She takes pride in the fact that she raised her children well, both by societal standards and also her own. Both of them are well settled, sound of health, decent and well behaved. Her older child, now a man of thirty two likes to travel and staying true to his passion, he has his own trekking and tourism establishment. He is married to his childhood sweetheart, a very well behaved woman of great intellect and sound countenance. She is quite optimistic that they are going to bear healthy and intelligent children given their lineage and their good genes.
Her younger daughter, although of fickle disposition, yet a vivacious girl, has a healthy social life and is hardly ever seen alone. She has never been ecstatic with her daughter’s extroverted personality and ever increasing circle of acquaintances which latter prefers to classify as friends. However being a person who gives academic achievements utmost importance and topmost priority, the fact that her daughter has always excelled in her studies and has proudly claimed her seat in country’s top college, she decided to overlook her daughter’s want of social preferences in the long run of her life. Her strong academics and kind personality make up for it.
Until their schooling life, she has always been with them. Both physically and emotionally,catering to their minutest of needs, ensuring they get the best of foods – regular almonds and groundnuts for the necessary oils, daily two cups of milk and with eggs, carrots for the eyes. This is of course just supplemental to the regular supply of proteins and carbohydrates and not to forget the daily two litres of fluid.
Although she never attached much importance to sports or any other co -curricular activity to the extent that they could be taken up as a career, however keeping in mind that these go a long way in maintaining a good health, she encouraged them to pursue it. Moreover, she didn’t want her children to not have chance to decide what they actually aspired for. So true to her words she made them join all kind of activities.
The fact that she was working and earned sufficiently enough to try out every opportunity helped too. But of course she considered education of primary importance and something which could not be done away with and so she employed all the help she could gather for them to excel. She has always been a demanding mother and her children have never let her down. She knew she has been difficult with them and she is grateful that they understood.
But that was until a year ago. Now that both of them are not here by her side, she has suddenly found herself very idle. She missed them, that is true. But she would pacify herself justifying that it is the same for every mother. That’s how it is.
During her free time, she reads and has taken up gardening as her hobby to keep herself busy at least until it’s time for her daughter’s marriage which has still a few more years to go.
She does call them every day, mostly in the evenings.
But today is different. She has not made her customary call. She knows they will. It’s her birthday after all.
All these years when either or both of her children were alongside her in this house, they have never forgotten her big day. Rummaging through their piggy banks, searching through their old jeans pockets and scavenging through her old torn office bag, they would collect whatever money they could find and then bring her cake in the evening. What they didn’t know was, that their mother purposely put some coins and notes in those said hiding places for them to find and not be disheartened. When evening came, they would decorate the living room, bring her the said cake,sing her a birthday song and then force her to make potato chops celebrating the occasion.
Fondly remembering those beautiful times, she glanced at her watch. It’s already 8 pm. They should have called by now , she wondered. It’s unlike them to not wish her.
Are they alright? Has something untoward happened to them.
Discarding the stupid thoughts, she went on with her work.
She didn’t want to call. They might have been planning a surprise and she didn’t want to spoil their plans due to her indignation and restlessness. But a growing feeing of dread gnawed her guts.
She checked her wall clock this time. It’s 9.05 pm. After much deliberation she picked up the phone. Her son’s phone rang.
“Hello Ma!”. It was her daughter in law from the other side, the voice almost inaudible.
” Hello, Pakhi.. Where are you all? The sound isn’t coming in alright in the phone.”
“Hello,hello..Ma.. Yeah..some problem with the line. Did you have your dinner? We are dining out today…”
“No,not yet.Just lazing around, reading an article..”.
The line was still giving disturbance.
“Couldn’t get you, the words are broken dear”.
” Oh..okay.. . Will call you -”
Pakhi repeated ” Will call you after sometime. Bye”
At least they are OK. Pakhi sounded alright,she decided. She dialed her daughter this time. The latter picked up at after the 10th ring.
“Hey Mommy darling.. What doing..?”
“I am good.. Just reading an article..”
“Cool.. Actually I am outside.. Will be back in 15 min.. Will call you once I get back okay.”.
“It’s OK..you alright?”
“Yes Ma.. Why take tension.. Chill!”
Her children are OK. She felt relieved. She was angry at herself that she waited the whole day to call.
Ah her birthday..!
Shouldn’t she be glad that her children are alright, isn’t that enough of a gift. When did she pick up this modern day culture of birthday greetings and wishes. She herself doesn’t even know when her parents were born. Letting out a small sigh, she went on with her work.
It’s 10.30 pm now. Already past her regular bedtime. As she laid on her bed and she let out a small night time prayer she has been saying since her childhood..
It is the door bell.
Wondering who is calling on her so late at night, she got up. Fetching her glasses,she made her way towards the front door on her way making a stop at the kitchen confirming if she has enough potatoes.
She peeped through the eyehole. No one. This is odd.
She opened it cautiously..
” Madam.. There is some repairing work going on in the water pump.. So water would be available only till 7 tomorrow. Keep it stored.”
It was the caretaker and watchman of her building standing in the stairway..
She nodded, closed the door and went to her bed retiring for the day.