Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Bridge (07/31/08)
TITLE: Anna and Rhea
By joy clarkson
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“What is it memsahib,” she asked, “Is it the dream?”
“Yes, the same bridge with turbulent waters flowing beneath, and I stood looking longingly at the dreamland on the other side, but was too scared to go across. I was trembling all over.”
“Don’t worry memsahib,” Teresa said, and gave her a glass of water and tucked her in.
The next day, Anna woke up to exceedingly good news. Rhea, her granddaughter, was coming from Singapore. She had met Rhea for the first time the previous year. She was twenty-three, bright and vivacious. Anna’s son had married and settled in Singapore. She had met her daughter-in-law just once, when Deepak brought his newly wedded wife to meet his family. After that Deepak too was an infrequent visitor. Anna was ecstatic…she flitted around tidying up her little room, and even took extra care in choosing her clothes and doing her hair.
Teresa, was happy to see her memsahib looking so nice. It had been a long time since Anna had taken interest in herself.
Anna was born into an affluent family. She was the only child and her parents doted on her. Every little wish of hers became their command, till she turned seventeen. Anna fell in love with a boy her parents didn’t approve of, but she stubbornly stood her ground, and they relented….quite reluctantly. Anna’s hopes of continuing her college education were cut short when she became pregnant a month after the wedding. By eighteen she was a mother, at twenty-one she lost both her parents in an accident, and on her twenty-fifth birthday she became a widow. According to the custom of her in-law’s community, she was forbidden to wear bright colors or jewellery, and she could not participate in any celebrations. She was shifted to two small rooms in the out house attached to the servant’s quarters.
However Deepak, her son, was made to stay in the main house and was brought up by his uncle. This was when Anna realized her folly, in not paying heed to her parent’s objections to her marriage outside their religion and culture. Deepak grew apart from his mother and the chasm widened when he was sent to study abroad. If it hadn’t been for Teresa, Anna would have landed up in an asylum. Teresa had been sent to her by her parents, to look after Deepak. But God had other plans and Teresa became Anna’s care-giver.
Anna couldn’t forgive her in-laws for what they had done. She was angry and thought God had given up on her too. The only person she met or spoke to was Teresa. Sometimes someone from the house would come to meet her, but she wouldn’t talk to them. Soon even these visits stopped. Then Rhea came into her life like a bright ray of sunshine. She had spent most of her time with Anna whom she called Dadi ( father’s mother). She was pained to see how Anna had been treated by the other relatives and couldn’t understand why her father did not take his mother out of this pathetic living condition. She had left with promises that she would do something if no one else did.
“Dadi, I’m back,” said Rhea hugging Anna tightly. “Teresa, pack-up dadi’s things. Oh, and yours too.”
“Why missybaby,” asked Teresa.
“Because you are coming to live with me. I’ve joined a firm here and shifted base and I’m taking my darling Dadi with me.”
There was hardly anything to pack so it wasn’t long before they were in the car and speeding along to their new home. Anna closed her eyes and relaxed. And once again she was at the bridge, but this time she was not alone. Boldly she put her hand into her Maker’s hand and crossed the bridge.
“Dadi, wake up. We’ve arrived.” Anna opened her eyes and smiled, “Yes my child we have indeed,” she said. “What’s that line you quoted the last time you were here?”
“If you hug to yourself any resentment against anybody else, you destroy the bridge by which God would come to you,” repeated Rhea.
“Ah, a wise head on such young shoulders,” and she kissed Rhea tenderly
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