The ‘unseen’ love….
…...significance of the seemingly ‘insignificant’
She, as usual trying to match pace, is running after him. Her shoulder holds his school bag, her hand has the school tie hanging, the other one is holding the piece of bread she is exhorting him to eat. The child runs towards the edge, trying to hide himself; embarrassed of the routine commotion. He kicks him mom, nudging her everywhere trying to shove her away. He falls down stumbling on his own untied laces. This brings the struggle to a halt. The mother immediately bends down to help him up, tying his laces and all this while, the child is busy pulling her unmaintained strands of hair. She struggles to get up and mends his shirt. At the same time, she makes sure the bread reaches his stomach. He bites it once and chews it forever. She puts the tiffin inside his bag and warns him to bring it empty, back home. He responds by singing lines running from nowhere to anywhere. She runs and catches him, pulls the end of her scarf and wipes his nose. She is rewarded inturn with the nudges of sharpened nails, all along her face.
The bus arrives at the stop. She hastens to put on his school bag, bends to clean his shoes with her scarf, kisses him innumerably and helps him inside the bus. She waves at her child, watches the bus moving and automatically raises her voice to instruct the last of her daily prayer- have your lunch properly in time. I reduce myself to a mute spectator as I feel the depth of this obscure motherly love. The child is seated next to me, he is chatting and playing with anyone he finds. He starts obeying his mom right from the bus; spills ink all over his shirt while trying to blow the same over his friend. An all blue unearthly face replaces the mom-maintained spotless one. As the school ends, I find him seated next to where I am supposed to be. I can feel that ‘eww’ wave that shakes me through. His blue-brown (combination of ink and dust) face evokes in me a feeling of filth as I drag my feet towards my seat. I seat myself very cautiously making sure no part of me touches any part of his. He gets up suddenly, takes out his tiffin and empties its contents into the dustbin, remembering perhaps the warning of his mother; as if the mother had laid the condition of the tiffin being emptied ‘anywhere’ but inside the school premises!
It had been a routine that when we reached our stop, he would be almost the last one to get up from his seat, busy packing his belongings, but definitely the front face down the aisle. He would make his way through someone’s legs and knock the other, setting him in search of the culprit, and himself as small as he was, make a dash towards the front. A creepy, clever mouse he was! The mother waits at the stop as usual. Her face brightens up as she sees her star. He throws his bag towards her. She catches it with one hand and helps him down the bus with another. Strange as it may seem, the face which moments ago I found too filthy to look at is showered with kisses by this mother. I watch the mother-son duo making their way through the lane. I can hear the chirrups of the son and sense the mixture of excitement and love in the mother’s response.
I encounter this routine of the duo for quite sometime. Months later, one chilly morning, I find the air rather misty as I wait for the bus. I feel I am breathing in gloom and restlessness. I occasionally look into lane 3, expecting the duo; I in turn only meet a tense blow of air, as though, endemic to this part of the planet. In the meantime, I spot a hanging head dragging its feet through lane 3. It is accompanied by a young man of about 30. I am not sure as to how I can use ‘he’ for this thing which appears merely inanimate to me. As it raises its face, I find it ‘him’- the naughty little kid, the creepy little mouse, my seat mate. But he is no longer ‘he’, his face is pale and it falls down automatically. He avoids any eye contact. He silently accepts the bag that the young man offers him. He puts it on and bends down to tie his laces, pulls a tissue from his pocket and blows his nose. Then he slowly turns his head and waves to the man. He does anything but raising his head which in fact obeys the gravitational law rather abnormally. He crosses the road and stands next to me. All this while, I am shocked. I find it hard to digest that this is the same kid who in routine frustrates his mother. He is calm and stands so maturely, tall next to me. He awaits the bus as everyone else does, something that just doesn’t match his personality. I try to look into his face but he lowers his head. I turn in enquiry towards the others to hear the unexpected- the most dreadful possible; his mother is no more, I am told!
He boards the bus slowly and seats himself. I can hear no reminders. Nobody is asking anybody to have lunch in time. It drives me emotionally crazy. I look at him with blurred eyes but I find myself unable to speak. I can hear loud shrieks within, the voice of that lady hits the corners of my head, I can feel myself shivering due to the intensity of the shrieks. I wonder how the ultrasonic voices piercing me within pass infrasonic to the world seated just next to me.
In the bus later, I find him having his lunch quietly. There is something different about him; he is unusually quiet, exceptionally clean. The uniform which he starts spoiling early morning is clean except for a red spot down the shoulder. I can smell it is sauce. He packs his tiffin and returns the spoon to another kid. I then understand that his lunch lay without a spoon. As we reach our stop, he gets up gently, joins the aisle and unusually surrenders to his position- he won’t struggle to be the first face down the aisle, probably because he knows he won’t encounter a bright face down the bus, either. As we get down the bus, there is indeed nobody waiting, an atmosphere of solitude welcomes him in. He walks in slowly towards lane 3, leaving the world behind him. In the crowd of smiles, his convex curve passes all unnoticed. I hold on to my feet and look at everything around, I can hear no chirrups, I can find no excited motherly face but I cannot digest the truth either. It is all over, is it all over?? I find anything hard to believe.
It is a fresh new morning, he walks out of his lane. Today, he is all alone. He has learnt to be alone and do things for himself for he knows he has no one left to help or remind. He has put on his bag, his tie is in place, laces are tied, hair is combed, uniform is clean but I can spot the red blot down his shoulder; it is the sauce he took the other day….
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Lastupdate on : Mon, 19 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 19 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 20 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST
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