Thursday, June 12, 2008

Did Anjalai do the right thing?

by KParthasarathi Thursday, June 12, 2008
Anjalai looked into the cup that contained a poisonous brew in her trembling hands
wondering at the likely depressing scene in her hut a few hours later. True the news of her suicide would be shattering to her husband who had just been discharged from the hospital. Her young daughter Ponmani of two years would not realize the gravity of the loss and would be playing with the children assembled at her house. But she was determined that was the ultimate price for her sin however mitigating the circumstances were.
“What am I doing?” Anjalai thought for a moment as the weak but kindly face of Murugan and the innocent smile of the child appeared before her. She felt terribly sorry at abandoning the two like this. She knew there can be no going back even as the course of events ran before her mind’s eye like a film. An orphan Anjalai was living in her uncle’s house after the death of her parents in an epidemic. Life was not easy and one of hard labour with her cruel aunt not reconciled to her living with them from day one. She was very charming to look at making her aunt still more jealous. When she was twenty, she came up with the idea that she be married of to her brother who was nearing fifty and who had lost his wife and had four children.Anjalai’s uncle demurred to the proposal but the termagant went ahead with the preparations. It was then Murugan who was twenty five and who lived in an adjacent house eloped with her to the city. He found work in a mandi as labourer and married her duly in a temple without loss of time and lived happily. Her aunt considered it a good riddance and did not trouble them. In due course Ponmani was born and life went on smoothly with Anjalai augmenting the income by working as domestic in a few houses nearby. It was a hand to mouth living though.
As ill luck would have it, Murugan met with a serious accident when a steel girder fell on his thigh. He was rushed to a government hospital. After the tests , they decided that a major operation was urgently necessary. But nothing was done unless one was highly connected or greased the palms of many from lowly ward boy to the attending doctor. She had pledged her only chain and borrowed from neighbours.All were spent in the first two days. The doctor would visit the ward and walk away silently after seeing him. The nurses were not communicative. His condition was worsening. She was starving virtually and clueless what to do. It was then the ward boy came near her and said”Sister, I do not think they will proceed with the surgery. You must meet the attending assistant doctor in his room separately after 3pm. He is very influential and can get anything done. Do not delay. Be careful.” When she stood outside the cabin, the doctor called her inside. He was about forty five and his look and smile warned Anjalai that he had wicked intentions. Without beating about the bush, he told her ”You do not have money and nothing moves here without it. Your husband is to be operated immediately. Otherwise he will get into complications and die. I can arrange it day after tomorrow itself provided you give me yourself in lieu of money. For such emergent situations affecting the life of husband, this is a small price. Tell me by 5pm.Do not worry, may be we would be meeting a few times till he is discharged. I am doing this only out of pity for you.”
Illiterate as she was and with none to support her and with no other solution visible she decided to succumb to the lust of this animal being the only way to save her dear husband’s life. She prayed to her goddess for forgivance and promised she would make suitable amends for the sin to be committed. Once she expressed her willingness to the doctor, things moved fast and Murugan was successfully operated upon. The doctor took his price unfailingly on several days till the patient was discharged after ten days.
Murugan was able to walk with the help of a walker. His employer had agreed to give him a light job.. But Anjalai had a forlorn and lost look always in her face.Murugan asked”Hey, what is troubling you? Thanks to the assistant doctor who was kind, I am back to normal health. Why are you dejected?” She smiled weakly at him and said she would be back soon.
Anjalai took one deep breath and gulped the contents. She returned home and fell dead at the door step with foams frothing from her mouth. The entire neighbourhood assembled wondering why she took her life.Murugan was rendered speechless and numb by the shock. A week after her death the ward boy who came to commiserate with Murugan confided the likely reason.Murugan dashed his head against the wall and cried inconsolably ”Anjalai, why did you have to take your life? You did though unwillingly what you felt was the only way to save me from death. I would have asked you to forget it as a bad dream. I would not have mistaken you even the slightest. You have now left us in deep misery. I could have as well died.” Ponmani wiped his tears looking puzzled at her crying father.

1 comment:

  1. A very touching story that leaves deep imprints on the reader. Very absorbing and gripping. Being a person with strong moral values and rigid connotations to what is right and wrong...this write up has made me wonder about the subjective element of the dos and donts in this world.

    Would Anjalai have committed a greater crime if she refused to let go of her chastity and send her husband to the jaws of death or whether her selfless act for the sake of her partners life depicted her dutiful stance? What an irony that neither gave her the deserved happiness and saving her husbands life urged her to give up hers ultimately.

    The dark social elements of the society are also brought out her in a subtle way. Its a pity that even some doctors who are obliged to the society stoop down to such tactics,enticing away one ife while saving the other.