Life in a Fairyland
It was morning again. Another morning, thought seventy five years old, Lalita. Another morning, leading to another day and to another night. Each day and night were the same, or almost the same, for her. The daily, mandatory, body functions, the mandatory three meals, the routine switching on and switching off of the television, laced by intermittent naps and sleep. The last, most of the time, was by default, in the absence of any other option. She turned to the side to see her ninety years old husband, Raghav, still asleep. She sighed involuntarily and looked out of the window, partly open. The birds, the bees, the butterflies, all seemed to be too busy to even pay any attention to her, an old woman with no purpose or will to live. But was she like this before? The mere thought brought about myriads of emotions in her, almost seemed to be choking her.
Lalita was a child bride! What else would one call her, at the mere age of thirteen? She sat there, all decked up heavily as a bride, next to her mother-in-law, who was receiving the wedding guests who had come to see the new bride. Every one had lovely things to say about the bride, her beauty, her innocence, and the lovely jewellery that she was wearing. Lalita was basking in all this praise and love. She would admire the pretty red benarasi saree that she wore, and the beautiful gold bangles that almost covered her forearms. She was married to Raghav, fifteen years older to her. This age difference was pretty usual in her times of patriarchy, where the man was the provider as well as the protector and the woman was the submissive one, only following instructions and fulfilling her duty of raising and running a family, efficiently.
Lalita’s mother-in-law, Sushma, adored her daughter-in-law. She had always wanted the most beautiful bride for her darling son and now, having succeeded in doing so, she was content. She knew that she would mould Lalita the way she wanted, easily. Raghav treated Lalita like a doll and was smitten by her beauty and innocence. Lalita, in turn, saw in Raghav the best provider and protector, who would dote on her, pampering her like she used to be done by her parents. So Raghav’s wish was her command and thus started a fairy tale life for both of them, where they complemented each other completely. They fell deeply in love, for ever. Lalita never cared to take a peep into the world outside her life. She lived happily in her fairy land with her prince charming, very much in love, and pampering.
Raghav was Lalita’s shield. He protected her fiercely from all adversities in life. People around Lalita would envy her position, seemingly of a queen of her house. They had two lovely children, and Raghav and Lalita made them their world. Time flew past as it always does and both Raghav and Lalita believed their fairy tale was to last for ever and ever. But life spares no one. It had to bare its fangs of harsh reality to them, from which even Raghav could not shield his love. They had always believed to live and die as a king and a queen of their kingdom. But does that ever happen? The most powerful of the kings and queens too have to let go of their power!
Raghav and Lalita were now old. They had become dependent in many ways. Between the two, Lalita was the worst hit. She had lived a life of a queen, never ever giving a thought for anything else. She probably had thought she would remain a queen for ever and she would be loved, cared, pampered and respected, till her last breath. Little did she know that, it was a mere fantasy. Why would anybody treat her and pamper her like Raghav did all her life, this thought never had occurred to her. Also, as generally happens in any pampering, Raghav too had usually overlooked many of Lalita’s shortcomings. Expecting and demanding the same behavior still, even when she lost her authority, was the chief reason of her pain and sorrow.
Now, her basic needs were met and cared for, but she did not feel needed and wanted; in fact, she felt like a burden. Her protector for life had also failed her, for he himself was a dependent now. Her deep love for him had turned into fierce anger against him; for she never ever had given a thought to the fact that, like every mortal, he may also have to succumb to the ever powerful Time. She was never used to reasoning and analysing, so she got filled with frustration, sorrow, helplessness and insecurity. Her children had disappointed her terribly by being judgmental and by picking on her mistakes. They, now in a position of power, had started demanding answers to anything and everything that did not suit their parameters. They stunned her by pushing her off her pedestal. They only had sermons, accusations and nasty things to say to her. Struggling in their own lives, like the most, they found Lalita the easiest of targets to vent out their own frustrations. It’s not that they did not care for their mother, but they were not as magnanimous in overlooking her smallest of mistakes which happened because of her habit, and which Raghav never ever had pointed a finger at. Foolishly, the children had taken the role of her parents and kept on reprimanding her at every possible opportunity. Lalita was not used to this behaviour at all. How could she change at this age? Sadly, her children failed to understand this and continued in the roles of a tutor, unemotionally. Lalita’s beautiful world had crashed and now, every moment, she was waiting to die. But was that in her hands? She had no answer to this question cropping up infinite times, in her mind.
Slowly she got up for the day. She dragged herself from the bed and was about to balance herself on the ground when she heard,
“ Lalita, did you sleep well?”
It was Raghav. He still had only concern for her well-being. Lalita broke down and cried unashamedly. Raghav had sat up and was stroking her head,
“Why are you crying so, Lalita? Tell me, what troubles you?”
How Lalita wished, she could tell him and he would make everything right again, for her. But could that happen any more? Her fairyland had been destroyed by none other than her very own, who she herself had brought into this world. The ones who she had lived for, loved and shielded all her life, had broken her shield and had ripped her apart. She now lay there bare and helpless. Cinderella’s ball seemed to have gotten over. At the stroke of the clock, all the magic had vanished. From a life overflowing with love she was now crawling around in a parched land, searching for some drops of affection and respect.