The 94th death.
[By Sabina Matthay]
Sabina Matthay died, contemplating the finality of parting from India.
When she was posted to India many years ago she couldn’t wait for her contract to end. India and the Indians, it all seemed too much to deal with. The noise, the dust, the cheating maid, the lazy mali…. She rather escaped to other countries in the region for work, Afghanistan being a favourite, and treated the delights of Delhi with disdain. But when offered an extension she took it without blinking – or discussing with her husband, who remained in a faraway country, under greyer skies and in cooler climes – nice for a holiday now, but not home anymore.
Mysteriously, India had conquered her. She enjoyed early-morning rides through Delhi’s polluted dusk, al-day arguments with whoever crossed her way, G&Ts at the FCC, evening walks through Lodi Colony on the day the Delhi three-wheeler drivers went on strike and she had to trudge to Defence Colony, a six foot tall lady of distinctly European demeanour.
Then came the day when she bid farewell to India, crying her heart out despite herself. Life became ordered and streamlined again and so much less interesting. Over the years, she returned a couple of times, travelling to parts of India she had not seen before, revisiting friends in places she had enjoyed. But it was forward-looking permanency she desired, not the fleeting nostalgia of travelling. So in the end she stayed away. And caught Melancholia in a big way. And one day, while sipping very sweet chai and watching monsoon-like skies, simply passed away.
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