The Art Of Giving…
Maya is dead.
A day had passed since Maya’s travel towards the otherworld; the impact of the news came as a shock wave,rippling the family with pain and loss.
Sanjana, Maya’s sister, was broken. Days of resentment and dislike was melted by the tears. Maya’s father was motionless; his eyes were fixated on the already garlanded photograph of Maya, nailed alongside with the old pictures of her Grandparents. Maya’s addictive smile was not clearly pictured; nor was her golden brown eyes, truly a sight to behold. Thinking the photo did no justice to his beautiful daughter, his eyes drooped close. Maya’s mom was silently crying on the corner; the putrid and definite smell of death hanging around in the air was too real for it to be a mere nightmare.
Maya, from young had been a naughty kid. Or in better term, an envious kid. Sanjana loved Maya so much that she’d willingly give everything to her; every little thing. She loved to see her little sis happy.
When Sanju was turning to 24, her parents started searching for prospectful grooms. Sanju was so shy to even talk about marriage, but she wanted the romance and so she eagerly waited to meet her man who would walk along with her through ups and downs.
When Rakesh, a software Engineer caught Mr. Ashok’s eyes, he immediately decided Rakesh was going to be his daughter’s husband. The day of ‘girl-seeing ceremony’ as Maya ridiculed, came and went.
But, no one had expected that unexpected bomb after a month. Rakesh’s parents were squirming in the seats as they said shamefully, ‘My son wants to marry your second daughter.’
Marriage was over; for Rakesh and Maya. In the moment when Sanju saw Maya wearing the yellow rope-‘Thaazhi’- that was supposed to be hers, she resented her sister.
After five months, Sanju got married to a teacher; he wasn’t posh and wealthy like Rakesh, but he was a nice and kind man. He loved Sanju and she loved him back. Everything was going great and that was when Maya’s demise reached them, like a Tsunami’s gigantic wave, swallowing them inside the grief and misery.
Days passed like nothing had changed. Time moved in its own pace; so was life. Nothing remained stagnant for one missing person; it was just another death to Time.
It was a very dark evening with rain clouds viciously attacking the roofs with pallets of rain drops. Sanju was back home for her delivery. Entering inside Maya’s old room, she was searching for a candle. Before she found the light, the electricity came. The room was lit by a small bulb, illuminating everything in its yellow, gloomy hue. The room smelled of dust, but Maya’s flowery scent still lingered in there. The yellow bulb captured a packed box from Maya’s husband’s house, carrying all her old possessions.
As Sanju was turning to go outside, a black book caught her attention. Sanju remembered this diary. It was gifted to her by her teacher and Maya had spent an entire day crying for the diary, and it had become hers at the end-like every other things.
Sanju hesitated, but grabbed the diary anyway. The diary had Maya and Sanju’s name written inside a big heart, saying ‘Sisters Forever.’ Sanju found herself crying. She’d have never thought that Maya loved her.
The entries started when Maya was 16 years old, in a very curvy writing. It was random scribbling at first.
(2nd August 2006)
It is my 16th birthday and I stubbornly fought for your year old copy of Shakespeare you got from grandpa. Mom said she will buy me a new one and I said she should buy you the new one and I want this one. You hate me, right? But, I heard when you told Bindhu about wanting a new copy of Shakespeare because the one you had was very old and the pages were coming off. You deserve the new one. I don’t need Shakespeare. I don’t even like the guy.
Sanju remembered that day. She did get a new copy and after a day, Maya had carelessly dumped the old one in Sanju’s room too. Sanju’s forgotten tears were now raining with vengeance, along with the rain.
(29th January 2007)
I’m sorry to do this. Your friends are using you for your intelligence. They’re not your true friends. I heard them bad-mouthing you. Do you know What I threatened them with: I saw Akshi and Aanya with some guys and I said I’d rattle them to their parents. Gosh, you’d have seen their face.
Sanju hiccupped. She always hated that particular moment when her friends stopped talking and she hated Maya for that. But Maya…
(14th may 2007)
You won first prize in essay competition and I adamantly asked you for that, but you want to give it to papa. Papa would use it and throw it away like all those pens he had, but it shouldn’t be discarded. It is one of your achievement. I’d have it always.
And there the pen was, inside a box. Sanju fondled it with a sad smile.
(2nd August 2009)
I missed you. College is fine, but I don’t like it here. Pizza is okay, but nothing could replace Amma’s fish kulambu (Fish curry). I don’t like Bangalore very much; it is loud and foreign. I missed our familiar surroundings.
There were no entries for two years. Finally there was one on 2012. Sanju prayed with all her heart that it wasn’t another sacrifice or a flawless game plan to save her, on Maya’s part.
(12th February 2012)
I don’t know what is happening to me, but it feels like I’m going to go away, soon. I’m scared to go to doctor.
(5th June 2012)
I was so happy that you were getting married. Everything was going fine and dad and mom was getting busy with marriage preparations. But my happiness died the moment when I saw the man you are supposed to marry with another girl, walking inside the clinic. He had impregnated her. And they were coming for abortion. He was sneaky, he didn’t even go inside but I heard them behind the bushes as they shouted at each other. I didn’t know what I’m supposed to do. I Am CONFUSED.
(10th july 2012)
When I went to confront him, I saw he was talking to his friend; he was saying that if anything would go wrong, he’d spoil your name too. I didn’t know what he was talking, but I can’t let anyone corrupt you. I should’ve told pa, but I didn’t want him to think that he had failed you. I’m going insane.
Sanju knew even if Maya had told them, they wouldn’t have believed it; they would’ve dismissed it saying it was another of Maya’s ploy.
(12th july 2012)
I am sorry. I convinced him to marry me. He agreed and that moron told that you weren’t even good-looking like me in the first place. I wanted to break his nose, but I decided otherwise. I had also came to know he’s quite a womanizer, so I’m happy you’d not be betrayed by the likes of him. Oh and don’t think I’m sacrificing my life, I had nothing to sacrifice. I’m going to go away, very soon and so it’s not a problem. God, I ain’t no Mother Theresa.
(3rd january 2013)
I’m so happy that you’re married. My brother-in-law is a noble man. I had spied his past and found nothing quite sketchy. He’d be your new dawn. You didn’t talk to me properly when I came to your marriage; I know you hate me now.
I am passing away soon. This thing I had is not easily curable, they said. Oh and another news: Rakesh had been cheating on me. Once an ass, always an ass. Sorry for cursing, I know you hate it.
(5th june 2013)
I want to meet you all; I want to eat in mom’s hand, I want to lay my head down on papa’s lap and I want to hear you read a story as I slept, just like old days. But… they were all now memories. My days are on count down. It’s getting serious, doctor said. The pain is suffocating and I’m slowly weakening and withering away. I can’t eat and my body is thinning. Rakesh was asking whether I had Bulimia or Aneroxia, that’s all. He didn’t even care. You would worry yourself to death if you see the red angry bruises along my lower jaw, neck and stomach. My bones are paining and every joints in my body is complaining whenever I try to walk. My lower limb is on the size of bloated balloon and my insides are killing me. I WANT TO DIE ALREADY. I am happy though, you are happy; mom and dad is fine. I have no regrets, or yeah, maybe only one regret; going away without saying goodbye. Doctors said there’s nothing they could do anymore and so yeah, I am discharging myself. Oh and Rakesh is on a tour with his lady friend.
And then there were nothing left. Exactly after one month Maya died of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in the hospital.
Sanju could do nothing as the diary slipped from her hands and fell on the floor with a solid thud. She slid down slowly on the floor, hugged herself and then cried out loud; for the loss of her sister; for the pain her Maya had endured– the same Maya who would once cry whenever she had cold– to keep them happy and safe.
Everyone once believed Sanju was ‘the giving one’ while Maya enviously accepted all thing. But Maya did all the giving, in her own way, caring for her sister and family.
Hers is the truest art of giving…