Reflections in a Murky Pond

What was a pristine spring of hope 24 years ago is today a murky pond- my mind sullied by education, society, relationships, expectations, ambitions....Here are a few reflections i am able to make out before the hyacinths take over this pond..

Monday, October 09, 2006

Death of a Mother........

A gust of wind pushed itself through the window, ruffled the white curtains and made a glass of water its victim. The clink of the metal on the floor pulled her out of her reverie. The searing pain in her left leg cut through her body like knife in butter, only to be disappointed at its crushing defeat for she didn’t even twinge. She stared blankly out of the window of ward no. 223. Could she actually see her government quarter where the cacophony of six children playing, fighting, pulling tricks on each other drowned every sound that competed for attention; where she was running after them with their homework books simultaneously keeping a mental note of the time in which the rice would be ready; where silence finally descended upon the house as her husband walked in at 5:30 sharp; where she saw her three daughters leave adorned with fine wedding dresses and tears; where she welcomed three beautiful girls with her sons, again adorned with fine wedding dresses and tears; where her black hair gave way to the gray ones; where she and her husband spent 30 years.....Of course she could not see all of it. It was so long ago and that era had passed her as the autumn passed the maple leaves, leaving them on the mercy of the winter and the snowy ground.

She was nowhere but in a hospital bed with a broken thigh. Today the husband wont come at 5:30....He would never come. After 35 of marriage he finally found a mistress in death and deserted her forever. There was no cacophony of children but the hysterical scream of silence and the scream awoke her to the fact that it was 12:00 in the noon and nobody had come since morning after her daughter left for her home. Today is the day she was to be discharged and she had to go home. Home- finally the spasm in her leg took her over as she recited this four lettered word in her mind. Finally the sword of reality had cut through her cocoon of memories. Where was home?

Was it was her elder daughter's house, who could not take the responsibility as she could not convince her husband to keep a "physically challenged lady" in her house. Was it the house of her other daughters who were themselves "ill" or had too little space for an extra person. It could definitely be the house of one of her sons of whom one was in the army with a wife doing a teaching assignment out of station, another married to a bank officer and the third who had not spoken to her for four years after a bitter fallout. So there was little possibility that one of these would be the four lettered word home as none of them had the space or time for her. So where was home? Perhaps she was too demanding for an old lady of 78 with six well-off children. So she looked for other four lettered shelters for her. Perhaps there was a ROOM for her if not a HOME.

Ever since the doctor had announced her discharge date she had heard passionate debates among her children as to where that ROOM could be? Finally they had decided on a novel formula that each one of them would provide that room in their houses for two months each and all the expenses of the treatment and a personal caretaker would be paid for from her pension. She always knew she had intelligent children. She had always been proud of them. So where were they? Perhaps deciding who would be the first in the arrangement. That explained the delay very well.

Another puff of wind blew in and brought with it tiny needles of raindrops. Water streamed down her cheeks. Were they the raindrops or the tears? Even God was unwilling to guess. The deserted maple leaves outside the window were being crushed by the winter rain. She felt her thigh go cold and moved to pull the quilt but suddenly stopped and started smiling. It didn’t matter anymore. The eldest son walked into ward 223 that evening. He had crushed maple leaves sticking to his sole. A woman, who was once a mother, lay dead on the bed - her face wet with the fresh winter rain. Her quilt was romancing the glass lying on the floor. She had finally found her HOME.......


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