Shalini had just returned from work with her toddler. It was six-thirty in the evening and was time for her evening maid to show up. Her toddler Pratham bounced around the house making engine-like sounds. Ten minutes had passed. She called up her maid to find out about her whereabouts. To her sheer disappointment, the maid wasn’t coming. She had lost a close relative and had to go to attend the last rites. Shalini hung up the phone and threw herself on the sofa with a heavy sigh. “How unprofessional”, she mumbled. “These people can’t even inform they’re not coming. I must call like a fool each time.” She couldn’t bear the thought of having to make her own coffee, cook dinner and more so, baby-sit Pratham, after such an exhausting day at work.
While she slouched on the sofa, brooding about what to do and where to begin, Pratham came to her feet riding his three-wheeler toy car. He had accidentally crushed her toes and realised his folly the minute she looked up at him with large, angry eyes. Before she could even yell at him, he offered something to her. He had come to her with a clenched fist and was now offering her the fist, as if in a gift. She was humbled. She suddenly felt a pang of guilt as she endeavoured to open his fist. That poor kid was only trying to be nice. After all, he was too young to understand how it felt when a maid didn’t turn up.
She parted his little fingers to reveal what he was clutching so tightly. As she was almost done, she looked at his pink palm. To her utter shock, it was a baby cockroach! She screeched in horror. It had been crushed to a non-cognizable state under the pressure and moisture of his fingers. Being her soft and feminine self, Shalini nearly threw a fit. Her shock manifested itself in a loud shriek and a throwing back of her arms in self-defense. Pratham, barely two years old, only watched. He was both over-joyed and confused to see his mother react, rather behave like this. What was more intriguing to him was the fact that she had reacted that way to a gift!
Before Shalini could recover from the trauma, she found Pratham giggling. His soft giggles had gradually turned into loud peals of laughter. He was amused to see his mother’s never-before reaction. His pearlish teeth shone as he turned his head back laughing, while holding his tummy to counteract the effect of his jerky laughter. Shalini was dumbstruck – it was perhaps the first time she had seen him laugh like that. She forgot all about the cockroach and hugged him tightly. She kissed every corner of his face till it was all red.
The mother and son lay on the floor in a tight embrace, laughing and kissing. They were complete. They did not need anyone else – not even the maid.
Image taken from Google images.
“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
I just heard about the passing of an uncle, one who had been ill since at least the last six years. His kidneys had been damaged beyond repair and had to depend upon the painful procedures of dialysis to keep himself going. He finally gave in yesterday.
As I see people mourn around me, my mind has new food for thought. As we cry, howl and mourn the death of a near and dear one, I think there are primarily two causes of sorrow. First, we know we shall never see, hear or meet them again. This melancholy is exacerbated by our memories of the time spent with the deceased. Second, our limited understanding of life and its weird ways makes us to believe that while we are happier being where we are, the person we just lost couldn’t be here any longer and is therefore, worse off.
What seems laughable to me is the fact that probably our tinted view of things prevents us from understanding that while ‘we’ suffer on earth, ‘they’ have finally made it to where they came from. They have united with the ‘source’ and shall be at peace, free from the cycle of births and deaths. Abnormal though it may seem, I envy people who have gone ‘back’ to the Creator, rest in His lap and behold this drama on earth. It reminds me of the calmness and fearlessness I experience in my mother’s lap (even when I’m over fifty kilos now and she sixty!), as I look at the serenity on her face.
After all, isn’t life more painful than death?
P.S.: I don’t say one must not mourn, since we surely will. All I say is that let’s try and bid the soul a peaceful adieu as it transcends to a different world, a happier place and a serene abode.
Image taken from Google images.
Her body ached as she tried to get out of bed. Her legs felt too feeble to carry her weight and her pelvis throbbed with fleeting pain. It was six in the morning and just like other mornings in her life, this one wasn’t going to be great. It had been hardly a week since she had lost her first child to still-birth. Barely had the physical and mental agony faded away, but mouths had begun to chatter. “Useless, good-for-nothing lass…”, she heard her mother-in-law screech from the kitchen. There was probably some weird wire that connected her mother-in-law’s hands and mouth. Whenever she would work, her tongue would light up and spew venom. “This is what happens when you get girls from poor families for your son. No strength in the body to even carry a baby”, she said as she filtered her tea and kept the tea leaves aside for reuse.
As Chaitra stood in the corner of her room, her mind began to race. She had had enough. She had given up a lucrative career in the aviation industry to be with the man of her choice. Four years of back-breaking household work and now nine-months of pregnancy had thrown her fantastically toned body out of shape. Her buttery skin had turned dry and patchy and her once supple cheeks looked like flaky hollow cups. She still remembered how just few years ago, her fellow air hostesses would look at her with green-eyed envy and wonder how she always managed to gain the attention and glances of all of the male staff. Anyway, these were things of the past. She had left her father’s comfortable home and a great career behind to be a good wife and daughter-in-law. However, four years of her husband’s indifference and his mother’s barbarism had turned her frigid.
As her mother-in-law hurled abuses at her from the kitchen, her husband looked at Chaitra with eyes full of hatred and disdain. He seemed to agree with every word his mother was speaking. Chaitra was in deep thought as she witnessed this drama unfold. This was nothing new for her for this had been happening for years now. But this time around, a voice deep inside her had begun to revolt. She could feel the increased blood flow in her body and an uncanny warmth in her cheeks. “Enough”, she blurted loudly, as she walked towards her mother-in-law in big steps. “That your son was not worth it, I have always known, but what amazes me is that how one woman can make the life of another, so miserable! “I am leaving”, she said, as she banged the door on her husband’s face. The mother-son duo stared at each other in disbelief.
The bird in the cage had finally flown away. The skies were beckoning her again.
She got up startled as the alarm bell rang. It was already five in the morning and she was late! She sprang to her feet and rushed to the other side of the bed, only to find comfort at the sight of her husband and toddler in deep sleep. She smiled to herself. She rushed to the kitchen and got on immediately to work. She had to cook lunch, pack lunch boxes, usher the domestic help in, get herself and her son ready and of course, reach office on time – the list was endless. It had taken her almost two years to mentally condition herself to accept her life post-motherhood. It had taken quite some time for her to understand that having babies was not just about lavender fragrances, chubby cheeks and frolic – it came with much more.
She reached office only to find her desk loaded with files. She heaved out a heavy sigh. Not long before she was seated on her comfortable high leather chair, her office phone began to ring. Some wanted to speak to her about her take on a new project, while some were interested in meeting her one-on-one for presentations on their products. Not long before she could settle down to evaluate the files on her desk, the alarm on her mobile phone rang. It was time for her to call the day care centre and find out whether her son had eaten his lunch. It was so much part of her routine that she had managed to irk the day care staff by making such enquiries on a daily basis. But she was a careful mother, regardless of the fact that she was heading a team of forty people in her office. Yes, she was senior manager Revathi, the kingpin of a large consultancy firm based in Chennai.
The day had flown by. It was almost five in the evening and also time for her to call it a day. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply. What a tiring day it had been – cooking, cleaning, driving, consulting and now finally, time was ripe for the evening rituals at home. As she sat in solitude, she asked herself a simple question – why did she do all this? What did she expect out of such hard work seven days a week, all year round? Philosophical explanations came to her mind – she did that for a smooth married life (she cooked herself though she could afford a cook!), for a bright and educated son who would see his mother sacrifice her peace of mind for him, for her own satisfaction…Suddenly she laughed out loud as the most apt answer came to her mind – she worked so hard only so that she could pat herself on the back each day and feel worthy enough for her evening cup of coffee!
Her thoughts were disrupted as the office peon walked in with a large mug of piping hot filter coffee, the strong smell of which filled her huge office room. “Well-deserved”, she thought as she silently thought about what to cook for dinner that night.