My dad’s grandmother’s sister was a child widow. She got married when she was seven years old and became a widow at nine. She absolutely had no memory of her married life. She didn’t even have a photo of her husband.
All her life she stayed as a leftover member of the family. Her brother’s family used to treat her like an unpaid maid. However, Didimoni, as she was fondly called by my great-grandmother, never complained. She happily toiled in the kitchen, helped raise kids, cleaned the house, washed the clothes and even gave body massage to her sisters-in-law.
Occasionally, she used to take leave from her brother’s family and come and stay with her sister, my dad’s grandmother. She enjoyed staying with her sister more than her brothers. In her sister’s house, she was always treated with respect and love. She didn’t have to do much work and she could even go and watch theatre and bioscope (cinema). Didimoni loved theatre and her sister’s house was very near to the famous Star theatre in Kolkata, so she used to frequent quite often.
When Didimoni was around 35 years old she felt she was dying. In those days 35 was considered old age and most women became a grandmother by that age, many women even died by then. Therefore Didimoni felt it was her time to fulfil whatever little wishes she had. She obviously didn’t know the concept of bucket list then but nevertheless had a wish list.
My dad was around 13 years old then. One day Didimoni called him and confided her wishlist to him. There were not many items on that list. She wanted to buy few books, wanted to watch the play Nati Binodini and the last item was to visit Puri and then Kashi. For any widow, Kashi meant the final resting place.
My dad was very fond of Didimoni and he immediately arranged for the books and within few months she could also watch the play. However, when it came to visiting Puri and Kashi it became a cause for concern. In those days travelling to Puri or Kashi was not easy, especially for a widow and a 13-year-old boy. Therefore Didimoni reluctantly aborted her plans and made peace with her life.
Fortunately, my grandfather came to know about her secret wishes. He agreed to arrange for the trip. Finally, Didimoni, my dad’s grandmother and dad went for the trip. As my dad was the only male member of the group he had the responsibility to look after the two old women. They went to Puri and stayed for almost a month where Didimoni enjoyed herself a lot. She was so happy with my dad that she gave him Rs 50 that she had saved over the years. In those days Rs 50 was almost equivalent to Rs 5000.
From Puri, they went to Kashi. When Didimoni reached Kashi a letter from her brother was waiting for her. In the letter, her brother had written that as she went to Kashi they are considering that she would never return back. It should be her final destination and she should stay there till her last breath. Her brother also demanded that as she would now live under the shelter of God, she should not have any requirement for materialistic things like money and jewellery. Therefore whatever she had she should give it to her brothers and spend the rest of her life chanting the name of Krishna in Kashi.
Didimoni hardly had any cash, she only had few gold ornaments that she received at her wedding. This letter came as a big jolt to Didimoni and she understood that her brothers would not accept her back if she returned. She was almost resigning to fate and decided to spend the rest of her life in Kashi like the other widows. Thankfully, my dad’s grandmother understood and assured that Didimoni need not worry about her brothers and she can live the rest of her life with her.
Didimoni came back from Kashi and lived the rest of our life with us. She died when she was 75 years old. All her life she had a special fondness for my dad and whoever she met she always used to tell them that my dad had taken her to Kashi and fulfilled her last wish.
Living 40 years after fulfilling the last wish, isn’t it funny?
Prompt: Write a story about a character who finds out that he or she is dying and has been knocking things off his/her bucket list and has finally reached the last item.