A few pieces of real-life experiences and realisations, written by a mother.
I was like a thirsty withered day of Baishakh
When came into my life a large grey rain cloud all the way from Cherrapunji
It drenched me, blessed me…
There in my lap was my child.
My husband was out and I was left with the love of my life, my daughter, Puhup. It was a busy morning and I was about with the household chores and Puhup was in her cradle, cooing all by herself making the sweetest noises and throwing her arms and legs about in glee. And since I was having to move from one room to the other, when not in the same room with her I would call out to her, “Maa bhoe peyona…aami tomaar kachhei achi” (Sweetheart don’t feel scared, you are not alone, I’m not far away).
This I did to assure my little one that she was not alone. Suddenly when I had repeated these words for the umpteenth time did it strike me that, these words were very known to me, I had heard them many a time.
I had heard these words in the whistle of the pressure cooker, in the creaking of the door of the old Godrej almirah, in the squeak of the front door, in the water running from the tap, in the sizzle of the fish in the frying pan, in the rice frothing in the pot, in the rattle of the boiling kettle’s lid, in the scrape of the chairs being dragged, in the jingle of the house-keys, in the tinkle of glasses, in the thud of the windows being closed, in the hum of the fridge, in the click of switches, in the whine of the ceiling fan after Mum left us, or so we thought.
Only so many years later when I have become a mother did I decipher that morning that She was all along by my side. She had never left…Mothers don’t leave.
“E mohila khub adbhut…e ko din aage eto kando ghotalo…bachha ta noshto holo…hyan go bhora naw mashe …tao eto shober poreo roj dang dang kore kothay jae ke jane.” (She is a very strange woman, it’s just been a few days since she has lost her baby that too in the ninth month… yet she goes out every day in the evening.) said my maid about my neighbour, in an effort to acquaint me to the new society-building and its residents we had just shifted to.
This neighbour of mine lived just next door, she looked gaunt…As I looked on she closed the door of her apartment and locked it and walked down the corridor towards the lift, taking no notice of me. Every day I would see her leave her apartment. She walked as if in a trance.
Then one day my maid came to me quite scandalized and said, “Boudi jaano e mohila…ei je go tomaar pasher flat er meye chhele ta go…e roj kothay jae jaano, City Center go CC2 e jae, ki diye toiri ke jaane, baccha ta ke kheye uni aamod aallad korte jaan okhane…Maa go maa…aar koto ki dekhbo.” The import of what she said was that this lady goes to CC2 every day and that she is a shameless woman, having lost her baby, she goes to CC2 to have fun.
Days passed, one day we went to CC2, took the lift from the parking basement and came to the ground floor, just as I was about to turn right, I saw her. Yes, it was my neighbour, sitting on the railing of the stairs on the outer left, staring up at something and smiling, I also saw her lips move…silently mouthing parentese…I walked towards her. What I saw, caused my eyes to well up.
My neighbour was staring up at a leafless Bougainvillea tree which now housed hundreds of sparrows. Their twittering made a heavenly sound, while she mouthed,” Aamaar baby, esho, esho, esho na, aamaar kachhe esho” (My baby, come to me). I stood there transfixed.
(Nilambara Banerjee is a former professor of St. Xaviers College Ranchi.)
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