Radha was a beautiful and a bright young girl. What made her a sore to everybody’s eyes was her deformity. She was born with a left leg slightly shorter than the right leg. Not that it stopped her from doing any activity. She ran around in the entire village, playing and giggling and turning a deaf ear to the curse she would hear from the neighbours.

Her parents couldn’t find a suitable groom for her. They were tormented and were made to believe that she would die a spinster. Finally, they agreed to marry her off at the tender age of fifteen to Rameshwar who was sixty-five and was battling a deadly disease. He was a widower and had no children, but his mother who was eighty-two believed that if he dies without having a son, he will not get a place in heaven.

Rameshwar, however, was a sensible old man but even at this age, he didn’t have the courage to disobey his mother. Radha’s life was shattered, she cried inconsolably on her first night, wearing the bright red wedding dress, sitting next to her ailing husband.

A few months passed by, Rameshwar’s health started deteriorating and it raised his mother’s concern again. She kept taunting Radha, for not being able to bear a child, oblivious to the fact that behind the closed doors, Rameshwar maintained no physical contact with her.

One night, after finishing all her household chores, when Radha entered her bedroom, she found him waiting for her with a box in his hand. She shut the door and asked him curiously about the box. He handed over a paper and then opened the box. It had a bundle of money and some jewellery. She looked at him in bewilderment and then opened the paper, it was a letter addressed to his friend Ramanand.

He said, “My friend stays in the nearby village and he runs an institute in the city for destitute women. I have sent a letter to him also, informing him that you will join him shortly.”

“I didn’t understand.”

He made her sit beside him and said softly, “Listen to me carefully. You are a very nice girl and you deserve a better life. I have never done anything good in my life but before dying I want to do this one last thing. I want you to run away from here.”

She sat there dumbfounded.

“Will you not fulfil my last wish?”

She didn’t respond and he continued, “I have stopped taking my medicines and I have a strong feeling that I will die tonight. I do not wish to live anymore but you have an entire life ahead. Don’t ruin it. After my death, people will make your life hell. Take my advice and run away.”

He pulled a small bag, placed the box, the letter, some of her clothes and packed it for her. She asked, “What will happen to your mother?”

He looked at her with amazement, “How can you be such a nice person? You are concerned about my mother, who has always tormented you.” He smiled and answered, “Don’t worry, I have made all the arrangements and she will not face any problem.”

She continued to sit there in shock and didn’t utter a word.

“Don’t think much, meet my friend and he will help you get a shelter. Complete your studies first and take good care of yourself. There is enough money in that box, you will not have any trouble.”

He placed his hands on her head and said, “May God bless you and give you the strength to lead a happy life.”

He switched off the lights and went to sleep and she continued to sit there motionless, fighting with her thoughts. In a blink it was morning, she sat whole night, unable to decide what do to.

She got up to prepare tea for all and then, suddenly, heard a loud scream. She ran from the kitchen and to her disbelief she saw her husband lying dead and his mother wailing. She was terrified and remembered all that happened last night. She thought hard, “How was he so sure of his death? Did he commit suicide?”

Soon, the entire village gathered outside her home. She stood at one corner, not believing all that was happening before her. Before she could think of anything else, she saw a group of women pointing towards her. They were preparing to chop off her hair and drape a piece of white cloth for the rest of her life.

Her heart skipped a beat. She was petrified. Amidst that chaos and moans, her husband’s voice echoed, “Run away from here.” She silently slipped away from the crowd, grabbed the small bag, covered herself with a shawl and moved out hastily.

She knew it was now or never and started running as fast as she could. She was running away from the orthodox traditions. She was running towards a better life. She was running to fulfil his last wish.

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royrashi
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12 thoughts on “The Last Wish”

  1. Beautifully woven story revolving around the stark reality that persists in this world despite the so-called modern outlook that we all claim to have adopted. The state of widows in the interiors of the country is still in a jeopardy. It’s a great social message that you have spread through this post. Keep writing such wonderful posts. #MyFriendAlexa #DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter

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