Published:  01:00 AM, 15 June 2017 Last Update: 01:09 AM, 15 June 2017

A mother, an old home, a fan

Short story

A mother, an old home, a fan Rahim's mother has an old habit of chewing beetle-nut. One day it transpires that she squeezes the nuts in a kind of iron squeezer that creates some noise. It occurs when Sumi is having a nap. She ends up asking her husband to tell his mother not to do i

A very posh Toyota car is running smoothly on the smooth street. A comfortable air is felt inside as the air conditioner is on. Despite that Mr. Rahim is sweating profusely. He is very saddened as he is coming back home leaving the most beloved person in his life, his mother.

He has had to do it despite being the least interested. He has done it for another of his most loved person, his lone wife. Tears seem to swell up in his heart and struggle for an outlet in a strong urge to heave a sigh of relief. As he takes a walk down memory lane, he recalls how it all happened.

He tied the knot with Sumi after a lot of struggle. Sumi's father, Samir Khan, is one of the richest businessmen in the country owning a number of readymade garments factories. It is hard for him to tell how much money he has accumulated over the years. Sumi being his only daughter, all his factories are named after her. He was adamant not to marry her off to someone not on par with him so far as financial status was concerned. That Rahim could still woo her was all because of the bond between his mother and the lady of his love.

They marry through an elopement. As expected, Samir Khan could not bring himself to accept them. He severs all his ties with his daughter out of a sense of indignation. In this time of struggle, the only person to hug them with love was his mother. She does not move back as she stoops low to touch her feet like in typical Bengali movies.

Things go well for the first few months. They pass their days in mirth, endless gossip with interesting anecdotes, cooking different dishes each day until one day Rahim's father breathes his last through a cardiac arrest and Rahim is fired from the job for no fault of his own.

The whole family is left in utter distress as they had no way to earn a living. Samir Khan could not hold himself back thinking of the plight of his daughter who has never known hardship and has always lived in clover. He forgives them and presents his son-in-law with a flat in Dhaka and a brand new Toyota car and a high profile job in his own company. Things start going wrong only after they move into their new flat.

Rahim's mother has an old habit of chewing beetle-nut. One day it transpires that she squeezes the nuts in a kind of iron squeezer that creates some noise. It occurs when Sumi is having a nap. She ends up asking her husband to tell his mother not to do it because she cannot sleep with this noise going on. Samir reacts because he knows this has been an old habit with his mother and old habits die hard.

He asks her why she is saying all this today when she had no problem  with this earlier. She retorts that she forgot to tell him though she always wanted to.  A week later she finds it difficult to sleep at dawn as her mother-in-law recites the holy Quran a bit loudly with proper intonation. When he returns in the evening, she tells Rahim to forbid his mother to recite from the scripture so early in the day. Rahim is badly hurt but still fails to let his mother know anything about all this trouble he is going through with his wife because he knows how deep it will hurt her in the heart.

Surprisingly enough, there seems to be a way with each mother that enables them to understand their children way better than anyone else can. Nothing remains a secret with them for too long. She asks him to come close and asks him what is bothering him. He avers that things are fine, that there was nothing for her to worry about.

His mother retorts with a sigh, "You are my son. I can tell what you are through with a single glance at you. When you were too young to have learned to talk, I could understand you looking at your wordless face. When in summer you used to feel the heat, you had an uncanny way of drawing my attention to that.  You used to just look once at the ceiling fan and once at me.

There is nothing you can hide from a mother." She tells him that she knows everything and that she no longer wants to be a nuisance to them. She requests him to shift at that place they have for old people, not knowing it is called old- home. She asks him not to worry about her and wishes to leave the next morning itself. The next morning she leaves for her new home with other hapless people her age.

Years pass by. Rahim is too busy to go and pay her a visit these days. He has been receiving calls from his mother pleading him to fix a rickety ceiling fan she has in her room that hardly moves fast enough to keep the scorching summer heat off. He says he will come the next day and fails again to keep his word.

Twenty years have passed since his mother died in the old home. He could not even attend the burial as he was out of the country exactly at that moment. Today Rahim is sixty and is ready with his belongings to be dropped by his son at the same old home where he dropped his mother years back. He happens to be allotted the same room with that rickety ceiling fan still moving overhead to remind him of his old mother and of the fact that he never came to fix it despite incessant pleadings.

The writer is Vice Principal cum  O levels English language teacher,  London Grace International School, Bangladesh

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