‘I wish I was a better child’, thought Minu.
The storm didn’t seem to cease. It was a sad morning: cloudy, heavy droplets washing away thick dust on the verandah. There wasn’t much hassle on street: the rain kept people locked indoors. Minu looked out of the window, and all she could see were bending trees and drenched strayed dogs, running from one shed to another. She closed the window in a hurry.
Mother was not keeping well for a month. Medicines didn’t seem to work much and the doctors kept a close watch. Her health was not improving. Nevertheless, she responded very slowly to the treatment at times. Therefore the doctors prescribed to shift her to the city hospital if mother’s condition deteriorated. She was at her worst that morning. But, the rain!
Minu sat by her Mother’s bed. She took her feeble hands and tightly clasped into her own. All these years of struggle had made her weak. The smell of fresh tuberoses: Mother always loved to adorn her hair with them. Since she has fallen sick, Minu had been placing a tray full of fresh flowers beside her bed, hoping she would open her eyes and give her a smile. But days passed. Neither her Mother smiled, nor the flowers did any miracle.
Minu had seen everything her Mother had gone through: her joy, her tears, her endurance, her sacrifices, her anger, her fear, and her prayers: Everything. How much she loved her little child! Minu was a below average student in school. Her teachers had almost no hope on her, yet her Mother never stopped hoping that Minu would just make it fine one day. She struggled day and night, taking her to tuition classes so that she fares well in examinations. Her prayers were answered. Minu managed to clear her school finals and get into a college. Another struggle began, as Minu couldn’t cope with the college environment. An unknown fear of getting lost into the crowd grasped her so tight that she began bunking her classes. Her low-attendance made her ineligible for writing the exams. Minu could not complete her degree further. Getting a job was next to impossible: someone from the neighbouring city got her a suitable match. But her marriage didn’t last long. Minu was back to her Mother’s arms within a year.
The rain washed away everything that night: even her Mother’s life. Minu could do nothing. Heavy storm had interrupted the traffic: it was impossible for any ambulance to travel across the city. Telephone lines were dead. All Minu could do was to sit and stare at her Mother’s face. “I quite look like her”, she murmured. And her moist eyes hazed everything
Everybody told her Mother that bringing up a child alone was something next to impossible. She was married off to a merchant when she just had just completed her school. Since her childhood, she had been dreaming of this day: her marriage. But her pink world soon turned grey when her husband got a second wife, and she was forced to leave home. Minu was a week’s old in her womb. Every second was tough, but she never stooped down. She silently moved out, with her hopes keeping alive. It wasn’t easy for her to manage alone, but for a strong lady like her, everything fell into right places in the end. Minu was born, and her world was full of smiles again.
Minu was distracted for a while. The sound of thunder brought her back to the world. The smell of tuberoses hovered around in the room. She slowly lied beside her Mother, clasped her tight, and rested her head over her shoulder. She would never get to smell her again. These twenty two years of her life was nothing without her Mother. Every single step she took, all that she did, her Mother was always there beside. How would she survive alone in this world? That unknown fear of getting lost in the crowd made her claustrophobic. “I wish I was a better child,” uttered Minu. “I could give you nothing Ma. Nothing!” She broke down in tears.
The storm had stopped for a while. The water seemed to recede, it was still drizzling though. Minu got up from bed, and dialed a number. The ambulance would reach her home soon. The room would be empty forever and so would her heart be. No amount of consolation would cease her pain.
Minu stood by the verandah. She felt little uneasy. “He must be hungry”, the continuous kicks reminded her. Mother said Minu had a baby boy inside, when she had conceived five months back. But for the first time in her life, Minu prayed her womb bore a girl. She wanted to give birth to a daughter: a daughter like her Mother. She knew exactly what she wanted. She wanted to raise her Mother up, with love, with care, with honor, with respect, with gratitude, with everything she was ever deprived of, with everything she actually deserved. She wanted to be the Mother of the woman who had given her life. She looked up to the sky. The seven strands of colour smiled over the clouds. And for the first time in life Minu realized… she wasn’t scared to face the world alone.
Shreya Chatterjee, pursued BA in Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She holds an MBA degree in Marketing & International Business from AIMS, Bangalore. She has spent three years in Banking and Financial services.