Anasuya knew that she will not live long and that her end was around the corner.Doctors had stopped treating her except for medicines to alleviate her pain as far as possible and making her remaining days comfortable.Sampath, secretary of the senior citizen’s home, had called on her in the evening.She is a resident of the home for more than fifteen years and quite close to him.He knew her well.
“Sampath, I have a last request to make.I have in this envelope spelt out how my wealth should be distributed after my end.I want you to hand over this sealed cover after my death to Rajagopal.You have met him in my room once. He was my colleague and a very close friend of mine in the school where I had worked for decades.I have nominated him as the trustee.Since the home will be a beneficiary, I have not made you one.I hope you will understand.Do not tell him about me till I have taken permanent leave of you all.
I don’t believe much in rituals and want my last rites to be done simple without fanfare.I have left a sizable amount for the home and I am sure you will put it to good use for giving more comforts to the inmates ”she said
“Please do not worry.I will follow your instructions though I am sure you would return back fully recovered”Sampath replied.
Giving him a wry smaile, she bid him adieu after telling how much of support and help he had been to her.
As she lay in the bed, there was a flashback of her life since her young days.She was the elder of the two children.God had endowed her with beauty and intelligence.She was a topper in the class and after a post graduation she had a B.Ed degree.She had joined a prestigious school as a teacher.But her life was not all pleasant.It had a large share of sorrow.Her only brother six years younger was mentally retarded.To add to the misery her mom had died when she was just seventeen.Eversince she had been running the family besides doing well in her studies.When she had finished her education and grew into a charming lady with a good job , several offers came seeking her hand for marriage.But her dad turned down all of them with some excuse or the other till people stopped coming.
In the course of a conversation one night, he said”Anasuya, you may be wondering why I am sending all people away without considering their proposals.I think you are born unlucky.Had not your mom passed away,may be I would have considered a marriage for you.In the present circumstances your brother has none to take care of him.I am quite old and may not live long.Consider that yours is a life of sacrifice for the sake of your brother.You must reconciie to this harsh reality.It hurts me no doubt very much and I spend sleepless nights seeing you , a very talented and accomplished girl, remaining unmarried.But I can see no way out.”
Anasuya kept quiet shocked as she was at the way her dad thought.She could not sleep that night and cried softly thinking of her dead mother.There was even a sense of disgust with his brother a grown up boy oblivious to his miserable condition and often repeating parrot like akka,akka,(elder sister) to get her attention.
Raju as she affectionately called Rajagopal was also a teacher in the same school.Handsome and tall he took a liking for Anasuya and helped her in the initial days till she found her feet in the school.She too turned to him for everything and soon love blossomed between the two.They spent the free hours together unmindful of the amused smiles of their colleagues.One day she asked him to get a peacock feather for the crawling Krishna doll in blue she had bought. Raju brought her the feather the next day itself.She was touched by this gesture and treasured his gift.
Raju said one day”Anasuya, how long are we to be lovers.Won’t you marry me? Can I meet your father and seek your hand in a formal manner or would you speak to him.My mom is wanting me to marry this year itself.She is getting very old.”
“Raju, I did mention obliquely to you about the condition of my brother and my dad’s idea on my marriage.There is not much that my talking to him would do” she said.
“Yes, you did mention.Tell your dad that we will take care of your brother like our own child.What more would he need to accept me as his son –in-law?Both of thenm can live with us.” Raju replied.
When Anasuya broached the subject that evening, her dad hit the ceiling saying she had humiliated him by finding a match for her by herself.He said”Forget the insult.I will not agree to this.He can always go back on his word and take you away to any other place after a couple years.He may refuse to keep yor brother.No, this is just not acceptable.If you still proceed further, your marriage will take place over my dead body.”
That was the last she talked about her marriage with her dad.Raju married someone else but remained a true friend.She remained a spinster taking care of her brother and when he died years later she moved to the senior citizen’s home.
Anasuya was exhausted when the flash back ended like an old film.She took the diary from the side desk and kept the envelope inside it.
Two days later Rajagopal was by her side at the hospital when he got the information that she had breathed her last.Sampath was in tears.There were a few inmates of the home.It was then Sampath with a heavy heart expressed her last wish and handed over her diary with the envelope.Rajagopal could not suppress his tears when he saw her peaceful and calm face.He knew of her deep love for him and how fate had been cruel to her.As he took the envelope from the diary, a peacok feather fell out of it bringing with it a host of memories..Rajagopal started weeping like a child.