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    Maya - An indian Story

    Ankit had been married for the last twenty years to the most extraordinary woman or so he thought until he received a call from his lawyer.

    “Hello Ankit. Sorry to trouble you at this time of day, I know you’re on your way to your wife’s funeral but I just thought you’d like to read a letter she entrusted me a few months ago. Maybe you’d like to pick it up on the way to the airport?”

    Of course he’d pick up the letter, he’d read it on his way to the airport. He could even re-read it on the plane, after all, the plane journey was to take 15 hours.

    Ankit took a taxi to the airport.

    He had married Maya when she had been sixteen. At first their marriage had been a little stormy as she had to get used to western customs. She had done alright; she had born him seven children. Four boys and three girls. Maya had been the perfect wife. She hadn’t minded him being away most of the time due to work and was always happy to see him when he came back. She had even started a charity thing where she kept busy when she was not attending their children’s needs. The only problem with that charity thing was that sometimes she had to travel all the way back home to supervise things.

    If she hadn’t been involved with the charity she would be alive now he thought. She wouldn’t have gone on that plane and crashed. Damn, what was he going to do with seven children? Where else would he find a woman like her? One who was as devoted to him as she was?

    As Ankit sat by the window on the airplane he remembered that he had forgotten to pick up the letter. He’d have to ask his lawyer to fax it to his hotel.

    Ojas had known Maya ever since she had been a little girl, they had always loved each other, even promised each other eternal love and it came as no surprise that when she was married to Ankit, he took to the mountains. When he learned of her comings and goings back in India he sought her and found her.

    Their friendship and love was renewed almost instantly when they met again after many years of separation. The day the plane crashed he had been waiting for her at the Charity Centre teaching the children how to read.

    The whole organisation was shaken by Maya’s death. She had been the main provider of the funds and they were worried that now that she was dead there’d be no more funds for the charity. They awaited in anticipation the arrival of Ankit, Maya’s husband. Surely he would carry on her wife’s work?

    Ankit arrived exhausted at the hotel after a long taxi ride from the airport. Tired as he was, he went straight for a shower and then after a few phone calls he went to visit his family in law. They were happy to see him in spite of disliking him. They greeted him warmly upon his arrival and took him straight to where Maya’s body was laying on a bed of flowers. She looked peaceful and happy. He offered a few prayers and lit some more candles and burned some incense at the altar.

    He joined the other people that were gathered at the table and had a bite to eat. He wasn’t hungry, just tired. Sagar, the accountant of the Charity approached him silently and tapped his shoulder.
    “We haven’t met, I’m Sagar, the accountant. You are Ankit, Maya’s husband, aren’t you?”

    “Yes” Answered Ankit dryly as he took an instant dislike to that man.

    “Perhaps we could have a little chat later on in the evening….”

    “What about?”

    “I think that Maya would be a delightful subject, don’t you?”

    “I would have thought you would have wanted to talk about the charity and how to get more money from me now she’s dead. What kind of an accountant are you anyway?”

    Ojas just looked down at the floor and Ankit turned away and went outside. He didn’t feel like talking. He felt like sleeping.

    That evening, when Ankit returned to the hotel, he read the fax his lawyer had sent him. The letter he had forgotten to pick up on the way to the airport.


    Dear husband Ankit,

    If you’re reading this letter, it means I’ve passed to a better life. I’ve always meant to tell you all these things face to face but you were always busy, or had no time for a little talk. We have been married for a long time and although I hardly saw you I have managed to born you seven children. One for everyday of the week for you to look at.

    I want you to know that although I didn’t love you at all when we first got married, I grew to love you and accept you the way you are. I have done my best to be the perfect wife to you and I know that you never liked me going back to India and set up the Children’s Charity. I respect you even more now for accepting this phase in my life even though I didn’t get any actual support from you. The Children’s Charity means a lot to me. Apart from the fact that it makes me feel needed and useful it is giving those children the means to have a better life.

    I’m writing this letter to you because I would like to beg of you to take me back to my home town and be burned in the traditional way in the event of my death. I know I’m supposed to have quite a few years ahead of me and that I shouldn’t really worry about all this but you never know. Life is full of surprises. I might just get too busy and forget to ask you to do this one thing for me. I have never asked you anything in all the time we’ve been together.

    I would also like to ask you to be civil to Ojas and to Sagar too when you eventually meet them.

    Ojas you know. He is the young boy I would have married if I hadn’t been married to you. We had pledged our love to each other and wowed never to stop loving each other no matter what we did or where we went. We still love each other, that can never change, not even death will change that. Our love goes beyond words or actions. We have never been together as husband and wife, so be assured that I have never wronged you.

    Sagar. Sagar has become one of my greatest friends in my life. He has always helped me in all my needs. He’s become my counsellor and even advised me not to wrong you as he said I would regret it afterwards. How right he is. I feel good knowing that my love for you is a dutiful love and that my love for Ojas can wait until we meet again.
    I know Sagar will do everything in his power to ensure that the Children’s Charity can carry on it’s great work and I leave it up to you whether you want to help or not. Charity has never been your cup of tea, has it?

    Take care of our children and look after yourself too.

    Your wife,

    Maya.


    Ankit dropped the letter on the bed and went to make himself a stiff drink. He had always known she had never really truly loved him and the truth was that he had only married her because he had had to. All in all, he had had a good life, he now had seven children, one for each day of the week for him to look at as she had rightly said and one child for each day of the week to make him remember her everyday for the woman she had been. An excellent wife and mother.

    He made himself another drink and removed his clothes whilst he sipped it and soon fell asleep on an armchair whilst re-reading the letter.

    It was very early in the morning when he was suddenly awoken by a knock on the door. His neck hurt and he could hardly open his eyes. He managed to get hold of a white robe and wrapped himself with it before opening the door.

    “Oh, it’s you” He said when he saw Sagar at the door.

    “Yes”

    “What are you doing here at this time of the morning?”

    “I just thought we could go to the seaside and pay homage to Maya together, she was a great woman.”

    Ankit didn’t really feel like going at all but agreed to go with Sagar out of respect for his wife.

    The beach was deserted at that time of the morning but for one lonely figure walking by the shore. The sun was about to come out.
    The lone figure started walking towards them on seeing them and when he came close Ankit recognised the young man.

    Ankit started to walk in the opposite direction when Ojas took him gently by the arm, “It’s only Ojas, he’s probably come to give you his condolences. You should see him.”

    Ojas soon joined them and they sat on the sand in silence waiting for the sun to rise.

    Unknowingly to them, they had formed a bond between them and when the sun appeared they got up and together and went into the sea to offer their prayers for the woman they all loved. Each in their own way.

    When they had finished they went to see Maya’s body and prepare all the ceremonies for her cremation.

    Ankit offered Ojas to light the fire but he refused saying he wasn’t her husband. Sagar also refused saying that the rite belonged to him as he was the husband. In the end, they did it together and thus formed a stronger bond between them.

    A week later, Ankit made all the arrangements for the Children’s Charity and even prepared a child’s exchange programme where children from India would travel to his country and vice versa and learn more things. He supplied the Charity with enough funds to last three years and promised that he would carry on his wife’s work out of respect for her.

    The plane journey back home seemed to take forever mainly because he was thinking of ways to tell the children what had happened. They had all been at a boarding school at the time and they were due back from their summer holidays in two days time.
    When the children returned home, he lit a few candles and they prayed together for Maya, the wife, the mother and the great woman she was.

    The end.
    © Alexandra Riera

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