The White Jasmine

Losing someone close had always been painful. But losing his wife was like dying for Manohar Basu, an otherwise sturdy man in his mid-seventies.

Manohar’s single tea cup tasted like tears. In his last forty years, he had never had one without her. In so many years, he was never alone. Manohar could not believe that Meera, his beloved wife was no longer with him; that she has gone to the heaven, a place which she used to believe and something that hugely fascinated her.



“It would be alright,” she’d said to Manohar when they knew everything was over.

Meera was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about a year ago. From there on, they both knew how hard life would be. But they made promises of laughing the rest of their lives and somehow, they did.

Manohar sat silently in his armed chair and looked at the terracotta hanging bells on the wall. He remembered Meera held his hands and said, “I want to apologise now for the things I’d do later!”

“You don’t have to. You never have to,” Manohar said averting her eyes, as she kept looking at him hurtfully for a while.

“Please forgive me if I forget where I put my things and where I was,” she continued.

“Please dear, don’t…” he said trying to hold back his tears.

“Forgive me if I am giving you a hard time,” Meera said in tearful eyes. “I’m sorry if I forget everything…”

Manohar couldn’t say anything. He just held her trembling body against his heart, feeling her fear all over him.

“I’ll try my best,” she choked on a sob, “to not forget your name.” Meera said as the tears started to flow.

It all began with little things like words and then on to forgetting if she had made him dinner or even had her own. All seem hard at first but then the rhythm fell in and the couple swept up from there. In the last few months, Manohar made it a point to revisit some of the places close by where they loved going together – the Kali temple, the neighbourhood park and the riverside.

Manohar would wake up every morning and write down what they would do that day. In hazy vision and bad handwriting, he would scribble down errands for the both of them. He would prepare the breakfast and tea while she yelled at him for thinking she was weak. Manohar said, it was just a competition and he had lost so he had to do the housework. Meera would laugh and then slowly return to her bed…

Manohar woke up from the trance… Suddenly he thought Meera just appeared from behind the curtains and smile at him. He picturs her at the door standing there and just staring at him with her deep dark eyes. There’s nobody, anywhere. The stillness haunted Manohar. Everyday seemed too long now for him. He also tries sleeping on her side of the bed, hoping to feel the same warmth again.

The final few days were glum. Those were the only days when Manohar felt completely lost. They were filled with a silent chaos. She’d walk around, trying to remember what she was doing and then come back crying to him, suddenly forgetting why she was crying. And then he would tell her that everything was alright, when he knew it was not. Those days, somehow Manohar knew that the end was near and soon he would lose the only thing that mattered to him.

As a childless couple, Manohar and Meera had their share of regret, this made their bond even stronger.  Meera always saw a child in Manohar, prepared the best of fish dishes for him and knitted his sweaters every winter.  He too pampered her with jasmine garland everyday while coming back from his evening walk and surprised her with the saris and attar on every occasion.

In the last few weeks of her existence, Manohar had the fear of losing everything that he was. He never once, in all that time, regretted helping her. Never did he think of it all as a ‘burden’ or duty of sort. He did all out of the love they had shared in all these years.

Sometimes at night he would be awake and wonder what life would be without her. Now he has the answer. Everything seems stopped in time now and only filled with wishful thinking of what his life was, their lives were.

The stillness in the room countered and so did the empty chair next to him, the silent house seemed deafening for Manohar. It seemed all too painful.

As he stood in his tiny garden, he remembered how she nurtured each and every plant and how happy she used to be when the flowers blossomed in spring and summer. A week before she passed away, when she could no longer speak and her body deteriorated, all she could utter was: “They’re blooming!” Clasping his hand, she again said flatly. “They’re… blooming”

The garden was now full of weeds and thorns. Nobody to look after. It’s been weeks the Maali had not turned up and Manohar didn’t care any longer. Suddenly his eyes got fixed on one corner of the garden. He saw a bunch of white jasmine flowers gracefully bloom in one corner, giving him the feeling of heaven. Manohar saw a flash of Meera as the clean white flowers smiled at him undefeated.

And he stood there smiling softly, “Heaven is just fascinating!” Manohar closed his eyes. The rain poured in a drizzle, still keeping the promises that they made to never let go!


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by H S Eswara on December 14, 2013 at 5:02 am

    My dear Sohini,

    You have well narrated the story of Manohar, and it is the story of countless aged people. It epitomizes the cruelties of life superbly and the inevitable helplessness of all of us. At the end, I guess, it’s all life is about. My sympathies are with Manohar.

    Each time I read your small pieces, I see a creative artist in you.

    With best wishes,

    HS Eswara


  2. Posted by Shrikanth S on December 14, 2013 at 7:26 am

    Very touchy story! Sensitive subject and you have done complete justice to it.


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