By Kamala Sarup
my story was translated by Keshab Sigdel.
Published in NolanChart.com
Life is not only meant to remain alive. Beautiful landscapes seen through the southward-facing window, flowers at the courtyard, the wide and square road that stretches toward the horizon–they together compose my happiness; they are all a part of my life. But today, I feel them otherwise. They seem to add distress to my loneliness and fear. It is close to five o’clock in the evening. Had it been winter, it would already have been dark. However, the spring is still lingering, and the sun is reluctant to set so early in the sky.
“Kishor of the next house…,” My heart was stunned hearing this incomplete sentence from my brother before I could ask anything over the telephone. “What happened to him?” Even before I asked him this question, my brother told with his breath, “He is no more…”. Was it a complete sentence? Or did he have something more to say? I could not decide. But I had questions. I did not want to believe the sound coming through the receiver. I repeated the same question: “What happened?” But there was no one to answer this question. The receiver on the other side was dead.
Past reeled in my mind. I remember the days when my mother prepared to sow the maize seed on a terraced field. When she was short of the seeds, she would ask him to get some for her. He was both energetic and helpful young man. Everyone in the village remembered him whenever they needed any help. I recall how he had managed to bring the maize seeds within thirty-five minutes. In normal situations, it would take about two hours to go to the district headquarter to get it.
The events from the past are sometimes painful as are some of the dreams. “I got married last month. I couldn’t invite you.” One Saturday morning in the month of July last year, he had come at our house along with his wife. “You know Kamala, I’m very happy with him”, his wife said me when we were preparing tea in the kitchen. My mother and him were busy talking in the next room.
I cannot even imagine what might have happened to her after his untimely death. My heart pricks with the unknown fear. My body is getting numb. I do not have energy to think of the dreadful future. I still cannot believe in the news. I remember their coming to our house on the third year of their marriage with their second-born son. She is not a woman with an ordinary heart; she is a brave woman!
In March last year, they had come to visit my mother. “I believe I can raise my children with my salary, can’t I, aunty?’ He was sharing his problems with my mother with no signs of panic on his face. “We were born empty hands, and we will die empty hands. Therefore, it is no use in dying for wealth.” His wife had remarked in the same line, “It is better to enjoy the life in its fullest; it’s too short”. I had listened to them attentively.
Oh, how pleasant that evening was! The moon had appeared in the east-sky. Children were still playing on the yard. Green trees were visible at a distance; the loud music from the wedding-house in the village was trumpeting the sky. His wife was cooking something to eat in the kitchen. She would always cook something by herself even when she came to our house. Though they were not in our blood relation, but they were very close to us. “I’m a lucky man who has a wife in all ups and downs. It must be a boon of my past life’s deeds,” he looked at her face and said these words with a smile. “We have vowed to live for each other; we will live together and die together,” she had reasserted her conviction.
What went wrong with him? Did he think his income was not sufficient to meet the growing needs of his family? Did he want to send his children to a good school? But did he not think of his wife and children after he is gone? I had questions, but no answers. Life is full of questions. However, death is not an answer.
I was completely depressed by the news. My friend had come to my apartment. She tried to convince me. “It is no use
recalling the past incidents; you will have to continue living your life,” she tried to console me. But is the answer to death so easy. Is it just a few sentences of consolation? Can I stop the feelings coming to me so strongly as the hurricane? I found it even more terrible. But I got stuck to one of her suggestion. “Do you have any feelings for those who need to live even after their beloved is gone?” She continued, “If you can send some money to his wife for their children’s education that would be a real help.” Yes, she was right! But, I did not speak a word to her.
It is already dark now. I do not know what will the next morning look like. What does it mean to be happy? What does it mean to be sad? I have been thinking that present is painful; past is more soothing. But there are moments when the same past becomes torturous. I had taken a picture of him and his wife on the day I left my house to come here. Now I look at the same picture that is hung on my room’s wall. him and his wife continue to smile at me as always. I cannot stop the flood in my eyes.