The white calf (Part-II)

[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.]

“Crisis are problems we cannot overlook or ignore, they are as imminent as cancer!”Shramana was pulled into a recess of thoughts where everything was automatically playing itself. It was as if the memories of the incidents which often unfolded before her eyes seemed to be taking their predestined course again, and Shramana could not help but see it all for another time. She started telling her son the story as it unfolded before her eyes.

Shramana: My mother, meaning your Grandmother had cancer and I killed her!

Nirbhay: No! You cannot do it!

He was shaken and confused; Nirbhay was getting more and more impatient to know the answer! In fact, he had never hoped that one simple question would open up such a vast range of possibilities and opinions.

Shramana: I clearly remember everything; it was as if it happened yesterday! I was barely nineteen years old then. One fine evening, I was mugging up for my semester examinations in my home when I heard a thud! Someone had definitely fallen and it was my mother. I knew since we were the only living souls in the huge bungalow. Your grandfather was with the Indian Military Academy here in Dehradun and he got very less time to spend with us-our country needed him much more than we did. So, I hurriedly made way, making rough guesses where my mother could be, and lo and behold, I found her lying unconscious on the kitchen floor.

Panic-stricken and afraid, my knees and elbows could not hold my weight anymore, I tried to fight but numbness took over and I fell…

As she said this, Nirbhay noticed his mother was sobbing, almost choking. He went and wiped his mother’s precious tears to which Shramana instinctively kissed him. Arijit was happy with the way the story was unfolding and he could not ask for anything more than this. Shramana continued…

Shramana: The oblivion receded after how much time, I don’t know, but I came to my senses after I felt someone sprinkling water over my face and helping me get up. The person was none other than my mother, she must have come to her senses and by the look on her face, and I could tell she was calm and serene as if nothing had happened.

Shramana: Mother! What happened to you? You…you were unconscious! Let us go to a doctor now! God knows what has happened to you! Mother…

Sarla (Shramana’s mother): I am okay child! No need to worry about me. It was a small incident, my head started spinning and I fell,

Shramana observed Sarla catching her head as she uttered those words; it seemed the effects have not waned properly, which meant only one thing, her mother needed immediate medical attention. Before she could proceed further, her inquisitive son stopped her.

Nirbhay: Mom! Why did you not call the ambulance?

Shramana stroked her son’s hair, smiling at her son’s innocence and vagueness, she replied lovingly,

“Dear, I’m talking of the late 1975 and mobile phones and pagers were not at all available! Besides, we had a land-line phone but it was engaged at that moment. So I decided to put my driving skills to test. Mind you, though I was never a good driver, thanks to my father for he taught me driving when I was a kid. Calculating my options, I decided to drive my mother to the IMA hospital where my father was present. Bahadur, our servant had also arrived at the scene. Thanks to my rigorous shouting and telling my mother to take the necessary steps. But he, too, seemed to run out of ideas.” 

What Shramana was about to say was the hardest for her; she stopped for a brief interval of time before resuming.

Shramana: What happened next was an accident, all because of me. I was driving, and suddenly out of nowhere, a white calf appeared. In order to save it, I swerved the steering wheel a little too much and our car screeched and went out of control. I was screaming on top of my lungs trying desperately to regain control. Only if my screaming would help me resume control of my car.

Shramana broke down into sobs and muffled cries while Arijit decided to take action and consoled her; children should not watch their parents break down and cry. Arijit was against this and whispered Shramana to calm down and stop crying, which Shramana did after some time.

Arijit wanted to continue her story, but Shramana pleaded him not to. It was her turn to finish what she had already started.

Shramana: Our car hit the tree, and cars back then did not have ABS and air bags to prevent accidents. I was hurt bad, and when I turned my head to look for my mother.

Shramana broke down into uncontrollable tears, and did not stop no matter how much Arijit told her to. From the looks of it, she definitely was going through a breakdown. That is when little Nirbhay got down from his chair and hugged his mother. Surprisingly enough, Shramana consoled herself restricting her tears as much as she could. It was no surprise that Sarla, Shramana’s mother did not survive the accident and Shramana attributed herself for the death of her mother.

Shramana: My father, when he got the news, did not show any sign of grief. Instead, he confined himself even more and began talking less with me, which narrowed down to nothing in the coming weeks. I began to think how I killed my mother, and with my father making even less contact with me, I went into depression.

Arijit: That is precisely when I met you dear!

Nirbhay was enjoying the story till now and he was all ears. He made sure not to miss anything and prepared himself for what he was going to listen to next…

Arijit: My father too, had a transferable job in the Indian Railways. So from Nainitaal, we shifted to Dehradun. Being an introvert, I did not make new friends easily and stayed indoors mostly, doing my college work and keeping myself busy with a little bit of gardening and coin collecting! I will show them to you some other time.

Shramana had lightened up by that time and taunted her husband with the words, “Come on, we’ve seen your collection of coins a thousand times now, get on with it.”

Arijit: I remember every bit of that evening when I first met your mother. I had gone to our verandah cum garden which overlooks the valley and a gorge. Your mother was ready to jump down, had I not intervened!

Nirbhay (wide eyed and in shock!): No way! I do not believe it! Are you telling lies here?

Shramana (very coolly and calmly): This is the horrid truth son. You see I was frustrated beyond anything and it was my blunder that I saw death as a refuge, as a means of escape, and your father saved me from this horrible end. If it was not for him, I would have wound up dead back then.

Arijit: My glance shifted over the end of our small verandah when my eyes caught a shadow lingering in the dark. Thinking your mother to be the likes of thieves, I grabbed a stick and proceeded cautiously.

Arijit (shrieks): Oyeeee, who are you?

Shramana: I’m here to die, please give me some peace!

Arijit (Moves forward): No, no, no, no please get down, dying is not a solution! It never was.

Shramana: Move aside, else I’m gonna jump…

Arijit (tries even more desperately): Please do not be a coward, face life! I might not know you, but I know people who would kill to be in your position. There is always someone who is knee deep in trouble, who would give anything to have your life…

Shramana: Nobody would trade places with me, no sane man would…

Arijit (climbing up beside Shramana): Then even I would jump, I had been contemplating suicide for some time now, but did not have the guts to do it, maybe doing it together would bring me courage to do it finally…

The rest is history, Arijit and Shramana stood on the wall for a few minutes until Arijit was finally successful in taking her from doing it. Nirbhay after listening to the whole story gave a smirk extending to his ears, and finally gave the verdict.

Nirbhay: Well, my teacher told me, All’s well that ends well.

© Biswadeep

Image courtesy-

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