He was on the ventilator, the sons had given up hope. Daughters-in-law grumbled about the extra work they had to do. Daughters had spent all their energy crying and had gone back to tending for their husbands, after all a husband is more important than an almost dead father.
Doctors felt checking on him was another waste of time.
She was the only person who lived for him. There were people who had lived off him , lived with him, lived along with, but she lived for him, for he was her life. He had been her life for the past 50 years and 50 years can be a long time... half a century ... 5 decades... 50X365 days, 50X innumerable moments. She was him and he was her. It was partly her who was breathing in that ventilator, if not for her, who knows maybe he may be long dead now. She had been his wife for so long, now she was his mother,her umbilical cord of love holding him onto earth.
But now she knew she had to let him go. She knew he begged her to let go. I cant take it any more he said ... no not exactly him, for he was comatose. He could not talk.... his mind did, and her heart listened. She inturn begged him to be strong ..to live ... I will breathe for you.. dont let go, not now, not never. She took him through his life again, through her mind's eye and his through his faint heartbeat,
She took him back to the day when they had first seen each other.... An orthodox brahmin family looking out for a groom. She was all of 16, he was 24, she was shy, he anxious, she trembled with coyness, he shivered with anticipation. She was a Jasmine, white and pure, he was a Hibiscus, proud and strong.
She took him to their early years of life .... her wonderful cooking which he always loved, his strong arms which almost crushed her, her shy smile that would melt him, his infectious laugh at her naivety. He saw the birth of their first son ... "like you" she had said .... he felt again the pang of sorrow he had felt when the child died early.
She did not want him to muse there, she quickly moved him to the happy years of the children's growing up years .... He smiled at the minor tiffs they had.. she laughed at his surprise when his elder son began using his shaving blade on the sly.
He reminsced on the experience of their first movie together, she joyed over his promotion. He looked back sadly at the year he retired, she cried over the cruel fate of old age that had made them dependents on the whims and fancies of their children.
"You still look beautiful" he said " Just like the day when we were married" . "Why then do you want to go away?" she shook her head sadly.
She knew she wanted to be with him, he knew he wanted her with him, if only they could be together...she was sure the parting would kill her, she could never stay without him, for wasn't she, a part of him? How could the part survive without the whole?
The ashes were emptied into the Ganges, and the priest finally declared the funeral rites over. The sons and the daughters walked back from the swelling river, and wheeled their paralyzed mother back to their car ... they now had to decide who would take care of her, each had their own lives you see, who would sacrifice their wholesome life, to take care of an invalid?