Veiled Facts

The life of a retired middle class government employee is as boring as counting stars at night. My job life had been so hectic that my love for music faded. However, after retirement, I clinched to open a music class that would help me to kill some time while being engaged in my hobby and also earn a small amount to help with my daily expenses. Within a month, my music class attracted 18 students of various age groups. One of my students, who were learning to play guitar, has always shown uttermost gratitude to me. I too was grateful by his sincerity towards music. He was highly educated and rich enough to spend his time and money at some luxurious resort. But he chose to learn music, I being the teacher!

Yesterday, after the class in the morning, he requested me to visit his home and meet his parents. The family has developed a soft corner for me. I was uncertain about the reason behind it. I always appreciated the divine words that my student shared, sometimes, in between the music class. As our tradition speaks – “Our ethics are the shadow of our parents”; from the compassionate behavior of my student; I have assumed his parents to possess the same temperament, which turned out to be true that afternoon when I visited their home. The house was magnificent. It was decorated with highly expensive items one could ever imagine. Extra- comfortable furniture relaxed my body. The AC in the room made me forget the killing temperature of 45 degrees outside. They served me dry fruits and some delicious snacks. After a formal conversation with my student and his parents, they showed me their house and the portions that were being renovated. Everything was classy.

At the backyard, I spotted a small room. The paint on the wall of the room was scrubbed off. The plaster was scraped away and bricks were visible at some portions. The broken aluminum sheeted roof abundantly allowed the seasonal sun, rain and cold inside. I assumed there were a fan inside and hopefully a light source. The door of the room opened to the other corner of the backyard that faced the last boundary wall of the lawn circumference.

I inquired, “What is that room for?”

My student replied flatly, “That is my grandmother’s room. She stays there.”

I could not believe my ears.

I cried, “What? Why?”

“She is a polio patient. She throws up on bed and the shitty smell is unbearable. Hence, we decided to keep her there.”

My heart and mind was frozen. All I could imagine was an approximately 75 year old lady, suffering from polio, lying in a dump yard under the scotching sun and 45 degree temperature, not sure since how long sleeping over her own shit on the bed! 

“Who takes care of her?,” my restless mind threw the question.

“Well, we have hired a servant. She comes once in a while and cleans up everything.”

“Once in a while!” I was not sure whom to blame.

On the way back to my home, all I imagined was that old lady. Never seen her face, but I entered her mind. She was breathing, though lying like a corpse. Her lips were stretched to the left. Her body was left with bones, wrapped under a thin layer of wrinkled skin. If you observe closely, you may see the nerves but hardly any muscles. Her left hand and leg were bent at the joints. She was unevenly draped in a torn cotton sari. The part of the bed, where rested her lower body, was spotted and stained with feces. The room stink horrible. Despite the condition, her mind always wandered in her young days. She was born in an extremely rich family and married to a person of same stature. Her husband owned large portion of land and their life was extremely luxurious. Right after her grandson’s marriage, their family suffered from financial crises. Her husband passed away. Gradually the home turned into hell. Grandson got divorced and an aura of negativity filled in densely. The old lady suffered from continuous health issues and ended up in a struggle with polio. When the money was not sufficient to provide her treatment, she was thrown away in a room. Time passed by. Soon with the grandson’s job, family strengthened the financial position. A grand home was build behind the old lady’s room. Everything improved except her condition. She considered it her destiny and accepted everything. Since then, the only language she spoke was silence. There was no pain; but silence……