The healing touch

The healing touch

“Are you not Radha’s mother Seetamma?” I asked her impulsively as we came face to face at the supermarket. The icy look she gave me was startling, her bitter reply even more so: “No! I am Radha, can’t you see? How is it that you don’t so much as recognise me?”

I could see pain and despondency in her tired eyes as she walked away from me, deaf to my meek apologies. Stunned by this sudden jolt, it struck me that I had hurt her feminine pride. I cursed myself for my lack of sensitivity towards one who had been my close childhood friend, though I was seeing her after nearly 40 years. I spent the rest of the day pondering over the reason behind such a drastic change in her once charismatic and attractive personality, making her look far older than she really was. Whatever be it, I felt terrible that I had hurt a dear friend.

What I learnt from her close relatives whom I managed to contact saddened me immensely: She had been tricked into marriage with a person of questionable standing and character, and to make matters worse, had been tormented by her dowry-hungry in-laws. When her husband died of a self-inflicted malady, she was thrown out of house along with her autistic son. Cruel fate had snuffed out all her dreams leaving her physically and mentally shattered.

I resolved that I should meet her somehow and undertake the subtle task of making amends, thereby giving her some consolation. More than three months passed during which the thorn of guilt remained stuck deep inside me.
My prayers were answered one day when I saw her at the wedding of a friend’s daughter. The moment she spotted me she quickly turned her face away. Undeterred I walked up to her, and as she turned towards me I asked her with all the earnestness I could muster, “Are you not Radha’s younger sister Sudha?” That did it. My words instantly switched on the light in her eyes!

“Can’t you see I am Radha herself, you baboon!” came her cheerful retort as she thumped my shoulder with her fist. We had already flown back to our childhood days. The next hour saw me balming the wounds of her misfortune with kind words before we parted.

She is no more now. I feel relieved that I could give a healing touch to the injury before it was too late.