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Love between old people is rarely demonstrated but it is always assumed to be present. Does it mean they don’t have any clue about each other or they just don’t care?
It was a typical joint family- bustling with married sons, their moody daughters-in-law, boisterous children and old parents wanting their hold on the family.
Sita belonged to one such family. She was now the mother-in-law, the head of the family. However, living with her own scheming, hot-tempered mother-in-law had depleted her of her energy. She could not tolerate having arguments with her daughters-in-law. And so, she ran the house rather clumsily, wavering most of the time and giving in to her daughters-in-law’s whims and fancies.
As the head of the family, she wasn’t even sure of her cooking or her duties. If her daughters-in-law told her that food should be cooked in a certain way, she would give in, without a murmur.
But she still felt somewhat confident about support from her husband Sen Babu, though he hardly had any time for her. He was the undisputed head of the family and she was certain he wouldn’t tolerate any slights towards her from anyone.
Sita loved her grand children. They were still young and clung to her. She told them stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. But more than them, she loved her Gods. She’d get up in the morning and pray. Then she walked up to the Ganges, took a dip and prayed. That was how she started her day.
Despite her children wanting to shift to the outskirts of the city, in a fancy bungalow, she preferred staying their ancestral home near the river. Her house was in constant need of repairs.
Even Sen Babu did not want to shift out. She had heard her fancy daughter-in-law tell someone on the phone that she lived in a khandahar. But Sita loved her house and the proximity to river Ganga. She could hear the temple bells ringing when she was in the house. Even when she was telling stories to her grandchildren she would hear the chant of ‘Har har Mahadev.’ It would bring peace to her soul.
One cold, winter morning, after she returned from her dip in the Ganga, she went to the temple. Then she came home and went to her room claiming her body was aching. An hour later, when her daughter-in-law went to wake her up, she found Sita dead. She had died in her sleep.
After the mourning period, the house went back to its normal hustle bustle. If Sen Babu missed Sita, he didn’t show it. He continued his daily routine of morning and evening walks.
Exactly, a year after Sita’s death, Sen Babu too, died one morning. He died in the same manner as his wife. Like her, he also complained of a body ache, went to his room and died in his sleep.
That evening, an old neighbour lady, came to their house and asked why had Sen Babu not gone for his dip in the Ganga that day. “I somehow, had a premonition that he would be dead since he didn’t go for his morning puja and dip in the river,” she said.
“Father used to attend the aarti and puja and bathe in the Ganga, everyday?” the shocked children asked.
“Yes,” said the old lady. “Didn’t you know? After Sita bhabhi died, bhayyia came everyday to the river and followed every ritual that Sita bhabhi followed.”
“He also gave alms to the poor and fed the Brahmins at least once a week. In fact, he would ask what else bhabhi did, I wanted to do the same,” she said.
“Really?” asked the elder son in shock.
‘Did papa even know where maa went or what she did the whole day? Was he interested enough…’ thought the elder son.
The children looked at each other, shocked.
Love, between their parents was never demonstrated, but was always there. They thought the parents were an old couple who just did their own thing and did not care for each other…
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