Bhumi #AtoZChallenge 2018 #BlogchatterA2Z #ShortStory

AMMA (18)

Aruna sat on the hospital bed in solemn silence. The last few weeks were spent in quiet reflection. Did she have any regrets now that she was on her death-bed? Not really! Did she have any scars? Plenty! Would she do things differently in the past? The answer was an emphatic no. She knew she played her role well – good daughter, sister, wife, mother and grandmother.

Her family was watching her anxiously from the glass window. Sumathi and Aditya, her children were there with their respective spouses and children. How she wished that they had realised her worth earlier. Things would have been so different.

Aruna´s life changed drastically after her marriage to Santosh and their permanent shift to the United States of America. She went from holding a lucrative IT job as a software engineer in Bangalore to becoming a stay-at-home mother in Tennessee. With two children in tow, a home that needed to be managed and the green card processing that took ages to be approved, Aruna had to choose home over career with a saddened heart. Santosh took on the financial responsibility of the family solely and made sure that his family lived the great American dream.

Aruna seemed to have it all – a happy marriage, two healthy children and a comfortable lifestyle. But, there was one thing that was missing in her life and what she longed for.  No, it wasn´t love but more important than it. Respect!

Aruna confided her feelings to her close aides but they dismissed her situation as normal and her feelings baseless. She was told that she was lucky to have an efficient and providing husband like Santosh. She knew it too. When it came to Santosh, she had no doubts about his love and loyalty to the family. He gave her no reasons to doubt or think otherwise. Yet, she couldn´t fight this nagging feeling of being taken for granted. The feeling exacerbated in vulnerable situations, serving as a gentle reminder to her. Whenever she felt sick, all she longed was her mother´s comforting presence and love. But, she was far away  in India. Santosh didn’t fulfil her emotional needs.

Santosh didn´t value the things that she did for the family. Somehow what she did at home always seemed pale in comparison to his job. It was ironical because Santosh and Aruna were city-bred and studied in the top educational institutions. Both of them were equally qualified and Aruna matched Santosh´s intellect. If she were still working, she would be drawing the same salary as him if not more. Yet, he didn’t see her as his equal.

Their children, Sumathi and Aditya were born in the US. There were years into their marriage when Aruna felt that she was a single parent. Santosh´s job entailed aliving out of a suitcase” lifestyle. Even when he was at home, he couldn´t care any less about Aruna´s piling responsibilities.

Sumathi and Aditya were privileged and entitled kids who grew up into similar adults as well. Aruna struggled to parent her two children. While it was an easy ride in the beginning, it was a harrowing experience as time went by. The clash of ideological values and belief systems were too glaring to ignore. There was not just a mere generation but also a wide cultural gap between them. Her sacrifices for the family didn´t mean anything for her children as well. They found her naive to give her all to the family and believe that their lives depended on it. Rather her!

Aruna´s repeated pleas to change fell on the deaf ears of her family. They continued to take her for granted and ignore her. None of them felt that she was competent to give them any advice owing to her ´frog in the well´ (as the kids jested in good humour of course!) existence. They couldn´t see the bigger picture that she was the backbone of the family. If she collapsed, so would them.

After Santosh´s death, her time was spent oscillating between Sumathi and Aditya´s homes. Aruna was at their beck and call for every need of theirs. She was their free baby-sitter, cook and house-help. Her whole life was centred on giving selflessly that her own health started to decline. Even with a weak heart and limping leg, she would carry on her duties with religious fervour. For years, her ignorant children failed to see the warning signs. Rather they chose to turn a blind eye to her deteriorating condition.

The final straw was when she collapsed in the bathroom with a heart attack. Even when it was a full-house Sunday morning, with the kids playing music on loud blast and Sumathi glued to her smart phone, there was no one to attend to her on time. A joint decision was soon taken by Sumathi and Aditya to send Aruna to an old-age home. They couldn´t take up the responsibility of looking after a terminally ill woman especially when they had other compelling issues that needed their attention.

At 67 years, the doctors told Aruna that her days were numbered owing an ailing heart. It was 4:00 pm. The visiting hours time. Sumathi and Aditya came in with her grandchildren. Aruna took a good look at her family one last time. Their love for her was unmistakable. Was it remorse that was writ large on their faces? And maybe the much deserved respect and value that she pined for too? Or was it just her wishful thinking?

But, Aruna refused to give up on her family. She clung onto faith and hope even at this looming hour of death. As their mother, she was willing to go the extra mile to save their organic relationship. She saw her relationship with her children as bent but not broken. 

After all, Aruna chose to care for her near and dear ones not just of responsibility, but also of her instinctive desire to give her best so that they get the best of hers – thoughts, words and deeds that would pass on to their next descendants. Hers was a life-path paved with a deliberate choice to give and give immensely with no trace of any ostensible element of human nature.

She called for her grandchildren first. Still recalling the feel of their tiny fingers, she held and kissed their hands before kissing them a final goodbye on their forehead. She looked at her children, Sumathi and Aditya and said –

“We have one life and how we live it is what makes all the difference. We are not born free individuals who live as we please. Freedom is a misunderstood word. It is another word for responsibility. Responsibility to do the right thing. Responsibility to treat what we have been blessed with utmost respect and gratitude. To give back in equal measure what we receive in abundance. That´s what life is all about. Creating heaven right here on earth.  I have done my bit. Now, it´s your turn.”

Sumathi and Aditya came closer to her and hugged her tight. It was time for Aruna to bid adieu with a weak heart. Her vision was getting blurry and she felt the consciousness drift from her frail body. She smiled in contentment knowing that she could finally rest in peace.

Author´s Note: In this story, I draw parallels between the universal and human nurturers. Our planet faces grave environment threat in the form of climate change, endangered species, waste disposal, urban sprawl and more owing to our sheer negligence and abuse. Similarly, nothing much has changed for the the 21st century Indian woman since the times of Draupadi from ´The Mahabharata´. We (men and women) abuse our privileged position and power to rape and strip our nurturers of all their dignity, respect and worth. It´s time show our love and pay our respect to our Bhumi. 

#AtoZChallenge 2018 #BlogchatterA2Z

31 comments

  1. Wow Tina. I couldn’t wait till bedtime after I saw your story on my FB feed.
    Another master piece . We are exploiting the natural resources & abusing our Mother Earth.
    We take mothers for granted. That’s what Aruna’s children did to her. And that’s what we are doing to our ‘Bhumi’ as well. We are taking ever for granted but times ahead are going to be difficult for our children if we don’t awaken and start respecting the limited resources that are available

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha Aesha! Such a sweet and motivating comment. I hope to hold your interest for my #AtoZChallenge stories all through out. 😀 True, we have to be mindful of our actions when it comes to the environment .becoz as you rightly said, our children will be the sufferers . Keep reading and sharing your thoughts, Aesha 😀

      Like

  2. Well woven tale Tina. Though your note explains the parallel you have draw,n, I would like to reflect upon Arunas’ story. Its the story of almost every woman who sacrifices for her family and in the end is often left with a heart full of desires and a life not really lives for self. You know what – I refuse to be that woman. While I would want to do my best for the welfare of my child and family, if it is at the cost of my own happiness I might take a step back. Loved your story Tina

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Akshata! Thank you for the lovely feedback and for sharing your thoughts. I know this protagonist is so not you. In this series of short stories, I want to focus on all kinds of women and their choices without casting any judgements whatsoever. I leave that to my readers..as a writer, I’ll try to portray each of these characters in the best way I can. Keep reading ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Had it not been for the epilogue I might not have connected two-n-two. It’s sad that humans are still taking their planet for granted in every way possible. I hope we realize soon and our mother earth doesn’t give her life looking at us in the same way as Aruna.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Rashi! Yes, there are two parallel stories with a common message. Not to take what we’ve been given for granted ..worse still abuse their privilege. Bang on! You summed it quite well in the last line. Keep reading and sharing your thoughts on the other stories as well, Rashi ☺

      Like

  4. Impressed and amazed. As if the story itself wasn’t great, you added another angle to it with that comparison with Mother Earth. A mother truly is selfless but its upto us, her children to value her. Loved this. Way to go, Tina.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for the thumbs up, Piyusha Vir! Coming from you, it’s a huge compliment. Yes, there are two parallel stories …an analogy. So glad you loved this one 😀 Keep reading and looking forward to your thoughts on the other stories for the #AtoZChallenge as well

      Liked by 1 person

  5. To give back in equal measure what we receive in abundance.. what a beautiful thought. as they say, Pay it forward. whatever good you have received in abundance pay it forward to others.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The unfortunate tale of many women and I totally loved the parallels you drew with the way we abuse Mother Earth. Very well told. Incredible how you have managed to weave a long story, given the break neck scramble of this month long challenge. Kudos dear Tina. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aww, thank you so much Natasha for the love and encouragement. I really need it at this time…This week’s been crazy with my daughter’s final exams. Glad you liked the story. Looking forward to your thoughts on the other stories for the #AtoZChallenge as well. 🤗💖

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Puja! Yes, the intent was to have an analogy and two parallel stories. Thank you so much for the love and positive feedback. Looking forward to your thoughts on the other stories as well. ☺👍

      Like

    • Hey Namrata! Oh Yes! This story needed an Author’s Note to justify the title. True and that’s the underlying ..to treat our nuturers well.. cos if we don’t.. we all suffer. Keep reading and sharing your thoughts. 👍☺

      Like

  7. Felt a roller coaster of emotions as I read your story. The initial part strongly reminded me of my mother till the plot gradually changed and the message came out strong and sharp. Very well written.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sayan! So good to see you on my blog. My mother is also very similar to Aruna…giving to the point of keeping others before herself. So much to learn from her. The only difference is that unlike Aruna, my mother is a financially independent woman …a successful career woman. I look up to her for her selfless and giving nature. And her strong sense of ethics. Thank you so much, Sayan …Keep reading

      Like

  8. The story of Aruna is very common. I’m sure everybody will acknowledge the pain of Aruna irrespective of one’s gender. Then, wherein lies the problem? What do you think is the root cause? And, what solution would you suggest?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ravish! The problem doesn’t with Aruna because she made a choice to be selfless. She represents Mother Nature who gives selflessly. It is up to us to value our nuturers and realise if we neglect and abuse them, we all suffer. Would love to know your take on this. Keep reading and sharing your thoughts on the other stories for the #AtoZChallenge as well.☺👍

      Like

      • Well said, Tina, it’s her choice to love unconditionally, and she doesn’t regret her decision. It requires a lot of courage. It’s easy to talk about love & compassion but not that easy to shower them in real. She understands that the people who are hardest to love are usually the ones who need it the most.

        So, yes, problem doesn’t with Aruna but with those who take such persons as granted, like her husband and her children. My concern is that everybody sympathizes with persons, like Aruna, but doesn’t correct one’s behavior towards such persons. You’re right that sufferer is not Aruna but those who neglect persons, like her.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You said it better than me, Ravish! And you hit the nail on the head as well – Everyone sympathises with a character like Aruna but don´t change themselves. This story is a tiny reminder of that message or call for action to change. Keep reading, Ravish! Always a pleasure reading your in-depth comments.

        Like

  9. I don’t know what to say after reading that. I am slightly angry. She should have walked out. Agreed, there has to be give and take in life. That is how the world comes around. But when your own kith and kin start taking you for granted beyond acceptable limits then it is time to act. Or at least assert your rights. We all love our children and spouses. But there is no harm in just being firm and make them realize your worth. That will increase their respect for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I get what you are saying, Jai! Through this series of short stories, I´m trying to focus on all kinds of women and the choices they make without any judgements passed. It´s true what you say that the world works that way…you demand respect, you get it. Having said that, I personally feel people like Aruna who choose to love those who don´t love them back are courageous. To love unconditionally is a sign of courage. That´s my take. Anyway Aruna is a metaphor for Mother Earth or Nature. If we fail to respect or take care of her, we all suffer. 🙂 Thanks for reading and keep sharing your thoughts. 🙂

      Like

  10. Wonderfully told and that note at the end was excellent. A tiny quibble though. She died at 67 and is said to be an IT software engineer in Bangalore – that would put her there in the early 1970s, a pioneer then and decades before the IT revolution 🙂 Maybe if you mention that she was as well qualified as her husband then it becomes more authentic. Sorry I am bit weird about facts like that.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s