“Ma, I am hungry. Just can’t wait to have sizzling hot aaloo parathas and steaming cup of tea”, chuckled Rahul as he talked to his mother, Sunita on phone.
“But Rahul, today I have not made aaloo parathas. You should eat other healthy stuff also”. Ignoring her mother’s rant, Rahul continued “mom I am about to reach home and will have my favourite food cooked by you”. Knowing all her son’s tricks, Sunita couldn’t help but smile.
“I have set the table for you. Enjoy your food while I am going to the super market for some grocery shopping and remember I have kept extra key in your bag’s side pocket.” Having said so, Sunita hung up the phone, picked her bag, locked the house and left.
“Hello Sunita, how are you doing? I hope you are fine”, said her neighbour Gayatri as she met Sunita in the elevator. “What has happened to you shouldn’t even happen to enemy”, Gayatri continued further. But ignoring her, Sunita went her own way while Gayatri stood there and pitied her condition.
“I will never talk to her”. She always thinks I am mad has spread rumours about me in the society. Everyone pities me”, wondered Sunita.
Five years ago
Sunita was a happy housewife who adored her husband and only son Rahul. But as fate would have it, the entire family was in a car crash as they were coming back after attending wedding of the close relative. Their world collapsed as Sunita’s husband succumbed to the accident leaving behind his mourning wife and son.
Collecting the broken pieces, Sunita decided to move on for the sake of her son. She even refrained herself from crying. Her son had become her world. Life started to bounce back to normal. On one ordinary day as Sunita went to pick Rahul from school, she noticed that he was all drenched in mud and his school bag was in a total mess. Upon reaching home and after cleaning up her son, she opened his bag. Inside the bag, she found a 500 hundred rupee note and wondered how it came in the bag. On the back side of the note, there was a mobile number written. Sunita was perplexed.
Even Rahul had no idea. “Maa, maybe someone had done this mischief”, reasoned Rahul. “But why would someone put a 500 rupee note that too with mobile number mentioned on it in a boy’s bag”, wondered Sunita.
Out of curiosity she dialled the number but it was not working. Later on, she also forgot about the incident and got on with her chores. Time flew like this.
One fine day after the fateful accident
As Sunita was walking in the park, her neighbour Gayatri came to her. “Hi Sunita, seen you after such a long time, how you been?” I know it’s not easy to bear the loss. said Gayatri. “It’s okay Gayatri, at least I have my son with me”. On hearing this Gayatri was aghast. “But Sunita, how come your son……..” Sunita stopped her in the middle and left from there while Gayatri stood there amazed.
The same evening
Sunita was all alone at her home. She was feeling alone and lonely. Rahul was getting busier now a days with his coaching and entrance exams. Suddenly Sunita remembered that note with mobile number written on it. Sunita couldn’t contemplate what made her rethink about such an old and irrelevant incident. She started to search for it hysterically. After much of struggle, she thought of checking it in Rahul’s old school bag and whoa! There it was.
Reluctantly she dialled the number again. This time a voice came from the other side.
“Hello”, replied the voice. Sunita was dumbstruck as she recognized the voice immediately. She shouted on the phone, “Rahul, from where have you got this phone.”
“Mom, don’t you remember I asked you for the mobile phone and you only got it for me. I wondered how you have forgotten.” replied Rahul calmly.
“But this number?” Sunita was confused.
“Mom, what’s wrong with this number.” Rahul was unable to understand his mother’s reaction.
“Nothing!” Sunita didn’t want to take it further.
“Ok mom, now please listen, since my studies have increased, so I will leave early in the morning and come late at night as I will be having group studies with my friends.” Rahul hung up the phone.
Sunita was not convinced. She was afraid of loneliness that was going to wrap her. But she couldn’t help it either.
Sunita woke up with the start. Her phone was ringing. It was Rahul.
Sunita: “Rahul, where are you? When did you reach home last night?”
Rahul: “I was a bit late that’s why didn’t disturb you.
Sunita: “Where are you now?”
Rahul: “Today is my extra class and after that there’s a stay back at Raghav’s place for group studies. I will come in the morning tomorrow.”
Sunita: “What will you eat? At least you should have breakfast before leaving.”
Rahul: “Mom don’t worry about me. I was getting late. I Will pick up something to eat from the cafe near my coaching. Love you Maa”.
And the call disconnected………..
Sunita stared at the phone blankly. “How can I stop worrying about him when he is the only reason for my existence.” wondered she.
This continued for many days. Rahul only used to come late at night and disappeared in the morning. Sunita couldn’t even get time to talk to him or even see him. The loneliness was gripping her tightly and she was not able to set her free. She never talked much with her neighbours as she felt they were not normal to her. She had nothing that could engage her.
Days passed like this with no particular change in Sunita’s life. One fine day, she got a call from Rahul that his break is about to start and he will be spending quality time with her. Sunita was ecstatic. She thought of making it grand for Rahul. After all, it is after so long that they will be spending time together.
Quickly she got ready for the supermarket. On the way she met Gayatri.
“Hey Sunita, why are you in such a hurry? Where are you going?”, remarked Gayatri
“I am going to supermarket to buy ingredients for baking a cake. Rahul and me will be spending some quality time together.” Replied enthralled Sunita.
Upon hearing this, Gayatri was amazed. But before she could say anything Sunita was already gone.
Excitedly Sunita started to bake a cake. She was recalling her fondest memories with her son and husband. After that unfortunate accident, it was the first time that she felt so happy. Though Rahul was staying with her, still she was unable to feel his presence or communicate with him in person.
While she was in the middle of her preparations, her phone started ringing. It was Rahul. Excitedly she picked up the call.
Rahul: “Maa, I am sorry! I won’t be able to make it today. An important assignment turned up and I have to complete it. It’s a group collaboration and I have to stay with my friends to finish it.
Sunita was heartbroken. Words struggled to come out of her mouth. She tried hard but could not hold back her tears.
She did not even know when the phone got disconnected. That day she missed her husband a lot. She stayed in front of his portrait for hours and cried her heart out.
“Rahul is the only reason I am still alive. But why is he behaving like this with me now. It has been ages since I have talked to him to my heart’s content or even see him. I know he is a grown-up boy now and has his own engagements but at least he could dedicate a small part of his life to his mother.” Sunita was staring at his husband’s picture and talking to him.
After crying for hours, Sunita fell asleep. It was only in the next afternoon that she woke up startled. There was no sign of Rahul. Restless, Sunita checked her phone. There was no call either. Sunita’s heart was thumping so loud that even she could hear her heartbeat. She had a gut feeling that something terrible is going to happen. Hysterically she stumbled with her phone’s keypad to dial Rahul number. She tried and tried but was unable to reach him.
Suddenly darkness engulfed Sunita. She felt so suffocated that she ran out of her house. As she was running, she collided with Gayatri.
“Gayatri please help me. I have a gut feeling that something has happened to Rahul. I could not get through his number” I want to go to him. Please do something, please, please Gayatri please……..
And Sunita lost her consciousness.
Gayatri made Sunita rest in her room and came out.
As she was pacing back and forth in her home, her husband Rachit asked him the reason for the same. Rachit and Sunita’s husband were childhood buddies.
Gayatri: “Rachit, Sunita was behaving very weird today morning. She was running like anything and collided with me. She was deliriously shouting that something has happened to Rahul and then fainted. I am scared watching her like this”.
The look at Gayatri’s face troubled Rachit.
Rachit: “Gayatri, why are you so much worried. The trauma Sunita had gone through must have had a great impact on her mind. She will be alright”.
Gayatri: “But Rachit, its been a long time now. I think she had concocted a story in her mind. She simply does not want to accept the reality. But this way, she is doing injustice to her by torturing herself.”
Rachit, Gayatri is my good friend since I shifted here. I could not see her like this. Earlier also I tried to reason with her regarding her attitude but she never paid attention.
While Rachit and Gayatri were in a conversation, they heard a voice coming out of the room in which Sunita was resting.
“This is really bad attitude of yours Rahul. I almost died.” Said Sunita on phone
“Sorry ma, my phone battery went dead that’s why couldn’t call.” replied the voice from the other side.
Rachit and Gayatri were baffled. None of them could gather the courage to go to Sunita and check the voice on the other side of phone.
“Rachit, this has to stop.” “I am going to tell her the truth which she doesn’t want to accept.”
Before Rachit could stop Gayatri, she was already inside the room in front of Sunita.
“Sunita, may I know whom are you talking to” questioned Gayatri.
“Its Rahul.” replied Sunita calmly.
“May I check”, asked Gayatri.
Hesitantly Sunita handed over the phone to Gayatri.
Mustering all her courage, Gayatri took the phone and checked. There was no one on the other side.
Gayatri told Sunita that there was no one on the phone.
Sunita couldn’t believe what Gayatri just said. She was now listening to her stoned.
“YOUR SON IS DEAD!!!!!
DID YOU HEAR ME!!!! YOUR SON RAHUL IS DEAD.”
Gayatri almost shouted.
While Sunita sat there still.
She went to the memories of that fateful day.
Her husband was driving the car……… Rahul was sitting in the front seat and she was sitting at the back………. All three of them were playing antakshri on their way back home……….. All three were happy together. Suddenly a speeding truck came in front of the car. The driver was badly drunk and he collided the truck straight into their car. Sunita, her husband and Rahul were badly hurt with blood oozing out of their bodies. While Sunita’s husband died on the spot, Rahul and she were still struggling. Even on the verge of death, Sunita was praying for her son’s life.
Before slipping into unconsciousness, the last memory she had of Rahul was is body drenched in blood.
Sunita came out of her reverie when Gayatri shook her. Tears stung her eyes as she accepted her beloved son’s death.
All these years she had created a virtual world where she was talking to her son and even living with him. But now truth dawned on her which was extremely painful.
““Ma, I am hungry. Just can’t wait to have sizzling hot aaloo parathas and steaming cup of tea”, chuckled Rahul as he talked to his mother, Sunita on phone.
As Sunita disconnected the call, she happened to meet Gayatri.
“Hello Gayatri, how are you”
“I am fine Sunita. So happy to see you happy. Where are you going?” asked Gayatri.
“Oh! Rahul wants to have aaloo parathas, so going buy potatoes.”. replied Suniat smilingly.
“Great! Even I want to have.” Chuckled Gayatri.
“You are most welcome”, said Sunita and left for the market.
As Gayatri watched her friend leave, She remembered the day Sunita brought a street boy home, lovingly named him Rahul and became his foster mother. Her Rahul had indeed come back to her!
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