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Ma - It is difficult not to miss her

It is difficult coming back to a place where nobody has time for you. School is much better, the sounds too, much pleasant; students buzzing with various activities and humming like a swarm of bees, memorizing lessons, repeating, mumbling, inaudible words they have with so much difficulty memorized in a sequence and with equal effort scribbling it down on the virgin paper.

‘Ratoo totaas,’ laughs Vilas.

I see some empty seats. Must be absentees. Failed to give the exam. Sigh.

‘Yes,' I say.

I miss the chalk scratch on the blackboard that left the ear with a ‘radio signal’ kind of ‘tuuuuuuuuuuuu’ sound. My migraines used to get worse then and the children sitting next to me would squeal with irritation like little kids being forced to eat.

'Those were the days eh!?'

'Yes Vilas those were the days.'

'So where to now?' asks Vilas.

'Home……hmmm….it’s been a long time.'

'There it is. It’s been ages since I walked down these familiar streets. There used to be a strong stench from the pile of rubbish dumped around the corner of the lane Ah it’s still there! But the smell is gone. Strange!!! Do you get it Vilas?'

'No Adi I don’t.'

But the rubbish is still there.

'I know.'

Strange.

As we walk to the front door Ma opens the door without even looking at us. Displeased maybe at what I had done.

'She is still angry with me.'

'I know. I see that,' says Vilas.

‘Veenu,’ shouts Ma and my younger brother comes running.

'Close the door, I don’t wan’t dust from the street on my floor. Sometimes I wonder whether I am the master of this house or the maid,' mumbles Ma.

When will you change ma. Your cleanliness has reached eccentric proportions now.

She looks at me makes a face, walks up to me, stands quite still and looks me straight in the eyes and says, ‘It’s getting late, I got work to do’.

‘Never mind Veenu,' says she, ‘I will close the door’.

'I think she dislikes me.'

'It’s ok, Vilas, usual tantrums from Ma. If she disliked you she would have said something.'

'So where is your room?'

'Next to the corridor.'

'Ok, then lets go.'

So we reach my room and Vilas browses through my books. He is fascinated by my collection of school certificates, medals, cups, swimming trophies and other memorabilia.

'Wow is this all yours?' he asks.

I am entertained by his innocent curiosity and nod my head with a smile.

'You are great my friend!!!!'

'Now you know.'

Vilas peeps out of my door and says, 'Your Ma is serving lunch to others. Won’t she call us?'

'She is angry Vilas. She is not going to call so starve.'

We are there at my home for a couple of hours and then it’s time to leave.

'Let's tell Ma we are leaving.'

'All right.'

So we walk up to Ma’s room and she is not there.

She is not there in Veenu’s room too.

I got to meet her before I leave, don’t know when I will come home next.

'Ma, Ma,' I call her.

And I see her there then, sitting in the pooja room. Face in her hands in silent sobs. As I enter she looks up to me and says, ‘I know you are here, I know you are here. My heart can’t lie. You are my favourite son Adi and always will be. My first born,' and she hugs my garlanded picture and cries. 'It’s your birthday today. I love you beta and I miss you. I want to be with you,' and the sobs keep getting louder.

Time to go.

'So do I Ma, so do I.'

The picture in her hands says: Adi – 1980 to 2010

______________________________________________________________________

For the readers :

Ratoo totaas : (as against memorising parrot -style)

Ratoo : Person who memorizes

Totaas : Parrots

Pooja : Worship

Beta : Son (but these days an endearment used for daughters as well)

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