She’s there




vakul mohanty 
The author is a student of Engineering at BiTS-Pilani, Hyderabad 



A blanket of morbid gloom enveloped the city. The clatter of a light drizzle broke the eerie silence that haunted me. I stood at the balcony, leaning precariously over the railing, with a cup of coffee keeping me company as my thoughts wandered. I gazed hollow eyed into the space, purposeless, numb, and lost. Remorse, guilt, self loathing tore me apart. 
I guess my oldest memories of her are buried, obscured by the passage of time. But I remember more than I have forgotten. I had to remember, for the memories were all that was left of her. She had left this world of laws and boundaries for the tranquility of haven. 
The memories are obscured by the mist of time. Distorted and buried under a pile of trivial thoughts. I vaguely remember that on cold stormy nights I cuddled against her, like a frightened rabbit. Her calm voice mumbled caressing words, sweeping away my fear. I remember frolicking around her, running around her legs in an attempt to catch her attention when she was pre-occupied with her work. A spark of irritation lit her eyes, yet an understanding smile played on her lips. Patient, infinitely patient. I remember those lovely afternoons when I slept with my head on her lap listening to stories of ethereal places, immortal heroes and grotesque monsters. 
I drifted off into blissful sleep. The stories she told have long since slipped from my grasp, yet I remember the strange serenity I felt then, a serenity I would never again experience. 
Among the confused jumble of memories the memory of the last time I saw her stood out in clear contrast. It was a hot sweaty day of mid July. The happy chatter of my family and friends filled a small corner of the vast airport. Why wouldn’t they be happy, I was kicking off my kiddo shoes and venturing into the world with a promise of achieving something great. Amidst the chaotic ambience I sat with my mother in a corner cut off from the rest of the world. We huddled close together, hand in hand in the airport far from the torrid heat of the sun and gazed at the runway. A smile played on her lips. Her voice calmed me as we spoke of my future. A future far away, a future filled with thorns and a few roses, obscured by the fog of time and space. She said nothing of her pain - the pain of parting. Yet it was evident. The signs were hidden, yet were in plain sight. Had I not been looking for them I would have missed them. She kept muddling up words now and then. Her voice was strained as she tried to hide her anxiety under a cloak of happiness. Her bright eyes were clouded with concern. It was as if she was lost in thought, physically beside me but far away…far far away. A strange tension seemed to radiate from her. It didn’t manifest itself in any way but I felt it. She didn’t loath the fact that I was leaving, she knew it was inevitable…one day I would let go of her slender figure and walk the wilderness of the world alone; the knowledge however didn’t mitigate her anguish, after all she was my mother. I felt her anguish and as I left to board my plane I mouthed my promise over the noise and confusion of the crowd: “I will return mother, don’t cry, I will be back...”- it was a promise I never kept. 
A year passed in an avalanche of work. I had little to say in those brief conversations with her, I spoke of my struggle and strife and nothing else, like a narcissist, obsessing over my failures and triumphs. The little time that I got with her over cyberspace was spent in recursive discussions about my work and life. In my relentless pursuit of success I forgot about her pain and anguish. And during all that time not a single cry of protest echoed through space from my mother, she buried her anguish and egged me on, consoling me in my failure, commending my success and forgiving my narcissism.  
I stood dumbstruck when I got the tragic news, the phone slipped from my hand and clattered on the floor. It was as if time and space froze, forever stuck in that one moment. I stood staring at the whitewashed wall, as if turned to stone. The dam of emotion broke and a profound grief engulfed my miserable existence. Tears flowed from my eyes and a void filled my chest. 
I lay my hands on her cold ones and looked at her serene face. I had failed to keep my promise. I wasn’t there in her moment of need, I was never there for her. Her pain, her anguish was her own. She bore the burden without a single protest and at the same time eased mine as well. 
I had failed. But she kept her silent promise, the one she had made to herself years ago, the one she had whispered into my ear so many years ago in that delivery room. In life and in death she was there for me. I felt her warm gaze upon me as I stood there in the gloom. I felt her touch in her hands, guiding me out of the pit of despair…her sweet voice whispered into my ear “ Son I love you, I forgive you”… a warmth bloomed in me filling the cold empty void inside… I couldn’t help but smile. 
A single tear of gratitude rolled down my cheek and lost itself in the rain… 

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He's my son occasionally writes. He twice served to his college magazine as an editor. He's enthusiastic in reading literature. You are invited to put a comment to his work here.

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