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Every certificate, every trophy, every achievement of yours made me feel so proud of being your mom. It also made me feel guilty. Guilt of the truth that I haven’t shared with you.
Meenal sat by her mom’s bedside, holding her hand and moistening her lips. Her 80 years old mom had stopped eating one day before, slipping in and out of consciousness. Since the early hours of the morning, she had stopped drinking too. They were waiting for the doctor. Suddenly, her breathing became very labored. The sound was almost like rattles. It was as if she was in pain.
Everyone in the room looked at each other, terrified. Just then, the doctor arrived. He had brought along a monitor used to track her breathing. He assured that she was not in pain. He said, “It is part of the process. These are her final hours. Her body is slowly shutting down.”
Tears rolled down from the already moist eyes of Meenal. Her daughter Pari wiped her tears and said, “Mom, you have been awake all night. You go and take some rest. I am beside Nani.”
Meenal went to her room. Took a shower and lied down on her bed. Two days ago, her mom had told her, “I have kept a letter for you in the locker of my almirah. Read it when I am gone.” Meenal could not resist the urge to read the letter. She got up from the bed and went to her mom’s room. Her mom looked calm. She was sleeping. Pari was holding her hand. She too had dozed off. Tiptoed she opened the almirah. Took out the letter and went back to her room.
The letter was neatly folded and the date given was 25.10.2017. Was the letter written few months back? Or had her mother got the date wrong? Perhaps not; the mental disorientation had started just a couple of weeks back. Last year she had been fine. She was a retired banker, an avid reader, well aware of the current happenings of the world and loved to write too.
Meenal concluded that her mom could not get the date wrong. Indeed the letter was written months ago. She opened it.
“My Dear Meenu,
To meet, to love and then to part,
Is the saddest story of the human heart.
I have told you these lines so many times before. But now you are feeling every word of it. I actually don’t know when you will read this letter. Maybe days, weeks, months or even years from today. I don’t know when I will die. But this gradual process of moving step by step towards the grave is difficult. I wish to have an instant death like your Papa. Heart attack and gone in an hour. Every day, the approaching death is taking little bits of me. With every attack of dizziness, I feel a little more tired, a little weaker and a little older.
I always wanted to share something with you. But could never muster the courage to do so. The only other person who knew this left us 10 years ago.”
Meenal paused. She looked up at her Papa’s framed photograph in her room. She said to herself, “I always thought you are my most trusted friend. What have you hidden from me?”
She continued to read.
“Beta, all your life you have given me and Papa a lot. You never troubled us even as a small child. I could very well manage my bank work and home. Initially your bhaiya was a bit stubborn. Gradually he too adjusted well. Maybe he imbibed good traits from you. Who said only younger siblings follow their older ones? Vice versa is also possible. All the academic laurels you brought gave us immense pride. Every certificate, every trophy, every achievement of yours made me feel so proud of being your mom. It also made me feel guilty. Guilt of the truth that I haven’t shared with you. When you chose the man of your life, we could only feel proud of your choice. Amit is the best son-in–law one can ask for. You both defied the norms and convinced me to stay with you. After your Papa was gone, I wasn’t keen to move to USA with your bhaiya. I would have continued to stay at my house. But you did not let me stay alone. I had my own money. Your bhaiya also sent me enough. But these loving years of companionship that you have given me are priceless. Thank you beta for everything.”
Meenal said to herself, “My in-laws continued to stay at their ancestral home with their elder son. We needed you mom as much as you needed us. This arrangement worked fine for all of us.” She continued to read –
“I cannot imagine my life without you now. But I want to make a confession today. I had tried to kill you! Yes, even before you were born. I actually went to the clinic to do so. I never wanted a second child. I was busy managing your bhaiya and my work. I was preparing for my promotion exams. You just happened – unplanned, defying my measures of caution. At the clinic, I saw gleaming faces of mothers discussing their due dates and fetal movements. And there I was about to kill my fetus. My motherly instinct told me I had to protect you. I just wasn’t sure of my decision to terminate the pregnancy. Your Papa’s support and God’s will helped me change my decision. I decided to bring you to this world and your presence changed my entire world. I am not the best mom one can get. But you are certainly the best daughter one can ask for. I will wait to be reborn again just to be your mom. Please let me be.”
Tears rolled down Meenal’s eyes. She came to her mom’s room. The letter was still in her hands. She sat beside her and held her hand tightly. Her mom opened her eyes. Looked at Meenal and the letter. Then, slowly her eyes became fixed. Eyelids partially shut. The grip loosened. The guilt free soul left the mortal body.
Published here earlier.
Image source: pixabay
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