A love of youth Chapter 6
"I feel a great pleasure to talk about the past and evoke the sequences as they presented at that time. The image that gives our society with this intermixing of people of various origin - where different beliefs - make me treating this topic related to cohabitation, to evoke the sublime understanding between people of varied ethnic and to imagine a story that could be experienced by each of us or people we know."
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A love of youth
Devika was a fantastic woman. I liked the particular way she used to talk to me; she unveiled each time some hidden aspects of her character. She often spoke to me about her life in Mauritius with her parents. She made part of a large family, had a happy childhood she reminded very often. She had an infinite pleasure to speak about this period when we met in the evenings after the meal in the lounge. I learned that she lived in Quatre Bornes and that her father was a lawyer. She grew up in a magnificent storey-house in the company of her five brothers and four sisters. In her family there were doctors, teachers and lawyers. She was destined for a successful life. After finishing her studies at the Queen Elizabeth College, her parents decided to send her to England to study medicine.
She had traveled with great ambitions. She was hardly twenty years old when she started her studies. She looked like those Indian girls I had met in the high school. She was beautiful. In the hospital where she had courses of anatomy, she met a young doctor named Ajay and who seemed very interested in her. She didn't fall in love with the attractive doctor right away, but had with him numerous adventures before she learnt that he was married and lived with his wife in a villa situated some kilometers from the hospital. She was already pregnant and should have terminated this pregnancy. Doctor Ajay Chowdurry was from India. He had experienced with Devika an immense happiness. He succeeded in persuading Devika to abandon her studies to take care of her child. It was a difficult decision to take. When she failed her exams, she decided to dedicate her time to her child and to wait for doctor Ajay as she wanted to make him happy. She lived in a modest apartment where the doctor joined her to spend pleasant moments. She gave him two children before the scandal broke and put an end to this happy life. Ajay’s wife came to her and threatened her. How did she know she was living in this apartment? Doctor Ajay had begun to disregard his wife and his three children since he knew Devika. He rarely went to his marital domicile. He had never been in good terms with his wife. His children suffered a lot from the situation. His wife had been informed of his relationship with Devika. She asked her uncle from India to come help her. Devika knew that she could not keep Ajay for her. She could not do anything to stop the doctor from returning to India. She stayed all alone with her children. But doctor Ajay gave her an important sum of money to bring up the children. She didn't want to spend this money. She kept it preciously in a bank and promised to use it if necessary. Devika decided to move. She rented two small rooms in the poor area of the city. She started to work. She didn't earn a lot of money and made huge sacrifices to reach the end of the month without having trouble with money. She regularly received the money from her parents from Mauritius, that allowed her to purchase bits and pieces, and was useful for the house and clothes in the flea market. When she learned that her uncle arrived from Mauritius and wished to meet her, she decided to leave the country. She withdrew all the money she had in the bank, sold her furniture and embarked with her children on the first ship to Marseille.
She stayed a few days in a small studio. She found a job at a dentist. Her two years of medicine course were an experience sufficient enough to allow her to earn a decent salary. She had been living for several months in the building of Immigrants when I arrived. Her children were very good and well-behaved. They called me Aunt, and often came to see me. When I went to pay Devika a visit, they were always absorbed in their studies. The son was called Raj and the girl Nargis.
Devika inspired me an absolute confidence. She seemed so sincere, so frank, and so honest that I had no restraint and informed her of my situation, told my story in the details. After dinner, when the children were in bed, Devika came to my room to chat till late in the evening. Sometimes I went to meet her to talk about everything, without tiring. We shared our confidences, our memories, spoke of our grievances, the disappointments we had wiped, the happiness we had known after and that relieved us.
Our neighbors were respectful and calm people. I enjoyed this small world that was a big family for me which I valued a lot. My visits to the gynecologist assured me about the perfect pregnancy I was doing. My belly was huge at the time where I approached the past few weeks. I did in the company of Devika long walks in the neighborhood. It gave me the opportunity to visit some hidden places of the region. On Sundays, we took the children to go for a walk to the seaside, in parks or fairs animated by people of the area.
Devika who was not used to go out, enjoyed these hikes a lot. I had the impression to have given her the taste to live. I must confess however that she was a very brave woman who faced life all alone. The time arrived when women didn't want to be dominated by men anymore. Women also succeed in assuming responsibilities without needing the help of someone. Women's emancipation modifies the relationship between men and women. However, it is undeniable that inequalities still exist in the assignment of wages. But things would not last long. The woman only represented an object of pleasure with which men imagine they could play with freely. The violence we hear about every day is made by the hand and the mind of men. Rapes, crimes and war are men’s world.
Women are always the first victims. Men are selfish and want to have everything for them. Sharing is not their strong point. Women are designed to procreate. They conceive in calmness and deliver in pain. Men don't know anything, don't feel anything. They believe they are strong.
A very special couple came to live in our building. They didn't stop arguing and shouting; they lived in the room upstairs. It was unpleasant to hear them all days and nights long. The caretaker had to intervene very often. They had a strange way to love each other. They left one morning and never came back, fortunately for us.
One Saturday afternoon, I was at the city center in the company of Devika. I took advantage of the half-day to go shopping and buy some baby clothes. We often spent time in supermarkets and arcades. Devika advised me what I should buy before the birth of the child. On the way back, late at night, I met Rachid. I did not recognize him. He had completely changed. He wore dirty and torn up clothes. He seemed happy to meet me. He wanted to know where I was living. I preferred not to give him my address and got rid of him as quickly as possible. I took my time in the subway to tell Devika how I had known Rachid and what I had learned about him. She approved the way I had behaved with a person of that sort, and told me that we should not trust anybody. I didn't know how Rachid found my address. He knocked twice at my door whereas I was absent. I had a good reputation in the area and feared that Rachid may tarnish this image I wanted to keep. I really decided to say to him I didn't want to see him anymore. I had been waiting for him for several days, but he never came.
One morning I woke up with atrocious pains. Devika transported me to the hospital where I gave birth to a beautiful baby I named Abkar which means "Great." This child was all my joy, all my happiness, my reason to live. I felt proud to have him after so many sacrifices and so big efforts. A few days later, on my release from the hospital, I was sad to find him already deprived of his father. I had to find him one if it was necessary. But who will accept this role in this world when the child does not belong to him? He had a father somewhere. I thought I would better search him to announce him the birth of his son. Although I ignore his address, I knew he was living somewhere in Paris. My intention was to inform him that he had a child. Free to him now to recognize him or not. I would like that Akbar be raised under normal conditions. The absence of a father in a home causes a great handicap to the child growing up there. I felt pity for the children of Devika. They looked deeply experienced by life. I wanted to avoid that my son experienced a similar fate. It is quite true that the destiny varied. If I turned my face towards new horizons it was for the future of my son. Devika gave me reason to find the father of Akbar.
"A child needs a father to take care of him" she said "and the woman needs a man that will be able to love her as deeply that she wants”.
"I am not sure Christophe needs me” I answered." He certainly forgot me."
"It doesn't change anything of the situation", said Devika", He has a child now"
"Is he the father? Therefore, where is the problem?"
"It is ridiculous to imagine that my life could be better so easily. When I think about the pains I had to carry this child during nine months, I can hardly accept the idea of my baby being despised or mistreated by the man who will share my life. You were lucky to fall in love with the only man who knew how to love you with so much devotion. But he was not loyal with you however. Most men are cruel. They play with the heart of women. They abandon their children with no worry. We are always victims of their irresponsibility. How could we trust them? Why do we need them? We are courageous and we should prove them we can fight for our life, do not need to depend on them."
"And I suffer a lot from this separation. I never had the courage to tell my children that I broke up with their father. I told them he was living in another country and won't return."
"Yet they are old enough to know the truth. You will have to tell them one day or another. "
"You are right, Yasmina. I must prepare them to make them such a confession."
"You must also think about getting married Devika"
"What do you say? There was nothing wicked between Ajay and me. I still hope to find him, Yasmina. I want to be fair. No man interests me but Ajay. I won't spare my efforts. I could continue to live like this if necessary. Waiting doesn't frighten me."
“I have known a fake love. I've been fooled. I have nothing to expect from this love. Well, I would like to meet Christophe. We can decide together what we have to do. But above all, I need to put a little order in my mind as I’m still frail after the birth of my child. Honestly, I don’t feel like linking my life to a man who doesn't worry about us. I prefer to assume my responsibilities the best I can."
"Did you ever think about returning to Reunion Yasmina? This idea often goes through my mind. But how could I return to my country with two children in the arms while my parents were waiting for me with diplomas? My life is already ruined. I didn't give them news since I left London. I came here to shelter and hide my shame. I can’t go to my parents. I know I committed a serious sin and I don't have any excuse. I know I would never be accepted in my family as I dishonored them. Therefore, the only thing I can do is to expiate my faults, support my sufferings. I must recognize that the love I felt for Ajay at the beginning of our relationship made me transgress all laws of morality. I knew that he was married and encouraged him to commit adultery by being her accomplice. I was undergoing the consequences and resigned to accept my fate. While bringing up my two children, I had experiences I will never forget. You are in the same situation I was five years ago."
"I must thank you for your help, your precious advice. It prevents me from committing mistakes. These few days that I spent in bed allowed me to think on the way I will act in the future. It makes me sad to see how hard you work from morning to night, and dedicate your time to your children. I would not like to live like this."
Devika shared my opinion and confessed that her existence was so different from what she had wished. She could not satisfy her aspirations in a world that disappointed her and could make her suffer the hardest ordeals. Our life, she and I, was similar, we were close and united. This strong relationship allowed me to tell Devika that I desired to live in a big house in the countryside; when she imagined the expenses and risks to stay all alone she couldn’t even think of it. The idea did not displease her to live together in a big house. But I calculated that our salaries were not high enough to manage to rent a colonial house which would remind us some well pampered areas of our island.
I decided to search for a person to take care of Akbar before going to work. He was doing well, thanks God. He went to his first medical examination and had his first vaccines. He regularly drank his bottles and even woke me up in the evening to have some more. He cried late in the night and I feared that he might wake the neighbors up. The children of Devika liked to play with him. They spent hours next to the cradle making funny faces and touching his hands and cheeks with their little fingers. Devika often invited me at home to drink a cup of tea in the evening. We sat in the lounge while the children played nearby in the room and that Akbar slept in my arms. Our conversation often related to our own problems. Devika wanted to introduce me a young Pakistani woman she knew for a certain time. She assured me of her honesty and kindness. She was called Shenaz and lived with her parents since her husband died one year ago. She presented herself some days later. I immediately hired her.
My maternity leave was almost finished. Akbar began to adapt to the rhythm of life. He was good during the day and Shenaz had no problem taking care of him. It allowed me to rest. I went to the city to shop. I had liberty to leave from home for a good moment without worrying as Akbar was in good hands. Shenaz waited for my arrival to go back home. To have her children enter school, Devika needed official documents that she had to get in London. She decided to go there with her children. I worried when she left. She phoned me at work the following day to tell me that she had made a good journey. She was staying in a pension and would be back in a week. I waited for her with impatience.
A week later, she informed me that she had to stay to complete other steps she refused to talk about on the telephone.
I understood it was very important. I wanted to know more. She came back on a Saturday afternoon. As soon as I saw her in the alley, I knew she had good news to give me. She told me that when she was in England she was hurry to go to the hospital where she followed her medical course. She met some former colleagues to have news. It was there that she learnt that doctor Ajay was searching for her and had probably left messages to the caretaker of the building where she lived in when the doctor had left. She hurried to the building. The caretaker confirmed that there was a message for her but didn't remind where he had put it. After researches that lasted several hours, the caretaker found a letter that he handed to Devika.
The letter was written one year ago. Doctor Ajay described his deep feelings for her and his desire to share her life. He couldn’t stop thinking of her and the children. He wished to have them by him. He had searched for them everywhere during several weeks. He had waited for them. She should address to a notary in London where she would be informed of the other arrangements taken for her. The notary received her the same day. He took his file and informed her that Doctor Ajay Chowdurry had made available to her a very big house in New-Delhi, 146, Ramprasad Road. If Devika accepted to join doctor Ajay in New-Delhi, she would only have to give her agreement to the notary who would make the necessary to obtain the passports, the visa and the plane tickets. It was a decision to take into consideration. Devika wanted to have my opinion before phoning the notary. I encouraged her to go to join him in India. She had to seize her luck. The future of her children depended a lot on her decision. She had been in misery for such a long time, she could be happy to have a new perspective opening up in front of her. How much she would thank Vishnou for having heard her prayers. She had garbled ideas and didn't know how to manifest her enthusiasm.
The shade of sadness seized me when I became aware that I was going to lose a friend. Devika was headed to happiness that everybody yearns. I was happy that her life turned out this way. My blessings accompanied them everywhere. I will share my pains with whom and who was going to listen to me and to comfort me? But if the destiny wanted to take us apart after we had found in this friendship, the happiness that had accompanied us in our lonely life, we were obliged to accept it without balking. We had no regret for these unforgettable moments we spent together. We will keep them in mind forever. I comforted myself wondering why people had to be separated. I succeeded in easing my pains while imagining Devika happy, surrounded with the love of her small family, enjoying the comfort that her new life was going to bring her. This picture so often came back to my mind that I could not tell it to Devika. She felt the same pain but couldn't hide her joy to go to join the man she had never stopped loving.
Original title : Un amour de jeunesse©Kader Rawat
Translated by ©Kader Rawat April 2013