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She drifted off to sleep, blessing Akanksha for her intuitive and instinctive thinking. Her baby had grown up indeed. Into a sensitive and sensible lady.
Our Muse of the Month series this year focus on stories that pass the Bechdel test, and are written on inspiration from a new prompt every month. This month, the prompt was “And Then She Rested”, and the story should pass the Bechdel Test, that is,
The fourth winner of our March 2018 Muse of the Month contest is Aruna Menon.
“I’m home!” rang a cheery voice. Akanksha had just got back from college. “Where are you, Mama? she called out, going to the fridge to get herself a glass of water. Water bottle in hand, she wandered from the living room to her mother’s bedroom, surprised that she had not come to the door to welcome her. She entered the room – her mother was asleep! “What’s up, Mom? Are you unwell? “Her mother asleep at 4 in the afternoon? Unthinkable – Come to think of it, she did not remember a single occasion when anyone greeted by a sleeping Mom in her entire life when someone came home – be it her father, her friends, her brother, anyone!
“I’m fine” said a drowsy voice, as Gayathri hurriedly sat up in bed. It was time for the evening tea. And she had not yet made the evening snack. She was on call today. I hope the hospital stays quiet, she thought as she entered the kitchen, tying her hair into a loose bun. Thank God for four burner stoves she thought as she lit all 4, the preparations for the evening dinner on her mind.
Akankhsha had followed her into the kitchen after changing into a Tee Shirt and shorts. Now, this was the mum she knew, hustling and bustling around the house. There was always something left to do. The regular meals and the fancy ones to be made, the clothes needed to be washed, the cupboards needed cleaning, the crockery had to be put away after the party – there was a seemingly endless list of chores. Besides all of which her mom led a very busy Department at the hospital. The long hours, the constant calls, the preparations for complicated surgeries, the cancelled family celebrations. She had seen her mother handle all this. The main reason why she had never ventured to be a doctor.
As she stood there, she had an idea. “Mommy”, she said, “you need to get away from all of this, even from all of us, for a while. You need to rest.” “Uh-Huh” murmured Gayathri, barely registering what her adored daughter was suggesting.
“Mom,” Akanksha continued, “Look at me, I’m serious!”
“Okay, Okay. Find something,” said Gayatri absently, as she laid out the cookies and poured the tea. “Come and get your tea, Rajesh!”
She quickly had her tea, working out dinner in her head. She was likely to be held up at the hospital. So, it would have to be a one meal dish- Frittata would do fine with soup and Garlic bread – a current favourite on the family menu. She mentally ticked off the ingredients she would need – yeah they were all available.
Gayathri had a complicated case and had to take up the patient for an Emergency C-Section. She got back only by 9 pm and headed straight into the kitchen. Dinner was ready by 10 and the family gathered at the table to share their days, thoughts and views as always.
“See what I found, Papa!” It was Akanksha. “A holiday at Goa.”” No time, dear,” said Rajesh.
“And, young lady, aren’t your exams due in a week? “
“It’s not for all of us, Papa. Just Mom.” Gayathri was amused. ““Are you mad?” she asked.
But Akanksha was determined. She pestered Gayathri and Rajesh till 2 days later, both agreed. Gayathri packed a small hold-all and set off on her first-ever solo holiday in a place she loved. She had warmed up to the idea gradually and packed a few of her favourite things – her laptop, a couple of books and music. It was a weekend package. She was sure she could manage a few walks as well and so had packed her sneakers too.
She checked into the modest but clean and welcoming hotel. The reception desk gave her an itinerary of the activities over the next two days and she happily signed up for the early morning trek, a visit to the local museum, pottery classes at 4 pm.
As she settled in for the night, she found herself turning to her mental checklist centre – as she always did before sleeping. That way she was better prepared to face her day. She smiled to herself as she realised that there was nothing to juggle. She felt light. There were no timelines to manage. No deadlines to meet. No maids to manage. No meals to plan. No surgeries to read up on. No classes to prepare.
Best of all, she realised, no guilt to feel. Oh, the Oh -So-Familiar GUILT! At being a working mother. The guilt of getting 5 minutes late for work as she packed the lunchboxes. At not being able to make an elaborate dinner as there was an Emergency at the hospital. At postponing doing the new Laparoscopy Update course in Imaging as it clashed with a family holiday. At being unable to call a bereaved friend as she pulled another all-nighter at work.
So many roles to play, so much to do. So little time. She drifted off to sleep, blessing Akanksha for her intuitive and instinctive thinking. Her baby had grown up indeed. Into a sensitive and sensible lady.
Today was so different thought Gayathri. She had only herself to think of. Only herself to answer to. No train to catch, no deadlines to match. No boss to report to. No calls to return. No To-do lists left undone.
It was not her body that needed to rest. It was her mind. Tired from running back and forth. Tired of multitasking. Tired of keeping track.
Her soul needed rest too. She needed to get back in touch with Gayathri. The Gayathri only she knew. The poetess, the writer, the thinker. Gayathri, the woman.
She, her mind and her soul needed to rest.
And so, they Rested.
The trek could wait. The pottery classes could wait.
The world could wait. The world would wait. For Once.
Aruna Menon wins a Rs 250 Amazon voucher, as well as a chance to be picked one among the top winners at the end of 2018. Congratulations!
Image source: pixabay