It had been raining heavily since the past one week, Uma Kakima , had been feeling absolutely lost. She was supposed to visit her younger sister, Mrinalini who stayed in Darjeeling on Friday , but she had to cancel her plan following the incissent rain. She was absolutely disappointed . As it is ,she was a widow ,who had accepted to live, all by herself. The rains had managed to make her life even more miserable. She kept looking outside the window and kept on looking at the children playing with paper boats. She remembered many incidents surrounding the rainy days of her life.
Shyam , her only son had been transferred to Mumbai and she had been suffering lonliness. She constantly entered inside his bedroom and kept opening his cupboard to feel his smell, but he was gone . The petrichor was reminding her of the days they had been together . All the activities that they both did together ,when it rained. They made paper boats, and watched them sail in the puddles at their backyard,then they made beautiful paintings and wrote stories together.
All through , his growing up years , this had been their routine during the rainy days. Sometimes ,they would enact some plays and wear costumes for the same. Many times , he would act like a prince , who was trying to save his mother from the wicked demons. Yet on those occasions he would question his mother and ask ” Ma , why is it that , I have to protect you from the demons? Is it not time that you should stand up and fight against the demons yourself! “
Uma Kakima , was left speechless for a while , when she heard Shyam speak in this manner and realised that it was time , she should learn to handle herself independently. She Soon began to visit the bank herself . Later she learnt to handle the finances of their house independently.
I started , staying at her house as a paying guest since the last two years. I was posted as a lecturer in the Jogomaya College and thus my parents thought instead of staying in a hostel , staying as a PG will be a better option. My parents stayed in Kalyani and for me travelling every day for more than five hours was turning out to be hectic.
Infact , it was a rainy day too , when Baba saw the advertisement for PG accommodation with a middle aged widow , he thought it would be the safest accomodation for me.Uma Kakima , was the most happiest person to let me in. She felt absolutely delighted that atlast she is going to stay with someone and she could share her amazing memories of her rainy days.
Uma Kakima , made me feel as comfortable as she could by opening the gate of her humble home. While , speaking to her I got to know that how she had fled with her parents ,as a child during the 1947 , partition from Pabna , in East Pakistan or Bangladesh. As she recollected those , horrifying days her face turned pale. She had seen many people seeking shelter in the refugee camps. They had got drenched many a days , as they did not have an umbrella.
Her father had been a doctor and helped save the lives of many refugees and they settled in the Ballygunge area. They could hear the foxes howling in the middle of the night, the area was absolutely deserted . People were afraid to venture out after the sunsets in their locality.
Post marriage , she shifted to this three bedromed house in Tollygunge and her life went through many a ups and downs. Yet, she remained a homemaker and was mostly dependent on Mrinal Kaku , her husband was a Chartered Accountant. He expired about three years ago due to an accident, but before that he too saw a lot of change had come over Kakima.
Earlier ,she could never step outside the house without Kaku or Shyam’s help but she soon adapted herself to step out on her own and could travel to different places all by herself.
” Kakima, please close the window. The water is entering inside the room ,” I told her as she was watching the incissent rain that evening . She was lost in thought. She took out a multicolored umbrella and said , ” Shyam loved to build a tent , under this umbrella and we used to pretend that that we were trekking on the hills. After this rain stops , I will also ask him to join for a trek near the Valley of Flowers ,in Uttarakhand . He will be able to use his umbrella once again and We will enjoy the journey . We will create wonderful memories forever.
Uma Kakima, often used to share the evening tea with me. That day too, while , I returned from college, I saw her preparing tea and looking into the album , to look for the pictures of Shyam and the memories of his growing up years. As , she looked closely at the picture of Shyam , carrying a multicolored umbrella, she recalled an awesome incident. It was during their trip to Kovalam beach. ” I was , waiting to ride the narrow boat , when all of a sudden Shyam began crying. He had seen a young boy , almost of his age selling these multicolored umbrellas. He kept saying that it will begin to rain . He insisted that , I carry it with me or else , I would get drenched.”
He fixed the umbrella on the boat saying, ” Ma , see it will save you from the rain.” But no sooner did , I buy it and fix it on the boat , a strong wind blew over my face and the umbrella broke into pieces. Yet , again I bought it for him and he kept it in a safe place. See it is still there,”she said pointing to the umbrella kept on the shelf.” Do you know Rima , once when the rain water had flooded our street, he watched some children struggling to enter inside the school gate through the flooded water from the large window of his room .
He immediately, rushed out of the house , holding the umbrella . He helped them jump and get inside their school building. I felt that he was perhaps behaving like my father , who had treated many of the refugees cross the border . They suffered from different ailments. But Baba continued to treat them with a smile on his face. ” Kakima narrated the incidents surrounding the rainy days. I was listening to her with rapt attention.
The phone rang and she hurriedly received it. Shyam was on the other end. ” Ma , I am coming home .” Uma Kakima’s small face suddenly glowed like a sunflower.” Rima , Shyam is going to arrive soon. I must make his favourite payesh( kheer).
As , I left for the college ,the next morning. I was seeing how Uma Kakima was busy making preparations for her only son’s arrival. I had read somewhere that mother’s can go to a great amount of change for the sake of their children. Today , while watching Uma Kakima , I realised that there was a great amount of truth in these words. I just looked at her and said ” What else are you preparing for Shyam da . Do keep some for me too.” As I said this and stepped out , it began to pour heavily. I was about to get absolutely drenched , when Uma Kakima called out to me and streched her hand from the old blue window of her house. ” Take this , it will help you during this terrible rain, and she gave me the multicolored umbrella. Before , I could say something , Kakima continued again . “Keep this safely. It is an old one ,yet has loads of memories attached with it. ” I thanked Kakima and assured her that
Before ,Kakima could say something, I heard the sound of the gate being opened. ” Ma , please open the door. Kakima, peeped outside the window. He was standing outside,holding ,a similar multicolored umbrella.Uma Kakima smiled radiantly. There was a silver lining and the clouds of dissapointment vanished soon.
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