In a tiny room where barely a bed and a small cupboard fit sit Basant and Rekha. They have been living in this 'free' dharamshala (hospice) for almost a month now, but this has not been their first stay here. They are now old hands at living in hospitals across the land.
Their story beats any of the tear jerking celluloid tales so popular in the sixties, the only difference is that it is not a story but real life. The quiet acceptance and the sated dignity are not performances that will beget national awards. The love, tenderness and compassion chiseled on Basant's face is not for the cameras, it is what he truly feels for his blind wife. He does not even remember how long it has been, or how many hospitals in how many cities he has visited to try and rekindle the light in the eyes of his wife. They have now been at AIIMS for the umpteenth month an were held the last blow a few days back: the cost of medicine that may restore some vision to Rekha's eyes was so prohibitive that they did not even take the name of the pills that come at 45o rs a piece and of which 2 have to be consumed each day for at least 30 days.
There is no anger, no bitterness, no indignation; at best what one feels is a sense of dignified resignation. Many blows have come in the way of this couple but they have accepted each one of them and tried to move on. It was only a few weeks ago that Basant was told that he needed immediate heart surgery at the mind boggling cost of 100 000 rs. More figures that have far beyond the realm of reality for them. A date was fixed: 7 June 2008. It past as they were unable to pay the money.
For this man who once had a small business and enough money to live an honest life, living on charity must be belittling, yet he stand patiently in queue for the daily packet of milk or ration that is doled out. He knows he has no other option.In a few days they will be thrown out of the hospice as no one is allowed to stay for more than 30 days at a time. They have scant options: to go back to the village beaten, or try and find a way out.
I came to know about them a few weeks back and since have been trying to get the help they so need. But we need in a world where charity has taken strange avatars. It is easy to get help for a child, perhaps a woman but when you seek the same for a man, you are just shunned. Yet in the broken heart of this man lie the morrows of four souls: three little children deprived of the presence of their parents and their mom. It is no wonder that Basant's heart needs mending. For too long it has carried the weight of a love no one understands in our world.
Away from their children they wait patiently for a miracle to come their way, for now only a miracle can save them. They have exhausted all other resources. Maybe it is time we start looking at ours. We cannot or will not give up. We will ask Basant and rekha to move to our women centre and keep on knocking at doors till we find the one that hides another heart as big as Basant's.
Is the God of Lesser beings listening.