before she left
flew out of the conference. Everything blurry in front of
her eyes, somehow she managed to hail a cab and instruct the
driver to take her to 27 Sherard Road, East Ham. After settling
down in the taxi, realisation dawned upon her that it would
take her at least an hour and a half to reach the hotel. Maybe
I should just head towards the airport, she thought. The return
ticket to Dhaka was lying in her hotel room, Oh shucks! She
reminded herself. All she could do was just sit, wait till
she reached her hotel, and pray for everything to be as it
minutes ago, she remembered that her cell phone was still
switched on. Oops! Don't want it to go blaring right in the
middle of my presentation. That's when she found the sign
of an envelope blinking on the screen of her phone. I must
have missed this one in the London traffic with all it's blaring
horns, she rolled her eyes. Ever since she reached London
a week ago, she could barely keep up with everything around
her. Even though it was her second trip to London, she was
having a tough time getting used to the different time zone,
hardly able to keep her eyes open during the daytime and redefining
insomnia at night. However, she was very excited to be there.
Being part of a junior linguistics research team in Dhaka,
she worked very hard on a paper, describing her ideas and
concepts regarding teaching foreign languages to second language
learners of all ages.
on the main conference day, when she received a text message
from her brother. Apuni, come home asap. Ma doesn't have much
time left. Reaching her hotel, she leaped out of the taxi
and ran to her room. Grabbing her travel bag, purse and taking
five minutes to cast a last look around her hotel room, in
case she missed anything important, ran out of the hotel and
took the taxi all the way to Heathrow International Airport.
moments, she couldn't keep herself calm any longer. It seemed
like an eternity before she could actually reach her family
back home. She let the tears flow when an image of her mother's
face hovered in front of her eyes. I want to be there when
they take that machine off her. Her family was struck with
fear when they realised that the ever-jolly aunt and the fun
mom wouldn't live long, when she was diagnosed with blood
cancer. She, along with the rest of her siblings, was pleasantly
surprised with their mother's ability to fight the disease
and go on for a few more years.
got on the plane and strapped herself with the seat belt,
she couldn't help thinking of the times when she and her siblings
were younger and life back then was simply a routine, which
everyone had to follow, never worrying about the hardships
in life. Life was a bed of roses for all of them, especially
with a mother who herself was a little more than a child.
She would laugh heartily with the rest of the kids while watching
TV or try to get into the gossiping rituals, with her daughter
and her friends during their sleep- overs, much to her daughter's
slowly dozed off to sleep, she went back to a time when she
was just six years old. Her four-year-old brother and she
were trying to hide the expensive piece of flower vase from
their father, now broken.
it up with super glue, at least they thought they did, and
placed it back up on the shelf, beside their mother's precious
crystal horse. They did get grounded though, when they were
found guilty of the 'crime' and were not allowed to watch
Voltron, Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers on TV for the rest of
the day. She was especially hurt when she wasn't allowed to
watch Care Bears that evening and couldn't help thinking of
how horrible it was to live with her parents. I can't wait
to grow up, she cried to herself. That was when her mother
amused them with her magical abilities. Her mother sat down
on the ground and asked the children to close their eyes and
concentrate hard. When they opened their eyes, abraca dabra,
she came up with oranges, within seconds and that too from
thin air! Even though her brother did claim that he had seen
their mother cheat, when he had opened his eyes slightly and
peeked at her. She had a bowl of oranges hidden behind her.
reaching Zia International Airport, she was too exhausted
to think of what was happening around her. Getting on yet
another cab, she reached the hospital where her family was
waiting. Waiting for what, she wondered. Her mother to die?
her mother was simply unimaginable. In spite of all their
fights, tears and screaming at each other late into the night,
she needed her mother to be with her and listen to her non-stop
chattering. She needed her mother when she was angry and had
to scream at someone. She needed her when she had to call
someone and share the silliest of information and just see
her mother's fuming face when she would come home late.
stepped inside the room, where her mother was breathing softly.
Her mother looked peaceful and strangely relieved, not at
all scared or tensed about going to a new place, as was her
habit. She knelt down and held her mother's hand. She held
me when I breathed my first. "We'll have to take the
machine off now," a voice spoke to her. I want to hold
her hand when she breathes her last.
family gathered around, seemingly to witness her mother's
soul go away to a place unknown, she could actually imagine
her mother happy and smiling to have the whole family together.
"I would have to be on my death bed to see the family
standing together under the same roof, holding no grudge against
one another," she remembered her mother telling her aunt,
clearly upset over the little squabbles that went on forever
in the extended family.
beeped for the last time. Her mother's breathing became slower,
eventually dying away to a whisper. She held her mother's
hand and told her the one thing she hardly ever let her know.
She loved her and she was sure that from somewhere in God's
own abode, she heard her mother respond, in her smiling and
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