"Can you recall the number now? Try again. Come on, tell me," it's woman constable, and there is a palpable irritation in her voice.
It seems I am in a police station. This is the umpteenth time this fat woman has been asking me this question. If I remember it, I will tell that no.? Why can’t this mottu understand that? I suppressed my anger.
“Tell me ma,” she raised her voice.
I tried uttering, “43176903 err, no it's 341... err..it's 30...”
“Sir, this woman won't tell. She has been blabbering since morning,” she sneered.
“Is she acting smart?” Another voice came from behind a room, which resembled like a lock- up room.
“Don't think so. She seems to be from a good family,” Someone murmured.
“Let her take her time. Don't force her.” It was a rough voice from a man.
“It seems the whole day will go with this woman”, the fat woman constable said in an irritated tone.
“Shall we give us our treatment? Even her grandma will recall the password,” She is adamant to make me recall the number. But why can’t she understand that I am not able to recollect it. I sighed in exasperation.
“Ssh...we have informed the Inspector. He will come and let's not jump into conclusions,” the man said, adding, “Since it’s a Sunday the cybercrime team won’t be there. Else they should have been able to break open the mobile phone and we should’ve been saved from this ordeal,” said a man in Khaki uniform. He had a big moustache and a dark face. But now he seemed kinder to me than the fat woman constable.
“These old people have become a nuisance now. They don’t go and stay with their children. Their children too seem not interested in them. Why can't these old people sit at home? They simply roam around giving us work. Till she cracks her name or address now it's upon our head,” the fat woman stomped.
I started rubbing my temples. The fingers seem rigid. My long and beautiful fingers and butter-like hands have gone long back. It seems there is a veil of cloud in front of my mind. Everything appears cloudy. Nothing is coming up with clarity.
I rolled my eyes and took a detailed look at the surroundings. I confirmed that it’s a police station. My frail body shivered. I held on to the tip of my dupatta and started making small balls of its ends. I could feel a growling inside my tummy. Don’t know the time and which place is this. I have been sitting on a wooden bench for quite some time. How many hours, don’t know. My throat is dry and I’m hungry too. I feel light-headed.
I tried recollecting my day. I could still remember my childhood, even my youth. But I am unable to remember things on a day-today things. I tried recollecting my day. Some people had brought me here. But why and how come I am here? I was standing lost in the town. Was it a town or city? Which city? Again a sheet of white fog clouded my mind’s eye. I closed my eyes tightly. I can now hear the sounds of thunder and stamping of boots. I could hear the wailing of a man. Someone has been crying and pleading for water. I shook my head as if in disbelief.
I want to go home. But where is my home? What is my address? I can’t remember. The only thing I can now remember is seeing the rose flowers in the courtyard. The flowers were all in bloom and I remember standing near the potted plants. After that…nothing is coming to mind. I looked at the phone in my hand. Its blue screen had buried all my memories under it, I thought. I wanted to throw it and damn break it into pieces. Suddenly I held to it tightly. If I can recall my password, I can get my address, phone number everything from the phone and I can go home. Once home, I can see all the required numbers written in big letters kept on the table and also hung on a chart paper hung the wall. But where is my home?
I can’t remember when and where I started from home. It seems it was in the morning. I tilted my head back and closed my eyes. It is raining outside. The sound of pitter patter rain drops took me back in time.
Srinivasan aka Sri met me at a temple; rather bumped in to me. Suddenly, I felt my otherwise rigid facial muscle became soft and a smile flashed on my face. I opened my eyes and looked around. No, no one is around. I closed my eyes again. Everything is appearing crystal clear to me. It was an evening and there were dark clouds forming up in the sky. It’s a Murugan temple and the temple stood facing the sea. The structure was made of stone and the small temple with a mandapam stood in a sprawling area dotted with oak trees. I sat cross-legged looking at the oak trees dancing in the wind; my lips humming the song, Anthimalai kovil vandhen...Suddenly it started raining and people, though less in numbers, who till then stood scattered in the courtyard, came rushing to the mandapam. Among them were a handsome man and he hit the flower basket I had kept near me and tripped. He almost fell on me. He caught hold of me and I still can remember the panic in his eyes. Thinking of that evening, I felt blood rushing to my cheeks; a smile blossomed on my lips. I was a banking trainee and he an enginner. There started our courtship and later marriage happened. Children came and we were a happy family. All of a sudden, a chest pain took him away from us. My eyes started welling up and tried wiping them using the palm, in vain.
Then on, it has been a solo journey. Being a love marriage, there weren’t any family support. I worked hard, took tuitions and raised the children. Now, both of them are settled abroad. It’s not that they don’t like me. They only bought me this costly phone; arranged the home nurse. Krish even took me to Canada. But my osteo-arthritis worsened and he had to bring me back. Both Lakshmi and Krish call me often, check with the home nurse. But today, I don’t know, what happened? I am lost...and I am sitting here like an orphan. My fingers trembled and tears started running down like rivulets.
I can still remember the stories my granny told me. Hanuman taking the signet ring from Sri Raman as a password to show to Sita at Ashokavanam, Sakunthala losing her finger ring due to a curse and Dushyanthan not recognising her...All those I can recall. But why am I not able to recall my own phone’s password? Those five ..errr..six digits. My facial muscles tightened and I could hear my won teeth getting ground in frustration. I rubbed my eyes as if it will clean up the foggy screen before me and give clarity to my mind...nothing happened.
Is the phone ringing? I could hear the phone ringing and someone talking aloud. I looked at the dial pad. No, it’s not mine. It’s a land phone.
The man says, “The Circle Inspector is here. He says we can shift this old woman to the shelter home.”
What did I hear? Shelter home?
I wanted to tell that my children will call up or someone will be able to take me home. But my throat was dry and words remained there as if in a knot. Before I could gather the strength to talk, the fat woman constable came and dragged me from the bench, and started walking towards the police jeep stationed at the porch.
I held my phone close to my chest and covered it with dupattah... It will ring now and I will be able to go home. But till then I should not lose my phone and no one should steal my password.