Fuldi (sister) was my cousin. In Bengal, we have a tradition of calling different names as per seniority. So Borda or Bordi is usually the eldest Dada(brother) or Didi(sister) in the family. Chorda is the youngest brother while Chordi is the youngest sister. Similarly, the ones in between had names like mejda/mejdi, rangada/rangadi, nada/nadi and fulda/fuldi. In even more bigger families I do not know what nomenclature was followed. So, Fuldi was my cousin who was the fifth from the top in seniority.
Fuldi was extremely pretty. She was probably called ful(flower) for her beauty. Fuldi had leukemia and we all knew she wouldn’t survive. She was always given special treatment. When all of us played, she used to sit in a corner and watch us with a broad smile on her face. The elders were sympathetic towards her. She received more love than us by each and everyone starting from our grandparents to the house staff.
My grandparents had a joint family, where almost 40 people stayed together.There were around 15 kids but the only birthday that was celebrated grandly was that of Fuldi’s. Perhaps because every birthday she celebrated was an achievement in itself.
Numerous treatments were tried for her. However nowhere any hope was shown. Her parents gave up on regular treatment and started alternative treatments also. Poor Fuldi was subjected to eat bitter pills throughout the day. Her parents even started visiting various Godmen in the hope that miracle would happen. One of the godmen cheated her parents’ lakhs of rupees yet they never bothered or gave up hope.
The day she got her blood transfusions used to be the difficult days for all of them. The ever-smilingFuldi used to get cranky and irritable on those days. We kids were kept away from her on those days. However, the next day she used to become her usual self and play happily with us. The only game she played with us was Ludo. She never went to school and had a teacher coming over to her house. Fuldi was always inquisitive about school. She always asked us about school. The sadness in her eyes when we talked about school was always prominent.
Her health worsened drastically on her 16th birthday. The house was full of guest and she suddenly started vomiting blood. We kids were immediately sent away and she was taken to the hospital. Next day while I was in school my dad came to pick me up even before school got over. I understood that everything was over for Fuldi. That was the first time I felt the death of a dear one closely. Even after two decades whenever all of us meet we feel a void. Our Fuldi was a flower that wilted even before it could blossom.