Read my simple short story till the end…
Today, Jimmy has been barking more than usual. Much more. In fact he’s not stopping at all. As I work in my backyard – raking leaves, watering the plants and collecting lemons – Jimmy barks non-stop.
That is unusual given that he is quite used to seeing me around working the way I’m doing today. On most days, as I go about my little tasks, I can see the big dog looking affectionately towards me from over the fence that divides my house and his house. I mean, his master’s house.
It’s as if Jimmy knows me well. Many a times I have thought that they tie him up here at their backyard and forget him, therefore he feels happy to see me. Less lonely. But today, he’s been behaving like a stranger. Or is it that today I seem to be a stranger to him?
Just as Jimmy barks continuously and I speculate on all possible reasons for his weird behavior, I see my neighbor come out of the house. I pause the hosing of plants and take a step forward in a gesture of hello, waving my hand slightly and uttering a soft ‘hi’. But it seemed as if she didn’t see me.
Hence I move further ahead near the fence while Jimmy continues to go berserk. My neighbor too now steps forward, seems to be coming towards her side of our common fence. Has she seen me now? But all she does is spread out the washed laundry on her clothesline. She’s situated almost face-to-face but literally ignores me. Possibly she blames her dog’s barking on me, I think to myself.
I shrug my shoulders and get back to the task of shearing a plant. Upset mood means less focus and I cut my hand. Not a huge cut, and luckily it didn’t hurt at all. Surprising that there’s no bleeding either. But it’s time to go indoors as the weather is getting hot.
As I step inside my house, I remember something. Today was one of the very rare days when I woke up quite late. So much so that my son had already left home for his day. He must have taken whatever lunch or snacks he could think of. Thus feeling guilty I whinge to myself, that at least he could wake me up.
I suddenly have warm feelings for him. I had not seen him this morning so I try to call him on his mobile.
As I get connected, he says “Hello!”. I can hear his voice saying repeatedly “Hello!…Hello!!”… but why can’t he hear me saying hello?
“Who’s there?”, he asks.
“It’s me…mom! Can’t you hear me?”
I raise my voice, almost shouting. But no. He cannot hear. A bit upset over this too, I decide to call later.
What kind of day is this? May be a face-wash or a bath will refresh me. I walk listlessly towards the washroom, and as I open the tap on the hot water side, I touch the flowing water but cannot feel the hot water. Now, please don’t tell me the water heater is also playing up!
No warmth or coldness felt as water slips between, or rather through my fingers and palm. Surprised and still washing my face, I suddenly look at the mirror. I can’t locate myself! Where am I? Nowhere. I can’t see myself. I can’t! I’m not in the mirror!!
Dazed, I thump down on the bathroom floor. What’s this?
I suddenly know what it is. I had ceased to exist. I didn’t wake up in the morning. I touch my arms, my legs and my face in frenzy. I am real. No. I am not real! I am not real!!
I sit there for long. Finally, as I gather my calm, I decide. For now I’ll continue to work in the kitchen, finish the meals I was preparing for my boy. He’s now a big boy. My little boy. My baby. I will cook his favorite dish. He may not be able to see me when he comes back but hopefully he can eat it.
Tears roll down my eyes and my vision gets blurred as I think of the days ahead when he won’t ever get any food made by his mama. And one day he will get married but I won’t be able to attend it. Thinking thus I drop the cooking pot.
The bin man outside had banged the empty rubbish bin on the ground with a loud bang. I wake up with a jerk. Too baffled, I look around. I’m on my bed. I can hear my own thumping heartbeat while my both hands are clutched together on my chest. Sweat dripping down my burning forehead, and streaks of tears down my cheeks. I am crying. I cry even more on getting back my life. I thank God. I thank God a million times for this precious life.
Life is precious. Every moment is a treat. But…you never know for how long this benevolent life is going to treat us with its goodies and when it’s going to trick us by suddenly deciding to withdraw its treats all at once.
“Taste life…touch it…smell it…see it…and hear it!! That is life supposed to be for us flesh and blood beings. Even a ghost can do all the thinking and brooding”, I find myself uttering out aloud.
My voice fascinates me. The sound of it seems so melodious now. I always took it for granted. I have always postponed practicing singing.
I jump out of the bed with enthusiasm of a new-found life and peep into my son’s room. He’s still asleep. Walking up to his bed and lovingly touching his head and tangled hair, I now know for sure that today at least I’ll be able to treat him with one of his favorites…veg-rice. Who knows about tomorrow?
© 2015 Alka Girdhar