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In A Silent Valley

In A Silent Valley

4 mins 241 4 mins 241

Mrs. Srivastava pushed the door mildly, and it yielded to a yawn with a creaking sound at the hinges. The hospital room, charged with medicinal smell, was wrapped in dusky light sieving through the white curtain, draped over the sole window. Vishal was lying still; his breast heaving up and down with the rhythm of mild breathing aided with mask, pipe and oxygen cylinder. She wiped her wet eyes with her handkerchief. Gathering cheerfulness, which was then alien in her disposition, she tiptoed into the room to surprise her beloved son, Vishal. He was counting his last breaths and every passing day, a single moment, was hauling him to his grave. An inevitable truth in their life.

As she reached the bed, the boy, barely in his mid-thirties, was found dwindled in physicality. Mrs. Srivastava felt the welling pain in her. As she put her fingers on his head, fondling with his hair, he came to consciousness of her presence. He stressed to open those feeble eyes that were deep sunk under his dark brows. As he managed a nebulous view of her mother, a conquering smile crept over his lips. “Don’t be excited, I am here” Mrs. Srivastava assured her son. “When did you come, Mom?” Vishal asked in a muffled voice. “Not long. How are you feeling now?” she asked. “So peaceful. Look they have taken out the cardiac monitor to relieve me from that continuous beeping sound. It always reminds me that my heart is going to stop.” Vishal was exhausted with such an exciting conversation and so took a deep breath to abate his palpitations. Mrs. Shrivastava fighting her tears said, “You are a brave boy to live without any assistance.” “Really, Mom? I think you are a greater fighter to see your son slipping into the jaws of death, and you with all your broken shields trying to fortify your precious possession,” Vishal uttered weakly. “Don’t say so. Why God is so cruel to impose such a fatal disease like Cancer in you?” “Mom, be upbeat, your son is so special that he will not settle with anything less than this kingly disease,” Vishal humoured.

A torturous silence ensued. Mrs. Srivastava had a leather bag in her grip all the time, which she now kept on the bed by Vishal's prostrate body. She took a stool meant for visitor's accommodation and sat onto that. She held her son's hand affectionately and softly said, “I have a surprise for you.” The very word 'surprise' was so familiar in Vishal's life starting from his father's demise, then discovery of his disease and later, her girlfriend, Saonli, who ditched him. Mrs. Srivastava knew all. Her son was really brave to accept all. “Tell me, Mom, what misfortune awaits me,” Vishal said. “Don’t say so. I have brought something for you. Will you take a look?” Mrs. Srivastava offered.

As Vishal gave a mild nod, she took out a content wrapped in brown paper. Its shape gave an idea, that the content must be a book. Mrs. Srivastava could sense the excitement in her son. She was afraid of the outcome and didn't let it grow in him. She unwrapped the cover and came out the name 'In a Silent Valley' in glowing red on the hard cover. Vishal was emphatic in his non-verbal reactions. “Vishal, relax,” Mrs. Srivastava said.

As she noticed, Vishal put off the oxygen mask and tried to sit up leaning on the iron stand at the rear. She jumped to his aid. “Why did you remove the mask? Don't do that”, Mrs. Shrivastava said and fumbled with the mask to put on Vishal's face, which he blocked with his palm. “I don't need, Mom. I have got my oxygen,” he said hugging the book to his breast. “This is my gift to you, my son, your unfinished novel,” Mrs. Shrivastava said. “I can't believe it. It’s so special, all my memories, and the title, you chose it?” She nodded and touched her son's heart with her withered fingers. “ Did You add to this volume, Mom?” “Yes. All that's in your soul, that you once told me, and whatever I could recall, all I penned in it. Your story is so touching that I didn't have to struggle to find a publisher,” Mrs. Srivastava said.

Vishal started could no longer control his tears. He cried out childishly. Mrs. Srivastava hugged him to placate him. “Your valley will never be silent, Vishal. It will always be visited by singing birds to gather nectar from the blooms that you have nurtured in this book.” “Mom, I don't fear death anymore. I have really gained my heaven, my immortality. You have fulfilled my dream.” Mrs. Srivastava hugged him tightly and the two basked in the warmth of their love, that had taken a concrete form in the book that they had co-authored.

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