It was five hours past, I had spoken to Mama. How dare she hit an eight year old just for the fact that her eyes had caught the humble creature playing marbles in the mud which had turned his shiny bright clothes into a dark mucky brown shade.
Come on!, after all there’s a washing machine at home to shine back the outfit as before and yes the Dettol back at home would work itself out on those sloppy palms making them fit enough to eat the night Morsel with my own able hands rather than being fed.
Are these worth more than the smile of her child?
She has this habit of confining me to the four walls of my room and substitutes the playing of those marbles to snake and ladders and ludo instead. I somehow escape her eye when she turns her attention to the kitchen and I break off to the world that I love being in – “oh those Muddy Marbles”. I loved those twinkling marbles and I do wash them every day after returning back home but Mama is bent upon throwing them out to keep me away from them. She finally had her day today and off went those muddy marbles into the dustbin.
How rude Mama is sometimes. I will never speak to her until she tells me sorry and buys me a tin of glittering round marbles. No, I will not really give in this time.
After all Papa will take good care of me. How well Papa makes me eat the food at times. He puts me on the swing with the music on and puts the delicious morsel of food into my tiny mouth. This Mama expects table manners and discipline while eating and I have to first offer my prayers to God. Papa dresses me up within minutes and this Mama takes an hour instead. Papa puts me to sleep with the stories from the fairy tales and this Mama doesn’t need a book at all and her stories always begins with ‘once upon a time there was a king’. I’m fed up with such stories. She scolds me unnecessarily in the morning when I wet the bed, when it is her mistake to mention the name of ‘boogeyman’ to put me to sleep at night, the very mention of the word makes me shut my eyes. How rude she is sometimes, that’s why Papa stays so long at office else she would trouble him too. Even I will get a job someday, and then we both will leave her all alone at home so that she realizes what it means to trouble an eight-year-old child like this.
These feelings continued until the moon asked the sun to go down. I picked up the tinkle comic pretending to read it and avoid seeing her. Seeing my behavior, Mom came to pacify me but I looked away annoyed.
‘Hmm, I will see how long you will stay away from me’, said Mom and went away into the kitchen to perform her last job of the day.
As soon as Dad came home, I went to him and enclosed my arms around his legs. He picked me up and after dinner he spent the rest of the time, helping me in building blocks and finally reading out the fairytale of ‘Cinderella’ which ended in my ears when the girl runs away leaving her shoe.
I woke up the next morning on my own which otherwise was interrupted by Mom usually. Reaching the hall, I saw it fully crowded and Papa was sitting at a corner with face palm. I searched Mama and there she was lying still, wrapped in a white cloth and her sister sitting beside sobbing like me. I wondered why Mom was sleeping on the ground and no one was ready to wake her up.
Having noticed, Aunt ran to me and rushed me back into my room. I asked her what had happened to which she embraced me and continued her sobs but did not utter a word. She stayed with me the whole day and refused to let me out of the room to keep me away from the things that were happening outside the room. Confused mind asked aunt repeatedly about Mom but she remained silent by pushing the toy cars towards me.
Late in the evening, Dad entered the room, took me into his arms and said looking at me.
‘She has asked me to take care of you in her absence and she will not return if you keep crying for her. I will write letters to her about your behavior at home. So be good if you want her to be back soon’.
I started hitting him and rushed out yelling.
‘I want mummy, I want my mummy….., I will not ask for any more chocolates. I will not play marbles in the mud and dirty my clothes. I will brush my teeth every day, I will listen to your stories, please come out of your hiding place’ filled the air as I ran around the home to find her. I bartered all this to Mama but in vain as she maintained her stubbornness not turning up from any corner.
Aunt dragged me back to my room. As the throat went dry and couldn’t yell more the teary eyes soon submerged into darkness.
As the days passed without Mom returning, I hardly saw the rising sun and had learnt to dress myself up and Papa would drop me to school. The lunch breaks were spent all alone sitting at one corner of the school, eating the contents of the box not even knowing what was in it. The eyes most of the times greeted the ground and the faces of buddies never looked interesting. The evenings were spent sitting in front of Mama’s photo looking into her eyes, which looked back at me smiling – the lady who never let me away even for a minute had been away for months.
Aunt used to visit us often on the weekends and took me to her home. I loved gazing at her face as it resembled Mama’ face. I would always ask her that when would Mama return back but instead of replying she would just look into my eyes and divert my attention with her stupid questions. Both Papa and she hesitated the topic of Mom. What had come over them-Had she troubled them too?
One Saturday while in my aunt’s house I learnt from her little daughter that my mother was dead as she had over heard her Mom speaking to some relative on one occasion . I asked her what did the word dead mean and realized she was as unaware like me. The word started haunting me and I quickly wanted to unravel it. I waited for the Monday to arrive soon so that I could ask my school-teacher, the meaning of this word.
At school, when I threw this question to my teacher, she was surprised to hear such a doubt coming from a nine-year-old kid. However, she did reply, as she did not know that the word related to my mother. The meaning came out in a sophisticated language which my brains couldn’t understand fully but realized one fact that it meant that the person would never ever return to meet.
Mama would never come back. I would never get to see her again in my life. Papa had lied to me. I cursed those marbles, which had made Mama angry and sad that day. I wished I had never played them. My depressed spirit wanted to sleep forever and never wake up again to put an end to this meaningless life and it made the last wish to God to take me near Mama. The eyes closed.
‘We need to take him to a doctor….’ Papa said.
‘Uffo…..! its ok, many at his age do’, this sentence woke me up with a start.
It was Mama’s voice and there she stood pacifying Papa about me.
God! I had done it again, my bed was wet and it was a bad… bad… dream. I was so happy to see myself back in the world where I was supposed to be. I thanked God for granting me what I had wished for. I jumped out of the bed and ran towards her. Her surprised face looked at me and her arms welcomed me in. She picked me up, and as I placed my head on her shoulders, she felt the presence of tiny drops of tears on her shoulders. She ran her soft fingers in my hair patting my back. Hundred kisses from my lips touched her face.
‘Dear dear, it was only a night that you were away from me, what makes you cry’ asked Mom astonished.
I hugged her back tightly and replied ‘It was a lifetime Mama’.