DIGGING ONE’S OWN GRAVE
Ramakanta babu just came from the hospital after receiving the first dose of chemo drug inserted through a tube with a needle into the vein of his arm. His liver was severely damaged by taking alcohol heavily for last six months. In the long run his addiction to whisky put his life into risk with a habit which he could not give up easily. Eventually he had lost his appetite still carried on drinking every night. Even he was accustomed to drink at office hour while he was on duty. One day his higher authority called him to his chamber for an official discourse. But from somewhere a pungent spirit smell was wafting through inside the room. He doubted whether it was coming from the mouth of Ramakanta babu so he deliberately went nearer to him to know the source of its emission. Yes the odour was coming out of the breath of Ramakanta babu who was profoundly drunk with foreign liquor of his brand. The boss reacted out of blue in a choked voice indicating Ramakanta babu. He warned him in a threatening voice, “Misra babu I am sorry to say you that this is not a club house. This is a bank and you are a bonafide employee of this vast organization. You are supposed to stick up to certain ethics of your job. But I have been observing for last six months that you are coming to office in a state of drunkenness. By doing so you are inviting trouble to your own life. You are ruining your life as well as tarnishing the image of bank. Today I am not going to initiate a draft proceeding against you instead I am leaving you with the last warning. As your friend and well wisher I am suggesting you to see a doctor soon so that he can detect the disease and advise you what to do and what not to. Day by day you are getting weaker so you need an immediate medical attention”. Ramakanta listened to the words from his boss’s mouth bowing down his head with deep sense obligation and replied with humility. “I will not repeat the mistake I have done so for and I will refrain from drinking and smoking from today onwards sir.
Next day he went to see a renowned doctor of the city. The doctor found some symptoms of liver disease in him. The patient was looking yellow all over. It was sign of jaundice which is normally seen if someone’s liver doesn’t function properly. He did some medical tests to know the condition of his health. What really worried him most that his blood was not clotting properly as his arms, legs andmidriffs were filled up with fluids. So they had to do an ultrasound scan that indicated that he had been affected by liver cirrhosis. It had already crossed it’s second stage and entered into third which involved the development of swelling in the abdomen and advanced liver scarring. The stage marked decompensated cirrhosis with serious complications and possible liver failure. His condition was precarious, nobody could say whether he would live or die. It was not possible to operate liver at that stage except the total transplantation of it. It was costly and out of reach for a middle class man like him. So he had to demand on the alternative method of treatment. He underwent the medical treatment for six months with restricted diet chart as prescribed by the doctor. He stayed in hospital on diuretic tablets and fat free and salt free diet for half a year. After his healthy came to stable they started chemotherapy treatment to combat with the disease either to riot out or to supress it. On the appointed day of discharge from medical hospital he became emotional and looked back to the ward with his eyes full of tears that witnessed his pains and sufferings he endured during the course of his treatment. A sense of contempt for his job developed in him which put him into stress and strain throughout his job career. Now the belated realisation came to him and he repented for his foolishness of not obeying his parent’s advice who suggested him to join as the Head Master of village high school. Had he opted for the teacher’s profession than his life would had been better than this. “Leave it, it is not wise to ponder over the past. Let be gone be bygone. It is not the time to repent but time to act. What had to happen, happened”. He consoled himself.
While Ramakanta babu was struggling for his life and death nobody paid a formal visit to him except his old colleagues. In his utter desolation he was expecting the presence of his blood relatives beside his bed. Right from the day he got married up-to-end of his life he remained aloof from his near and dear ones he maintained his status and social position in the society where he lived. Hardly did he attend his own family functions accompined by his siblings deliberately distancing them from others fearing that they would be distracted from their goals. He was hunted by negative thoughts that his relatives might mislead his children by misguiding them. At the same time he had been giving them his cold shoulder for sake of his selfish end transforming his own off-springs into savage and unsocial entity of the society where they had been brought up. But now the time had come when his relatives repaid him back with his own coin ignoring him at the time of his misfortune. The family had to suffer for its own action as the couple moved away from their families to relocate elsewhere to remain detached from the family quarrels for peaceful cohabitation. He remembered the days when his grandfather reigned as a patriarchal head of a joint family comprising not less than half a century family members of different age groups living together under the same roof. They adorned the house like a bunch of flowers blossomed beneath a tree. They lived together, dined together and slept together sharing with each other their joys and sorrows directly or indirectly purging their pent-up emotions. He remembered the night when his grandfather passed away to his heavenly abode leaving them to float in the ocean of tears. But the days following his sad demise were the days of sharing family woes with each other to make them feel well inspite of the emotional loss everyone endured. The death news of his grandfather spread like a wild fire and his kith and kin arrived immediately and swarmed like bees around his dead body within few hours. Starting from the day of cremation to the thirteenth day during the period of funeral ceremony all the relatives attended unfailingly to carry on the rituals smoothly with honest and sincere cooperation. People from far and wide in large numbers came to pay condolence to the members of the bereaved family of the deceased and wished the peaceful passage of the departed soul. But the story was different one in case of the death of his own father. Instead of giving proper homage to the departed soul of the parent his brothers fell out among themselves over the matter relating to the medical and funeral expenses of their late father. Throughout the funeral ritual the distribution of property remained the bone of contention. This happened due to the reason that they had lost the family bonding that was found during their childhood days. The brothers were separated away from each other to pursue their higher studies after coming-of-their- ages. They didn’t get much time to live together to exchange love and affection with one another. Living apart from the family from the childhood developed in them avoidant and distant behaviour due to the wide communication gap created among them. As a result the sense of reason dominated over their tender emotions which culminated in conflicts and confrontations. “What will happen to my children’s lives after my death if this trend continues in future? Will they have to suffer for my selfish and negative attitudes? Certainly they will blame me for putting them into loneliness. Nobody will attend them to console and encourage them at the time of distress. Yes I have to do something for them before my death to relieve and reduce their sufferings and loneliness.” He said to himself.
Our family blamed my wife for breaking the family cohesion. She was alleged to have shattered the joint family into small nuclear unit. The happy family was disintegrated into pieces by her vicious attitudes. I was also blamed for dancing to the tune of her music by becoming myself a henpecked husband to my discredit. But my mother always tried to shift her responsibility by blaming her daughter-in-laws for break down of the family harmony. My mother should have been blamed first for the collapse our family. She tortured my wife like anything showing discriminatory behaviour to her. She used to behave normally to her other daughter-in-laws who had come with handsome fortune as dowry. She had a soft heart for them. But my wife was relentlessly deprived of getting the affection of my mother as my father-in-law didn’t fulfill the demand of my family at the time she got married with me. For that reason she was cutting sorry figure in our family. Apart from those emotional causes there were some other factors responsible for the disintegration of traditional joint family system in our rural India. It had undergone some functional and structural changes. Capitalism in economy field, liberalism in the ideological domains and principle of equality in political and social system became the order of the day. Those systems had challenged the sentiments maintaining joint family system. The large scale of industrialisation, urbanization, the transport and communication system and introduction of English language as medium of instruction opened new avenues and opportunities for the people living in remotest part of the country. Thomas Babington Macauly’s education reform policy changed the attitude and mentality of every Indians as Western learning was introduced through English language as medium of instruction in 1935. Though it was Indian in blood and colour but English in taste. Whyn’t he should be blamed for changing the Indian mentality reading the philosophies of the foreign thinkers through English language? Apart from him Lord Dalhousie should be made equal responsible for diverting the rural Indians to the urban centres through introduction of railway communication in rural India. Moreover, the revolutionary philosophers like Montesquieu, Voltaire and Rousseau were also responsible for our moral fall. It is not time for passing the buck to others. Others can’t able to help me emerging from their graves. I am responsible for my own action. I have to redeem my own sin I have committed in my life. it is me who visualised the future dreams for my own children who rejoiced their early lives in the lap of nature. To pursue my ambition I dragged them to the town life teemed with feelingless creatures. After completion of his technical education I imposed him to serve in United States Of America to pursue the career that offers lucrative package envisioning the much coveted American Dream in his life. But to my great dismay my son had lost his finer sensibilities in course of time by fighting shy with the stern realities of the American life. Whenever I tried to communicate with him over mobile he hardly had an emotional interaction with me. Every time he avoided me repeating the same word that he was in a meeting…he was driving…he was in a party etc. Never did he call me back after I had called him. Afterwards I came to realise that his unusual behaviour was outcome of the failures of his much cherished ambition that couldn’t be realised due to certain and unavoidable reasons he encountered there with. He was passing through the period of uncertainty as the job he clung to was neither
secure nor permanent one. Doing job in foreign country is looking large from the distant but it is not the bed of roses as we think so. Everytime there is fear of being fired from the service by the employer at any moment if they think so. However recently he saved his job from retrenchment by accepting the condition of not demanding the full salary cost from the boss. The company would terminate him if he applied for leave stating any reason there of. Keeping this in view of the consequence he denied his wife to inform the news of his death in future. His job will be put into risk if she wants him to come to India to share the sorrow with her. Better she should suggest their son to purify his body by taking the holy Ganga water and the leaves from the basil plant remaining in America.
Ramakanta babu’s health was deteriorating day by day with serious health hazards. He didn’t eat well and sleep well at nights. He began vomitting blood sometimes as he was passing through the end-stage of cirrhosis. The scar tissues have already replaced the healthy tissues of his liver. The liver was going to fail completely. The doctor has advised him to stay at home and calculated the time of his death studying the gravity of the disease. He would hardly survive for two months only. No sooner had he listened the medical prediction from the mouth of the doctor than Ramakanta began to prepare himself mentally to face the imminent death. At that night he made a google search to find out the most professional crematorium of his choice in the city to meet to his future need after his death. More than a dozen crematorium came into his view but his choice fell on Swagayan Crematorium located near Akamra Bihar Bhubaneswar. He tried to contact the caretaker of the organisation over mobile phone. Someone received the call at other end and wanted to know his identity. “Hello I am Naresh from Swagayan Crematorium speaking. I am the marketing manager of the organisation. Who is this speaking? How can I help you?” Naresh said. “I am Ramakanta Misra from Saheed Nagar want to be cremated at your crematorium after I die. Let me know the fee you are charging for one dead body cremation”. Ramakanta wanted to know from Naresh. “You see we have different packages to suit to the needs of different parties. The silver package, the golden package and the diamond package. You can go to our official website to know the details of our fee structure. But for your kind information I am briefing you. For silver we normally charge ten thousand rupees for an every single body which is economic class. If you opt for golden plan you have to pay thirty thousand rupees which includes the cost of means of conveyance. But the diamond package is the most suitable for the people whose progenies are away from the would be deceased. We are charging fifty one thousand rupees for this package which includes everything beginning from the dead body procession to the rituals by brahmin. If You are agree to our terms and conditions than you can reserve a berth by paying twenty five percent of the total charge in advance. Our agent will visit you tomorrow to collect the necessary documents from you. See you later. Good Night. ” Ramakanta made up his mind to go for the diamond package that will reduce the tension of his family members after his death. He became complacent as half of his problems is solved. Further he tried to let his son know his last wish before his death but he didn’t dare to do so. He left the blank to be filled by his wife-the so called mother of his son.
Written by Dr. Santanu Kumar Dash @ lndia
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