salary. My mom had supported my decision. But all my relatives openly told her that she was taking a very bold decision in this matter.
My dad too had always supported me whole-heartedly. When he was alive, I had told him about my interest in pursuing my higher education. He too did not want me to waste my potential. He himself was an educated man. He had been successful in his own field.
He had always wanted me to explore the world of my dreams. He would often tell me that I was just like him.
But my extended family members, especially my uncles and aunts, could not tolerate this. They did not have the guts to say a word to my parents because my dad had always supported them financially all through his life. They did not have the potential to earn well for their families. My mother too had always supported my father's philanthropic nature.
I was totally numb now.
I clearly remember the call that my brother had made. He had called me saying that my mother had got a paralytic attack. I had been extremely worried. I remember rushing back by the next flight. She started recovering soon and was responding well to the medicines. But after a month or so, she suffered from a brain hemorrhage. We rushed her to Ahmedabad after spending a few hours in the local hospital. The local doctors were not hopeful about her recovery there so they suggested that we take her to Ahmedabad. But two days later, she passed away.
I looked at my relatives with unblinking eyes. They continued to gossip but now they openly started blaming my brother and me for her demise.
They said that my mom did not have anyone to talk to or share her feelings with because I was working in another city – and that is why she had passed away.
I was hurt and angry when they said such things.
I said, “What kind of logic is that?” This hurt the ego of the entire family. So all of them started abusing me. They called me a wh*re in front of my neighbours. They said I was earning my living through prostitution.
I was in the most vulnerable phase of my life but I could see all their suppressed jealousy and hatred coming out that day. They did not like the fact that I was different from all the other kids. They knew I was well educated. They knew that I was earning a better salary than their children but they simply could not accept the reality that was staring them in the face.
My mom’s body had been cremated just 2 hours back but they did not even have the decency to control their emotions and thoughts. They did not even stop to think of all that my father had done for them. My mom and dad had always helped them without any hesitation all through their lives so that they could lead better lives.
Somehow, they conveniently forgot all this.
At that moment, the only people who stood by me were my friends and my boyfriend. All of them stood up for me and retaliated to their bitter remarks.
They deserved what they got.
Yet, the entire incident had left me with a big void. I could not report for work for the next six months. I started getting anxiety attacks. But my brother and my friends helped me out through this difficult phase. In time, I started returning to my normal state.
Today, I hold a position of respect in my dream organization. But I have not yet regained my confidence completely.
Earlier I had always participated in debate competitions without any hesitation. But now I started getting anxious before a group discussion or a presentation. I had to calm myself a 100 times before even speaking a word.
At such times, I feel that my mom has taken a big part of me with her.
I am not in touch with any of my relatives now. I don’t even know if they are alive or not. I don’t care about their financial struggles either.
All I know is that I am able to survive without them only because my parents were farsighted enough to provide me with a good education. This has moulded my thoughts and changed my perspectives on life.
All their venomous words have given me the courage to work with zeal. I now want to progress in my chosen field.
I am still grieving for my mother but at least I am independent now. I wonder what my plight would have been if I had not gone ahead with my decision of pursuing a career. My mom was no more now and I would have been dependent on my relatives’ support.
I am really thankful to my parents for encouraging me to lead an independent life.
The only regret that I have now is that my parents are not alive to see my progress today. But I am sure they can see me from up there. I know they are at peace. I miss you, mom. I miss you, dad.