Parvati had never seen misery her entire life.
Fifty-seven winters and her skin still glistened. Her hair was as black as charcoal. And her smile was a shapely window to a perfect set of teeth, white and neatly lined. She hadn’t been raised by an affluent family, nor did she marry into one. Her upbringing had been simple, her marital status single. The thought of bearing children had never crossed her mind.
And this was the reason many considered her blessed and fortunate. She had escaped the hardships that came with spreading one’s wings and diving into the lives of others and significant strangers. There was only sadness and anger waiting at another’s doorstep. Expectations, responsibilities, and commitments often exhausted a person’s body and mind, robbing them of that youthful shimmer.
But Parvati didn’t agree. It wasn’t what she had not seen but how she had seen it.
She had mastered the art of perspective at a very young age. And the memories were still crisp in her fertile mind. Only a girl of three, her grandfather had slipped tidbits of wisdom to her with spoons of honey and morsels of jaggery. He would tell Parvati that a glass was neither half empty nor half full. Some part was filled liquid and the remaining part was filled with air. Therefore, the glass was always filled to the brim.
And life was to be lived on the same lines. It was exactly how one wished to see it. Either filled with meaning, joy, and satisfaction. Or empty of love, peace, and motivation. Parvati weathered many storms with this blissful mindset. The premature death of her father. Her mother’s defeat to dementia. A brother sentenced to a sightless life. And her own personal and professional battles.
There was nothing that could steal Parvati’s smile. It grew wider with each coming year. Many thought that the woman had lost her mind, but she cared less for gossip or rumors. Parvati did what she could and left the rest to the will of a higher power. It made her life much easier. It made the pain inconsequential. It was the only way she wanted to be.
So Parvati continued to flutter about like a butterfly who knew life was colorful but also limited. And in her fifty-eighth winter, she learned about the tumor in her spine. It was inoperable. There would be much pain and only two months to live. But that didn’t steal the woman’s radiance. She walked till she could and laughed till she pleased. Then when she could do no more, she lay still, breathing in acceptance, breathing out thanks.
On the afternoon Parvati breathed her last, a handful of acquaintances assumed the responsibility of her funeral. They noticed the calm upon her supple face. One woman couldn’t resist herself.
Parvati doesn’t look a day over thirty.
Another voice chipped in.
Probably liposuction and plastic surgery.
Thus began a conversation of assumptions and warped perceptions. The pastime of most individuals.
But as usual, Parvati heard nothing. She remained far from it.
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