September 7th, 10 P.M.
Aditi pulled the drapes apart and looked up out of the window of her bedroom. The sky was unusually dark for September. A storm was predicted.
Aditi was a single parent. Her husband Samir had left the world when Ishaan was three-year-old. Bringing up Ishaan was a joy as well as a challenge.
Aditi had given her best to raise Ishaan. She tried to inculcate good values in him and had maintained a right balance between liberty and stringency.
She gave priority to education, so that he can be independent. She always believed education as an asset as no one could steal it.
Ishaan had completed his engineering from a reputed institute. He had procured an excellent job through campus placement. He was supposed to join a few days later. Aditi planned to apply for VRS. Afterall, now was the time to relax and indulge in hobbies.
Tomorrow Ishaan will turn twenty-one.
As a custom, she opened the lower drawer of her bedside, took out a diary and started writing. After some time, she looked at the clock. It was 11.55 P.M. She usually wished Ishaan exactly at 00.00.
She looked outside the window. It had started drizzling. Cool breeze gushed in the room.
She quietly opened her bedroom door and headed towards Ishaan’s room. As she approached his room, he could hear his voice. It seemed he was talking on the phone.
Friend or girlfriend?
Curious, she pressed her ear against his door.
She gasped at what she heard!
Ishaan’s voice was clear, “Let’s run away. I’ll take whatever cash and valuables are available in my house. You also do that. Will meet tomorrow early morning at the bus depot. We’ll leave the city and marry.”
Aditi could neither move nor utter a word. Her legs suddenly felt heavy and immovable. With difficulty, she dragged herself into her room.
The forecast had proved right. It had started pouring.
The storm had arrived.
She sat trembling on her bed. Tears rolled down her cheeks. She covered her face with her palms and wept. All her dreams were shattered.
Let’s run away. Let’s run away. These words haunted her.
After a few minutes, she gathered herself. She got up and closed the window, to save the curtains from getting drenched.
She wondered whether she’ll be able to save herself from getting drenched by the storm created by Ishaan.
How could he do this to me? What was he hiding? Who was on the other side of the line? Was it someone of whom I would not approve? Is someone duping him? Is he gay? What will I do without him? He had distanced from me lately. Was this the reason?
These questions flooded her. With a heavy heart, she again took out her diary and started scribbling.
She didn’t know for how long she was up. She clasped the diary to her chest and lied down. With misty eyes, she wished, “Happy birthday Ishaan”, and kissed the diary.
She was not sure whether this storm will subside.
Ishaan didn’t have any memories of his father. His only parent was his mother.
Ishaan met Sandhya in college. Being in the same project and batch, they fell in love with each other.
Sandhya’s parents were conservative and had found a match for her. It seemed they were eager to get her married soon. She talked about Ishaan to her mother. But she was advised to forget him, as they were from different castes. She was expected to bow down to the wishes of her parents. But Sandhya was adamant about her decision.
Hence, they decided to elope on 8th September, as Ishaan would turn 21. What better a day to celebrate than his birthday!
When Sandhya called Ishaan to wish him, they again reconfirmed their plan.
Ishaan hanged the phone and began executing their plan. He packed his belongings in a bag and went to Aditi’s room. He opened the door and saw her sleeping on the bed. He tiptoed to her cupboard and collected all the valuables and cash in a pouch. He then turned towards his mother. He noticed an old diary beside her. He took the worn diary in his hands and turned the first page. ‘ISHAAN’ was written in bold letters on the top.
Curious, he carried the diary and the pouch to his room. He opened the first page and read,
Today Ishaan is one-year-old.
He is a darling. The apple of our eyes. He has started walking around and is making me run everywhere. A definite way to shed the extra weight that I had put on during pregnancy.
Today Ishaan is two-year-old.
He doesn’t leave me at all. When I am out of his sight, he cries so hard that he ultimately vomits. I do miss venturing out alone, but at the same time, I love to see how attached he is to me. I hope this attachment never ceases.
Ishaan is three.
He has developed a new liking towards me.
If he sees me combing my hair, he’ll say, “Mom, don’t tie your hair. Keep them loose.”
At first, I found this very strange. Then I realized, this is his way to express love.
He is four.
The last year was harsh. We lost Samir. Don’t know how I will raise him single-handedly. Ishaan senses my mood. He can’t see me crying. So, I try not to cry in front of him. He knows when I am down. He gives me a hug when I need it. I would have been lost without him. He is my reason to live.
He is five.
He is growing fast. He has those cute chubby cheeks, which I love to caress.
I have started working.
When asked by his school teachers, “What you’ll do when you grow big?” He says, “I’ll do what mom does.”
I love these words which show how much he loves me!
He is six.
Once he came running to me and asked, “Mom, will you grow old by the time I’ll grow up?”
I answered, “Yes.”
He started crying.
I questioned, “What happened my child?”
He sobbed, “No. You won’t grow old.”
I immediately said “No. no. I won’t grow old. I’ll remain young for you. But why darling?”
He answered innocently, “I want to marry you.”
I explained “But, I am already married.”
To which he replied, “So what. I want to marry you.”
I said, “Ok dear. I’ll stay young for you.”
I can’t stop smiling when I think about this.
He is seven.
I had always heard that for a girl, her father is a hero, and a boy always look up to his mother. Yes. That’s true. Mine is a first-hand experience.
He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I can’t imagine my life without him.
He is eight.
He once came running to me and asked, “Mom, one day you’ll leave me?”
I said, “No dear. Why would I leave you?”
He said, “My friends say everybody goes to God one day like dad.”
He was almost in tears. I immediately replied, “No. I’ll never leave you.” Since then, I’ve told him many times that I’ll never leave him. I see a certain relief and security in his eyes.
He is nine.
He makes my life worthwhile. I hope he always loves me this way. When I look at him, I see a pure and innocent soul in him. He showers me with an unconditional love which everybody yearns for. I wish he retains a bit of his innocence and his love for me all his life.
He is ten.
He always feeds the first morsel to me, then eats his food. This is what I call love reciprocated. We are Best Friends Forever.
He is fourteen.
I can see his tiny moustache. My boy is growing.
He is fifteen.
He has become taller than me. I can’t describe my feelings when I look up to meet his eyes.
He is seventeen.
He managed to get admission to the best engineering college. I am waiting for him to complete his studies, so that I can retire.
He is eighteen.
We have debate sessions at home as we have developed differences of opinions. Generation gap!
He is nineteen.
He has become secretive. Maybe this is just a phase. Maybe this happens with every child as they grow up. Or maybe I have become old.
He is twenty.
He’s doing well in studies. He hardly talks to me. How I miss Samir! Maybe Ishaan would have opened in front of him, as I feel a boy needs a man to talk. Don’t know what’s going on in his mind. Unknowingly, he might be missing him.
He is twenty-one.
He has completed his studies and has been placed in a reputed firm through campus placement. I will apply for VRS. Samir would have been so proud of him today. Wish he was here to see him graduate.
Just overheard him talking to someone on phone. Don’t know who the person on the other end was. I don’t even know whether it was a ‘he’ or a ‘she’. He is planning to elope. Why? What is the need? Will I not approve of the other person? Is my son a gay?
How will I show my face to Samir when I’ll meet him? He was also talking about taking valuables from the house. So, he is going to rob me! How can he do this to me? Is this the day for which I had reared him? God should have taken me instead of Samir. Have I failed as a mother? Were there any shortcomings in my upbringing? Is this the result of my poor values?
Is a mother’s love inferior to a lover’s love? He is just twenty-one. Marriage can wait. He must settle his career first.
For a couple of years, he has distanced himself from me. I can’t confront him. I now don’t find any reason to live. I don’t know whether I’ll be seeing him tomorrow.
There was a time when he didn’t want me to leave him. Today, he is leaving me.
Oh God! I am completely lost and surrendering to you. Either help me or take me away!
Before Ishaan could realise, he had completed reading the diary. By the time he reached the last page, he was numb. He realised his cheeks were wet by the tears which were flowing continuously since he started reading the first page. His pillow, the bedsheet and his shirt were wet. The pages of the diary were damp.
He didn’t remember his childhood memories which were written in the diary. Aditi had preserved all the precious moments of his life in the form of words. Those untold stories meant a lot to him. He didn’t remember loving his mother so much. All he could remember was he didn’t value her enough.
She had brought him up single-handedly. She had been up all night when he was not well. She had fought all odds and got him admission in the best of college. She had run from one place to another during that time. She had done everything to see that he has good education and ultimately a good career.
Now, when he looked up, he felt he had taken her for granted. She never made him miss his father. She had been his pillar of strength.
Now, when the time had come to give back to her, I was planning to rob her and leave her for good! How on earth did I think of such a wild idea? I had never thought what adverse effects this one wrong decision can have on my mother.
The morning sunrays were peeping from the window onto Aditi’s eyes. She opened her eyes. It was not usual for her to wake up after sunrise. She looked outside and realized that the storm had subsided.
Remembering the incident of the previous night, she looked around and found that her diary was missing. She got out of her bed, and hurriedly walked out of her bedroom, and found Ishaan in the kitchen.
Surprised, she went near him and asked, “What are you doing here?”
Ishaan gave her an assuring smile and replied, “I have made tea and breakfast for you.”
Aditi eyed her diary on the kitchen island. She looked back into Ishaan’s eyes and realised he was up all night.
Aditi hugged Ishaan and whispered, “Happy birthday darling.”
Both hugged each other for a long time and cried. Their tears spilt out their suppressed emotions. Then they sat on the sofa, wiping each other’s tears.
Ishaan was the first one to speak, “I love you mom. I’ll never leave you.”
To this sentence, Aditi sobbed.
Ishaan continued, “I love Sandhya who is of a different caste. Her parents are not agreeing to our relationship and have chosen a groom for her. I thought it was best to run away. Once we marry, no one can raise a finger on us.”
Aditi kept listening.
Ishaan continued, “For my selfish desires, I forgot you.”
Ishaan shed tears and continued, “I forgot your sacrifices. I didn’t value your opinion. I took you for granted.
Thank you for maintaining a diary about us. It brought me back to my senses.
You are right. Marriage can wait.
I talked to Sandhya and explained to her that there are other ways to work this out.”
Aditi closed her eyes and joined her hands thanking God for bringing back her son.
She finally spoke, “Discussing matters with family bring solutions. Didn’t you consider discussing this with me?
Have you grown up so much, that you don’t consider me worthy of talking about this? You don’t talk at all! I know I have become old, and we have developed differences. But we are still family.”
Ishaan held his head down and apologised.
Aditi explained, “A family sorts out problems together. You can’t run away from problems. Learn to face and solve them. Only cowards run away from tough situations.
Eloping can never be a solution. It will create more problems.”
Ishaan realised his blunder and was silent.
Aditi said, “Call Sandhya today for lunch. I would like to meet her.”
With tears, Ishaan smiled and nodded.
He hugged Aditi, “Love you, Ma.”
After a long time, Ishaan felt he was not alone. He had the world with him…his mother.
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