Sunday, 19 October 2014

Words under mango trees

Did she hear something? She strained her ears to listen. There must be someone. There was an eerie silence everywhere. The strains of a distant church bell faded away, enveloped by the silence that descended the room like a cloak. The sound of the clock ticking and tiny rivulets of rain drops sliding down the weathered tiles and dripping on the window sill was all she could hear. Her glazed eyes peered through the window at the lone withering mango tree. 

It has seen many summers, like her. She tried to count the years the tree was laden with fruits, its many branches touching the ground in a wisp of brownish green. Was it thirty? Thirty five? She found the counting tiresome. Years don't matter. Do they? Like a shadow on the window pane, she saw her. Her daughter. The twinkle in the eyes, the long braids pulled to her sides and mouth open in tinkling laughter, she was there. Long, slender fingers traced a pattern on the glass, her eyes alight with unspilled laughter and happiness. 

Her eldest daughter had always been her favorite. A mere child who pulled the family together when child after child arrived to fill the family's cradle. She was the doting sister to all the younger siblings, guiding them and cherishing their dreams. Losing her dreams in the midway somewhere never mattered to her. She found solace in Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Frost. Words wove magic for her. Poems enthralled her to live. It was under the same tree that she sat, swinging on an old rubber tyre, singing. "The Solitary Reaper" came to life as she closed kohl laden eyes, swinging to the tune.
Will no one tell me what she sings?—
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again? 
She knew nothing of her daughter's talents. Neither her singing, nor her literary talents. All she knew was she loved her dearly, no matter how mush she yelled at her. Her daughter- her love whom the entire village revered. A cold sweat broke on her wrinkled forehead as she fought breathlessness and tears, looking at the silhouette etched on the glass. She was here. Her daughter was here. And then the shrill ringing of the telephone filled the empty house.

300 miles away...

She loved this giddy feeling. The smell of coffee, mingled with the newly wet land tingled her nerves. The swing moved swayed gently as the drizzles weaved patterns of concentric circles on stagnant puddles. She gazed at her threshold where her mango tree stood majestic, its leaves dripping and the three mangoes. Every year, this magic tree yields just three mangoes. This year was no exception, she smiled to herself. The smile was becoming a rarity, she mused. She was not so sullen and stricken when her mother was around. 

Her mother- memories of her widened her smile and it reached her eyes. Dosas dripping with oil, coated with verses of Macbeth, Sunday evening hair grooming sessions with words recited from Othello, chopping vegetables listening to daffodils swaying in the breeze...memories was all she possessed now of her mother. She had heard stories of how the dead protect their dear ones for ages, in hiding. Where was she now? She eyed the mango tree warily, the three mangoes touching each other in the cool breeze, as if feeling their contours. Kicking her leg, she suddenly sprung to recite-

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. 
The cool breeze kissed her forehead and reminded her of someone who kissed her so. Her granny. Why hadn't she called her?  It has been a long time. Sucked into the vortex of self inflicted work, she had indeed forgotten to call her. Pulling her cellphone out of her pocket, she dialed her grandmother. The phone rang and rang and rang....the air pregnant with unspoken words of love and loneliness....


1 comment:

  1. .The imagery created is at once familiar and soothing.The customary hair grooming session of a daughter by mother brought fond memories of the familiar scene in olden days..Very touching and beautifully written with some great lines from Wordsworth..


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