If roses grow in heaven,
Lord please pick a bunch for me,
Place them in my Mother’s arms
And tell her they’re from me.
– By Dolores M. Garcia
Recalling that fateful day –
It was a bright sunny day. I had a bath and joined my hands in front of Goddess Durga and just asked her to find a solution to all my problems, to end all the pain from my and my family’s life. I then got a call from Bhai, he was inquiring about Mommy as she wasn’t picking up the phone. I pacified him and asked him not to worry and told him she might be busy somewhere amidst the household chores. I then rang her a few times, but she didn’t respond. By then my heart had started beating fast, but then I just comforted myself saying that she might have left the phone at home and might have gone somewhere. I then called a friend of mine, she also didn’t pick up the phone. Then, on my way to office, I joking told her and another friend of mine that today is something special, people are too busy and are not picking up the phone, my Mommy is also not responding. I reached office and then got a call or two from my brothers inquiring about Mommy’s whereabouts. Ultimately, my dad called one of our neighbors and they informed that there was something fishy as it seemed that she hadn’t woke up that morning. The house was locked from inside. Then they broke the window pane and saw her lying in a suspicious state with a pool of blood on the bedside with half of her body on the bed and her head hanging down. There was a state of confusion and I wasn’t able to figure out what to do. I called up Papa and he was not in senses, just yelling and crying. I still had a ray of hope that she might be unconscious and she will be okay. My heart was beating fast and competing with my brain’s thought processing and trying to convince that she is still alive. In spite of everyone from my family having declared that she is no more and asking me to accept the truth and not panic and comeback home for the funeral, there was still a ray of hope somewhere deep inside my heart that she might be alive.
I then took the flight back home and reached Kolkata. I along with my two brothers then hired a taxi for my hometown. It was a seven-hour journey. That was the worst road trip ever. We couldn’t figure out what to talk, how to look into each other’s eyes. It had roughly been 2 – 3 months since we had last gathered at home. Everything from childhood till date was running in front of my eyes, with tears rolling down. God knows from where those tears were coming out. It seemed as if they would dehydrate the body. With my head lying on my brother’s shoulders, my eyes weren’t even fluttering, they were wide open and a flood of tears coming out of them. It seemed as if there was nothing left in this world, no future, nothing. We then reached our home, the taxi stopped. My eldest brother came running, trying to console us and himself crying profusely. I could then find a small gathering of neighbours and relatives who had come over after hearing the news. It was so traumatic to see Nanaji, and he was consoling us saying that we weren’t so lucky, and it was all about destiny, she had to leave us. It was the first time, I saw my Dad crying so badly and his decibels rising as I and my brothers cried. Because of the post-mortem, the body was packed in a polybag and was kept in a wooden box along with big slabs of ice. It was already late, so we didn’t open the packaging of the body. In a hurry, we all packed our bags as we had to leave for Patna for the last rites which was to be done on the bank of river Ganga. As my mother’s body was loaded in a pickup van, it left behind a pool of blood that had flown out of the body. I remember, I used the wiper to wipe off that blood from the drawing room. The situation was like, just my hands and legs were moving and still I couldn’t feel any sensation in them. Roaming around in the house, every inch, every corner of that house reminded us of her. Everything of her choice, there wasn’t a single entity there, which didn’t have a memory of her attached with it. I still remember, the curd, the half prepared pickles, about which she was telling me a day ago, that she would be giving me those pickles the next time I visit her.
Then we headed towards Patna and reached the Ganga ghat, where our other relatives had gathered. Everyone was in shock and was trying to console us. And then came that moment – which still haunts me, even today. My mother’s body was brought down and was taken out of that polybag. It was put on that ‘arthi’ – a bamboo made structure used for carrying the body of the deceased. And it was lifted, suddenly, my eyes fell on that. I could so clearly identify her legs and I just couldn’t stop howling and weeping. And then it was put down for performing some rituals like putting sindoor and alta(a red liquid that ladies put on their nails), and dressing her up. It was the first time I saw her face, she was lying down in peace, not answering any of our queries. Her face was swollen, almost double in size and the stitch (of the postmortem) on her head was clearly visible, her lips were drooping down, her eyes closed. It was the first time in life, she wasn’t answering me. I kept asking Papa, Bhaiya, why did this happen, how could Mumma leave us, what will happen now. No one had an explanation. And then, I saw Bhai in that white cloth – referred as kafan, this was a scene that broke my heart into pieces. It felt as if I was living the worst dream I could have ever dreamt my entire life. And then that asthi-visarjan, a 75 kg body was reduced into 2-3 kg of ashes, it was all over, Mom was no more, what was left was her memories to cherish for in life. After immersing her remains into the river, we left for our paternal village where all other rituals were performed for the next 12 days.
Even now, 7 months have passed and I can still feel the emptiness in my life, the same I had felt those days. I still feel the same pain the day I crave to talk to her. I still cry my heart out once every 2-3 days. This void in my life can never be filled, this is the truth – and I will have to accept it. Although she keeps visiting me via my dreams almost every day, I love seeing her but once I wake up, she goes away, again leaving me to cope up from my situation myself. Weekends do give my physical body rest, a break from the monotonous life at office, but they also tear my soul apart. This emptiness haunts me the most on Saturdays and Sundays. My eyes go dry sometimes, shedding tears in her remembrance. The best part of my office is that it has served as the best escape route for me, to forget all the pain and the craving to talk to Mommy. Slowly and steadily, life is coming back on track. This emptiness is not going to stop chasing me but this pain is becoming a part of life. Just learning to adjust with all that I have.
Having experienced this, I must say, I have emerged as a stronger and a more mature person. Now, I have become more responsible towards myself as well as my family. I have started loving them more and caring for them, although I love my Mommy the most. My mother is my inspiration, my ideal, my hero. Now, I think twice thrice or more no of times before doing anything, as I feel as if Mommy can now watch me every time everywhere and I cannot afford to disappoint her. I must say, the bond a child develops with his/her mother in her womb stays forever, even after her soul departs. Although I don’t believe in the theory of rebirth, but still if there’s something like that, I wish to be have her as my mother every time.