I did not see much of the ups and downs in my friend's life. By the time I came to know her, her life was much more settled. But when my mother ever had to give an example of an ideal woman, she would refer to her.
What I have gathered about my friend from my mother would almost make a complete picture of her life. When she was 15 or 16, she married. She was barely 20 by the time she had given birth to three sons. Her husband was known for his greed, while his son was stupid and dissolute. She adjusted to her new environments as a good homemaker, performing all the duties that her in-laws assigned although she had to deal with her troublesome husband. In a fit of sentiment, her husband brought home another woman. Even then, she bore the pain well.
Finally, she and her three sons moved out of the house and came to live in our area. She had neither a house to live nor any means of subsistence for her family. She only had one gold ring given by her parents and no property nor cash. She began her new life by renting a room on the ground floor of our house and paid the rent by selling her ring. In the morning, she sold vegetables; in the afternoon, she washed neighbors' clothes; and in the evenings, she prepared lamp wicks based on orders she received. It was by doing these common jobs that she managed to meet ends. Her busy schedule would start early in the morning and continue until midnight. Despite her hard labor, no one ever saw her looking sad. She always smiled.
People doing the same kind of work that she did noticed that her good behavior, trustworthiness and frank dealings were increasing her business. This made them jealous and soon they began spreading rumors that she was immoral. Later they began to malign her character and plotted to drive her from the area. Some men in the area were hinted at being her secret lovers. Even though people did not want her to stay, my mother took a strong stand on her behalf and in the end she stayed. With time, her sons grew up and the room became too small for them. So, she finally moved out. All of her sons grew up to be quite talented young men.
Perhaps, the sad plight of their mother, the pitiable conditions in which they grew and the need for a happy future that their mother toiled, motivated them. At age 25, the eldest son became an officer, changing her life forever. She never dreamt that she would have her own house, but the unimagined became a reality. Through the collective effort of her sons, a house was built. Thus began the happy days for her. My mother always invited her on social occasions and family gatherings. Sometimes, we also visited them. Soon, she became a part of our city. She was an example of how a woman can fight all alone, struggling against all odds yet able to provide a stable future for her children. I think she needs the goodwill and company of those who cherished her friendship.
To feel close to someone, one does not need any blood relationship. The mind and sentiments are enough to shower love and affection. Today, I am accompanying my mother to her house. There is no particular reason for me to go. But, I still want to go and show my love, respect and affection.