The Ingrown Sapling

Sipping hot coffee from her cup, Mira was turning the pages of the album  that contained photos from her childhood days. With each page her memories became fresh, she felt as if she was actually there in her past when she was just a little girl who was so dependent on her mother. She remember how she needed her mother for every small thing of her life and today she gives all the credit to her mother for what she is, a good homemaker and she herself being a ‘Mother’.

Looking at the old photographs of her mother the image became so fresh, Mira felt as if mother was actually standing there looking at her and smiling. Her mother’s young face came alive in her eyes, she remember mother used to be very beautiful in her youthful days, she wore simple sarees with a neatly made braid that hung till her waist and a red Bindi on her forehead that made her look so graceful. Going down the memory lane and looking at the photographs of mother Mira felt good; there was warmth and love hidden in those photographs. She suddenly felt, the room was filled with the fragrance of roses, the flower which mother grew in her small garden and every day she would wear one flower in her braid. Mira now strongly smelt the mystical scent of her mother and the same presence around her, not realizing when tears started rolling down her cheeks.

Some photographs made her smile whereas some of the photographs of mother made her feel sad as those golden days will never come back. Mira always admired her mother when she was alive and still misses her so much that often she weeps in alone feeling insecure and lonely of not having her by her side anymore. Mother when alive, loved Mira the most out of her two offspring and even knowing the fact that her health was slowly but steadily getting dented she still kept herself lively, always with a smile on her face. Mother noticed that Mira often became sad and cried in alone but still she kept her calm, because she wanted Mira to be strong and accept the things with time. Mira was also very close to her mother she remembers how she used to share everything with her from boys following her, to her first infatuation and they would talk for hours and laugh over the silly issues that Mira often brought from school. She was more close to mother, more than her elder brother Aarav, who was a young boy of 22 then, four years elder to Mira and busy with his post graduation, friends and zestful life. He had little time to look into the homely chores or even spent time with the family. Mira’s father was an engineer who stayed mostly outdoors for his projects and seldom visited home for 2-3 days and would go back again to where he was posted for his job. Mira was the one in the family who shared quality time with mother, and also Mira was the only world where mother found her peace and solace.

Mother wasn’t much happy about her relationship with her husband, Mira saw a many times that her mother cried in her bedroom. Whenever she would go to her mother she found her writing something in her diary and whenever Mira suddenly entered the room, mother would quickly hide her diary. Mira often demanded to see the dairy, but mother used to say “NO” saying that it’s not time yet. She would gently take it and keep it safely in her Almirah beneath the clothes and locked it with keys. Mira was a mature girl, she never tired to read her mother’s dairy in her absence, she respected her mother’s feelings and emotions. But still it was a mystery that her young mind was curious about and she wanted to read it, she wanted to know what her mother felt from inside, why she cried? But Mira never had the nerve to take the keys from beneath the pillow of her mother, open the Almirah, take the diary and read it.  She always wanted to know her mother behind the smiling face, why did she stood in the garden for long hours with her mind lost somewhere looking at the sky, and most of all why did she cried?

It was one day during the fall winter, the morning started with loud shrills in the Prabhakar household. Mira was crying and shouting, her brother Aarav stood besides her comforting her little sister. Father had just reached and entering the room his face was filled with a shock. Mira and Aarav’s mother and his wife Ramya Prabhakar has passed away last night, in her sleep she suffered heart fail. It was a silent depart which no one ever expected. Mira went with the morning tea that both Mira and mother used to drink together every morning. Calling her again and again when Mira received no response she touched mother’s hands to shake her up but her skin was dead cold and sooner she realized that mother has left them and this earth forever. Mira was out of control, going berserk and when her mother’s body was being taken away from the house, she felt as if someone was tearing her soul apart from her own body. She cried loudly, but the hands to wipe her tears are now gone forever.

Time fled after that incident. Mira had finished her graduation already and was now looking for a job. Her father was not in agreement with her job. He could see Mira’s sadness and felt that she needed a new start and a new life to come out of this grief. He still being the head of the family decided to get Mira married, there was no asking for her approval as father’s decision was the final. Mira got married in Indore to a very big businessman family. Her brother Aarav was left alone in the house as father with his job continued to stay outdoors. Father was never attached much to the family, therefore mother’s presence or absence didn’t make any difference to him. He had his own life which he shared with someone, mother strongly hated this gesture father which made them live in their world of own. Father chose his life with another woman, while mother was trapped in a relationship with two children and a marriage which was something that she never was able to escape.

 After Mira’s marriage her brother Aarav shifted too, country way far from their small town Kalewadi in Pune. He got his dream job in UK and didn’t give it a second thought. And the home of the mother, the home where all the memories were still fresh for Mira was left behind hollow. Years passed and father busy in his own life never visited the house, Aarav too got settled with a European wife, a son and a beautiful life. Mira also got busy in homely chores and she herself being a mother now of two beautiful daughters and a son, she was experiencing a lot more life was offering to her. She was happy with her husband he loved her and she loved him. With so much love and happiness filled in the home Mira’s memories of grief and pain connected with her mother had slowly fainted with time. Though she kept talking seldom through phone with her brother and they both became much closer and attached to each other after mother’s demise.

Still in this busy life, there were many occasions when Mira missed her mother dearly. Today was that day, today from the morning she felt her absence more than ever. She took out the old album from her Almirah where she has kept some of her mother’s stuffs as these were her mother’s precious memories she shared only with herself. While going through the photos she suddenly felt this urge of visiting her old house, her mother’s house which she hasn’t visited for long. She last visited when her brother was there. After his job abroad, the house has remained locked and empty. Mira wanted to go there to that house and wanted to meet mother. Mother wasn’t present there in physical but in Mira’s mind all the memories were fresh and she wanted to feel those moments again. After her marriage she didn’t have much opportunity to bring few more things of her mother especially her diary. The diary was so close to her mother and it was Mira’s respect for mother that she hasn’t touched it ever; neither had she brought it along. Now she desperately want to have that diary and find out all mother’s thoughts and emotions locked in it.

Mira at once telephoned her husband and told her desire of visiting her mother’s home in Pune. He gave his approval and assured her that he himself will book the train tickets for tomorrow’s first train and will drop her to the station. It was 7:30 in the morning Mira took the first train and her husband assured her that she needs not to worry about the children they will be taken care of. Mira’s in- laws were well to do and she never faced any problem in bringing up her children like her mother did. Mira’s mother single handedly raised both her children with limited sources provided from their father.

 The train Indore- Pune Express started running on the tracks to Pune, Kalewadi Mira’s maternal home. It was an 18 hours journey from Indore to Pune. Mira was lost in the past so deeply that she didn’t realize when the station came, she hastily took her luggage and came down from the train. She took a taxi from the station and headed straight towards her mother’s home in Kalewadi. She knew no one was there but her excitement to reach there was no less. She smelled the fresh air of her small town where she has spent 23 golden years of her life, it was still as beautiful as she has seen it last, surrounded with lush green trees, ponds and palm trees, and town’s people all reminded her of the good old days.

People watched her with a strange gaze, some recognized her and waved their hands, she did the same. She was enjoying at the fullest the welcome the town, the people and the beautiful nature of Kalewadi gave. She was finally there, all through the way she was anxious about what that diary has in store? What mother wrote in it? And today she felt happy and excited both, that she would be able to read it all.  She opened the front door and entered the house it was looking the same way she has last kept it 12 years back, but dust and spiders were the inmates living there now. She slowly took her steps looking around feeling the house and the memories again, she thought mother might come from one of the rooms and will hug her taking her into her loving and warm embrace. She entered mother’s room and stood in front of the Almirah it wasn’t locked anymore she slowly opened it and saw few of her saris still there kept neatly folded. She put her hand on them touching and feeling her mother’s warmth in them, then put her hands underneath those saris and felt something hard, she immediately took it out it was mother’s diary……….

                           

To be Continued………

 

*Monalisa Joshi*

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