“Pushpa..Pushpa, screamed Mrs Bharadwaj on seeing her vase filled with dead roses again. It was third time in a row now. “How many times I had to tell her that withered flowers are no good, sighed Mrs Bharadwaj fixing her bifocal spectacles right above her pointed nose. Her skin had began showing evidence of gradual aging as several wrinkles appeared on sides of eyes and lips when she frowned. She raised her head slowly and summoned her maid to get rid of these ugly roses.
It was very unlikely of Mrs Bharadwaj to throw such tantrums. Pushpa knew something was bothering her. So without an ounce of protest she nodded and did as she say. She had been with the old lady for decades, so knew her in and out.
Mrs Bharadwaj began looking outside the window. She was quiet relieved that she had a view like that to cheer her up when she lost her ways. The sight of the still lake calmed her and she went into meditating states.
Her phone began to ring after an hour of meditation passed by. And she came back from her meditative states to reality. It was her only son Ravish calling. He had been avoiding her for past few weeks.Whenever she brought the question of his homecoming this Diwali, he seemed to completely ignore and change the topic. And for past two weeks avoiding to have a talk with her.
This bothered her a lot and she kept calling him now and then. He would simply cut the call feigning to be working and busy.
She somehow understood all the lies her son told. No different from his childhood fake stories ,she would think.
With few minutes of trying to act cool and pretending composure,she finally gave in to her bottling emotions and answered the phone with a frail voice.
“Kya Maa, aap bhi. How many times have I told you not to call again and again when I don’t answer the phone the first time. Main clients ke sath hota hun. It’s quiet disturbing maa”, his first salutations to her mother after two weeks of conscious ignorance.
And before she could say anything. He barged in and began again ” And hum nahi aa paenge this Diwali. Mere promotion ko celebrate karne ke liye party throw kar rahe hain office wale. Anuradha,muje aur bacho ko attend karna zaruri hai”.
Mrs Bharadwaj had no idea about his promotion. She felt like an outsider. She did not exist as a family member in his son’s story. She was shattered.
But maa,maa hoti hai. She blessed her son for his endeavours and asked him to eat well.
The humiliation did not end here. Ravish had more arrows in his bow to launch at her.
“I would have called you here but sab itna jaldi jaldi me hua ki ab last moment flights ke price have sky rocketed. And waise bhi aap itna travel kya karoge, thak jaoge . Aapki age ho gai hai aap aaram karo. I will send you videos and photos later, he said in a guiltless tone.
Tears were flowing down through Mrs Bharadwaj’ s eyes. All her efforts of not letting her turn emotional turned futile.
She went to fetch some water from the kitchen. Not to quench her thirst but to slide the pain down her throat.
She leaped towards the sink to put the empty tumbler and she saw withered red roses dumped in the dustbin near the sink.
She reached an epiphany. She felt pity for those disposed withered roses. On many levels she was like those withered dumped flowers. The resonance between the two life conditions were uncanny.They both were thrown away without an ounce of consideration just because they were old and frail.”We people have such a shallow understanding of beauty”, she muttered to herself. She wasn’t saint herself. And she knew that.
But she was not a person to just give up without giving a good fight. She picked herself up and wiped her tears. She called Pushpa in a soft gentle tone. She instructed her to bring all the withered,old and fallen flowers from the lake side.
Pushpa had no idea what has gone into her madam today. Two contrasting instructions in a single day was confusing her like anything. But still she understood that madam was in a better state of mind this time than the previous encounter.
Few hours later she was back with bags full of fallen leaves and flowers. Mrs Bharadwaj asked her to do one more for today and call it a day. She asked Pushpa to fetch her canvas and stationary from the basement.
Soon Mrs Bharadwaj was cleaning the thick layers of dust from her equipments and started designing on the canvas by spreading and sticking the wilted flowers around it. In a fraction of seconds the painting came to life and the image of lord Ganesha emerged triumphant from the zig-zag arrangement of flowers.
In morning when Pushpa visited the house,she was enchanted with the beauty of the picturesque and jumped with joy just by catching glimpse of it. She was Mrs Bharadwaj’s first customer. And it did not end there. Mrs Bharadwaj’s painting streak ended with not one two or three paintings but she made sure everyone in the town had one.
It was time for her redemption now. She crafted a painting for her son now. She carefully sent it to his Mumbai’s address.
Ravish was leaving for office when the parcel came by. He was puzzled as he did not order anything as far as he remembered. He asked about the parcel in the family but no body had a hint. He decided to open the parcel in the porch itself. He discovered it was a canvass with two figurines- a mother handfeeding her son food. Along with it came a note that said ” Beta khana time pe khana”.
The fragrance of the wilted yet ever smelling good- shiuli flowers sent him back to his childhood days. His mother used to put them in her gajra everyday. He rushed inside his house and began crying. He picked up the phone,dialled his mother’s number and said sobbingly ” Khila na maa apne hath se”.
She smiled from the other end of the phone and said “Beta darwaza to khol, main kabse bahar khadi hun”.
He thought she was joking. He hadn’t sent her any flight tickets yet. But Mrs Bharadwaj was now a self-reliant mother and she managed the tickets on her own this time.
The door bell rang and there she was. His eyes were watery and he hugged her like a baby as he always have been for her.