Being Women

A Covid Widow Remembers Valentine’s Day

Pandemic has changed life for millions of people. Many families have lost their near and dear ones. As a citizen, we are always thankful to the covid warriors who worked relentlessly during the pandemic. They never had breaks and they never sat at home. Nation and duty above all. But what about the bereaved families? How can they cope with the emotional loss? No one knows.

As she walked along the aisle, kicking the dancing pleats with her stilettos, she could see the sky moving and stars twinkling. She felt like this is the moment she has been waiting for, for years, only to realise a few seconds later that she is stepping up over a podium.

There, the minister hands over a cheque and the audience starts clapping. She was confused, about what is there to rejoice. 

She made an eye contact with the Emcee, requesting him to let her speak.

She holds over the microphone firmly,

” Thank you, Thank you Sir.

Or should I say ‘Sorry’ because I am really not proud of this cheque. I would have loved to sit below and be a spectator. I am a grieving wife; however, my attire doesn’t define my state of mind. This orange saree doesn’t signify intense energy, ecstasy or sensuality. This was gifted by my late husband on Valentine’s Day, years back. Today as I drape it, I feel so warm and I could sense his presence. This pearl that adorns my neck is not a recent splash, we brought it together during our Hyderabad trip. There were hundreds of glitters but this was specifically hand-curated. Today, looking at the price, I am sure, this is an imitation but that very thought of us walking together down the lane, pushing the glass panel of the showroom, the hanging chandeliers, feeling each pearl at the shop brings me solace. And then not to forget, us sharing a plate of mutton biryani. 

You must be wondering, how is this widow who is here to receive ex gratia of Chief Minister Covid Relief Fund on the death of her husband talking on sarees and jewellery? I must need therapy. But Sir, why does society think of white, grey, cream and black-suited for sorrow? And who is this society? People who are seated below get access to define my character. The sleepless nights in ICU, the beeping noise of the monitors, the black polythene wrapped dead bodies are crystal clear to me. When my husband and I tested Covid positive, little did I know that my life would turn topsy turvy. My existence would turn over the choice of colours. I tried my best, prayed in every way but my husband couldn’t breathe again. Is that my fault? Just because I wear red, green and yellow, it doesn’t mean that I love my husband less or there’s a new hero in my house or I am in the process of falling in love with someone.

I am still the same me, still walking the old path. What hurts most is, When I get back home by evening, I need to unlock the door myself and then lock it again because I don’t want uninvited guests or controversies. The dining table is laid but there is one cup, one glass, one plate and one-pot meal. The king-size bed looks too big, the blanket too large, the room too huge and the empty bathroom haunts. 

Sir, can you tell those people who speak behind me, that these these old clothes, old bedsheets and old cushions that give me company, what if they are coloured? 

Sir, what would I do with your money when I don’t have a hand to hold, a room to share or a shoulder to lay on? If you can, let me remain like me. Let me be not reminded every time that I lost my husband. Let me relive my present with fond memories and write my love story with my husband as I want to. Can you Sir? “

By Dr Nirza Saikia

Dr Nirza Saikia, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, is currently working at Digboi Civil hospital. Also a Rotarian, she has served as Secretary and Editor Editor. Her areas of interest are to ensure health care facilities at remote areas, writing and traveling. She is reachable at:

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