Shackles | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 12, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 12, 2019


Like all other humid Friday afternoons, that one was one no different. Rahela was gazing through the window of her warm room. All she could see was the green meadows and tall trees surrounding the building, the crimson red sun glaring in full might. She was savoring the view in full.

“How are you, Ma?”

“Better than ever, dear”, she replies with a faint smile.

“Come, it’s time for lunch.”


She continued to look through the green meadows, lost in thought. She still recalls the first time she had been there.

She had led an extremely mundane life. Her world was confined to her husband’s residence. She never partook in any adventures. She didn’t dare set foot outside the house unless her family needed her to. Along with her husband, they had devoted their entire lives to the welfare of their sons.

Like any other middle class family, they had loads to complain about. Loads.

Yet, in their family, they went by one simple rule. “You never complain.” Eventually, things were starting to look up for them.

But nothing lasts forever.

Soon, death found its way to them and took her along, orphaning the teenagers. Rahela, well into her 30s, had made up her mind not to give up and decided to sacrifice all her desires for the sake of a bright future for her children. After years of struggle and fight against innumerable obstacles that had crossed her path, she finally relaxed when she heard that her youngest got a job at a multinational firm. She felt as if she had completed her bucket list of wants.

She was welcome in both of her son’s houses. Her daughter-in-laws took great care of her, always prepared to tend to her needs. Rahela couldn’t hope for a better life. She only wished that her husband was there by her side.

But as days passed, decrepitude kept up with her and she realised that the clock was ticking down. Her sickness started to become more severe by the day. She couldn’t gather enough energy to even climb out of the bed, let alone help others with their chores. Slowly her life was confined to the shabby bedroom of her eldest son’s apartment. Often she heard her sons and their wives engaging in arguments. She didn’t have any clue what they kept arguing about.

Or maybe she did.

One day, her sons visited her in the dark bedroom. Her grandson came rushing towards her but was thwarted by his mother. Both the sons sat in two corners of the bed.

Was it that time already?

The eldest son sat beside her.  “Mother?” he began. Rahela looked up and saw her whole family through her old, wrinkled eyes. “You have been staying in this dark, smelly bedroom for far too long. It’s time we took you out to introduce you to fresh air.” She liked the idea and nodded in agreement. Still, she couldn’t get over the fright.

The whole family got into the spacious SUV. It had been severable years since she last got into the car. After a long drive of several hours, they finally arrived at their destination. Slowly clutching her walking stick, Mrs. Khan disembarked the vehicle. She pressed her framed spectacles close and kept reading the giant signboard that stood before her over and over again.

After all, her greatest fear had finally come true.

“Ma, come on. The lunch bell has been rung. You have to go,” the room attendant told her gently as she always did.

“Coming, sweetheart,” she weakly responded.


The writer is a Class 12 student at Notre Dame College.

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