You are a part of me. So, when you miss me, feel your heartbeat. Here, let me show you. That right there is me beating inside you.
He woke up screaming, “Maman, Maman!” The shrill cries turned into a steady whimpering as he frantically searched for someone in the dark. A pair of hands reached out and grabbed him before he fell off the bed.
“I…I can’t see anything!” The corner lamps sprang to life.
“Maaaamannnn…you are late! Again!” The child wailed. Cradling him in her arms, she rested her tired back against the wall.
“I had to finish my chores, baby!” She kissed him.
“Every night, you are late. You know how scared I am of the dark.”
Maman traced her fingers on his forehead. “Calm down. Daddy will fix the star lights tomorrow.”
Clutching her tightly, Avery hid his face in Maman’s hair. He loved the fragrance of her freshly shampooed hair.
“Do you think of me in the middle of your chores?”
There was silence. The little boy could feel heaviness hanging around him. Maman let out a long, deep sigh. “Darling, put your head on my chest. Now, do you hear something?”
“Yes yes, that’s your heartbeat.”
“Right! You are here, deep inside me. A part of me. Always on my mind. We are two entities inextricably linked forever.”
“Maman, the teacher was saying something about a cord. The um… um…umlical!”
“Haha! Umbilical cord?”
“Yes, Maman. You know, the cord that binds us forever.”
“Woah, my intelligent boy! Listen, when you miss me, feel your heartbeat. Here, let me show you. That right there is me beating inside you. Now lie down next to me and let’s feel each other’s heartbeat.”
Little Avery let out a whoop of joy as he felt his own heartbeat and then his mother’s, “This is so exciting!”
“Now sleep. You have to go to school tomorrow. Let me sing a song. Shall I sing one of your favourites?”
Picking him up, Maman walked around crooning it. She realized Avery had grown bigger. A child is never too big for his mother, she thought and smiled to herself. Her baby was soon fast asleep.
She put him down gently, pulled the covers around him, tucked his favourite teddy beside him and kissed him on his nose. How he loved these tiny, fluttering kisses! My child, my child. If only…
In the next room, she saw her husband. Curled around the pillow she loved, he was in a deep sleep. Wrinkles around his mouth, deep creases on his forehead – the man had aged in a week. A sharp pang of guilt overtook her, followed by a wave of melancholy.
If only, she hadn’t misunderstood him. Oh, if only she had given a thought to her little boy. If only, she looked out at the Eucalyptus tree. Its slender white branches stood in stark contrast to the darkness around beckoning her just the way it had a week ago.
She hurriedly scribbled a reminder for the lights and floated out. The tree spread out its branches for its sole occupant. Her new abode, the check-post from where she could keep an eye on her child, on her house and her beloved.
If only, she hadn’t…
Author’s Note: In the memory of a young mother we lost two weeks ago. She took her life. The if-only’s will keep haunting her and us forever.
A version of this was first published here.
Picture credits: YouTube
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Sreemati Sen Karmakar holds a Masters in Social Work (MSW) From Visva Bharati, Shantiniketan. She
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