Writing here is no coffee break for me. I write because I have to put what I think out there somewhere.
At times, past moments in life stream in like a slideshow. I just sit back, let those memories take over, haphazard fragments, jumping timeframes randomly, like half remembered old songs.
I stare at the incomplete canvas in front of me. The blue - grey on it takes me to rainy afternoons, years back, when, through our tiny bedroom window, we could see the huge green temple pond. Children, after school, used to dive gleefully from the branches of the overhanging mango tree! Splashing each other and laughing happily in the pouring rain
Moving on, I see the deep orange, purple sunset washing the sky. I watch, sitting at the foot of the hilltop banyan tree on which leaves danced in complete abandon. I remember the ensuing inky blackness of the night, broken only by the temple bells, drums and the mesmerizing glow of oil lamps, lit all around the temple. Sunset only meant going back home, and bedtime, after a warm plate of dinner.
Years later, when I stand watching the flames in the sky die down to cinder, an awareness of the sands of Time trickling, slowly but surely, towards the inevitable end, overwhelms me.
I understand why mother, who used to love sunsets, viewed each passing day with growing unease. A countdown to the total collapse of her body as cancer advanced steadily.
Her black and white picture in our album comes to mind where she stands sideways, her hair, reaching below knees. In the afternoons, lying down for a nap, she used to part her hair in the centre and let us children be her hairdressers!
I loved her hands. They were perfect. Long, tapering, fingers that everyone noticed and remarked, "What artistic fingers !" She was very artistic too . Creating artistic pieces out of broken glass plates, pista shells, or even roots and branches of trees. My heart broke to see those fingers clasped stiffly in death.
She used to come, sit by my bed, take my palms and gently nibble with her lips. Even when I became grown up, and a mother myself, she would pat me lovingly, showering her affection. When she wanted to wake me she would keep on calling me until I had no choice but to get up!
Now, when I look out, I see the blue lights of the hospital where she had her treatment. We used to look at it together from our balcony. Whenever I pointed it to her, she would say, “I just don't want to see that place!” She used to dislike the hospital so much. The smell of coffee in the lobby used to make her nauseous during chemotherapy. She had such faith in her doctors. Somewhere deep inside she expected them to work a miracle and free her from cancer.
Yet, whenever anyone in the family was sick, she would rush to them. She found energy in her frail frame to be beside them. She willed herself to live and fight for as long as she could. When I sit in her room and call out aloud to her I know she hears me. Its only my voice that falters and cracks with pain.