Friday, June 29, 2007

Anila

If she had been a betting woman, she would have lost this bet - Nobody expected that her little shrivelled frail mother would outlive her robust energetic ever-so-optimistic father. Anila's mother had been sick for as long as she remembered, in some way or the other. Now, at 68, looking like the oldest person on earth, weighing about the same as she did when she was ten years old, the last remaining light from her eyes was fast fading. Anila considered how she used to scoff at people who said things like "light fading from her eyes" - but realized that there was no better way to describe what was happening to her mother.

And there was no doubt, it was happening to Anila as well. Her father was her hero and her savior - she would never know where his hope and enthusiasm for life came from, living all his life as he did, in the most depressing hopeless circumstances. An orphan, married to a woman who, at best, was a constant companion and at worst, was somewhat of a constant drain on his time and energy with her constant sickness and her low motivation to do anything.

It sometimes seemed to Anila that she had inherited the worst qualities of her mother and nothing of her father except his comically large nose. She had lived a lonely, boring existence with few friends and activities until she was a teenager. When she was twenty two, she managed to "break out" of the constant dreariness of her childhood home and find a job in the city that managed to pay her mother's medical bills but kept her at away from the day-to-day caregiving that her father so gracefully and uncomplainingly took on.

Now that he was gone, so cruelly removed from their lives in the very instant the drunk driver rammed into his bicycle, Anila faced reality. The plan was to move her mother to the city with her, and hire a part-time nurse to care for her when she was at work. The last two weeks had been a frenzy of calling relatives, hiring movers, arranging for the nurse and trying to convince her manager to not fire her and of course, dealing with the funeral and the million ceremonies following it. There had been no time to even think about her loss, much less mourn it.

Today she had started packing - How do you fit more than forty years of life into cardboard boxes? She relished the quiet - the first silence since she arrived - as she methodically put away things to be thrown, things to be given away, things to be moved, things to be destroyed and wrote down everything. She came to an old trunk in the storage room and opened it, coughing in the dust cloud the sudden yank yielded. She had to smile as she realized what the trunk contained. It was all her stuff that she had left behind but Baba had not wanted to dispose of. He had carefully packed away her music casettes, her old half-knitted socks from needle-work class, her old school books, her scrap book of dried flowers and ferns which crumbled into dust as she turned the pages lovingly. And then she came upon something that brought with it a renewed sense of loss and grief and at the same time, some atavistic excitement and a memory of innocence. She dusted off the cover and hastily shook away the silverfish from the insides and began to read, "What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant? That she loved Mozart and Bach, the Beatles, and me?"

To be continued...

3 Comments:

Blogger Parth said...

Ok, I see the pattern emerging. Maybe your idea isn't as popat as much as you think it is :-)

5:46 PM  
Blogger Jyothsna said...

Ah, Part 3!! Waiting for Part 4, don't let your storyline fade away :)

Nice talking to you the other day.

6:55 AM  
Anonymous jade tara said...

I finished reading this and then read the comment about it being part 3.. so will go back to read the other two parts.

very well written!

11:48 AM  

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