Smiling Angel6 mins 16.5K 6 mins 16.5K
“Good evening Malini Aunty.” Keith’s cheerful voice reached my ears and I turned back to see his innocent face. Something I could never get bored of. I met the little boy almost every day while he returned from school. He walked swiftly despite the heavy load of his school bag while his friends walked with a hunch. He was the most talkative and inquisitive of the lot; perhaps the reason why I couldn’t ignore him for too long. His beaming smile was enough to make me forget all about the worries and stress life threw my way. Whenever we met, he mostly did all the talking. He could just go on and on for hours. While he asked me a hundreds of questions, I barely managed to answer a few.
A recluse since childhood, I had only one friend whom I trusted. Since she stayed far away, we spoke over the phone every day but met once every six months. Family life had been nothing but a blur to me because I didn’t have any. My father had abandoned me before I was even born. I had no idea who he was nor had I seen any picture of him. My mother raised me all alone. She provided for me financially but failed to give me what I craved the most. Her love, her support and her attention. For her, I was always a burden and not her child. Her behavior towards me was enough proof to say so. Even on holidays, she preferred spending time with her boyfriend rather than her only child. I couldn’t blame her though; since my father was nowhere in our life.
When I started working, I met someone who I thought was my Prince Charming. A few years with him made me realize that I was living in a fool’s paradise. What followed after that was a broken marriage and a long custody battle for my son Nishant which I lost miserably. The court allowed me to meet him only once a year as my husband had successfully proved to them of my incapabilities. I was a smoker, an alcoholic, bankrupt and a social outcast; which I was. It clearly indicated that I was a bad mother and a bad influence, unable to take good care of my child as per society’s standards.
It’s really strange how a person’s feelings for you can change over a course of time. They start despising the very same qualities they had once admired. Keith was a year older than my son. I showered all my affections on him, something I couldn’t give to my Nishant. Few people in the colony spoke to me because of my reputation. Keith was one of them. Rebellious by nature, he never listened to anybody’s advice to stay away from me. Luckily, for me, his parents and I were on good terms.
I met Keith at the lowest point of my life; my depression phase. Even though I was leading a troubled life, I wanted to live for my child and give him the love my mother never gave me. Nishant’s absence in my life shattered me completely. While my psychiatrist’s regular sessions helped me to a great extent, I would not have regained composure had it not been for Keith.
Whenever I spoke to him, it felt as if I were speaking to my own child. I scolded him whenever I saw him being mischievous and hugged him when he told me of his achievements at school. Just as a mother would. For me, he was an angel sent by God Almighty. His energy and zest for life were infectious. With him around me, I never experienced a dull moment. He was a total entertainment package. I looked forward to meeting him every day, waiting impatiently what he had to offer me next.
Everything was fine until Keith told me about his birthday, which was approaching nearer. Out of curiosity, I asked him what he wanted on his 10th birthday. He expressed his desire for a pair of skates; and how his parents disapproved his idea of having one. Without giving a second thought, I decided to gift him just that, not thinking at all about the consequences. While Keith’s excitement knew no bounds, I had to face the music from his parents a day after his birthday, especially his mother. While she sympathized with me and my crisis; she felt that I was interfering a tad too much in her son’s life. Somehow, she was under the impression that I was trying to take her son away from her. I tried my best to assure her that I wasn’t and had no intentions whatsoever. Though she didn’t shun me completely, I was asked to maintain my distance.
It hurt worse than I could imagine. But what could I do? I wasn’t related to Keith by blood. When my own blood had been taken away from me, I had been nothing but helpless. Maybe I would have reacted in a similar way or even worse had some other woman tried to get close to Nishant. Despite the pain my heart went through, I avoided Keith as much as possible. Unaware of what was playing on my mind, my smiling angel refused to let go of me. In the beginning, I refused to talk to him by making up random excuses like I was busy, unwell etc. When I avoided conversation with him while coming from school, he would end up at my home with his Maths text book and a list of doubts he knew all the answers to. It felt weird. Though I knew his intentions, I couldn’t just snub him completely. At the end of it all, he was just a child. A special one for me.
Eventually, I stopped avoiding him, regardless of how his parents felt. It was useless. The impish Keith was full of excuses and questions I had no answers to and my heart couldn’t just bear the idea of staying away from him. Keith was on cloud nine once his exams were over and his summer vacation started. He played all day with his friends and would usually ring my doorbell more than thrice a day to have a drink of water. Sometimes, he even brought his friends along. When I asked him the reason why he never went to his own home, his eyes lit up like twinkling stars and his smile enhanced up to 180 degrees. He answered with utmost honesty. “ If I go back home, Mom won’t allow me to come back and play. She isn’t as cool as you are, Malini Aunty.” Before I could open my mouth to give him a hearing, he had kept the water glass on my TV cabinet and was out on the compound in no time.
I wanted to tell him that I wasn’t as cool as he thought I was. Secondly, he shouldn’t have such negative thoughts about his own mother. I wondered for a minute if Nishant felt the same way about me. Whether he even considered me as his mother or he had totally forgotten about me. It had been months since she had last seen him or known how he was doing. And then there was Keith who she met every day. He was in no way related to her yet they shared a bond undescribed by words. She adored him and admired his spirit. Now, she couldn’t imagine a day without listening to his constant blabbering and silly talking.
Some relationships don’t have a name nor do they have a meaning. Yet they exist due to the connection of selfless souls and broken hearts. Just like Keith and Malini’s.