I’ve taken to not reading papers nowadays. More often than not, I am horrified by the city happenings – a murder here, a rape there – I am a suspect of the usual evasion technique, much like the ostrich, I hide my face in the sand.
It was an unfortunate Thursday when I picked up the paper, glancing through the headlines when I stumbled upon a news item that made me feel suffocated in a room with enough ventilation.
There used to be a very happy family of three – mother, father and son, in a very posh colony of South Delhi. The father put together all that he had accumulated over his 45 years of service and managed to send the son to prestigious America, for an education that his motherland couldn’t provide him. Pride enveloped him like a warm, woollen shawl when his son held the admissions letter for one of the top universities in America.
Soon enough, our Indian boy became Americanized – his calls decreased, letters were lostmidway. It was always a class he had to get to, a job he had taken up, a friend’s housewarming party or some other chore he had to run. The extremely busy boy got to know about his father’s untimely demise 3 weeks after it happened when he couldn’t fathom why his mother persistently called him 21 times.
The mother’s whispering sighs of understanding – yes I know how busy you are, we understand, when can we see you – knew in her heart what she didn’t want to know. The already decrepit house began to see even more decay.
The vines whispered to each other – we will keep her safe, completely engulfing the House. Sunlight was afraid to enter – oh dear, what will I come face to face with? The air grew still and refused to change any direction – what if we carried the bad luck from this house to some other family?
Nothing and no one realized that the mother hadn’t ventured out of the house in days – there was no one coming out to collect the milk or the newspaper, no one drying clothes on a washing line and no one paying any bills or handing money to anyone for running any chores.
Anyone who spared a thought to the old lady concluded the obvious – the son had her shipped to the US.
It wasn’t until several months later when the neighbours couldn’t bear the acrid smell anymore, they realized that a body was decaying in the home ( can we call it that? ) next to theirs.
Is there a bit of the son in all of us? And if there isn’t, is there a gnawing feeling that there could a bit of the son in all of us?
A missed call here, an email there, maybe a bill we were supposed to pay, maybe a birthday we couldn’t attend, or maybe simply, the love we forgot to reciprocate?
Is there someone you need to call today?