Categories
MommySpeak Short story

The final redemption

At 28, he was beyond redemption. Drugs, alchohol, nicotine, women, theft… he had done them all! The de-addiction centres offered no more hope.

Her last hope was this pilgrimage by foot. They had covered most of the journey. This was the final leg. The famous dilapidated temple was just across the railway track.

She crossed the tracks and waited for him. He dragged his feet along, slow enough to show how resentful he was of her attempts at ‘rehabilitation’.
‘Try to walk faster..‘, she coaxed.
‘You’re pathetic!!‘ he spat angrily.

She looked crestfallen.

He plugged in his iPod to drown her unspoken words. He had heard enough. He knew what he wanted. To float away on clouds of Ecstasy. And she, was the biggest obstacle! He hated the sight of her. Sad, angry, begging. In turns. All day long!!! Well, atleast, she didn’t cry bucketloads any longer. That was a relief!

Then, she saw it coming. He didn’t. Eyes half-closed, he was swaying to the music in his ears.

It was nearing. She opened her mouth to speak. But her mouth went dry. She put out a hand, to caution him.

‘Buzz off and leave me alone!!!!’ he murmured.

Alarmed, she looked into his eyes.

Baby eyes that once had opened in wonder. Eyes that had once danced with joy, accompanied by the lilting sound of happy gurgles.

Eyes that had once quite blindly trusted in her.

Eyes that had slowly started questioning her authority.

Eyes that had then turned angry in rebellion.

Too soon, it had become too late! The same eyes had turned vacant, and cold. And when she had tried to reign them in, they had seemed almost murderous.

And then, he finally noticed! His eyes widened in fear. She knew that look. He was almost begging, for her to try to rescue him. One more time.

She needed to think. A millisecond went by. And by then, it was all over!

The grass around the track was splattered in red. A bright shade of red, that she knew was the same as her own.

She clutched at her breast. As if to hold the heart that was slowly and irreversibly crumbling into a zillion pieces.

And in that deafening silence, she let out a loud scream. In relief. Then, she screamed again. And again. In horror. At what had just happened. She pounded the grass with her bare fists. Furious, at the way a beautiful life had been wasted.

Spent, she dragged her tired feet towards the temple. The shrine was closed. She slowly climbed the steps. When she reached the top, she almost staggered backwards in exhaustion. She quickly sat down, and lay her forehead on the cool stone pillars. She imagined the beautiful face of the deity inside the shrine. It shone of kindness. 

‘Thank you!‘ she whispered. And then broke into tears. She banged her forehead on the pillar until it bled. Then, she hugged herself tightly. And tried to remember his face. She saw in it, the beautiful eyes that had hated and distrusted, but still needed her.

‘Amma….’ – she would never hear that word again.

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Folks, this post is dedicated to all those parents who struggle helplessly with children who fall into drugs and other vices.

To parents who deserve better.

To parents who have loved and lost.

Specially, to those parents, who look back longingly, on a Life that could have been spent so differently, and so much better.

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Categories
Short story

The colour of red

The non-stop traffic on the main road created a dull, deafening din throughout the day. Even at night, cars, lorries, trucks, motorbikes, bicycles whizzed by, as if hurrying on to meet a beloved who waited across the city’s borders. It rained intermittently, water stagnating along the potholes on the dirty tar roads. Regular power-cuts were an accepted part of life. Viral infection was rampant in the city. Who would have thought this was the rapidly developing metro of Chennai!

The maid-servant had not come to work that busy Monday morning, so we took turns at doing the daily chores… washing the utensils, drying out washed clothes (God bless the (wo)man who invented the washing machine!!), folding them (the washed clothes, I mean), sweeping/swabbing the cold and perennially dusty floor. It was my turn to fold the aired-out clothes, and I did it monotonously, while an involuntary expression of disdain escaped and perched on my face.

I missed the cool and crisp London weather, as well as the complete serenity of my home that overlooked the river Thames. I missed the place that had been my home for the last ten years. I was all but waiting to head back into that cold and dark city, that would soon be lit up for the Christmas season.

 

I picked up a red sari, and began folding it. The soft georgette cloth slipped from my butter-fingers, and fell to the dusty floor. A small-sized cockroach scampered away into a corner of the room. I bent down with the agility of an eighty-year old and gathered the ends, and tried folding it again. Luck favored me this time, and I managed to make a rather neat rectangular bundle of it. ‘What a bright colour’, I thought. ‘So different from the muted English shades. But so typical of the colours people wear here. Bright and cheerful. But almost gaudy!!’ I frowned.
The traffic continued to whiz by our apartment. Horns honked non-stop. Suddenly, I heard a strange ‘Screeeech’. Something was wrong. I clutched at the sari, and slowly walked towards the verandah that faced the main road. Cars, lorries, trucks, motorbikes still raced by. I frowned and turned away. ‘Aiyooo….’, came the distant wails from the road ahead. I looked again, carefully, between the big, leafy trees that adorned our house. And finally caught sight of a man.

 

He sat right in the middle of the road, holding his right knee in his hand. I could not see his face, though he did seem middle-aged. His motorbike was fallen next to him. A small black bag and a plastic lunch-bag hung carelessly from the handles. It seemed like he was on his way to work. And he sat there, crying like a child.

 

He held his knee tightly. From below his shank, I saw a white stick protruding out of his leg. For a second, I refused to acknowledge what it was. The man’s broken ankle hung loose, like a puppet. And a small red stream started flowing onto the road. Not a bright, vibrant, Indian shade of red. A dark, slow, almost lifeless one.

 

In a few moments, passers-by stopped, and a small crowd of men and women gathered around him. He was looking around, wailing. Almost complaining, like a child to his mother. ‘Look, what has happened to me! Look! Look!’ The bone still protruded out of the man’s leg. His ankle dangled when he tried to move. He refused to let go of his knee. Vehicles sped past on the other side of the road.

 

A bald gentleman stopped his car and offered to take the man in. A woman appeared with a bottle of water. Another tore out a piece of cloth and tried to tie the torn ankle to the rest of the leg. Finally, they carried the man away to the nearest hospital.

 

I didn’t see what they did with his motorbike. I couldn’t hear the noise of the peak-hour traffic any longer. I sat down, a little dizzy. I still held the bright, red sari in my cold, sweaty palms.

 

A light drizzle started.

 

And in no time, washed away the dull, red stains from the dusty road.