Life in disarray
The mind is indeed magical. It can craftily conjure up what is apparently not, and cause artful disappearances when circumstances are disagreeable.
It was a few months now since she had stepped out of existence. Yet, standing at the place where she had managed to epitomize her unshakeable faith in the notion of a benign almighty, her devotion readily permeated without the least encumbrance into our own thought processes. For the immediate family comprising of her husband and two sons, there was this unexplainable stimulus to express an unreasonable longing to relive times gone by in her company or even remote involvement. To a lesser extent, this impulse goaded almost everyone who knew her well on similar lines. Directly after the incident of her passing on, there was a large slice of a sense of loss spiced with antagonism for unjust providence that overshadowed all introspection. The passage of time began the inevitable process of reluctant acceptance and the slivers of disapprobation started to evanesce in favor of the resolve to pursue her beliefs when possible as an affirmation of allegiance to her memory. Such a course reinforced the view that she was still amongst us as a representation of her infectious compassion.
Opinions at variance
Practices exemplify affirmed intent of their practitioners. Her predisposition to the view that existence to the last detail is planned and executed by the almighty in his exalted wisdom, made her to head to the temple across the street to notify the objective of her proposed actions before initiating them. I decided to follow her footsteps in complete reverence to commemorate that practice, surprised at myself to have recommenced it decades after its abandonment, on the reasoned conclusion that it was an exercise designed for a different era and its corresponding rationalization of the mechanism of existence. So began this exercise of penning a homage to my cousin's wife.
Dwelling a little more earnestly upon the purported differences between our viewpoints narrowed the divergence down to a single contention, which was attributable to the assumed purpose of the Almighty's actions, there being no discord on its immutability and absoluteness. The ideology of worship of the such an entity on ensuring fairness in dealings between constituents to sustain a state of equilibrium of the system, appealed to her mindset, while to me it implied enshrouding wonder.
This contrast perhaps had more to do with the cosmetics of the universal mechanism that promoted the exciting diversities of life. Family banter often led to friendly skirmishes on this interpretative matter at the dinner table, that were soon resolved using the common ploy of agreeing to disagree. Disputes far worse and much more severe had been fixed by this maneuver.
To appease the inevasible disposition of humankind in its unending quest to link happenings in chains of causes and effects, as an exercise in understanding their place in the maze of existential processes, a cursory peep into the past was an inevitability. This is what made the multitudes of stories since time immemorial that have enthralled, soothed, instigated, and enlightened men and women. The simple story of our boundlessly benignant lady enlists its might for this collective endeavor.
Her simple story
Born into comparatively religious family, she was encouraged to pursue her interests is dance and music in addition to formal schooling. The loss of a brother, followed by that of her father while still in her teens, caused death to cast its shadow on her experiences. As a girl from a conservative household and inherently conventional traits as well, it made her to take to religious pursuits to soothe unavoidable apprehensions about life's uncertainties. She unwaveringly believed that strict adherence to sacred tenets would procure for her a caring and good husband. And it did indeed. I would have explained the happening as being fated, engraved in the birth charts of the two individuals, the moment they were born, but that is besides the point. She was a personification of her chart, and her chart was a complete representation of herself. How one looked at this combination depended on the observer and its ramifications meaningful to the observer alone.
As an ideal wife by antiquated standards, fully convinced about the veracity of traditional values of the community she called her own, her husband was her hero, her companion, her god in a human avatar; being of service to him and conducting all activities of the household, was her prime duty and purpose; she involved herself passionately with them.
The world outside had begun to transform. Modernity had induced a shift in priorities and pursuits on the current crop of women leaving a few exceptions like her untouched. One felt that she may be one of the last few exemplars of the earlier species who supposedly proliferated during the days of yore. What might have been a generic marital narrative a century ago, was becoming increasingly rarer and specific by the day. Upon this backdrop, my cousin considered himself blessed to have been married to her. Their devotion to each other was admirably reciprocal.
Then came along two little boys spaced across five years and their joys multiplied manifold. The lady applied herself even more passionately in nurturing them. The boys too grew up to be young men, basking blissfully in the all encompassing affection of a wonderful mother. The senior's under her care - my cousin's parents and her own mother, could not have wished for a better care giver, ever dedicated and devoted.
Ripened leaves began to fall off the family tree having led full and fulfilling lives. Our benign lady, considered herself blessed too, to have been granted this opportunity by providence to be service to the elderly. With familial duties on the wane, she took to offering charity to the needy. There was this mark of selflessness in every one of her offerings. Having lived a much fuller life, at least figuratively, than those much older than herself, she closed her eyes one final time at the age of fifty-three, leaving a devastated husband, distraught sons, and distressed relatives and friends.
The strength of her affection brought about remarkable change in her husband after the component of shock in his expanse of sadness, began to weaken. It was both encouraging and heart-rending to watch him dutifully comply with every one of her religious and charitable acts. Here was a man who had both the ability and the inclination to transform his overwhelming loss into acts of piety in remembrance and reverence of his deceased beloved.
The little wick that glowed every evening at the temple across the street, lit by the conscientious husband reminded the faithful, most of whom were acquainted with the lady, of her radiant countenance and contagious compassion.