Ting, tong, ting, tong………..
“Di, I am scared, why aren’t mumma and papa opening the door?”
“I don’t know, even I am scared. But don’t ring it more, else we’d be scolded.”
Anshika and Nitya were home from school around 2p.m. Anshika was in class 5 and Nitya in class 3. Both were little girls, but life made them mature even before they could understand what exactly maturity means.
Suddenly, the door opened, and there was a middle-aged man standing with his brows straighten up, enough to scare the kids at the first glance. He was their father.
Scary silence was the most we-don’t-need-but-have-to-bear guest at their home (actually house). Anshika and Nitya entered their room and to their questioning strangeness saw their mother sleeping on the bed, completely covered with sheet.
They silently changed their dresses and kept the empty tiffin box in the sink. They were curious to know, what had happen but that SILENCE, rather SCARY SILENCE.
Their father came to them and said, “Pulse and rice are kept in the kitchen, go and eat both of you, if you wish to.” He said and rushed towards the bathroom, took something that just reflected rounded purple piece of a cloth and hastily went to his car.
Before he could come back and scold them, both the little girls took 2 plates and served that overly turmeric-pulse and half raw rice, and sat on the dining table. Without a word they started swallowing the food, ofcourse water helps at these situations. And these typically exciting cuisines after a hunger of 8days can sometimes be delicious, even due to fear, to little kids of 8 and 10years.
“Di, how come papa has made the food? Has he spit-up his anger and everything is fine between mummy and papa?” Nitya asked in a very low tone.
“I don’t know”, replied Anshika.
“Di, why did papa take mummy’s purple night gown with him to his office?” Nitya whispered in her kiddo tone. “Nitya, I don’t know. Do not whisper, and eat fast,” Anshika replied.
As soon as the car left the compound, they left their half-eaten meal, locked the house from inside slowly and ran to their room. They both took their place on either side of the bed where their mother was asleep with her body facing the ceiling and covered with sheet from neck to toe.
“Mumma…” Nitya said softly. Anshika added, “Mumma, wake up please, we both are here, papa has gone to the office.”
Their mother half opened her eyes that seemed to be wet and red. Nitya said, “Mumma, did you talk to papa? Is he normal now mumma? Do you know he cooked food for us, why are you sleeping right now, get up and we will eat together. You too have not had a single thing since last 8days.”
“Nitya, do not disturb mumma. Just keep quiet, she is resting. She will tell us everything, you have patience.” Anshika said to Nitya and towards mother, “Mumma, we don’t want to see you weep anymore. We are always there with you, please tell us what has happened.”
“How are my sweet girls?” their mother could hardly speak, as if in intense pain with tears rolling down the ends of her eyes. Both the girls wiped the tears from either sides but couldn’t stop themselves from weeping at their mother’s voice, and said in unison, “Please don’t cry mumma, we both love you a lot.”
“My kids, slowly remove this sheet from me.”
Their little palms and those even little fingers didn’t know what they were going to reveal. As soon as the entire sheet was removed, all that those kids could manage was scream and shout, “Mumma, mumma what is this mumma?”
“Mumma please say no, what has happened to you?”
They both started weeping bitter and even bitterer. Under the wrap of that sheet was their mother, lying semi-nude revealing neck, shoulders, stomach, waist, both hands, thighs, knee, down legs, feet, all severely bruised, with dark brown round patches of skin layer as if the pulp of extra-ripen mango. It’s very difficult to see one’s own mother lying burnt in front of you and you are helpless not to do anything that could comfort her and for those little kids, it was something unbearable.
“My child, don’t cry, mumma is fine beta.”
“Hupppp…”, this was all that could come out of Nitya.
Anshika tried to speak, “M-mu-mumma, m-mumma, we-we will ta-take you to h-h-ho-hos-hos-pital.”
Both the girls were vehemently weeping. “My kids come closer to my face and sit. And cover me again first, bachcha.” They did exactly what their mumma said.
“Beta, I’m fine. I know it’s painful for you both, but you both are mumma’s strength. So please don’t cry my children. My girls are brave no, so stop crying now and tell me how your both’s day was?” God, where from these mothers bring stamina to bear pain herself but comfort her children!
“M-mumma, it was all fine. P-Please you don’t sp-speak much, it- it might p-pain you. Jus- Just tell us what-t has h-h-hap-happened? Then-then we won’t t-trouble you any-more.” Anshika said hardly in her weeping voice.
“Beta, you both can in no world ever trouble me. You both are the only possessions I hold my sweethearts. Nothing, I just went to talk to your father. His fire can never be easily watered, you know. The entire ambience had been so tensed for last 8 days and that too for no silly reason. I know it’s the same scenario after every few days. But anger doesn’t have feelings in it. None of us were eating anything, your papa was not talking to us, so I again tried to talk to him and settle things, but all in vain. So, in frustration I tried to commit suicide and burnt myself. Since I was wearing my purple gown, the fire paced up quickly. I shouted in pain and after a while your papa came. When he saw me, he brought a blanket and tried to diminish the fire, I was being out of control due to pain, so he slapped me twice, and I was sub-conscious. After that when I gained my senses, I was lying here covered. Your father prepared the food for you both. Everything would be normal now my sweethearts.”
“An-and wh-what about your p-pain mumma? H-how will you re-re-cover with-without medicine-medicines huhh mumma??” Anshika said.
“Oh, my kids, you both are here, so close to me, I’ve almost recovered now. These bruises will go on their own, I just need to rest, and you both near me.”
“See-see we are n-not cry-crying, you also g-give a smile, then we-we w-will bring the foo-food and feed you fir-first, then we will also e-eat.” Anshika tried to wipe off her tears with her little palm.
After all mothers can never make their children upset. Their mother too tried to smile a bit and turned towards Nitya. Nitya was continuously sobbing and could hardly speak a word.
“Ohh my little chatterbox will not talk to mumma?”
“Yes, my baby, say…”
All that Nitya could say in her little voice was, “W-will it h-hu-hu-rt, if we h-h-hug you?”
Their mother nodded to say no. Both of them hugged her tightly but carefully, and all three burst out in warm tears and tears and those tears!
Ting, tong, ting, tong………..