It was the middle of summer, the sun was blazing, and I was feeling good about my life.
In the evenings, my husband would play video games with me on my laptop, and our kids would play in the living room.
My daughter would sit in the lap of her father, and my son would watch cartoons on TV.
And, as usual, my life was blissful.
I was in my early twenties and living in a small town in Maharashtra.
My husband was an architect in the city.
He and I had been married for nearly a decade, and we had two daughters and a son-in-law.
He was also an engineer, and he and I were good friends.
We had a solid job security, and his company was doing well.
He had been a teacher at a private school in Mumbai for years.
My son was a junior in the same school.
Our marriage had lasted for a decade.
But after he started working at the company, I felt it was time to go home.
He agreed, and the next morning, I packed my belongings, my car and my daughter, who was a few months younger, and drove across the border from the southern state of Madhya Pradesh to Delhi.
On my way to my new job in a city called Ahmedabad, I stopped at the taxi stand in my old hometown of Kanpur.
I asked the driver to take me to my house for a few hours, but he refused.
He told me that his employer had promised to let him stay in his apartment for a week, and then take me back to Kanpur to pick up my daughter.
When I asked for the money to pay for my daughter’s trip to Ahmedabad on my own, the driver didn’t want to give me anything.
I had already spent nearly Rs 10 lakh in this trip.
My wife was in shock.
My eldest daughter was barely five years old, and had to travel from Kanpur’s capital to a remote part of the state to take her mother to a special school for special needs children in Ahmedabad.
She was just getting back from a school trip.
I thought about my family and friends in Mumbai, who were still working in their old jobs.
I wondered what would happen if I did not leave for Ahmedabad and return to my family.
When I arrived at my new home in Ahmedpur, the first thing I noticed was the smell of dust.
It smelled like a crematorium.
The only furniture I had was a wooden box on the floor.
It was full of ashes.
I could hear my daughter crying, and all the furniture around me was being thrown on the ground.
I went inside my home to get my belongings.
The smell was so bad, that I couldn’t even get close to my daughter to get a closer look.
My wife and I did our best to get her to the hospital.
There was no electricity or running water.
We tried everything.
I even called the ambulance.
After several attempts, I managed to get to the house and call the police.
I was terrified and cried uncontrollably.
I called the police station, and told them about the situation.
The ambulance arrived a few minutes later, and took my daughter back to my home.
My family and I finally got to meet my daughter and my mother.
We started talking about the incident.
My oldest daughter told me how I was a coward and a failure.
My mother said that she could not forgive myself.
We talked about the death of my father and the fear of losing him.
My youngest daughter told us how she had gone to a local school in Ahmedabadi and was supposed to stay in her parents’ house.
She did not want to go back to the city, so she was staying with her father.
My youngest daughter, however, was adamant that she was going to live with her parents.
I told her that she had to take care of my family first.
She told me she was a bad girl and that she would not stay with her mother.
I assured her that I would give her everything she needed to get through her journey.
I did not get my daughter home soon.
The next morning she was crying again, and was vomiting all over the house.
My father and mother told me to go and see my daughter immediately.
I went to the police, and they started investigating.
I took my children to the Ahmedabad police station.
My parents and I called an ambulance to take my daughter for treatment, and when we reached the hospital, my daughter had recovered.
My entire family was shocked.
I had a tough time telling my wife what had happened.
I wanted to give her all the support she could, but she was still crying.
I kept thinking, ‘I’m not sure how I can live without my husband.’
I was very angry and felt very guilty.
I didn’t think she could forgive me.
She and my husband had split up and divorced years ago. I