Time flies. Last week, at this time 5.00 p.m, I was sitting alone, sipping on my tea and watching Cinderella on T.V. with all the latches on the door put; the only sounds being of the sparrows and the grandfather clock in the living room.
‘Mamma don’t leave me. Keep holding me,’ my younger one said clinging on as I attempted to release her after holding her close to me at the airport in a ‘mamma- hug.’ It was around 3.15 p.m. when the kids started getting out.
‘I’m so glad I’m back. I thought I’d never see you again.’
Amidst the returning children and eagerly awaiting parents, I realized there was something she wasn’t telling me. The smile, the look in the eye and the clinging were signs of a tale untold. I tried prodding but all I got was ‘Later!’
‘Where is your sister?’ I asked, not seeing the older one. They had left together. I hoped they’d walk out together too but it was not to be. They had stayed in two separate camps and had just about crossed each other’s paths during the week’s trip; each respecting the other’s need for space. Though in my mother’s heart, I had hoped they’d talk to each other. I had told them, ‘ Watch each other’s back. Remember you are family. Goodbye,’ all in one breath and they had waved back with a big smile which I had taken to be an assurance to my plea. They were the only siblings on the trip.
‘ She’s in the washroom. I’ll tell you all once we are in the car,’ and then letting go of me, she clung to her dad.
‘Bye Akanksha,’ her friend called out ‘Are you feeling relieved now?’
I saw her nodding, smiling and then a quick hug to her friend and a bye and she was onto me again.
‘There comes Rhea,’ her dad pointed, his eyes glued to the airport exit waiting to see the missing, first born.
Turning towards the airport entrance, I saw Rhea, her lips stretched. Ear to ear, her braces glinted in the sun’s rays. Taking long strides towards us in a tight-fitting Jean and a checks shirt, she looked rosier and taller. The extra flab had worn away with the total absence of junk food at the army.
‘Mamma I missed you. I missed your voice. I’m sorry for being rude to you before I left and saying don’t speak to me first thing in the morning. I’ll never ever do it again.’
‘Wow!’ I thought. This was the best Mother’s Day gift I could have had though it was a day after Mother’s day. How long this love or this understanding, would last, I had no idea but for now it was all that mattered.
With the two girls’ talking fifty to the dozen, paying attention to both and making sense of ‘The toilets were filled with centipedes, cockroaches,’ and ‘I thought I was going to die on the top, I did not sleep at night because I thought I wouldn’t wake up’ and ‘there were leeches all over my legs. We had to put salt over them to get rid of them,’ and ‘Major Deepti looked so pretty in a cotton sari,’ was a challenging task. I cannot say I succeeded very well though mother’s are expected to have the uncanny ability to be able to do so; for I did hear disgruntled voices and ‘I wish there were two of you Ma. You are not listening to me.’ And somewhere between saying, ‘Shut up,’ to the other, and deciding, ‘You talk about the China border, I will tell mamma about the army dinner,’ we turned into the driveway and then in unison, they screamed, ecstatic, ‘Home. At last!’
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