The Unreturned Favours
“It’s going to get over soon, Rachana. Hurry! Watch your son addressing these foreign students.” Rajiv had an air of satiated excitement in his words as he forcefully tried to sit upright on his hospital bed with a TV in front.
“Coming, let me just get water for your medicines,” she said with a fabricated smile that fed her aching heart some impermanent fix.
Her child, Suyash, had got all that he wanted. He was proclaimed to be one of the finest surgeons of USA. He had a magnificent bungalow, a luxurious car, a beautiful wife and two adorable children.
Her happiness for her child did extend over her giving and selfless soul that had unhesitant yearning for his blooming life, yet her heart bled profoundly. With her husband fighting cancer for over two years and her son’s long lost love and care, it would open new doors to misery with every memory of her son’s childhood that stormed her mind.
She sat lifeless as she aimlessly looked at the TV with her mind popping up with warm memories that unknowingly made her colder at heart. Soothing like a drug, her conscience transported her to older and merrier chapters of life, when her day constituted of things more meaningful than masking emotional firmness and happiness.
Oh! How clearly she remembered everything— the humble living, the loans and debts, the mounting house rent, the erratic water and electricity supply, the chaotic streets. In spite all, she was gratified and grateful as her life offered her cherished moments and a serene purpose to continue. After all, she had a loving husband and a genius boy— whom she never faltered to pamper. Taking loans to giving him world class education, buying a laptop with the money they saved for their old age, skipping family outings to send him to school trips, selling their wedding gold jewelry to buy him a motor bike and wearing the same old clothes so that he gets his NIKE extra light sport shoes.
These were just few of the many sacrifices they made, with him being heedlessly ignorant of them. His conjecture maybe, ‘They’re my parents; they are supposed to be selfless and offering as I shall be for my children’. She recalls having this conversation.
“Rachana, sending him to abroad would deprive us of all our savings. Do you think it’s the right decision?” Rajiv said in a perturbed tone.
“He’s our only child, Rajiv. We have to do everything we can for his bright future.”
“And what about our future?” he questioned.
“I trust my child. When the time will come, he’ll be there for us as we have been for him our entire life,” she replied reassuringly.
Balloon of thoughts engulfed her mind when a prick of her husband’s continuous heavy blood coughing burst it to reality. Rajiv had become half the man he used to be mentally and physically, he was advised a surgery two years back which had just 10% chance of being successful and it costed more than he could afford. She asked Suyash for monetary help, which he eluded from, stating how it would be a waste if the surgery fails and how it would affect the future of his children. Furthermore, Suyash valiantly got them admitted to an old age home and went back to his ‘family’ in US and never visited them again.
Rajiv had now suffered a lot and it gave tremendous agony to her wife to see him suffer daily.
“Rachana, Rachana! It’s time.” Words barely came out of his mouth as he struggled to breathe.
“No, it’s not. Please. Please, don’t leave me. I don’t want to be alone,” she said in a hushed voice.
“I’m sorry but it’s time for me to leave you alone in this ruthless and selfish world. On the day of my cremation if our son comes, do tell him, ‘though I’m proud of him, I would have cherished my death if he had come earlier and taken care of his mother when she needed him the most.’“
She held his hand and started sobbing. She found herself subdued by the animosity it suddenly brought to her soul. She was numb but her eyes felt the pain.
“I love you, Rachana,” he subtly bade her goodbye. The painless death resonated the loudest dove cooing, as if to celebrate his end of seemingly endless torment and pain.
Amusingly somewhere in the US, their son, Suyash— a great neurosurgeon, was emphasizing the importance of family values and respect for our parents in his speech addressing the university students.
~Deepank Varshney | Edited by Aashna Sharma