Happy Mother’s Day

[I wrote this story almost four years ago! I am posting the story as it was, four years ago. Please forgive me for any errors that might have crept in. Hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.]

Jonaki was looking at the city lights through the rain-splattered glass of the Taxi, wide-eyed. The rain on the window caused the lights to appear as smudges on the glass. She touched her hand on the glass. It felt cold. She started drawing a contour of a woman. The elderly woman beside her asked compassionately, “Who is she, Jonaki?”

“My mother”, she replied to the kind woman. The taxi jerked, coming to an abrupt halt; the result of torrential rainfall rendering almost zero visibility to the taxi driver. There was a massive jam ahead.

It was Mother’s day the next day and Jonaki was excited and worried at the same time; she has experienced a plethora of mixed emotions since the previous day. Yes, she was overtly excited about ‘Mother’s Day’ as Jonaki’s mom was in jail and she was not allowed to see her sans this day, for the judge was humble and a mother herself. Mother’s day had a completely new meaning for Jonaki; it was not about giving presents and people posing with their mothers and uploading their pictures on the Social Networking sites. It was far from it, far intense and far meaningful.

The plausible reasons for arresting Shiuli, Jonaki’s mother, were not few- she was a hardcore addict and worked in the local sewing company set up by the ‘Aangaanwadi’ from the government. Repeated absence, vamoosing much earlier than usual was normal for her, but all hell broke loose when Shiuli was caught stealing. The local people handed her over to the police station where she was sentenced to five years of imprisonment coupled with another five years at a rehabilitation center. Jonaki was deracinated without her mother; barely three years old, she stayed at her aunt’s. Fate had been cruel to Jonaki; she had lost everything she had at such tender age.

From that day onwards, Jonaki’s every cell, tissue, and muscle would wait for this day of the year when she would get to spend time with her mother. This time it was even more special as Shiuli was to be transferred from the jail to a rehabilitation center, and this would be Jonaki’s second visit to the dreadful place. All year long, she maintained a copy, which had within it all the questions that Jonaki wanted to ask- questions like “Did you quit drugs?” and some questions appearing frequently “Promise me you’ll never leave me again?”

“Honey, your soup is ready”, said the kind old lady. Jonaki’s aunt was not her real kin, someone who too got involved in a prostitution ring and was in police custody. On the top of that, she herself was impoverished and penniless.  Jonaki was soon picked up by a local NGO and within weeks, a meeting was set up with the elderly woman who decided to adopt her until Shiuli arrived. “This is tasty! This is chicken naa?” questioned Jonaki with delight, her eyes shining. “No this is a mushroom!” the lady retorted back, barely trying to hide the pseudo anger. She wanted to raise the little girl to be adept in all the city methods. “You’re excited about the meeting tomorrow, isn’t it?” the woman patted Jonaki’s back smiling.

The next morning

Jonaki did not attempt to hide her excitement, as she knew that all her efforts would go futile. As the taxi sets into motion, a heavy drizzle started. The whole journey, Jonaki was animated and full of joy. With each passing kilometer, her heartbeat increased and by the time they reached the Rehabilitation Center’s gate, Jonaki was confident that her legs would collapse and she would fall. Despite her joy being somewhat dampened by the grim appearance of the institution building, she still managed to keep up the lead. Being a bright student, Jonaki had a photographic memory and was able to recognize the way without much effort from her brain.

“Mr. Guard uncle, please open the door quickly so I can wish mommy,” an elated Jonaki shouted out to the guard. Patients in the ward were no doubt kept in isolation. The guard who was good friends with Jonaki smiled at her, showing his guthka-laden teeth.  Jonaki raised her arms up, a familiar sign from children wanting themselves to be lifted and caressed. The guard obeyed. The door opened and the two angels met, smiling wide, accompanied with tears of joy. So many hugs and kisses were exchanged, so many questions asked, and so many stories told. “You’ve grown up!” exclaimed Shiuli as she caressed her daughter. She had never been this happy. Not in a long time.

‘Time and tide wait for none.’

It was the time for departing; a painful goodbye was exchanged in the form a tight hug. The wait had begun again from this moment and would extend for another painful year. “Goodbye, mother”,

Jonaki whispered into her mother’s ears as she secretly slipped something into Shiuli’s hand; though she was shocked, she remained composed. The guard locked the door and Shiuli whispered to her God as she felt the metallic cold on her skin and saw the key, “The best Mother’s day gift I would ever receive,” and hid the key into the folds of her dress.

© Biswadeep

Image courtesy- http://jonvilma.com/the-simpsons.html

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