The rickety rickshaw jumped feeling a bumper beneath its wheels. Along with it jumped the three persons on it. The rickshaw puller had a hard time maneuvering the vehicle, at the best possible speed through the busy streets of DumDum.
"Boudi... Boudi", the faint whispers came from the unbalanced man as the lady beside him tried hard to hold him together. But the task became increasingly difficult as his head swayed from one side to another. His hands groped his own neck to stop the burning sensation inside them. He wanted to talk. He badly needed to talk but his lips only pronounced one word, Boudi... The word, this lady beside him had urged him to utter a million times after her marriage with his brother.
"Bhai, please make it faster", Jodha pleaded to the rickshaw puller as the latter nodded.
The hot May sun burned over them and the whispers of the dying man became fainter by the time the rickshaw turned the final bend of the road leading to the nearest government hospital.
"He's passing away", tears made their way down the soft reddish cheeks, "Take your rickshaw inside the gate".
"That's not possible madam. Hospital authorities do not allow it", the man said apologetically before nodding to the men with the stretchers available on the side of the hospital gate, "stretchers will take him inside".
"Boudi... Boudi", the voice became faint with only his charred, almost blue lips moving. Jodha watched with tears in her eyes as Jalal was taken down from the rickshaw and made to lie down on the stretcher.
Then she followed the men inside.
She stopped as the men brought Jalal in the emergency ward. Doctor came soon after.
"We need to wash his intestines. Nurse bring the apparatus now", he ordered the nurse tagging along with him.
"Doctor! He'll be fine . Isn't it?", Jodha managed to utter with her quivering lips.
"Nothing can be said at this moment", was the reply that she got.
The students whom she taught in her free times had just dispersed from the two BHK flat when the doorbell rang. Jodha looked at the timepiece showing 10:11 am. Thinking it was the maid who had come, Jodha opened the door, only to receive the shock of her life watching Jalal standing there with his eyes red from excessive drinking.
"Boudi...", the single word had managed to break her world apart. Jalal called her boudi.. How many times had she told him to call her boudi, but her arrogant brother-in-law had never listened to her, always calling her by her name and in return gaining nasty eye scrunches from the society.
But today he himself called her boudi..
"Jalal! What have you done! Why did you drink so much?", Jodha asked with rebuke in her voice as she managed to hold Jalal from tumbling over the verandah railing just behind him.
"Boudi! I've done something which will make Papa and bhai go to jail", he uttered with sad eyes looking towards Jodha.
"What! What have you done?", Jodha questioned him as her mother-in-law came out from her room hearing the commotion at the door.
"Papu! What have you done beta?", she lowered herself to reach out to her youngest son who was now lying on the ground with his head on his boudi's lap.
"I've taken drugs maa.. it's going to cost my life now!", was his reply which managed to earn a shriek from the two horrified ladies.
The tub that was attached to the other end of the pipe, one end of which was inserted in Jalal's mouth, was in a blink filled with a whitish foamy liquid.
"Shit!", the doctor groaned out loud, "stop this now!"
"What! Why?", a panicky Jodha demanded for which she received a cold look.
"This is a police case madam. And in no way we're going to attach our names in a police file", the doctor shrugged his shoulders as the pipe and the tub was taken away by the nurse and other attendants.
"But he'll die if you all don't treat him", she looked on hopelessly.
"Take him to any other hospital. But we're not going to treat him here", the doctor said before turning away.
Then after a second thought he turned back again, "If you want we can give our ambulance".
And with that he was gone.
The ambulance came to a stop outside the famous Ruby Hospital and soon Jalal was taken out and admitted in the Emergency Ward.
The same process followed which gave the same result.
The doctor said it again!
"We can not treat him here."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean? Do you think human life is so petty that you all can play as you wish? He'll die doctor if he's not treated at this moment. This is the second hospital which is refusing him. For what reasons are you wearing that white coat? Only to show that you hold a degree? Did you forget your work.."
Jodh's outburst was stopped soon enough as a guard came inside.
"Doctor, I've called Police. They are heading here".
With this he was gone but in turn causing Jodha's world to rotate by a three hundred and sixty degrees.
The blank look on her face was enough for the doctor to show some humanism.
"This is a police case. We had to inform them".
"Doctor. You have informed the police. They will come here any minute. But please start his treatment now. One minute will also be costly for him", Jodha cried her heart out as she fell down on her knees, "Then you tell me where I have to go. I'll happily go there. But just start his treatment. Save his life please doctor ".
"Okay madam. I'll start his treatment. But you go to the reception and submit the hospital fees."
Fees! From where will she manage them! In her haste to bring him to the hospital, Jodha had forgotten to bring her purse and phone. But nonetheless she filled the form.
"madam, now deposit the advance", the receptionist said.
"But I don't have any money now. We were in a hurry and I just came here without purse and phone", Jodha wiped her tears.
"Then call somebody and manage the money. Otherwise treatment can't be started", the receptionist declared.
"But how will I manage this large amount within such a short time! There must be some other way!"
"There is no other way madam. You have to submit the fees now. "
"Ok. Take these", Jodha opened the gold earrings she was wearing and placed it in front of the receptionist. "Now admit him. This will be enough for the advance fees", she gestured towards the golden jewellery.
"But we can't take these. You have to pay in cash".
"What the hell is your problem! Why can't you understand. I don't have a single penny at this moment. And by the time I'll be able to manage it, the person for whom I'll be arranging them will not be here!" Jodha cried out of frustration.
"Madam! Please calm down. Okay pay within today afternoon", the receptionist said while taking the form. "I'll keep these with me till then", she pointed towards the jewellery.
It had been thirteen long hours that Jalal was admitted. The afternoon went in a blur as the police questioned them on the reason of the suicide attempt. The family had put the blame on the fact that he lost his job a week before the attempt. Press had to be managed and now after everything was sort out, they sat on the wrought iron chairs outside the ICU.
Why Jalal had taken such a serious step was still a mystery to the family. But Jodha knew the answer. She had found the suicide note in his shirt pocket. She took a deep breath.
Jalal had wanted to marry her! In fact when he had brought the rishtaa to her family of her marriage with a Mukherjee boy, he was referring to himself. Alas! He needed to say that first. But before he could say that he wanted to marry Jodha, who was his class mate, her parents had taken the rishtaa as that of his elder brother, Mohit. And watching the shy smile on Jodha's face, Jalal didn't have it in him to utter the truth.
But he had tried to say that to his family indirectly. But they just brushed it off as a joke in excitement for the upcoming marriage in the family.
Jodha closed her eyes as the unusual behavior of Jalal after her marriage flashed in front of her closed eyes. He had refused to spent his time alone with her. He had refused to call her boudi. He had refused to live in the same apartment where they lived. Hell! He even went on to accept a job offer at Kerala.. Just to be away from her. The man for whom his family was everything, left them because of her.
How in the world was she going to reveal it to the family who now sat there broken hearted with tears streaming down their eyes. Her head pounded and eyes burned. But tears refused to come out.
She still couldn't believe that Jalal had taken such a serious step for her. She felt herself guilty. She knew she was guilty. Being alone in the early days of her marriage because of her husband's job, she had sought after Jalal, forcing him to face her and in turn hurting him more.
But she didn't know the truth then.. She was oblivious to what was going on inside Jalal's head and heart. She spent time with him as he was the only known figure in the entire Mukherjee household. She argued with herself only to condemn herself again and again.
"His condition is extremely serious at the moment. Blood is coming out of his mouth and in no way we're able to stop it", the doctor filled in about Jalal's critical health details to his family.
"What do you want to say doctor? Just be clear. We're ready for anything", Mohit pleaded.
"Mr. Mukherjee. To be very specific, you have about an hour time in your hand. I'm sorry. We won't be able to save him", the doctor turned his back with that.
"Time of death 2:19 am", the nurse uttered as the doctor noted it in his writing pad.
Jodha looked on with exhausted eyes as she saw the family mourn over their Papu's death. Her mother-in-law had been uncontrollable, passing out from time to time. Tears refused to fall from her father-in-law's eyes. Their extended family was gathered there too, inside their 2 BHK flat.
She rested her hands on the railing and looked out at the busy, noisy street below. Though the rational brain that she had told her that she was not guilty in any way but in her heart she was tagged as a guilty person. Guilt clawed her heart as she remembered how he accepted his fate just before dying... calling her boudi..
Tears had forgotten how to flow as she remained standing there with dry eyes watching the sun burn again.
She looked on as his "body", as everyone referred to it, was carried to the truck, to be taken to the burning ghat.
She was not going to accompany them.. He deserved this after everything that had happened. She couldn't go there. His soul needed rest and that would come only in her absence...
The truck engine roared as she looked on... He was leaving this house forever leaving her tangled in a complex web of relationships...
After a complete day of battling against everything and everyone, he had finally accepted defeat, defeating her in the process...
He was lost and so was she.. The fact that differentiated them was that he was gone but she was alive to face the results of his actions...
This one is too close to my heart. I wrote it sometime back but didn't have the courage to post it...
Coz this is a true incident.. Every action that happened in front of my eyes...
I wrote it to release the frustration and the pain that comes with the passing away of someone...
I will not demand anything for this work.. Neither will I send PMS for it.. Those who will read it, I won't ask for your comments.. If you want, you can write anything you want..
As you all understand, I wrote it for myself.. Coz I wanted to write it...
This took only half an hour when i wrote it... Words came so easily.. I think this story was growing inside me for a long time, but didn't have the courage to write it...
Love u all,