Leela entered the cramped apartment. It was dark. Her daughter was not around.
“Amma, Is Sneha sleeping already?”
Leela slipped the handbag off her weary shoulder, and looked around.
Amma sat leaning against a wall, her face covered with one end of her sari.
Leela walked towards her. “Not another attack, please!” she prayed, and gently touched her shoulder.
Amma uncovered her face. Her eyes were red and swollen.
Suddenly, Amma got up fiercely, and threw down the stainless steel pot of water that was near her. Clang! Then followed a series of clothes, utensils, and finally, a small brown book.
“What is this, you brazen animal?”
“What are you talking about, Amma?”
“Here, this book…”
“My…my…diary! Where did you find this? Did…did you read it?”, Leela stammered, turning red.
“…and its a good thing we did!”, Amma replied bitterly.
” ‘We’ ?”
“Yes, Appa and me. Sneha found it…”
“…And you took it from her and read it? How could you?!”
“You shameless hussy! A mother of a child, don’t you know your responsibility? Your life’s objective is to bring up Sneha, not find yourself a mate!”
“How can you say such a thing?”, Leela’s eyes smarted.
“Read this: ‘…..I met someone interesting today…our fingers accidentally brushed over coffee, and I felt something…’ “
“Amma! Its private. And if you must know, yes, I did meet someone. I’m human too!”
‘….Went home early, only to find Sneha had a cold, and needed to see the doctor, for the umpteenth time…I am so tired…’.
“You are tired of your own child? Heartless woman!”
Leela’s feet ached. She wanted this to end soon. “Yes….I am tired…of taking care of others, ALL the time…!”, she retorted. “Don’t get me wrong! I love you, but sometimes…”
Practised tears of self-pity streamed down Amma’s face. “Oh! So now, we’re the burden! Fine, Appa and I will leave this moment, for my brother’s house. Isn’t that what you want?”
‘…I wish … I had time..to be alone.. read a book…sing aloud…laugh a little…take Sunil’s movie-offer…”
“Stop reading!! For God’s sake, have I lost the right, to even WANT to be happy? ”
“Leela! How dare you talk to me like that? Remember your status before you utter another word! If only my son were alive today…! A wayward widow he has thrown onto us!”
Leela staggered backwards.
“You killed my son, you witch! And now, you want to LIVE ! You will rot in hell!”
Leela couldn’t bear it anymore. She ran into her room and began packing a suitcase with their clothes. Sneha turned in her sleep and sucked her thumb. “My baby!”. Leela thought. She stared at the beautiful face, and suddenly tiredness swept over her. She sank onto the floor – a tired, helpless heap.
Outside, Amma picked up the diary and ripped it apart. Her rage subdued, she hobbled into her room.
The papers were now strewn all over the floor.
‘…I wish…but I won’t..because I can’t !” was the last journal entry.