The Souvenir of Love
Knitting a woollen shawl, she hummed an old melody as the rocking chair squeaked every now and then. I stood behind her, reconsidering whether to get in the way of her solitude or not.
I, being her daughter had more concerns than the maid who just made a complaint on her impolite ways of disagreeing on eating dinner and having medicines. But I was rather worried about her peace of mind, because, I had been witnessing her unusual behaviour ever since pappaji’s death.
Her attention was drawn to his old clothes and everything that belonged to him–from his favourite cologne to his bowtie. All I could infer from her weird acts of boxing in his stuff, burning down his clothes and sleeping on the floor was the mood swings of a widow.
All their life, they had been an endearing couple though their ways of manifesting love were different. Everything ranging from a spilled early cup on the bed to his careless ways of forgetting the place where he kept his things maddened her, enough to have a cat and dog fight in the home. More often than not, I was also the victim of her anger for taking his side, but, sometimes I had pretended to be on her side just to hear him butter me up as he did to her. It was a delight to see her holding back a smile, trying hard to not fall for his adorable requests for forgiveness.
I still remember the day before pappaji’s death when they had a quarrel on their difference of opinion regarding the overcooked pancake. Routines are sometimes a hardship; I don’t know if he had tried to pacify her that day, but in all probability I feel that he hadn’t–anyway, whom do I have to ask? She still refuses to eat, just like she did that day, but, the more she is realizing that there is no more him to calm her mind, the more she is getting uneasy.
Yesterday, once when I was checking on her to know if she was in the dining hall, I had seen a woman drained out of colour and life being fed by our maid. It would’ve been a shock if the bandage on her palm hadn’t caught my eyes. Later that day, the maid confessed how my mom hurt her hands somewhere between the attempts at cutting off one of the legs of the rocking chair and binding it with pieces of cloth out of regret.
“Ma?” I called out to her half-heartedly.
Lost in the thoughts, she kept on humming in an utmost hushed tone, tied in with the creaking sound of the rocking chair; the only souvenir left, that upheld pappaji’s existence. And this time, I restrained myself from interfering with her further, for I was witnessing a love –which I failed to prefix with a proper adjective– being unveiled amidst her obstinate fantasies.