Mahua, once a charismatic woman, had been lamenting the absence of her better-half ever since his untimely demise a fortnight ago. She confined herself to a jute-rope cot inside her thatched house and didn’t step out since then. Her daughter, Sapna was there trying to console her but to no avail. The near and dear ones had also departed after mourning for a few weeks.
“Maa, don’t worry much. We’ve to manage whatever we are left with. Papa carried the baton so far but he left it midway. You’ve to hold it with courage now. If we won’t rise to explore resources at earliest, we’d die starved.”
“Beta, life has many ups and downs to witness. We move, fall, and start again, yet losing someone as close as life-partner, leaves a scar never to be healed again.”
“Maa, we’ve to adapt ourselves to the new normal.”
Mahua took a deep breath, got down, and went straight to inspect the family-run Toddy’s shop. Finding it in order, she decided to continue the business.
Sapna was a keen learner of circumstances as well as curriculum. She started taking care of business after her studies.
Though it was not unusual for a lady to entertain tipplers at Toddy’s shop, widowhood was to blame in Mahua’s case. A desolate, without brewing social aspirations, only craves for graceful co-existence. She was bereft of such privilege. Alongside social hostility, she also noticed odd-tipplers thronging the shop to create nuisances.
Despite toughened approach, frequent altercations and the lascivious gaze of the blitzed had taken a toll on Sapna’s psyche.
One day, she asked, “Maa, should we change our business? It doesn’t seem befitting our goal. I’m not able to concentrate much after facing the raunchy customers.”
Mahua ignored her and maintained a stoic silence. However, situations became so horrendous that many times, police had to intervene.
Optionless, she had to close Toddy shop and opened a vegetable shop instead. But hardly had they received a reprieve when the virus outbreak struck mankind. Everything was put under lockdown. Only essential services were allowed to operate, that’s too for limited hours. Their sales reduced so did the savings. Even Sapna’s study faltered without e-gadgets. This had shaken the family as they lost ‘Livelihood’ against the ‘life’ during the first tragedy.
One day, police were deployed in the neighborhood for community service. He stopped there to enquire. He went inside and found both languished in despair.
“Madam, you seem different today. Is everything ok?”
“Sir, we’ve exhausted everything and don’t have anything to bake. Would you please help us?” beseeched Sapna.
Immediately, he made arrangements and contacted an NGO involved in women’s employment and education. Mahua, though little circumspect of rehabilitation, succumbed to Sapna’s dream. She consented to solicit offers with the plea to the law-maker that they must evolve the mechanism to keep the destitute’s dreams alive which seldom sails through amidst rough-tides of life.
Eventually, Sapna got opportunities to chase her dream and attain a long-cherished goal.
Author’s note: During the last one year, lakhs of families engaged in the unorganized sector lost their bread-earner due to fragile health infrastructure. It was a double-whammy for those who lost both the key person and livelihood. The story of Mahua and Sapna is dedicated to all such lost souls and their bereaved families who held their heads high and have been trying their best to cope up with the insurmountable difficulties. The philanthropic work of cop has been portrayed to show the mirror to the executives, benevolent approach of them might have saved many such desolate.
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