A Mother's Phantom

By Krishna Chaitanya

Swiftly changed the climate ahead of the sunset--clouds filled up with loads of liquid--converting the sky blacker and blacker than any other day; while the sun behind a cloud burning in jealous, and blue of the sky faded away in envious. Amid two blackest clouds broke a compelling lightning like a sharp axe would have split a trunk. In a minute's time, the village had been covered with a plenty of black clouds, standing still at a comfortable height, and hissing and heckling sagging down, behind which grunting and growling the thunderbolts. The stems of the trees flapping akin to the windows. Thunderbolts followed by lightning--one after another--smacking and stabbing the fluffy clouds. Suddenly it appeared, as if the whole nature attacking on the little village.

All shivered for the natural forebode, whilst didn't it much hassled a mother as she had more fretful and far-flung perilous insect in head.

"What should I--" she was thinking and interrupting herself intermittently. "How should I--"

But she knew, she couldn't sermon him, especially at this phase of his life. Indeed she was anxious a bit for how would he retort. While Ram didn't know all the stuff happening in the old brain of his grey-haired mother. Busy man he was in making new friendships and fetching enticing habits.

God made me, she thought. I made my own emotions, continued her thought. I failed as a wife, anew she thought. What if I fail as a mother too? continued her thought.

The little grey cells were half-working for herself while the remaining weren't hers anymore. Wandering they despite her orders; smoldering they irrespective of her controls. Knots in the nerves, for  vehemently  stopping the movement of blood; draughts in the heart, for messed up the love and the hatred. Hands were stems, legs were roots; corners in the brain were the leaves, heart was the fruit; now more she was a Giving Tree; and she was The Mother.

The local drummers drumming unstoppably, masticating a Pan like a cow would have done with a pile of grass, swinging to and fro and up and down, staring at the gathering of young and adult men, who were trying to follow their beat but never could reach them, except one young man who must be in early twenties dancing artistically and rhythmically; thus all the drums rolled around him asking to dance faster and faster; and the other young men following his hands and legs.

"Ram!" shouted a middle-aged woman, who was wearing a ragged sari, at the dancing  young man who must be in early twenties.

The young man didn't listen. Or acted deaf for a while, at least until next morning.
"Ram!" came the quivering voice afresh.
Ram turned to his left from where the sound echoed and stroked his left ear, still moving his hands and legs. It was from his good mother. He stopped his moves for a while, though still drumming his fingers on where ever possible, walked towards her. She wasn't batting her eyelids, and widened her already big eyes, and staring incensed at him. He came to her with a smile knowing that she wouldn't bellow at him presently for being in midst of a mob and amid the street. She was still staring at him.

"Mom," said he loudly as the drum beats dominating his smooth voice, while the mother still gawking at him furiously.
"Mom," he repeated the say. "What?"
She handed over a small, fresh lemon and forced him to push it in his pocket. He knew why did she give it to him. Despite his disbelief in the supernatural credence of her that while he dance for the drums with plenty of ogling eyes watching him throughout the village would abate him psychologically, so that once he finished dancing, before he steps in to the house, the mother would take the lemon back into her fist and oscillate it from his top to bottom and mutter some words like a priest and throw it as far as unreachable; but for the mother's satisfaction, he would follow.

The mother didn't want her young son to dance on the streets, and didn't want to be with those other young men of the village. She had had her own reasons for that.
Now Ram was talking with a lad of his age. He was gripping his wrist affectionately and cracked a loud laugh. The mother's heart broke at the scene. She collapsed on a veranda for what she had seen. She knew the lad with whom her son shaking his hands affectionately, presently. A flash of reminiscence stroke her head. But she didn't want to remember it. But not the echoes of the drums, nor the whistles and clapping of the people could alter her memory. Now she remembered her husband shaking his hands with a man of his age, two decades ago, by the time when her husband was as good as her son now. But everything had changed in span of weeks, for the perilous friendship with the death-defying man. And she remembered how her husband converted from the best character in the village to the worst person in the village. She knew who influenced him. She knew how did he spoil his life.

Now this young man with whom her son was shaking his hands and laughing for his revolting jokes, was the son of that historical perilous man, who ruined the life of her husband and her family.

A flicker of memory went through her tarnished brain: The cancer stinging him, everyday; but something else killing him every fraction of every second. What he had done was after all a past. But of course it had had a future too that he couldn't estimate. Inundated he under the alcohol. Snowed under he in the sprinkles of hairs of dirty whores. Smoldered he in the smoke of those burning cigars. Buried he under the illegal games. Now he had realized who he was. He was after all a father. The father of a son and a daughter. But only an illegitimate father now he was. A lot, had already been spent for the laser treatment, of the little money they had. The son and the daughter were in teenage. The little savings had been spent on the treatment. Now the children had to stop going to school. And their future--who cares?

The father wept, for the blood been the tears. Every time the treatment went on, again the wounds sprouted around it. Afresh a laser treatment. Anew a bag full of money had to spent.

The father kissed on the foreheads of his twins--the son--and the daughter who was fifteen seconds elder than her brother. He smiled at them wishing good luck for their final exam of matriculation. The daughter could see the difference in her father's shining eyes. They were never like before. They were deceased. She could forebode. Death was coming.

Ram and her sister Poorna finished their exam, performing pretty well. Ram celebrating the moment for the thought that he would be in college soon. But Poorna was apprehensive for something.

Poorna was absolutely true. By the time she was home along with her brother, a gathering she could see around a dead body amid. They were sobbing enormously. Who was it? Ram might have thought. But Poorna did know priory. Nothing else could the father do, for the goodness of his children. People thought, the coward father. But who knows what he had within?
                                                          ***
She knew many a mother in the street, in the village, among her friends and among her relatives. Some were poor while others were rich; some were brown while others were white; some were hot and crispy while others were dreary and ugly; some were tall while others were short; some were strong while others were weak; some were good while others were bad; but somehow all had got a love quite similar in nature--for the sons--for the daughters--they own.

The point was different, as the perspective in her thoughts wasn't the same, what it was. It was from her point of view--different--one from the child's.

The Mothers, she was thinking about. Those mothers. Yes, those mothers, who had been fulfilling their roles--being a good mother--being a quality mother--being a universal mother--and being an inspirational mother. But those who were only acting. Yes, they were--for the sons--for the daughters--they own. For the sons and the daughters, who ruined up their youth, their life, either by themselves or by the perilous influencers. Whilst the mothers were still acting for their sons and daughters. Those were those who push the fault upon others, never faulting their own. Whereas others, pretending never they knew what their sons and daughters had been driven to.

The mother worried, she had to be one among them--an actor--pretending her son was as good as The Almighty-- even if any fault identified, conceited that it wasn't his fault but someone else's--still supporting her son--how worst he might be--how ruined he would have been.

The mother worried--she had to be a mother, after all--no matter whatever be the rules of a human being--but more to be a giving tree--giving to those sons and daughters--either good or bad--either human or beast.

"I have to kill my self-respect," the mother thought, "to be a mother to him, here onwards." But she had to be. Because, she was one among those human-beings, after all. She was one among those inevitable mothers.
                                                  ***
Fuming--the sun--for some personal reason, today. Smoldering the bare foot and bald heads, for the dancing hot ball zenith; frying the tiny beings, drying the small ponds. Summer was in full swing. Mid-May was always bringing this form of heat, while the Sun would always be furious at this time. But today, it was never like before. Might be for the callous activities of humans or the unbearable load of the humans lead sobbing of the 'Mother Earth,' could be a serious reason for the sizzling football in the sky.

Not a poor, nor a thirsty businessman was on one's duty, today. Those who could afford, sat right under the air conditioners locking their bedroom doors and windows tight. For those who did have only fans in their rooms, couldn't sit underneath, for the twirling wings of them bringing only hot air that wet the shirtless bodies, exasperatingly; thus they sat in their verandas and flapping any flat object with their hands that did produce some air, to their satisfaction.

Ram was late to the home, as he had been for a few weeks.  The moonless night was still and terrifying, as the short stick in the little wall clock lingering between twelve and one. Unlike the other days, the front door was ajar, and a shadow appeared inside through the gap. His heart raced for the first time ever. He knew whose it was. For a minute's time he stood like a stone. Catch-22 he was in. Would she come close to him and sniff at his mouth? Would she yell at him? Would she slap at his white face that would leave a red mark?

Ram's brain had been cross-examining itself. Should I confront her? he thought pacing a stride. But taken aback. He was in somber trepidation for something. Might be for the dire habits he had been accustomed to.

The Short Story is continued here....