Mamma's Wish14 mins 3.0K 14 mins 3.0K
“Mili! Sit down to study now, right now!”
Oh no! I had made Mamma very very angry once again. Well……maybe I was at fault after all. The exams were just a week away and I had kept telling her the whole day that I would sit to study once I finished drawing the scenery, then after I was done playing with Roomi, then after I had a little fun with my mouth organ, and then after watching cartoons for just ten minutes.
Cartoons! Yes that was it. The minute I mentioned it, I knew I was gone.
“I haven’t watched TV the whole day Mamma,” I tried to put up my defense. But Mamma suddenly marched right up to my nose and pulled me by the ears and although it hurt, she dragged me to my room and stopped only after she had pulled out my English book and made me sit with it.
I cried. My ears hurt terribly.
“You stop or I’ll hit you!” shouted Mamma.
“No Mamma,” I pleaded. “I’ll stop, I’m trying.” I was trying, I really was, but the tears were just not ready to stop.
Mamma drew a deep breath and sat on the bed beside me. She slowly leaned back against the elevated edge and closed her eyes. I wiped my face still trying to control the sobs. I never liked it when Mamma was so angry. Her face had lines all over and she looked almost elderly. My Mamma is so beautiful, so loving, her face the sweetest of all known faces, yet when she gets angry, she becomes almost like an alien, the face full of lines and the eyes so scary that I just can’t bear to look at them.
Mamma was taking in deep breaths and the lines were slowly melting away and she was becoming my sweet Mamma once again. Her eyes were still closed and I could not resist the temptation any more. I hugged her round the neck and planted a deep peck on the cheek. Mamma opened her eyes, wiping off my tears from her cheek. My tears? Wow! I hadn’t noticed; they had stopped.
“Ok, now no more drama. C’mon open your book,” she said.
“Drama? Where?” What was she saying? Sometimes I really didn’t understand her words. Anyway, her mood seemed to be improving, so better not to say anything now.
I quickly opened my book- chapter four, ‘Alice in Wonderland’.
“Read it aloud,” said Mamma. Her voice was still thick. I quickly picked up the book and started reading. Mamma shut her eyes again and I felt safer.
The pink Anna-Elsa Disney fan above whirred loudly but on listening carefully, one could identify a strange rhythm in it - brrr….kat……brrr….kat….. Its breeze against my damp skin felt so soothing, that my eyes started feeling heavy. But I knew better that to invite further trouble and quickly straightened up.
“Better concentrate on Alice,” I told myself.
Mamma let out a reluctant “hmm” and slowly opened her eyes.
“You won’t understand now Mili, these are the best years of your life.”
“Aaan?” I asked.
“You think it would be wonderful to grow up, nobody will ask you to study, you’ll be free to do whatever you want to, isn’t it? No dear no. You will realize one day that this life is a thousand times better than all the riches of the world put together.”
“What Mamma……… I don't understand what you’re saying.”
“Never mind” replied Mamma and fell quiet. I continued with my reading but in a while Mamma interrupted again.
“If only I could go back in time………. How I wish I could be a little girl once again.”
I stopped reading and looked at Mamma bewildered. What was she saying! What if the blue fairy heard her?
“What?” asked Mamma after a while when she noticed me staring at her, mouth wide open.
“Uhh…nothing.” I got back to my reading but was unable to focus. Mamma caressed my hair and got up.
“I’m going to the kitchen. You study. I’ll come back and ask you questions.” I quickly nodded and off went Mamma.
“The spellings also,” she reminded me from the kitchen.
When a minute had gone by, I tiptoed to the door and peeked out. Mamma was in the kitchen. Busy.
I hurried to the book shelf and raising myself on my toes, stretched my right hand to the back of the row of text books and pulled out the blue fairy.
“Fairy,” I whispered close to her ears.
“What is it Mili?” she asked.
“Did you hear Mamma?”
“Yes of course,” the fairy replied very matter-of-factly.
“What will I do fairy? Aren’t you worried about me? If Mamma goes back to being a little girl, where will I get Mamma?” I was almost teary. “Who will look after me?”
“Why….. Papa?” the fairy again replied without any serious thought.
“Papa! Don’t you understand? Papa can manage things for some time, but he’s not really good at it. Who will get up in the morning and get me ready for school? With Papa I’m sure to be late everyday. He’ll forget to press my uniform, he’ll forget to give me milk, he’ll forget to ask me to go to the toilet before bedtime.”
“So?” asked the fairy. “You don’t like milk right? And you find going to the toilet when you are sleepy, too irritating, isn’t it? I don’t understand your problem Mili.”
I looked down and meekly replied. “But they are the right things to do, I know that.”
“Oh! So you know everything and still rake up trouble. That’s not a nice thing to do Mili.”
“Ok, I won’t do it anymore. But now tell me how to stop Mamma’s wish from coming true. I want Mamma with me, I don’t want her to go back in time.”
The fairy narrowed her eyes. “Hmm…..Let me think about it.” She strode back and forth climbing up the slope of my textbooks fluttering her blue wings constantly.
“Do you think she made that wish seriously?” she asked.
“Oh yes, she was very serious, I’m pretty sure.”
“Oh please think quickly. Wishes made sincerely do come true, isn’t it? I’m feeling very nervous. I think Mamma really wants to go away. She is getting tired of all the problems we create for her; mostly me I think, but sometimes she gets cross with Papa and sometimes with her boss who keeps calling whenever he feels like, and orders her to do this and that. It’s tough for her, I know fairy.” My voice was barely above a whisper, I was feeling really bad for Mamma.
The fairy kept marching left and right on the shelf in her dainty blue gown. Suddenly the blue dust around her wings lit up like a hundred fireflies huddling together. I moved my face closer to hers, expectantly. She smiled at me.
“What if you could be with your little Mamma……a friend of hers?”
I gazed at her for sometime trying to comprehend the words. “You mean………Mamma….. a girl of my size and still I could be with her……….as her friend?” I asked unsure.
“Exactly,” nodded the fairy.
“Wow! That would be great.” I bent forward to hug her but instead hit my head against the rack.
“Ouch! You are so tiny; can’t even hug you.”
“Ok now get back to your studies else Mamma will be angry once again,” warned fairy. I felt relieved. The blue fairy always had such wonderful solutions to all my problems.
Mamma’s footsteps could be heard coming across the dining room and I darted to the bed and picked up my book. Where was I? I desperately turned over the pages trying to reach Alice.
“Did you finish that chapter?” asked Mamma.
Thank God! There was no anger in her voice now.
“Uh…..only a little left Mamma, I’ll finish it.”
“Ok. Read loudly, I could not hear you.”
I finally managed to reach Alice just as she was gulping down another magic potion and started reading at the top of my voice. I had read barely three or four paras when my eyes suddenly seemed to lose focus; they seemed intent on shutting out the lights.
I must have slept on my books that night, for when Papa lifted me and took me to the toilet, I think I was feeling hungry. But sleep overpowered every other sense and all I did was lie like a log as Mamma and Papa struggled to change my clothes and finally let me rest comfortably on the bed.
“Aashu, come quick, lunch is ready.” A stern looking lady came out into the verandah and called out. The face seemed so familiar but I could not recognize her. She leaned over the small wooden gate and looked this way and that but could not find Aashu. “Aashu………….Aashu……….” she called out louder.
A little girl’s face peeked out from behind the branches of the guava tree standing right at the bend of the pathway leading upto the wooden gate. “Coming Ma, five minutes,” she shouted and the stern looking lady nodded her head and disappeared inside the house. After a while I could see several pairs of thin legs dangling from the various branches of the guava tree and soon they started jumping down.
“Today Aashu has the biggest collection,” said one.
“But you already took the best one, lalchi bandar, you won’t get anymore.” Aashu tried to shield her collection as the lalchi bandar made an attempt to scoop down on her guavas. I felt an instant camaraderie with Aashu and offered my help.
“Give some to me, I’ll keep them away from this lalchi bandar.”
But Aashu didn’t seem to hear me. She hurried to tie up the front of her frock into a pouch with all the guavas inside, dodging the lalchi bandar all the while. When no one was noticing, I quietly slid my leg in front of the lalchi bandar and he tripped over. Aashu laughed loudly and hurried away with her collection. I felt glad. She hurried towards the gate but with both her hands guarding her guava-pouch, I knew she would not be able to open it. So I hurried to help.
“Thanks,” said Aashu a little surprised. “Who are you? Haven’t seen you before?”
“I live on the other side of that pond,” I lied quickly. Aashu ran in shouting, “Ok see you in the evening.”
I looked all around the place now. Where was I? And which place was this? There were trees all around, the roads were narrow and had big potholes. Here and there were scattered a few buildings, mostly single-storied and most of them had small patches of green in the front. Even the lamp posts on the street looked so different. I loitered around Aashu’s gate for sometime, then moved all around the house till a low window caught my attention. I looked this way and that. There seemed to be no one around and I peeked inside.
The room inside looked like a bedroom and it led to the living room I think. I found it strange that this house looked so different, nothing like the houses that I had seen so far. There was no sofa, no TV, at least not in the living room. I could see only a few chairs and a table. At the other end of the living room four colorful mats were laid on the floor and there were plates in front of each. Oh! I exclaimed in wonder. They sit and eat on the floor? Who are these strange people?
Suddenly I heard the fluttering of wings and there she was – my blue fairy. She landed herself on the window sill right in front of me.
“Can’t you recognize these people Mili?” she asked. I shook my head in despair.
The fairy laughed loudly. “That’s your little Mamma. And that serious looking lady over there, your sweet old granny and there your grandpa and uncle,” she pointed towards the family as they were sitting down to lunch.
I stood there completely speechless. So the fairy had actually made Mamma’s wish come true! It was unbelievable! Yes, of course, Aashu……… that is what my grandparents called Mamma. But, Mamma so skinny, her hair flying all loose, wearing a frock with missing buttons, climbing guava trees, my Mamma?
“Wow!” was all I could manage to utter.
“They won’t recognize you Mili because you are still not born, but you will be able to move around with your little Mamma. Happy?”
I just kept staring at the room inside; I didn’t know what to say.
“Hurry Aashu, take your bath quickly and come for lunch. Always late for everything!” I heard granny scold Mamma.
The fairy fluttered her wings and was off.
Mamma emptied her catch in one corner of the room and ran to the bathroom. She was out in less than two minutes, the water dripping from her hair and wetting her back.
“Come here with the towel” ordered granny. “When will you learn to bathe and dress properly?” She rubbed Mamma’s hair with all her might.
“Oow!” cried Mamma. I felt cross with granny. She was being so rough with Mamma.
They all sat down to eat. Granny served rice, dal, a curry of what looked like ladies finger and fish to all. Mamma tried to be sly I could see; she was slowly pushing the ladies finger to one side of the plate and tried to cover it up with a little rice.
I was feeling hungry but nobody offered me anything. How can they, I thought. I’m hiding. Mamma got lucky; no one noticed the hidden ladies finger. She quickly finished her food and got up with the plate. She went in, to what looked like the kitchen and emerged a short while later, wiping her wet face with the bottom of her frock and came straight towards the room, outside which I was hiding.
“Sshh” I called out from the window.
Mamma looked my way in surprise. “Hey what are you doing here? Won’t you go home?” she asked.
“I want to play with you,” I replied.
“But I can’t go out now, not before five. You better go now, come back at five,” she said in a low voice.
“Ok” I said and moved back a little. As soon as Mamma turned around, I was back in my hiding position. Only, instead of peeping through the window, I crouched under it. Soon I could hear voices in the room.
“You have a test tomorrow, isn’t it?” asked a deep voice.
Must be Grandpa, I thought to myself.
“Yes Maths.” I could hear Mamma’s timid voice.
“Get your books. I want to give you some problems,” ordered grandpa. I could hear Mamma scampering out of the room and hurrying back with her books. She even dropped a few in her hurry; she seemed mighty scared of grandpa.
I remained ducked under the window. A small bush concealed me partly but if someone were to come to this side of the building, they were sure to spy me. Luckily there was no one around. Was it a Sunday afternoon, I wasn’t very sure. Grandpa’s deep serious tone reached my ears once again. “Finish all of these and only then will you be able to go out to play today, understood?”
He was being so nasty. I could hear him moving around the room for some more time and then all seemed quiet. I slowly raised myself to standing position and “ouch” my head hit the open window pane.
“Ooh!” I cried out in pain.
“You’re still here!” cried Mamma in surprise. “And what are you doing here, hiding under the window?” She turned her head anxiously, there was no one.
“My punishment for it, I think,” I replied smiling, still rubbing my head.
“Want help? I’m good at Maths,” I offered. Mamma’s eyes lit up and she hurried to get the notebook to the window. We read the problems together, they were not that difficult but Mamma seemed to be having trouble with most of them. She kept glancing towards the door every few minutes. By about four we were done – all completed.
Mamma was mighty pleased. “Thanks…..uh…whats your name?” she asked.
“M……….Nila” I replied.
“Thanks Nila. There’s still an hour to go before I can step out. What will you do till then?”
“Talk to you,” I replied.
“You don’t like Maths, isn’t it?” I asked.
“No. So boring,” replied Mamma. “But nobody allows me to do the things I like,” she said sadly. “I like to draw and to read stories.”
Poor Mamma, I felt sorry for her.
“But you got to study all the subjects in school, isn’t it?” I tried to counsel her.
Mamma nodded with a glum face.
We were so engrossed in conversation that we failed to notice when grandpa had walked in. He looked at me with fiery eyes. I was so scared, I ducked right under and with my heart still thumping opened my eyes and sat up with a start!
The sudden jerk woke up Mamma and she looked at me perplexed. “What happened Mili? You had a bad dream?”. She pulled me to her lap and cuddled me for a long long time and slowly my heart beat returned to normal.
“I too had a strange dream, you know Mili……. of my childhood” said Mamma yawning. I sat still in her lap clasping her tightly around the chest.
“And there was a little girl in it, just like you. What was her name, I can’t remember, but she was so nice and was helping me with my homework, I think.” Mamma held me close to her bosom and rocked gently. It felt so nice.
“Maths Mamma?” I asked.
“Yes…….very difficult problems,” replied Mamma thoughtfully. She was still trying to recollect her dream, it seemed.
“But, just a sec, how do you know?” she asked surprised.
“Oh I just guessed,” I replied slyly and looked towards the book shelf. The blue fairy was peeping from behind the books. She winked at me and I winked back.