Of rains, paperboats, and lost childhood

Stories Apne Apne by Raj Deepali Pandey

It was raining heavily outside since two days. But this afternoon, the pillow got drenched. Though rains are the most coveted weather for every cheerful soul on the earth, the sound of the heavy drops hitting the ground, creates a magical effect. But not for her.

The drizzling sky never gave her the happiness or peace. It was a harbinger of sadness, loneliness and some tragic memories, forcing her to face her dreadful past.

       It’s weird how things get associated with the weather they align with. People remember their first dates and the weather on that day, and the memories get engraved in their hearts every time the same weather predominates the atmosphere. Same is the case with the sad and tragic incidents.

    Four years have passed, yet every time the drizzles outside bring tears to her eyes. She still  remembers the day her mom left untimely for her heavenly abode, leaving her world blown into smithereens. It had rained heavily that day, as if even the sky was also mourning for her loss.

Her family had to struggle to arrange the funeral.  Customs didn’t permit the corpse inside the house, and rains didn’t allow the last rites to be performed outside the house. They somehow managed it all under a shelter outside the house.

While she was sitting, unable to move, as if devoid of life. Her sobs were the only sign which confirmed that she still had a life. But was that life worth living?

Losing the most loved person of the life, without whom she couldn’t have imagined a single day. Would her house be still her home? She just sobbed incessantly, cursing her fate. Her heart was writhing in pain, seeing her mother being drenched in the rain. She felt ashamed of herself for not being able to provide comfort to her mom’s lifeless body, while her mom spent her whole life securing her happiness.

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      Finally the time came when they all gathered to pay final homage to the deceased. But she stood behind the crowd of the people. She did not possess the courage of seeing the lifeless body of her mother. But she had to do it.

Urged by relatives, she came forward , her body trembling, and it was a heart wrenching moment. She saw the shrouded body, only a pale face visible,  with a vermilion mark, as if she was freed from all the worldly duties and finally resting peacefully.

She wanted to embrace her mother but couldn’t do it. She touched her feet, held it a little longer, as if waiting for a miracle to happen. Her gaze was fixed upon the body, just to detect even a slight movement, hopelessly, thinking that she has just fainted. But miracles never happened. They were just the myths, the last hope for the people living in a world of denial. Broken and torn apart, she just moved away.

    Finally the time came when the body had to be taken for cremation. When they lifted it, she panicked, fearing her dear mother would fall and would get hurt. She watched them in horror, taking away her mother, trembling with the thought that like her soul left her body, now even her body would be no more on this earth, it would be reduced to ashes.

She wanted to stop them, she wanted to keep her mother with her till eternity, but couldn’t do anything except watching it all with tears of agony. She felt like a part of her body has been ripped apart and is being taken away from her, leaving her in unbearable pain and handicapped for life.

Of rains, paperboats, and lost childhood
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      And it was all over in a second. The funeral procession went far away and disappeared from her sight. The mourning crowd turned back into the house. But she was unable to step inside the house. It wasn’t her home now, it was just a structure of bricks and concrete where the devils of loneliness awaited her. But she had to accept the brutal reality of life, the wicked game of fate where she was defeated and torn apart.

She had to survive for her father….wait! Father? Once again when the realization hit her she panicked. Father was just a blood relation for her, who fulfilled his obligations by bearing her expenses. For whom she was nothing more than a burden, a liability to be disposed off as soon as possible. A man who never loved and respected her, never thinks twice before intimidating her or using cuss words.

It was her mother who protected her for eighteen years of her life, acting as a shield against every injury inflicted upon her. Now she lost her protector, her warrior. She could never stand even  the sight of her dad and now she had to live with him without her mom.  She started feeling like an orphan, it was easier for her to live like one than to live with a parent with whom she shared no bonding.

    Four years has passed since. She has tried her best to be the lady of the house, looking after the house and her dad, trying her best to balance the domestic responsibilities and her studies. But amidst the struggles, she lost herself.

She lost that lively, cheerful, carefree girl who never gave a damn to this world and did whatever her heart commanded. Externally, she seemed the same person, witty and funny, but her inner side hid a completely different personality, a girl who was broken, a weak person in search of love and affection.

Yes, she had a boy in her life, for whom she has completely fallen, who was now the sole reason of her existence. But life was never so easy for her. Sometimes the person we love the most is the one to hurt the most, yet we can’t stop loving them.

His usual indifference towards her, his aversion towards her mood swings, his inability to understand her fears and insecurities, all pushed her towards the painful depression. But all she could do is cry and beg for his love. How could she leave him? She fell for him during the time she was most vulnerable and weak, when she was struggling with an irreparable loss. That made her love him even more. The person  she loved the most left her for the heavens. She didn’t dare to lose another person whom she loved after her mother. But his anger and repulsion towards her only made her miss her mom more than ever. After all it was the purest form of love…unconditional and unbiased.

   The rains ceased outside. But the impact it left on her was terrible. It revived those painful memories and pushed her into darkness. She never thought that the weather she once enjoyed, would intimidate her for the rest of her life.

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         She got up, wiped her tears, and opened the window. The rain had ceased completely. The droplets falling from the trees on the ground were making a dripping sound. She was lost in her thoughts. A waft of cool breeze blew past her and caressed her face, breaking her chain of thoughts. All of a sudden her childhood memories got displayed in front of her eyes. She pictured her mother with her little self, laughing and making paper boats together, and placing a leaf on each boat, symbolizing it as the boatman on it, and then leaving those little boats to sail in the puddles. She didn’t know how to make boats, so her mother helped her doing it. She was a slow learner though, but mother was patient enough to teach her. Often she used to sit on her mother’s lap and watch the rain from the windows, and as soon as it ceased she would go out and urge her mother to make paper boats. At times she literally had to drag her mom from the kitchen to enjoy the weather with her. Her mother was too loving to resist, she wouldn’t even scold her for disturbing her or interrupting her chores. She would do it all happily for her little daughter who meant the world to her.

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      A sudden sound of thunder brought her back to reality again. How did she start hating the rains? What made her aversive to the ripples created in the puddles on the ground? How could the weather, which was once so beautiful for her, can become the source of excruciating pain to her heart? These questions made her sceptic towards her feelings she had for her mother. She thought she betrayed the love she had for her mother. How could she possibly hate something which had so many happy and unforgettable memories of her mother in store?

She closed the window silently, and went out of the house. Standing under a shelter outside the house, she projected her hand out. A few droplets from the trees fell on her hand. She felt a sense of belongingness in it. She felt the presence of her mother with her again. And this time she knew, rains were meant to be loved and cherished, as it brought back her best childhood memories. Smiling, she turned back into the house, to fetch some papers for making boats.