After That Day

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is my first story- also my own story. It's about the loving and secure family that I was once a part of and how it suddenly fell apart. The story describes the happy times I spent as a child
and the calamity that struck us in the form of my father's sudden demise, the insecurities and trauma that followed, the battle for leaving the pain behind and going back to normal life. I write
about the return to an almost normal life and the steady journey until another very difficult situation stared us in the face, while I tried to combat it and society tried to put me down, yet I
kept my fight on in the hope of emerging victorious one day.

Submitted: December 11, 2017

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Submitted: December 11, 2017



It was a gloomy day in late January. The Sun had decided to stay behind the clouds while the sky had put on a sullen appearance. A light rain was falling and I was upset. Terribly upset. I didn't like the depression in the air, but had to get ready for school. I got out of bed and after an hour, was walking out the door nonchalantly. My father would always wave at me from the verandah when I left for school but that day, somehow, I didn't turn around. I didn't see him wave. I didn't see him wave one last time.

Getting back from school that day, I noticed a car pull up next to me and the tear- stained face of my mother inside. My stomach knotted and I knew she had bad news about my father. Sure enough, my father had had a cerebral stroke and was in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital. My mind raced- the overcast sky, the unusual rain, my not turning back to wave at Dad- had it all meant something? I felt cold, not the kind of cold January makes one feel, but a sinister chill that turned my blood cold. And as fast as my mind had journeyed from one sign to another, it stopped. I was blank, numb, still. Nothing mattered anymore. My defenses had kicked in. I couldn't let myself keep feeling the agony that had shrouded me. And so, when my father passed away the next day, not a single tear escaped my eyes. I stayed quiet and numb when I saw his mortal remains one last time, I stayed quiet after coming back home from his last rites, I stayed quiet for two whole days after which I decided to go to school. At school I realized that my life had forever become different from those of the other eleven- year olds in my class. Teachers hugged me, one even cried, while classmates were full of either sympathy or curiosity- curiosity over how a girl with a recently deceased father would look, talk and behave. I, for my part, still did not cry and greeted everyone with a smile when they approached me.

The tears that hadn't appeared immediately after my father's death, came with full intensity in the years that followed, as did my insecurity and trauma. I had lost one parent and the other now meant the whole world to me, the reason I lived. I couldn't afford to lose my mother. Everyday that I went to school I would worry there would be a phone call bringing bad news, every night I would worry about losing my mother. I would find solace in the memories of my childhood when we would go for vacations and have an immense lot of fun. My uncle and aunt, the two people I was closest to apart from my mother, would impart strength when I turned weak and always give me sound advice. Days turned into months and years and I grew up, finishing school and entering college. College gave me confidence and I started to imbibe happiness. I got a caring boyfriend and everything appeared colorful. He had added joyous hues to my life. I was at the pinnacle of happiness when a section of the society jolted me out of my Utopia. This section held the belief that a woman whose husband was no more, deserved to be at the mercy of men, and women whose husbands were alive. My mother, who worked hard to get me educated and run the household, had endured too many challenges to give in to the notions of sordid people. When she did not lose her self respect and pride to their sexist beliefs, they defamed her, maligned her character, accusing her of sleeping with whichever man came to our house. Hearing such filthy remarks about my mother wasn't easy. I could not protect her as my father would have. If my father were alive, we wouldn't be hearing such things in the first place. Everybody we turned to put on an innocent face while secretly laughing at our fate. I cried everyday thinking why Fate had played such a cruel trick on us, taking away my father and leaving his widow and his daughter to suffer such indignity at the hands of people who were nothing short of evil. My uncle and aunt were the only ones to give me courage at a time like this as my mother buried herself in more work.

Nine years have gone by since then. I finished my Master's and started working at a school. The previous insecurity was replaced by a promising confidence. I was happy and content with my life. I would go out with my mother, aunt and uncle, have fun- filled get- togethers at both their and our places, eat to my heart's content the dishes my aunt would cook. And just when Life had started to look stable again, a discovery turned it upside down. The discovery was of my uncle's metastatic cancer. He had been ill for some days and suffered a great deal of weight loss and appetite loss. Last month, the doctor suspected cancer and biopsy confirmed our worst fear. The prognosis is very poor and Uncle is getting weaker by the day. My peace of mind seems to have left me for good and I am still looking for ways to cope with the impending loss. I can't imagine Life without him. He had always been there for me, during all my exams, my interviews, in times of stress, when I needed advice, always acting like a shield. And now the shield will be gone. I've read books on cancer and people with cancer, I've thought of joining a support group, I've planned on seeking professional help- all to deal with the anxiety and depression stemming from the suddenness of his diagnosis. Amidst this difficult period, my neighbors'' narrow mindedness has again reared its ugly head. Disturbing us, calling my mother names yet again and blaming us when we protest, they've gone so far that I wished with all my might that I would get Uncle's cancer and perish so that no amount of sorrow or abuses would put my mind in turmoil. But thinking of death reminded me of all my reasons for loving to live and I decided to fight back this time. I did not silently accept the abuses hurled at my mother and I. I stood up for us and filed a complaint. I don't know if any of this will bear fruit but I'm glad I worked up the courage to do something my father would be proud of and tried my best to let those people know that being born female is no crime, no sin and that every female should be treated with the respect and dignity due to her. I'm still losing Uncle and feel devastated at this fact but death is inevitable- it will consume everything alive one day; Uncle is going sooner and I will go later but what's important is to live before we die. And I'll put in all efforts to make my life worthy before my end comes- I'll cross hurdles and I'll break free of barriers so my father, watching over me from up there, can heave a sigh of relief and feel I did not lose my battle after that day of his death.

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