Of many new people who enter our lives, some are there to stay, others teach you how or why to go on, still others are simply there to make your life beautiful and worth living come what may. Life goes on.
I hardly have just one proper and fresh memory of meeting this lady, a relative in the extended family list. She was smiling, talking and so actively participating in what she was indulged in doing at that point of time. It is a customary act for us non-residents, to visit each and every relative, young or old, friends and family every time we visit India on vacation. It has never been customary for me because I have always loved doing it with a passion. I love taking the pain of doing it. For the sake of happy faces and smiles given in return. It fills my soul.
I remember seeing this lady during such visit, just that one time. After that I have always and only seen her attached onto her bed, lifeless body, with so many machines and wires dangling all around her. She was bed ridden. Some disease of nervous degeneration that affects one in a 1000 or more perhaps. She suffered this disease. Her persistent smile remained! Tears would roll down her eyes and wet her ears. But she would have that smile on her face always. All the time. She gestures her husband with the only mobile organ of her body, her eyes, to get us coffee or tea. She lived like this for five never-ending, long years. The pain cannot be imagined.
This time when I went to India I got to know she was hospitalised. I had to meet, see her. I rushed to the hospital to see her so weak like never before. So pale, so weak. She lit up with her beautiful smile as she looked at me and tears rolled off again. My heart wrenched. It was pain again.
I have never known her in my life. After that first meeting I have only seen her like this, lifeless. We never talked. We never got to know each other. Her smile gave me reasons to be hopeful. Her smile taught me life is precious. Despite the pain. She taught me everything is worth living, learning, being content, happy, at peace. We never talked. Her pain left lessons for me to learn. She breathed her last this Tuesday. After five long years of pain and suffering. She left. The battles, civil wars, elections nothing mattered to her. She left teaching me a bigger lesson. Her smile will forever live in me, my memories. Her pain too, lives in me. Those wandering eyes. That smile. That pain. Is a part of me too now.