Sunday, December 2, 2012

Silence

The day dawned foggy and damp. The sky was overcast with dark clouds. But it hadn't started raining yet. Divya's six year old daughter had been pestering her mother since the previous afternoon to take her to the zoo. Divya was hesitant, as the zoo was a good 10 kilometers out of town and the weather conditions hadn't been great over the past couple of days. Yet little Ananya kept pleading and using her trademark lost kitten expression to full effect until Divya had no other option but to relent.


They packed up for a full day's excursion and headed out in their little hatchback at half past eleven. Divya called up to inform her dad before leaving. She felt somewhat uneasy, as her dad usually accompanied them on such trips ever since her husband had walked out on her three years ago. Anu had been all of three and didn't remember a lot. Divya didn't miss him much. Neither did she hate him. She really didn't think about him anymore. But Anu had been strongly attached to him. Her beloved grandfather now filled in for the void her father had left behind. But today he had gone over to visit his other daughter and couldn't accompany them. She was regretting her decision almost as soon as she'd made it.

The roads were full of potholes and slush. Divya was a good driver, but a relative newbie on the city's roads. They'd shifted to this place two years ago and had bought the car only a few months before. She was still getting used to the roads and landmarks as she didn't drive very often. Most often her dad drove them on such long journeys. She felt guilty for availing of his services so often and depending upon him for so many things, but was much relieved because of his presence. She wondered what she would have done, and more importantly, how she'd have managed Ananya if not for his support.

Her thoughts kept wandering whilst she drove. She had to brush them away with a lot of effort to be able to concentrate better on the road as well as on Anu. Ananya was a chirpy child. She was ever inquisitive, wanting to know everything that she found even slightly intriguing or unknown. She was a born singer too, one trait she'd inherited from her father that Divya really loved. She had enrolled her for music lessons at a prestigious institution and Anu was their star performer, all at the tender age of 6. Divya smiled at her daughter as she sat in her seat making patterns on the foggy window and blabbering, to no one in particular, about a classmate who ate mud and didn't clean her fingernails.

It was right then that it happened. Divya, too lost in her thoughts and in glancing dreamily at Anu, did not realize the car was moving towards a thin stretch of road with a huge banana-loaded truck approaching them from the other side. By the time she came to her senses, there was a very short distance left between the truck and the car. She tried to swerve to the left, but the road was slippery and the car skidded. Divya lost control of the wheel as the car was whirled head-first into a pair of sturdy neem trees growing together on the roadside. She'd always loved this particular stretch of road, as it was lined with neem and mango trees on both sides and had a thick foliage extending out to cover half of the road from above. She could never have imagined a scenario where her own car collided with them. The truck driver, as they normally do, fled the scene for fear of being convicted in the case.

At about 5 in the evening, Divya's dad along with a team of policemen found the half-battered car on the side of the road with the steering wheel rammed into his daughter's stomach and her face smeared with blood. Anu lay with her head on the dashboard, appearing mostly unharmed, with a deflated airbag loose on her lap. Divya was declared dead on the spot. Anu was given first aid and revived. She had a minor head injury and a cut on the left arm but was badly shaken. Despite many efforts by her grandpa and the officers, she wouldn't utter a word. The officers said she was in trauma and needed to be taken to the hospital right away. Divya's body was also taken away and another team of experts was called to carry out investigatory activities at the accident site.

Anu received medical treatment at the best hospital in the city. Her grandparents never left her side, especially her grandpa, who wouldn't let her out of his sight even for a moment. Aunts and uncles poured in and condoled over the loss. She recovered from the physical trauma in a couple of weeks but would not talk, so she was made to undergo psychiatric treatment for a month, in a hope that she would slowly recover from her mental trauma from the accident and her mother's death. With time she resumed all her routine activities and was taken off 24x7 supervision and medicines and moved into her grandparents' house. But she wouldn't speak. Not a word had escaped her lips ever since she was found unconscious at the crash site. She didn't cry or mope. She went about the house, sat with her grandpa as he read the morning paper, watched cartoons, drew, painted, sometimes played with her toys, but never talked. She wouldn't answer any questions except those that required her to fetch something or do a chore or that could be answered with a nod of the head. She did smile occasionally but seldom laughed. Worst of all, she didn't sing. Some doctors said she had lost her voice in the aftermath of the accident. Or the will to make use of it, some others mused.


With her voice gone, the whole house lies engulfed in silence and gloom now. Her grandparents do not know what to do. The untimely loss of their most beloved daughter had already aged them prematurely. They could not bear to see their granddaughter mourn in silence. They tried their best to make her come around. But with time, they've realized that her silence was what helped her survive the extreme grief of losing her mother. They've given in to the earnest hope that her silence will help her cope with the reality. Silence is a great healer. They hope it will heal her wounds too.


(This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. It got featured as one of the commendable entries here.)

6 comments:

Sushmit said...

Right little ray of sunshine, aren't you?

maliny said...

The story was so engaging and heart warming too . . will be back for more :)

Mahima said...

@Sushmit - Am I indeed?

@Maliny - Thank you. Would love to have you back again :)

Nisha said...

Is this a true story? I'm asking because you've used a picture...

It's very sad when a young parent loses a spouse or when a young child loses a parent. Touching story.

Mahima said...

@Nisha - It isn't a true story. Just fiction. But I have heard of a few similar incidences. It is indeed very sad.

Arun Prakash said...

Your well articulated story immersed me into it right from the beginning. :)