The scent of the Assamese tea leaves mingled with the petrichor as the drizzle began. In hope of some marveling rain, I had hurriedly gotten up from the verandah and gone into the kitchen to prepare some tea for myself. With a notebook in my hand and a kalam, I wrote down the scenarios I had captured from the other day at my husband’s workplace. The construction site had been crowded with toddlers roaming around, playing with dirt and iron rods, while their parents constructed a building for the rich who talked about nothing but their champagne problems.
This was my first experience of rain in Kashmir. By the time tea was ready, the rain had intensified. Adjusting my glasses, I began recalling the events of the day, but soon was distracted by the rain. I had always imagined it to be cheerful, to be celebration of life and of purity, but today, here in Kashmir, it looked as if the clouds had burst into tears.
A tiny sip of hot tea burnt my tongue and as I fetched some sugar, the doorbell rang. Thrice. Rapidly. I slightly tripped on my sari as I approached the door. There stood a man, older than me, soaked and shivering, unable to speak.
I had to prod him and then finally in a wavering voice, he blurted out that Madhaven was no more, having died on the spot in a car accident….
“Let’s go.” It was time to meet the widows who lived in the ashram. Madhaven’s death had scarred me and in realization that I could no longer depend on sleeping tablets, I came to Vrindavan, Krishna’s birthplace, to do a PHD. I knew that the only way for me to keep on living was to write.
Life isn’t easy, for anyone, but it is even more cruel to widows. Their life was colorless and bland now I was one of them. It was like the rain had washed away all of my colors. To the rest of the world, we were just mourners. Our life had ended with the life of our husbands and we were considered nothing more than a burden.
I talked to them and realized how similar we were, how we longed for acceptance and for compassion. While talking to them, it began raining. It was just like in Kashmir. They had come to mourn with me once again.
I had enough to write about but thoughts of Madhaven kept returning and it became difficult for me to write.
“Let’s go to Kashmir! I have my work there and you’ll get plenty to write about!” Madhaven said. “You are exceptional! You will do wonders”
After weeks, I had done it. I had written The Blue-Necked Braja, a piece of work close to my heart. It was seven in the morning when I finished writing. It had just ended raining. The dark clouds faded away and the bright sun returned. Now I only saw daylight.
(Based on the true-life events of Late Dr. Mamoni Raisom Goswami, author and winner of Jnanpith Award and Sahitya Akademi Award, two of India’s top literary awards)
©Aaira Goswami, 2021. All rights reserved.