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Arunima Maharshi

IWB Blogger

Abandoned And Forgotten, Rashmi Dreams Of Diwali ‘Tam Jham’ At A Lonely Shelter Home

  • IWB Post
  •  November 6, 2018

“Get up from the window, till how long will you sit there and stare at the lightings in the sky”, called out Anjali to Rashmi. And while unfolding both of their beds, she kept murmuring to herself, “every year it is the same story, the sight of diyas and crackers take her to another world, and then I have to drag her back!”

And switching off the only yellow bulb in the room, she went and sat on the windowsill near her best friend, and holding her hands, said, “if only I could send you back home!” Tears ran down both their faces.

“Maa, I finally found Raju and dragged him home, tell him all that is needed from the market, and don’t forget to ask him to get diyas and rangoli colours,” shouted Rashmi while heading to the kitchen. She is running around in the house, stressed of all the work that is still to be done because there is not even a day for Diwali. Because her mother is a heart patient, she can’t work much, and so it is 18-year-old Rashmi who runs the house from whatever little her father earns. Elder sisters are said to be like second mothers to their younger siblings, but Rashmi, was, by all means, the first mother to her 12-year-old brother, Raju.

Her mother scolds Raju for giving a hard time to her sister, saying he should be giving her a hand in cleaning and decorating their small cozy hut, “run to the market, and don’t forget anything! And come early, didi will need your help!” Raju loves his sister the most, laughing away at his mother’s instructions, while running out, goes and teases the sister, “I am helping you only for my favourite besan ke laddoo! Prepare them fast!”

“Wait, let me get a hold on you,” she gets up and turns around, only to find Anjali pulling her back. “Rashmi Rashmi Rashmi!! Wake up from your thoughts. We need to accept our reality, here, in Delhi. Those dreams of the home, they sting like angry fire and dries the heart out of hope. This shelter is our home now!” Saying that she pulled her friend into a hug. Every year at Diwali, Rashmi goes into an abyss, and it becomes very difficult for Anjali to keep her friend together.

Rashmi and Anjali both were escorted by their shelter home at around the same time in 2013, and ever since the first day, they only have each other. While Rashmi was found at the railway station, Anjali was brought here from a remand home after being proven innocent in an illegal activity she was said to be involved. Noone at the shelter home knows about their history, except for the two friends. The bond they share is their only ray of hope in the darkness that surrounds.

Hugging Anjali tight, Rashmi cried, “I want to go back and make laddoos for Raju, I want to clean and decorate the house, make rangoli at our doorstep! I want to help ma prepare for Lakshmi pujan, and have food with everyone in the aangan! I want to go back Anjali, I want my life back!”… and then her eyes went red with anger and pain, as she cursed the day she bumped into the cheat Ajay at the village, who lured her into love, and unaware of his cruel intentions, she fell for him.

She howled, “Why could I not see his real face, why did I go against my helpless parents! He took advantage of my innocence and naivety. If he never intended to marry me, why did he call me to the city on getting my news of the pregnancy, only to never meet me at the station!” And later silenced with, “I will never forget the day I stepped into the city, that day I lost my child in the womb. I also lost my parents, and my faith in life!”

Anjali carefully puts her to bed and goes back to sit on the windowsill. The calmer ones often have bigger fights going on inside them. And with colourful firecrackers in sight, her blind gaze deepened.

“Get up from the window, you slept through the night sitting there, Anjali?” came Lakshmi’s voice. “Open your eyes and face the sun rays, the NGO people are coming today to celebrate Diwali with us, don’t you remember?” she called her out folding both of their beds.

Shelter homes were not given the title of ‘home’ for nothing, but no one other than the women who find shelter there, know of the reality behind their doors. They are said to provide empathetic shelter, have they? This Diwali, make a small step, pay a quick visit to a shelter home in your city, for nothing but to help give a woman the taste of homemade sweets and a warm hug of comfort!

(Featured Image is for representation purpose only.)

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