The sun painted the sky in hues of orange. The branches swayed in synchronisation with the breeze. The birds were on their way back to their nests. The aroma of the incense sticks filled the air. The sound of the temple bells that rang in a distance filled everyone with positive vibes.
Under a huge tree, she sat on the banks of her namesake river Ganga. Babbling and burbling the river made its way over the rocks. The water shimmered like pearls under the slanting rays of the sun. Twigs twirled on its streaming surface. The enticing aroma of the river and the pleasant environment filled her soul with tranquillity.
“It is dadi’s birthday. Let’s celebrate it as per her choice,” her grandson Raman’s voice echoed in her ears. A pleasant smile embraced her lips that spread to the wrinkles in the corner of her eyes. After a few seconds, the smile was replaced with a grimace. Choice, the word seemed alien to her. In an attempt to be a good daughter, a dutiful wife, a caring daughter-in-law and a doting mother she had locked her dreams and choices in an unused corner of her heart.
She was married to the groom of her father’s choice. A layer of vermilion at the parting of her hair and a mangalsutra worth a few thousand changed her life forever. Her husband didn’t know what the word consent meant. Her choice never mattered to him. He was the centre of his life and his life revolved around himself.
Albeit her life was filled with material possessions there was a dearth of love and affection. She wanted her husband’s attention and wished he had an iota of respect for her. But she always ended up disappointed. After a few years, she gave up her expectations.
Two years after marriage she embraced motherhood. Her dreams, aspiration and wishes got submerged under the mountain of responsibilities. Her family rarely remembered her birthday and even if they did she prepared their favourite delicacies. Not that her sons didn’t love her. But they never realised that she may have her own opinion or choice.
Thinking back now she doesn’t remember when was the last time she had her favourite food. What was her favourite colour? What was her favourite pastime? She doesn’t remember. Nobody asked her what she wanted nor did she ever express.
Not just her family, her body too didn’t respect her choices. She was diagnosed with cancer a year back and the cancer cells have metastasized to almost every organ of her body eating away the life within her.
“You have just a month left,” she remembered the doctor’s words. She reached for her bag and removed a writing pad and pen. She let the words flow and the characters take their course. She cherished the time spent on the banks of the river in the company of her pen and paper.
The time she spent writing was the only time when she followed her heart. She chose the genre of her choice and let the words flow. She never thought about publishing her stories but secretly wished that someday her words of wisdom would be cherished by her grandchildren.
After contemplating the title for her anthology she scribbled a few words on the paper. It read “Ganga’s choice”.
Looking at the river she wondered if the river Ganga had ever exercised her choice. The river filled with contaminants spoke for itself.
A few hours passed
Raman was busy searching for her. “Dadi,” he shrieked as he descended the stairs. But she didn’t respond.
Clasping the writing pad with one hand and the other hand immersed in the river Ganga lay her lifeless body. She finally breathed her last. Unfortunately, death too didn’t knock on her door as per her choice.
We cannot choose our date of birth or date of death but the time betwixt birth and death is in our hands. Sometimes our desires get submerged under the mounting responsibilities but never let our aspirations vanish into thin air. Live life without any regrets. Sometimes voice your opinions, take a stand for yourself and exercise your choice.
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