As the matriarch of the family, I witnessed many seasons and many storms. Each season brought a new fervor, each storm – its own flavor. Each was a brush stroke of a different color; each left a distinctive mark. Over the years, I witnessed my children’s victories- small and big and all the festivities. I saw them fall and cry; then get up once again and thrive. I have seen it happen time and over and know that cycle will continue. Each time they got up; I saw something in them change irrevocably- one little chip at a time. Protective as I was, I never interfered. I had enough experience to know time had to take its due course.
I never left the village I was born unto, but I didn’t stop my children from leaving. In the beginning, they didn’t. They would bid farewell each morning and return diligently in the evening. But time favors change. So, with years, some left, and some stayed. Some left for shorter periods of time, some returned for the same length of time. Of course, I missed them and wanted to keep them close. But I knew my duty and kept my doors open for them to return. I had grandchildren and great grandchildren. How fortunate was I that time let me continue to be a part of their lives even as the distance grew? Slowly, the cacophony of our big family dwindled down to complete silence. The emptiness grew and a caretaker was assigned to come occasionally to make sure I was okay. Despite all my mental preparation, I felt my spirit corrode. All the ones I had nourished had left. There were no more backward glances, no more sentiment, and no more festivities. This too was the course of life but aah- the dejection and the loss! How the heart wounded itself over and over with longing!
And then, one fine day, I saw my youngest return. My heart beamed and sang again. But he stopped at my gate. I looked at him perplexed. Why wouldn’t he come in?
Then I spotted people behind him….and a bulldozer. I saw him sign and life’s eventual truth dawned on me. Every structure had to go. Be it breathing life or your ancestral home. I smiled sadly, wishing he had brought the others along. He stepped back and watched as I collapsed, brick after brick into a rubble to be disposed. I didn’t know if the dust got into my eyes, but I thought I saw him cry. After what seemed like an age, he stepped forward and gingerly touched me
“You seem different” He said, with a catch in his voice “I shall miss you”
My dissipated self smiled and spoke finally,
“Don’t. I am your 300-year-old matriarch. It is time for me to rest. Go and build something new”
With that, I closed my eyes peacefully. A butterfly rose from the debris and flew away. Time, however, continued to tick away.
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