– by Anand Kumar Sharma
I was coming back from my office on a very tiring day. My radio was playing very light music of the early ’90s. I loved Kishore Kumar and his iconic voice. I was humming and singing the song while driving…” Humein tumse pyaar kitna ye ham nhi jaante, magar jee nhi sakte”…Oh shit! The tyres made a screeching sound as I applied my brakes really hard. I got off my car and rushed to see if the old lady, who suddenly seemed to come in front of my car from nowhere, got hurt. She seemed to be in her 60s. She had a bright beautiful face. Her hair were still black surprisingly and tied in a bun at the back of her head. She had a broad forehead and sharp eyes. The countless wrinkles on her face clearly told how much worries she had throughout her life. “Excuse me, I am really very sorry. I didn’t see you. Did you get hurt anywhere? “, I asked. She was calm and was not furious at me. Her bag had fallen from her hand and the apples were spread on the road. I quickly rushed to pick them up. I handed her bag of apples and again enquired if she got hurt anywhere. This time she replied. “Yes son, I am hurt but not because of you. It is my son who has hurt me.” Listening to this I got a little confused and asked, “Is there any way I can help you? Can I drop you to your home?” and she agreed to accept my help.
For the first five minutes of the drive, she spoke nothing. I could easily see in her eyes how firmly she held the dam of tears and then suddenly she burst into tears. I gave her my handkerchief to wipe her tears. She finally broke the silence. ” I was 45 when my only son got a job in California. I still remember the day he left me. I cried for hours that day. It was my husband who held me and was very supportive. I missed my son so badly that I used to call him at any hour of the day. This made him irritated because sometimes I would disturb him in his meeting with an important client or at night when he was asleep. I was just a mother who hasn’t seen her son in 3 years. My eyes were eagerly waiting to see him. My husband and I insisted him so many times to visit us at least once but he was so busy with his professional life that he had almost forgotten us and finally when he came, he gave us a surprise of our life. He was already married. Leave aside inviting us, he didn’t even inform us about his marriage. Still, we were happy and satisfied to see our son after such a long time. I thought that he would insist us to go and stay along with him in California as they show in movies but it turned out to that he came to visit us so that he can ask for his share in the property. My husband was anyway giving our property to our only son. So he made the will accordingly. And again he left us the way we were living on our own. After my son left my happiness didn’t last long. I lost my husband 2 years later. He had a massive heart attack and by the time I managed to take him to the hospital all alone, he was…”. She could barely speak. Her tears rolled down again. This time I wiped her tears with my hands and asked her to calm down. “I haven’t told him yet”, she said as she continued to cry. “What! You haven’t informed your son that his father is dead? But why? Why would you do that?” I asked. “I didn’t feel like telling him. I felt like I never had a son”, she replied. I was shocked to listen to this.
After a minute or two I spoke up breaking the glass of silence. “At least you have a son who can or used to call you Mom. In my case, I was such a cursed child who murdered his own Mom. Yeah! You heard me right. While giving birth to me, my mother died and I was not able to see her even once. My father raised me and tried a lot to not let me feel the absence of a mother in my life against all the odds. But he too left me as soon as I got a job. He met with a car accident and I lost the only one who had raised me and cared for me. My life became meaningless to me but somehow I managed to keep up in life.” This time it was me holding my tears back.
There was silence in the car as we waited for the signal to turn green. Suddenly there was a knock on the right window of the car. I lowered the window. A small kid of about 8 was holding a bunch of roses. “Bhaiya! Buy roses just for Rs. 10”. I told him that I don’t need it. Seeing the old lady sitting beside me he again said, “Please bhaiya. I would get some money for me and my mom. We have eaten nothing since last night. At least buy it for your mom since today is Mother’s day.” Listening to this tears rolled down my cheeks. I bought all the roses and paid him Rs. 500 and asked him to keep the change. Turning towards the old lady sitting beside me with whom I shared a strange bond, I gave her the roses. “Happy Mother’s Day aunty”. “You are wishing Happy mother’s day and also saying aunty. Call me Mom. I haven’t heard that word before from anyone in years”, she said. I had never said that three letter word “Mom” in my entire life. That word meant a lot me. Listening to her I started crying. I hugged her with happiness and said,
“Happy Mother’s Day Mom”.
(The featured image is a Painting by Vincent van Gogh “Portrait of the Artist’s Mother“.)