Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cursed Life -- Part 3

Continued from Part 2

The water was very deep now.  Kathir's body was almost completely submerged as he slipped into a state of complete unconsciousness.  The end seemed all too near.  But then, suddenly, something grabbed hold of his arms and legs.  He was being forcibly dragged against his will.  Kathir started to gasp helplessly and fight back with all his might, but his efforts were all too futile.  He passed out from the exhaustion of the fight and the lingering buzz from all the alcohol inside him.

When he finally woke up, he was lying on a small cot, with a blanket over his body.  As he turned his head sideways, he noticed an old man sitting next to him, quietly tying up fishing nets.  It was the same old fisherman who noticed him before.  He gave Kathir a knowing smile, as though he understood what he was going through.  Kathir looked at the old man, confused.

"Where am I?"

"At my hut, near the beach.  My sons brought you here".

"Why did you save me?!?!" asked Kathir in frustration.  The old man said nothing.  He just shook his head in amusement.  "Wait. How did you know..." asked Kathir.

".. that you were attempting suicide?", the old man interjected.  "Your eyes and mannerisms gave you away.  Compared to reading a fish's behavior, reading yours is quite easy."  Kathir could say nothing.

"Why did you do it?  What's so bad that it's worth giving up your life over?" asked the old man.  Kathir then told him his story, from beginning to end.  The old man got up and calmly said "Come with me, I want to show you something."

The old man took Kathir to his small colony of fishing huts where there were several poor families with children of different disabilities -- some were blind, some deaf, some were missing arms or legs.  Some mothers were without children, and some had to raise their children on their own.  Yet, despite all their worries, the families and their children were happy and content when they were with each other.  Kathir was in shock and amazement at all he had seen.  As he watched, he forgot all about his troubles with Anjali.

"I don't believe it", said Kathir.  "How can they smile when they have a life like this?!"

"Because they have each other.   I'm also part of this community.  Our lives are hard, but we look out for each other and give each other full support.  All the money in the world can't buy that."

"That's the one thing that we don't have.  Everybody turned their backs on us!"

"Why don't you call your wife?  She's probably worried sick now.  Besides, I also want to meet her."

"I can't.  My cell phone got damaged in the water. Can you help me get to an STD booth?" asked Kathir.  The old man agreed.  After they get to the booth, Kathir phoned Shwetha.  A barrage of loud screeches came from the phone speaker.  Kathir had to keep the phone away from his ear to save his eardrums!

After she calmed down, she agreed to come down to Marina Beach.  An hour later, Shwetha arrived with Anjali at the beach.  Anjali was unusually content as the ocean waters had a very calming effect on her.  As Shwetha finally met Kathir, slapped him mercilessly and scolded him nonstop.  She was obviously very angry, but there was some love mixed with the anger too, so Kathir didn't mind as much.  The old man couldn't help but laugh in amusement.

Shwetha finally turned around and looked at the old fisherman.  Her eyes were filled with tears as she clasped her hands together as though praying to a deity.  "Sir, I don't know how to thank you for saving my husband."

"Quite alright", said the old man as he smiled at the couple and their child.  "Come, I want you to meet some people".  He took them to the colony where Kathir had been to previously.  Shwetha was just as shocked as Kathir was at the resilience of the disabled poor people.

The old man looked at Shwetha as he spoke in an enlightened tone. Shwetha started to recollect all her fights with Kathir as the old man spoke.  "Your husband told me all about your daughter's illness.  He also told me about how everyone was pressuring you into getting married and having children quickly... and how many of them now turned their backs on you.  That's the problem with our society today.  If we all [pointing to the colony people] did that to each other, where would we be today?!?!".

Shwetha finally understood Kathir's point of view and Kathir finally decided to give up his drinking for good. As they walked back to the beach, there was a content smile on Kathir and Shwetha's faces.  They finally found some people who they could relate to and their minds suddenly felt a whole lot lighter.  They both thanked the old man for all his help and took his leave.

"Come back and visit anytime", said the old man as he smiled and waved goodbye.

Kathir and Shwetha visited the colony often after that day.  Their lives were still hard and their struggle to cure Anjali continued on but in the old fisherman and his colony they found an occasional temporary refuge from the stress of their daily lives.