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Before the Sun Sets...A Short Story
Another Time...Another Place!
A sharp, bright beam was incising the thick sheet of darkness in her room. Myriad of tiny, shiny specks were seen dancing along the bright path as if celebrating the bright, new day! Unaware of time and place, Sophia was lying still in her bed with her gaze anchored somewhere far away… far away in another day, another time and another place!
Little Esha, her only daughter was hopping here and there all over the place. Sophia was running after her with a glass of milk which Esha had refused to drink…and then Arham and Sophia were driving Esha to school…Esha murmuring sweet nothings in Sophia's ears…Sophia just loved the warm tickling of Esha's breath on her ear and cheek...
“Good morning Mrs.Arham What a lovely day today!” With Maha's robotic greetings, everything around Sophia shattered into innumerable pieces. Oh! She hated Maha for that. And within no time, Maha swished swashed the heavy curtains wide open. Sunlight came flooding in, wiping away the traces of her beautiful memories. A lot more crescents appeared on her already wrinkled face, as Sophia covered her eyes with her bony, fragile hand. She was brought back to reality. Again, Maha was to be blamed for this, she thought.
Sophia…a widow who has seen 68 springs in her lifetime…was now living in her farm house with the aide Maha...who was appointed by her only daughter. Sophia had been in bed for the last fourteen months since she had a stroke. Her right limbs were paralyzed and her speech was affected. She couldn’t speak anymore. But she could think. And she could feel. And she could dream. She could not go to places but she could fly back to revisit her life…and that was the most amazing thing…infact, her memories were the only amazing and colorful aspect, of her otherwise dull life.
Sophie was still struggling to lift herself up when Maha appeared with her breakfast tray. “Mrs.Arham, Esha would be here in an hour. You have to speed up and finish your breakfast before she’s here.”
Turn Back the Windmills of Time...
Esha was very excited. She was bringing her Mom home. At last, she succeeded in convincing her husband on that. She assured him completely and promised that it won’t interfere with their life. But she knew... it definitely would! It would make her feel happier…happy to take care of Mom… “the way Mom used to, when I was young and totally dependent on her...” Esha thought as she hurried her two little girls to drop them at her friend’s house before going to Mom's.
Deep down in her heart, Esha had a strong feeling…a feeling of guilt that was eating her up. “Mom had a stroke because of me… If I hadn’t left the girls with her that day… If I had taken her complaints seriously….she had been complaining about headache and dizziness…If I had listened to her…taken her to hospital on time…If I hadn’t ignored…if…”
“Oh Lord! There are so many ifs…If I could only turn back the windmills of time,” she thought.
Saturday was the only day which gave Sophia a feeling of being loved and wanted. Esha and her little girls visited Sophia every Saturday. She just loved Saturdays.
“Esha...my Esha is coming?…So it’s Saturday again!” Sophia thought. Strange, very strange! She couldn’t feel the excitement of it anymore. That craving to see the girls…her Esha's girls...and that sweet satisfaction of holding Esha's hand…No, it was not there. She couldn't feel it anymore!
Esha had told Maha that they would pack up and move Mom before dusk. “Mom always had this thing about going out after dusk…she was never easy with it. Maha, I don’t want to do anything that would upset her. I just want everything done her way… we’ll move her before the sun sets”, she had informed Maha on the phone.
Esha was dying to tell Mom about this arrangement. She had kept it a secret till now. She wanted everything to be finalized before she could tell Mom about it. And the time had come!
With sparkling eyes and a flushed face, excitement oozing through her gait …Esha entered Sophia's room. “Hi Mom”, she whispered in her ear.
Sophia opened her eyes. She wanted to smile back at her Esha but couldn’t find the spirit in herself. It was all hollow…empty in there…She looked gravely at Esha!
Esha could feel her heart sinking down…With shaky voice she called out for Maha…”Mom doesn’t seem to be herself…didn’t she sleep well?”
Sophia heard Esha but it was all echoes...coming from far away…and it all started to sublime…floating away…turning to silhouettes!
And there she was with her little Esha again…putting her to bed... Esha's arms wrapped around Sophia.She kissed Esha on her forehead. “It’s time for Mommy to go”…she sailed away towards the door…it was all dark out there…she drifted back to Esha...held her hand tightly…
Esha sank back in her chair. “Mom!” she whispered. With a flickering ray of a dying hope, in Sophia's estranged eyes she sought the spark of life and affection….affection, which defined her gaze… But there was a fearful stillness in them.
Esha could feel her heart fluttering wildly inside and just when she thought Mom was gone…Sophia gently caressed Esha's hand. Esha, shaking all over…hope glistened from the corner of her eyes and trickled down her cheeks. “Please Lord… not now,” she prayed.
From a soft caress to a hurting clench, Sophia’s grip tightened on Esha's hand…her form jerked lightly and with a last departing look at Esha, Sophia drifted into the dark folds of eternal silence.
Maha closed the curtains.
Sun was dipping down in the horizon...