Hello friends, this is yet another article from me.. well my name is Arunima Mukhopadhyay and I write articles on this platform. Out of all my articles, this one is going to be my favourite. Well, because of two reasons. Firstly this is the story of a fighter, well not a wrestler or a boxer, but of a woman who has fought all her life.. faced many struggles and yet lived her life to the fullest. Secondly it's none other than my grandaunt, Lakshmi Ganguly.
This story starts from 1948, from the hot summer in May, when she was just 12 years of age. At this age normally girls are in middle school studying all the Newton laws and learning the Pythagoras Theorem. But this girl was washing utensils and learning to cook various dishes.That was because,she was getting married. The coming Monday her bridegroom was going to come and take her to his home or her 'sasural'.
"Lakshmi, wash the utensils and check if ramu bhaiya has arrived or not" shouted her mother from the drawing room. Apparently Lakshmi aunty had six brothers and four sisters making it a total of ten brothers and sisters in her family. She was one of the youngest in her family. Being the eighth child, she was pretty much smart for her age. She had seen her "groom" before the marriage and found him pretty cute. She was scared and yet excited for her marriage.She eagerly awaited for that day.
She got married soon after. Her husband was very sweet and charming. He used to love her,take care of her and also used to lovingly call her "lokhi". Her mother-in-law was someone whom she used to think of as her own mother.
Three years into marriage, she got pregnant with their first child. Everyone took great care of her, made her feel happy and helped her do the household works. After nine months , she delivered her first baby. It was a cute girl, with features as cute as her father and simplicity as her mother. But fate had something else written. She lost her first baby within 10 days. She was heartbroken. Her husband and mother-in-law took full care of her during those times. Soon she overcame the grief and decided to give a try second time. When she was sixteen, she got pregnant with their second child. Everyone was extremely careful this time.
This time a baby boy was born. This one was healthy and fit as a fiddle. He was a duplicate of his father.
Soon Lakshmi turned 17. Her husband used to go to work at sharp 6 am in the morning and returned at 10 pm at night. That day, he returned at 5 pm. Lakshmi asked "Why did u come so early today?" He replied "Actually I was not feeling well.. so thought that, will take a half day and rest". But fate had something else written. By 9 pm he was declared dead. Lakshmi recollected the conversation she had with him just few hours back. He had a slight fever and was feeling nauseous. The fever had increased to such a level where it was impossible to cure without a doctor. But before the doctor could arrive, his heart had stopped breathing. Just few hours back she had laughed with him,imagined her future with him and was so happy. Now every color of her life had become blank. She had become a widow. In those days, a widow was considered as an "apshagun" or bad omen. After cremating her husband, she came back home and decided to live for her one and only son, her life.
Her mother-in-law also didn't live long. Within few weeks of her son's demise, she too passed away, leaving Lakshmi alone in this world. Her son was her only hope and was the one who loved her the most. Years flew away and mother-son bond grew stronger. Her son would understand by looking at Lakshmi's face whether she was angry,sad or happy. Such was their bond.
Soon the teenage years passed away and her son became 20 years old. They started searching for a proper 'bahu'(daughter-in-law). Lakshmi selected a beautiful bride for her son. As time flew away, Lakshmi and her 'bahu' became very close. They used to work together, sing songs, do all the household work and gossip all day long, when her son was out on work.
Soon the good news came, and it was declared that Lakshmi was going to be a grandmother. The whole house rejoiced and danced at this occasion.
Exactly after nine months, a baby girl was born at the Lakshmi household. Everyone was very excited at the arrival of this small girl. But as luck would have it, the baby girl was infected with a deadly disease, which resulted in her demise within fifteen days of her birth. Lakshmi was shocked. She was not in a state to understand anything. She had also faced all this when she was just 16 years old. Seeing her daughter-in-law suffer the same, was heartbreaking. But she maintained her calm. She had to pacify her daughter-in-law and son. She never left any stone unturned to make her son and daughter-in-law happy. Soon, her daughter-in-law got pregnant the second time. After 9 months, a baby boy was born. Again happiness spread in the Lakshmi mansion.
The baby boy made Lakshmi forget all her worries and the bad memories that had happened in her life. Lakshmi and her grandchild used to eat together, play together and sleep together. Such was a bond between them. "Maa, you love my son more than you love me!" teased her son. Soon her grandchild became two years old. Then a disastrous incident occurred which changed the course of her life once again. Her son was admitted in the hospital due to a massive fall in the blood pressure. He was having a high fever, and also his body weight had reduced dramatically in the past few months. Soon the doctors lost all their hopes and he was declared dead. Lakshmi was heartbroken. She knew that history was repeating itself. She knew that she had find the answers to the mysterious questions that had haunted her for a long time now. She went to the village pandit and asked him " Tell me, what is the reason of this? Why is history repeating itself ? Why did my husband and son die, both leaving their wives and just born child alone in this world? Please tell me". The pandit did some calculations and told her "Lakshmi it's a curse that is following your family for a long time now. Your father-in-law died when your husband was just a year old. He died when he was just 27 years old. Your husband and son were also young when they died and went to heaven. In your family, the first girl child always dies within a month, and the boy survives till 30. The son will die within 30 years of his life." Lakshmi knew that the pandit was speaking the truth, as she had seen all this happen with her own eyes.
Ending the article,I would say that Lakshmi aunty is an inspiration. She is not someone who is weak hearted, instead a role model for those, who have faced various ups and downs in their lives. Currently her grandson is 28 years old and is happily married. She and her daughter-in-law had arranged various rituals and also performed various ceremonies, regarding this curse and now had left everything to fate. Losing courage was never in Lakshmi's dictionary and, I am proud to have her.
October 10, 2016
October 10, 2016
Stories by Arunima Mukhopadhyay