- by KParthasarathi 17 Oct 2008
It was nine in the morning and the children had left for the college. It was always hectic for Swati in the mornings with hurried preparation of breakfast and lunch for them. She normally watched TV thereafter for a while before getting back into the household chores. But this day she sat in the sofa with the head resting on both hands staring at the wall vacantly. Her head was aching and tears were trickling from her eyes. Ever since she got the letter from her husband Mahesh, she was grumbling to herself “Why did this happen to me? What is it that Mahesh found in her that I do not have? How foolish I had been not noticing the change in him?” There was no clue whatsoever to guess such a likely development. She was kept in the dark.
Swati was happily married for twenty years and Mahesh was such a loving husband. He did not earn much but just adequate to run the family. She was as smart as she was beautiful and managed carefully within the income. She never nagged him and he in turn was considerate often giving her a helping hand on holidays. Life was going on smoothly. It was then he got an attractive offer in a far away land. They had no flat of their own and the children were soon to pursue higher education. They badly needed money. He convinced Swati that a few years of his working abroad will make them financially secure and that she must agree to his taking up the offer. He pointed out that she being the only child of her aged parents cannot leave them alone. The children were also in the middle of their education. He promised her that he would return in five years after saving some money. She was not happy with the arrangement but had to relent when he pressed her.
Initially he came once a year and later once in two or three years. It stopped thereafter. He prolonged his stay beyond the promised five years telling her he hadn’t saved much. All her pleadings that they were away from each other in the prime of their lives and that he should return early fell on deaf ears. She missed him very much and was pining for him... It was then this letter that shattered her world completely.
“Dear Swati, I know how much this mail would hurt you but I have no option but to break the news. We have to part ways permanently. I have been away from you for almost a decade. Since the last two years Melinda who works with me has grown very friendly with me. She is an orphan with none to look after her. She comes over the weekends to help me in cleaning the house and provide me the company. Over a period of time we have grown to like each other. I thought over the matter for long. I have finally decided to marry her but intend sending you money for the upkeep of family. You had been a good and loving wife and it was a painful decision for me. I permit you to choose a partner of your choice though I know you would not. Please forgive me. Give my love to the children. With love, Mahesh”
Her life would be no more the same. Practical as she was, she thanked the god for not leaving her job in the nearby school as she had planned. He had evidently been unfaithful to her. There is no question of his coming back into her life. She was aware that long years of separation and the close proximity of the woman must have broken his resolve. But he was a good man and it hurt her that he strayed away. She resigned to her fate and determined to see that her sons came up well in life. She also decided to bring her aged parents to live with her.
Years went by quickly and her two sons were well settled in life. Her parents had passed away. She was left alone though the boys visited her frequently. Life was moving uneventfully with no discomfort. She was in good health and devoted part of her time for the service of poor and handicapped. It was then she got a letter from Melinda whose name had almost faded from her memory. The letter had depressing news.
It read “Dear madam, You may not remember me but I know all about you. Mahesh had told me more than once what a lovely and gentle person you are. Though he had moved away from your life, he often spoke of you and your two sons. I felt he had no courage to communicate with you after the injustice he meted out to you. Even today I have a sense of guilt for snatching him away. But we paid a heavy price for this. He lost his job two years back when he became ill and was unable to work. His condition grew worse and he died a year back. With two children of ours we passed through worst financial problems with his mounting medical expenses. We managed thanks to my job. But my misfortune is hounding me. I am now afflicted with a dreaded disease and my days are numbered. Being an orphan myself I have none to look to. When I think of my young daughter and son too as likely orphans, I am unable to bear the pain. I am writing this to seek your pardon and blessings for the two children. I believe strongly that god has punished us for the grievous wrong done to you and that your forgiveness alone will release us from His anger. Please write a line that you have pardoned us. Sincerely, Melinda.”
Swati’s eyes became moist. She knew that she can never recover from deep injury done to her unless she forgave and felt the power to wish Melinda well. She took a paper and pen and wrote
Dear Melinda, I am very sorry to hear the bad news. I share your grief no less. Have no worry in the least. I would willingly take care of the children. After all Mahesh’s children are mine too. But in the meanwhile please make arrangements to come away immediately to our home here. Please rest assured that I bear no grudge against you or Mahesh .The doors of my home are always open to you and your children. I shall remit you some money for your travel if you let me know the details of bank etc.Please do not hesitate to come. Regards, your sister, Swati Kpartha12@hotmail.com