The rain was beating down real hard. There was no place for Dilani to go. She quickly looked around, but most of the places that could provide shelter had already been grabbed by passersby on the road. She was drenched. The blouse she wore was wet and stuck to her body, revealing the outlines of the bra beneath. People starred at her body. She was conscious of the roaming eyes around her and felt uncomfortable. She was in her early fifties, a mother of three grown-up children. But she looked good in whatever she wore. That’s because she had a graceful body and watched what she ate. She lived on lunumiris and bread 30 days from receiving an invitation for a social gathering, especially weddings.
With the rain beating down harder, she managed to squeeze into the only bus stop at Mandana Town, which was crowded. A young man in his late twenties was gracious enough to make room for her by moving a few inches back.
There was a sizeable puddle building up just in front of the bus stop. Everyone, including Dilani, wished no vehicle would go over this puddle. Dilani looked at the rain drops as they fell. Then she sent her gaze across the road. She again looked at the puddle in front of her which was filling slowly. All her life she invited problems; just like she was standing near this puddle. Her actions and decisions made her vulnerable to much suffering. Right now she was married to a man who had made her life a hell. He did many jobs. He also had many women. She married him when she was just sixteen years old.
For 40 years Dilani cooked rice, washed clothes and looked after children. There was a time in her life when her husband didn’t provide her with money. That’s when she took off to the Middle East and found employment as a housewife to feed her children. Her work in the Middle East wasn’t any different. She entertained thoughts of breaking free from this man dominated world. Thoughts couldn’t be put into action because she lacked courage.
She was a typical Sri Lankan woman. She didn’t do most things she wanted to because she feared public opinion would go against her. She wanted to get another man. But she was married. She thought ‘marriage again’ was a terrible thought to entertain. Dilani had already screwed up one. “How can I go through another” she thought to herself.
The rain thinned. There were no more sheets of rain. The change in the weather pattern disturbed her thoughts. People started moving out of the bus stop. A motorcyclist revved his bike and took off, masterly avoiding the puddle near the bus stop. “If I could only have avoided this marriage,” she thought.
Her man was David. He had no shame or control over his emotions. She got to know that her man was unfaithful to her on the wedding night itself. She was tired after a long day of being in the thick of wedding rituals and posing for countless photo shoots and wanted to sleep a while in the hotel room. David had gone to the restaurant of the hotel to have a beer. When she woke up, washed and came down to the restaurant, a steward told her that a man that fitted the description of her husband had been seen with a foreign lady. She wanted to return to her parents in the village. But then in the tradition she grew up, a married woman couldn’t return home without her husband. Great traditions had almost driven her towards insanity.
The rain had ceased. She was the only one in the bus stop. She looked for her umbrella. It was gone. She thought to herself that someone would have walked away with it. She wanted to curse the person who took it, but yet swallowed her words. Her anger was soon deflated like a puncture making a tire flat. She remembered her mother telling her that decent girls didn’t display anger in public. She felt empty within.
Dilani was still annoyed at losing her umbrella. She was behaving like a kid who had lost his toy. She stepped out of the bus halt. A car horn blared and there was screeching sound of brakes. The tire marks on the road stretched for a good 13 feet. At the end of this trail were blood stains.
Dilani’s body had many injuries. She was pulled out from under the vehicle. Those who came to her aid heard her softly saying, ‘Amma’.
She called her mother Amma. Dilani’s mother was one of the first to arrive at the hospital. The doctors said Dilani was in a critical condition. Medical experts worked around the clock to save her.
Dilani’s mother, Diana, prayed for her daughter’s recovery. She prayed for her daughter the day she took David’s hand in marriage. This is because she foresaw that the marriage wouldn’t work. She often visualized seeing her daughter alone and abandoned one day, but not in this state.
Diana saw David walk along the corridor. He was accompanied by two males. They all looked worried except David. Diana looked at her son-in-law and showed her disappointment. David looked at Dilani. She was unconscious, but there was something serene about her face.
All of them stepped out of the intensive care unit when the doctor arrived. They heard the doctor talk to the medical staff. An anxious environment was building inside the intensive care unit as Dilani was going into a coma. A little while later the doctor summoned the family members and broke the bad news.
She stayed in a coma for three weeks. Medical records got gloomier as the days passed. Everybody’s hopes thinned and then vanished. That was the day the doctor told the immediate family members that there was no purpose in keeping Dilani on life support anymore. David gave his consent for the life support to be discontinued. Diana told herself that Dilani had ‘died’ when she was sixteen. That was the day Dilani revealed that her boyfriend David had made her pregnant.
Diana heard the life support being removed. She felt a lump in her throat and a rock like weight being leaned against her head. These were horrible sick thoughts. She knew that death had arrived.