Sitting in our garden in the warm winter sun, we were enjoying our morning cup of tea. I was trying to figure out the breakfast menu when the phone rang. It was an unknown number. Reluctantly I picked up the phone and the voice from the other side said,
‘Ma, it is me’! I was overjoyed to hear the voice as it was that of our only son.
‘We are coming to Kolkata to celebrate Durga Puja with both of you. Please inform Papa.’
It was almost a year I heard his voice. I did not know if I was supposed to be happy or …
Sumeet was only six months old when the doctor pronounced that he had a very rare condition in the digestive system. He was not to be given any food item containing carbohydrate like rice, roti, biscuit etc. We had to feed him only fruits, juice or milk to keep him healthy and alive. We had to take extra care.
‘Mom, I want to introduce someone special to both of you.’ Said he, one day before leaving for office. A sense of foreboding engulfed me. My only son will go away from me! I conveyed my apprehension to my husband. He asked me not to worry as he was confident that our son will be able to balance everything. ‘Be confident of the way you brought him up’.
‘Geeta, come. We all are going to the prayer room.’ Sudha called.
“Coming,” I said. But I wanted to spend some time on my own in this beautiful garden of the old-age home. My thoughts went on a reverse drive. The last four years have been very traumatic. We watched our son struggling to balance his profession, his newly wed wife and his parents. Slowly, we started taking a back seat in his life. We did not interfere much. We did everything possible to maintain the fragile balance. There was a time when his father-in-law was admitted to one of the hospitals at Kolkata. We paid for his hospital bills. We had to liquidate a fixed deposit to meet the expenses. Once he was released from the hospital, we hosted him for almost two months as they were staying in a remote location and did not have the required medical infrastructure. Why did we pay? Decency! Empathy! Probably both.
My husband worked in a government enterprise. After retiring, he put away most of his money into fixed deposits. The monthly household expenses were met from the pension he was getting. We expected the money to be returned and instead we received a big surprise. One day my son said, ‘Mom, Dad. We want to live separately. Please try to understand my situation.’ The next day, they left us. They took all the furniture we bought for him, the small alarm clock , the FM radio, cooler etc. He even took the washing machine and fridge he once gifted me. There were so many other thoughts which was crossing my mind.
‘Geeta, you seem to be lost in thought! All ok?’ I was jolted back to reality by the kind volunteer of this old-age home.
‘I am fine! Our son, with his family is visiting us and they will stay for 3 days. Please book the guest room.’
He promised to book the guest room and went back.
After 16 years, I will spend three whole days with my son. I started planning to make it the most memorable one.
*As told to Coena Mukherjee by a Mother who wishes to remain anonymous.