November 1, 2011 – Veena was at her wits end. The day had barely begun and Shreya was throwing tantrums and driving her up the wall. Fortunately for Veena, her dad who lived closeby , dropped in then to take Shreya to his home. Veena gladly let Shreya go.
Veena looked around. The house was so messy. Every room had Shreya’s stuff strewn over. One glance around the house and one couldn’t miss the sight of Shreya’s clothes on the chair, shoes outside the rack, cycle in the middle of the living room, books on the bed, toys on the floor, crayons on the table…..the list was endless. It left no trace at all of the efforts she had taken to spring clean her house the previous day.
Veena sighed! This was a back breaking routine. She plunked on the sofa. Her head was reeling. It was going to be a long day. She had invited some guests later in the evening for dinner and had a lot of personal work to complete as well. She was trying to mentally organize her ‘things to do’ list when she realized she was sitting on what felt like paper. She removed it and noticed it was yet another precious work of art by her dear daughter. A little girl and a taller girl watching the moon. Below was a line “Mom and Me”.
Veena smiled. Shreya made her life so worthwhile. And to think she could have missed it all, made her shudder !
26 December 2004 – It was a Sunday. Ram had gone for a morning walk by the beachside as usual. Veena had not even woken up. It was her day to relax. The next thing she knew, was her parents waking her up, giving news about a Tsunami in chennai, a word she was hearing for the first time. She just realized Ram had not returned. The man she had courted for three years and married about a month ago, never returned home from his morning walk. Search in every direction proved vain. Everybody told her the Tsunami should have engulfed him. Nothing of him was found. Not even his body.
That left her in a state of shock. She refused to believe that her Ram would have left her. With every new day came renewed hopes of him coming back home. She would never leave home for months hoping to be there when he returned. She took a sabbatical from her work.
Days passed thus. She felt soul-less. She even took to alcohol and dope for a brief while, hoping hard it would help her forget and she would go beyond. But nothing worked as it seemed. So there she was holding on to her dream! She would crunch, she would crouch every night, as she wept. She took pills to sleep, but they failed as well. The scar created by her loss was so deep that she wondered if it would ever heal?
After about eight months she resumed work making sure there was someone at home just in case Ram returned. She moved on in a very uninvolved robotic fashion. Nothing interested her any more. Not music, not books, not friends, not family. She wanted to get away to a place no one knows.
Nearly two years from the fateful day, in November 2006, Veena ventured to take a break from the routine for two weeks with her friend Maha who was with a NGO and had work in some villages in Nilgiri Hills. But two days after they arrived, Niligiris faced continuous heavy rains. The televisions gave out horror stories of numerous landslides reported to have occurred at the early hours on 14th November in Niligiri hills, disrupting traffic in NH 67 and blocking of Mountain Rail track.
Once the rains subsided Maha and Veena joined several other volunteers around the villages to help out the landslide victims. It was a heart rending sight to see houses and families displaced over night. On one such visit to distribute food packets she came across a weary young woman who had apparently fainted in the middle of the road. Beside her was a baby about a year old, crying and wailing.
The fainted woman was immediately given some water and food. She became conscious briefly. The woman said she was looking for her son who was playing when the landslide occurred and was missing from then. They took the woman back to their quarters to nurse her to health. Veena attended to the little baby while Maha was nursing the woman with the doc. Unfortunately the poor woman passed away the very same night. No whereabouts about the lady was established.
Veena was so filled with compassion for the woman who passed away. She could identify her own feelings with those of the woman looking for her son with a baby in her hand. Her plight suddenly seemed much lesser.
It was not certain if the baby clung to Veena tight or the reverse. Veena did all that she could to lessen the misery the kid must be going through without her mom. The kid took to Veena almost spontaneously reciprocating her gestures. Through her tears Veena would manage to smile and make faces to see that most beautiful smile on the kid’s face.
After a week Veena and Maha had to get back. Maha planned to take back the little girl with her and leave her in an orphanage run by her NGO. All through the train journey Veena and the baby were inseparable. The love and warmth Veena felt over the last few days from the little one was beyond description. The kid refused to go to anyone else.
Two hours to reach Chennai, their destination, Veena made up her mind. Here was a soul just like her , pining for love and attention, as she was. Here was the one who could make her laugh and cry at the same time. Veena felt every streak of life in her getting back with an enthusiasm to have the kid grow with her. A feeling that could match none other.
That was how Shreya came into her lap. It was a rebirth for Veena. Life had never looked back after that. With a tiny tot to attend to, Veena gave her all to make sure Shreya had the best mom in the world. Destiny brought two craving souls to meet, compassion bound them together.