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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Commercial Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: June 08, 2019

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Submitted: June 08, 2019

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Smita madam was writing the title of the chapter on the blackboard. She was wearing a light blue cotton saree with minimal design on it. Squeaking sound of chalk disturbed Adwait who was half asleep. Last week, his place changed from the last bench to the first bench. He placed his head down on the desk and he was looking at the teacher’s feet. He noticed that she was wearing sandals with socks. He wondered why his mother never wore sandals and socks. Thought of his mother made him remember his last week’s visit to the hospital. His father was waiting outside the gate and yelled  Adu, hurry up” as he was taking his own sweet time to tie a shoelace. He ran and sat behind him on the scooter. His father slowly accelerated the scooter and they were on their way. He wrapped his hand around the father’s stomach. His hands couldn’t meet each other. He rested his face on his father’s back. There was no conversation. His head was getting misplaced every time scooter’s tyre met a speed breaker. He wanted to talk to his father, but his father did not utter a word throughout their journey. Those 15 minutes felt like an hour. He sensed that scooter had stopped. He got down and looked up at the building. Dr. Deshmukh’s Hospital for women and children. Father held his hand and took him inside. As soon as he entered, his nostrils were filled with a particular smell. Is it blood?is it a cleaning agent? He couldn’t decide , but he knew it was a mix of both. They entered into a room. It was long and broad room with 3 beds in it. Each bed was occupied by a person and that person was surrounded by 2-3 people. He saw a boy of his age sitting in a chair next to the bed. A woman was lying on the bed and coughing persistently. He saw a familiar face, eyes of which were looking at him. It was his mother. She was wearing a gown and she looked thinner than she was. Her hair were messy. Her eyes were pale and sick. Her dark circles were more visible. Her veins were more apparent. She gave him a smile when he sat next to her on the bed. “Be careful Adu” His father spoke in a soft tone which was rare and he gestured his eyes on the saline on her wrist. Adwait did not understand what was happening to his mom. “Let’s go home, mom.” He spoke for the first time. “No beta, the doctor won’t allow” Father replied patting on his back. She is my mom, I want to take her home. He wanted to shout. He felt a soft hand on his head. He felt long fingers into his hair. He could feel that her hand was tired. He was staring at her blankly. She looked different. She was smiling but he could tell it’s not genuine. He sits absent-minded in my class and he forgets things too often. Smita madam complained in every parent-teacher meeting. Adwait was looking at the apple kept on the table.Just when he was thinking why do they put a sticker on fruits?, he felt someone’s hands on his shoulders. They were shaking him. This time fingers were thick and small. It was his bench partner Kaustubh shaking him which broke his train of thought. Adwait opened his eyes slowly and lazily. He rubbed his eyes with his fingers. He wiped his face with his little palms.  Adu, are you feeling okay? ” madam asked him. He noticed that Smita madam was acting a little different lately. She was calling him by his nickname. She was more caring. Is Smita madam trying to be my mother?  Madam, can I go home to my mom? ” He asked and made an innocent face. There was dead silence in the classroom. Other students were staring at him. Madam thought for a second and then smiled. “Yes, You can ” She replied. “Thank you.” He said and picked up his school bag. He smiled again at madam and started walking out of the class. He had reached the classroom’s door. He turned back and looked at Kaustubh’s confused face. Adwait waved him good bye and stepped outside. 

He walked for a bit and reached a common water cooler of the school. Little drops were dripping down from the water tap. There was a common sink next to the drinking water tap. He took out his lunch box which he had forgotten to wash in recess. He washed it and kept it near the sink. He filled his water bottle fully, drank some water and again filled the bottle to its neck. He put the bottle back into the bag and started walking again. Lunchbox was still there and remained there. School’s main gate was in sight. Suresh uncle was sitting in the chair wearing his security uniform. He noticed that Suresh uncle too was behaving differently and being sweet to him. He was expecting a bunch of questions from him. None came. Uncle smiled at him. He waved him goodbye and stepped outside the small iron gate which was to the left of the main gate. After walking some more distance, he could see Ahmed smiling at him. Adwait smiled back and he glanced at the barf gola. He was tempted to have it. Shaking his head to drive away those thoughts, he could hear don’t eat barf gola at school in mother’s voice. He went past Ahmed and waved him goodbye too. He was not looking on the road. His eyes were fixed on shoes and he was trying to count his footsteps. He was way past the school. He reached the road which was equidistant from his home and school. He looked at the road. There was no traffic at this odd timing. He crossed the it without much effort. He looked down at his shoes again and started walking. He forgot his step count and restarted the counter. He walked a considerable distance. He could smell fresh fruits and he knew he entered the most familiar territory – his colony. All kinds of fruits were on display. Apples, pomegranates, mangoes, bananas, grapes, oranges. Apples were his favorites. That apple from the hospital’s table flashed in front of his eyes. He was craving for it. He reached for the pockets. He took out whatever he had in his pockets. He looked at coins he was holding in his hands. Taking his own sweet time to calculate the amount. Eight Rupees. He clenched his fist with coins in it and put them back. I will ask mom for some apples once I reach home. He pampered himself. He started walking again. He saw Pushpa aunty sitting in the verandah of her house. “ “What are you doing here, beta?” She asked. Adwait did not answer. He never answered stupid questions. It’s my home. He wanted to shout. He wanted to shout at all stupid people for their stupid questions and shoo them away from his life. He reached the gate and opened it. He expected his mother standing in the door. Maybe she is in the kitchen. He reached the door. He threw off his shoes. He threw his socks away. He could imagine his mom leaning a bit, pointing finger at him and scolding. How many times I have told you to put those socks inside the shoes. 

He opened the door and went in. Home felt dead to him. It smelled musty. He threw his bag on the wooden sofa and he ran into the kitchen. He could see some empty vessels on a black colored kitchen counter. The kitchen sink was dry. There were no unwashed utensils in the sink. It seemed like no one had entered the kitchen that day or from last 6-7 days. He saw his mother standing near the kitchen counter. She was cooking a meal. She was stirring the curry with the ladle. She wiped the sweat off her forehead with other hand and adjusted her hair. She put 3 chapatis in the lunchbox. “Adu, how many chapatis do you want?” She waited for the response. There was none. She repeated the question. “Oh God. This kid is always in his own world”. She packed the lunchbox. She filled the water bottle. Why mom is packing me lunchbox? I am home now.  Adwaitthought. He wanted to hug her. He went ahead and tried holding her from behind. He ended up hugging himself. No one was there. He turned and look around. “Mom” only that word came out of his mouth. He ran to the only bedroom in his home. There she was. He smiled. She was waking someone up. “Adu beta. Wake up, You will be late.”  He was shocked to see himself sleeping in bed. He woke up. He looked annoyed. He got off the bed and went to the bathroom. She was changing the pillow covers and folding the bed sheets perfectly. She had magical hands. Why does she have saline on her wrist?Adwait started walking towards her. The moment he reached closer, she vanished. He looked around the room. He saw a frame with a family photograph. He picked it up and took a closer look at it. It was clicked in some studio. It had a maroon background. He was standing in front of his parents. His mother’s hands were gently placed on his shoulders. She was smiling wide and he knew it was genuine. He kept the frame down. He went back into the hall. He gazed at the TV. A layer of dust was formed on the TV screen. Mom would never let this happen. He saw a blurred reflection in the TV. In that reflection, there were 3 people sitting on the sofa. He saw himself sitting between his mother and father. His mother was caressing his hair. His father was reading the newspaper whereas his eyes were fixed on the TV screen. He was staring continuously at the screen without batting an eyelid. “Adu , Don’t watch like that. It’s not good for your eyes. ” She spoke softly. “ Your TV time is up. ” Father took the remote and switched off the TV. Mom. Please let me watch some more time. ” He made his signature innocent face. She couldn’t refuse his request. She pulled his cheeks and turned on the TV. “ Okay. 10 minutes. Not more than that ” she said and they started watching the TV again. They all vanished at once. He was scared. He ran towards the door and stopped when he saw his mother opening the gate. She had a polythene bag in her hand and it was full of apples. She walked a bit but her walk slowed down. She was rubbing her forehead with her free hand. Her eyes were shutting and she was trying hard to open them. She fainted and fell down on the ground. Apples were scattered all over. Adwait looked behind him. He saw his father and himself running towards her.They ran right through him to pick her up. “I will take mom to the hospital. You stay at home. Don’t go anywhere.” His father ordered. He called for an auto. His father lifted his mother and carried her into the auto. He placed her on the seat. The auto rushed away from his sight. He saw the past version of him walking close and immersing into him. He looked at apples scattered on the ground. “Can I take this apple?” he asked his father at the hospital. “Yes, Adu” Father replied. He picked the apple and removed the sticker. The doctor entered the room. He said something to his father.  Adwait couldn’t hear it. But he could see that his father was controlling his tears. His eyes were watery. “Adu beta, please go and wait outside for me.” Adwait nodded. He looked at his mom. She smiled and waved him goodbye. That was the last time he saw her face! His train of thought stopped and it reached to the conclusion. A teardrop rolled by his cheek and the rest followed in an unbroken stream. He was stunned. He was motionless and full of emotions. He was getting answers to all his questions. He knew why he was shifted from the last bench to the first bench. He knew why Smita madam was being extra caring. He knew why the whole class was silent when he asked her permission to go to his mother. He knew why Kaustubh looked confused. He knew why Suresh uncle did not interrogate him. He knew why Pushpa Aunty was asking him that question. “Mom where are you?”It was the loudest scream of his life. His neighbour could hear it. The whole city could hear it. The entire world could hear it. Tears were flowing down like a river. There was no one to stop them. There was no one to wipe them. His heart ached. He felt a huge void. It was a moment of great sadness. It was a moment of deep dejection. It was the moment of realization. He was living with his father in a different house. But what is home without a mother


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