Saturday, May 18, 2013

When I saw mom cry

I have been out of blog circuit for quite some time now. And this is my step towards coming back. But I am lazy. Haha. So I am going to post the flash fiction that I had written for a short story writing course that I am doing. All feedback, positive-negative, appreciated. This is my first time with storytelling, so I definitely have a long way to go.

When I saw mom cry

“Did you ask dadu how he is feeling?”, my father asked me as I threw the stone on the last box of the pyramid. “Neh! He is doing naatak. I know he is fine. He likes to grab attention by acting like that. He does it all the time.”, I said as I peeped into my grandfather’s room from the windows outside, with my hands curled next to my eyes and my nose pressed against the glass. He was sleeping. The room was dark. “I will talk to him after I come back from school.”, I said trying to appease my father. Leaving for office, he drove out of the garage as I caught his glimpse in the rear-view mirror of the car. I waved. Hopping on one leg, I turned and continued playing stapoo while waiting for my school bus to arrive.

Dadu-thamma visited us once every year and stayed for a couple of months. First few weeks would be fine but soon I start counting days. How did I become so averse towards them? When I was younger, I remember going with them to Shiva temples in the mornings during holidays. Thamma would pluck white flowers and give it to me. Dadu walked with his tan coloured laathi. All the stray dogs were scared of that stick. Though my grandparents were fond of me, I could never reciprocate.

I noticed something common in all their annual trips. My parents argued and fought a lot in those two months, when my grandparents visited us. I could never follow what they said or what they fought about, but both of them would always be screaming. I also saw ma wiping her tears in the kitchen one night. Dinner, on the other hand, was eerily a quiet affair. Five of us on the table, and nobody would say a word. You could only hear the sound of the cutlery and the wall clock. Sitting there, I would observe people’s eye movement. Thamma would look at dadu and ma, dadu would look at thamma, dadu would look at ma and ma would look at baba who would have his eyes stuck to the plate avoiding all eye contacts. Nobody looked at each other at the same time.

Eight days and ten hours for them to return back, I counted. Ma was coming back home today after three days of business trip. That was the only thing I was looking forward to that day, as I stepped into the school bus. The day at school felt very long and extended. I was waiting to get back home.

I ran towards the house without turning to wave at my friends sitting in the bus. There was a swing in every step despite the sultry 2 o’ clock loo in the afternoon. As I reached near the house, I realized that the front door was open. Usually we kept the front door closed, and used the door at the back to enter. That day the front door was open, and I understood that mom would have just arrived. I sped up my steps. When I reached the main gate, I saw there were a lot of shoes and sandals lying outside the door. I saw a few people coming out of the living room.

As I entered the house, I saw my grandmother weeping, she had never looked so ugly, her eyes were swollen, her teeth seemed to be falling out. And lying there next to her was dadu, motionless. Through her loud sobs, I could not understand what she was saying, but her continuous hand motion, flickering her wrist in the air indicating ‘gaya’ made it clear. Gone indeed. A moment of lost hope dawned on me. A moment when I realised nothing can be undone, like the arrow which leaves the bow, can never be taken back. Irreversible thoughts and actions crept upon me.

I felt like I was in somebody else’s house. And this was not happening to us. I looked for my mom. She was nowhere. The house was full of people, and I couldn’t find a familiar face, until I saw my dad sitting in one corner of the bedroom with a phone on his ears. He was talking to someone. I went and sat in the other corner of the bed which seemed huge now. After a few minutes, he kept the phone down and looked at me with his sharp narrow eyes penetrating mine. He told me about dadu, as a matter of fact without batting an eyelid. I asked him, “Where is ma?”. “Her train has been delayed by 8 hours, she will reach by 4-5. I will go and pick her up in a while.”

I sat there, as my dad dialled another number. I could hear my grandma’s wails from the living room. Strangers walking past would caress my head, giving me a look of pity. I sat there in that corner for what seemed like hours. My stomach was making strange noises, like a knot which does not disentangle. I heard people talking, murmuring as if a little higher decibel will crush everything around like dried leaves lying outside in the garden. Dadu died in his sleep. That’s a peaceful death, they say.

My father left the house to pick my mom from the station. He was pale. I didn’t see any tears. Neither was I crying. But there was a weird pit in my stomach, where I felt my heart drowning, slowly slipping down in the swamp of my stomach. Dadu-thamma were not good to us; I didn’t feel obligated to cry.

Ma entered the living room and dropped on the floor, crying out loud. The two cries were clearly distinct, thamma's and ma’s. I peeped into the room from the corner of the door. I was surprised to see ma crying in spite of all that she had gone through because of them.

Somebody asked me to get a glass of water for mom. Hurrying back to the kitchen, I saw all the glasses were dirty. I felt a heavy air on my shoulders, as I cleaned one glass under the cold tap water. I walked back to that room and gave the glass of water to my mom. She leaned back on the wall and sipped on it slowly.

I got up and left the room. I went and sat in that corner of the bed where I was sitting before. Then I lay down, staring at the ceiling fan rotate, so fast that I could not see the blades. It was like a trembling circle in the centre. I had never seen ma cry like that before. I had never seen a dead body before. It didn’t look any different. It looked like dadu was sleeping, and I could wake him up any moment by making noise in the adjacent room. And ask him how he was feeling. Staring at the ceiling fan, I felt that the fan was about to fall on me and I screamed putting my hands on my eyes. My mother rushed in, my eyes were moist and my heart rate had increased. Scared to remain under the fan, I leaped into my mom’s lap and cried.