“Yes, we have just started for the central mall to do shopping,” Prema told her mother over a voice call.

Three hours have passed.

“We have reached the hostel and I will be heading for dinner sometime,” Shyam listened to these words and smiled to himself. Prema noticed him sceptically while she added, “Love you Ma, Take care”, before hanging the call.

“May I know the reason for your smile,” asked Prema smilingly.

“Did you work for any news channel earlier?” teased Shyam.

“No, what made you think?” questioned Prema.

“As you are giving live updates to your mother, I thought you might have been a reporter,” smiled Shyam.

Prema smiled and asked, “Don’t you tell your mother where you are going?”

“No, I hardly make a call to her. Because usually, my father gives me a call once or twice a week. He speaks with me for a couple of minutes and then hands over the mobile to my mother,” said Shyam.

“When was the last time you made a call to your father,” confronted Prema.

“I don’t remember, maybe a few months,” said Shyam indifferently and smilingly he added, “I am pretty sure the last time when you have made a call to your father, it’s today, isn’t it?”.

Every night in my dreams I see you, I feel you……

Shyam picked up the mobile, saw him getting a call from an unlikely person.

“Hello, Hi Raju, How are you?” said Shyam smilingly.

Prema witnessed the smile on Shyam’s face fade gradually. Around 50 seconds have passed in utter silence then he lowered the mobile in a confused state. 

“What happened,” questioned Prema in a worried tone.

“My father has met with an accident,” said Shyam, “He asked me not to fear.”

“Don’t worry, Uncle will be alright. He is a strong person,” consoled Prema.

Shyam could hear Prema’s words but they didn’t make any sense to him. He felt mentally numb.

He received another call from one of his relatives after 15 minutes. “Your father has been kept in ICU. Please don’t get panic,” said the person on mobile.

“How is mother”, asked Shyam. 

“She is silent at the moment.”

“We will update you on the status in a few minutes.”

“Ok, thanks.”

 Shyam remained silent for a few moments and chuckled without looking at Prema. 

“I made fun out of you when you updated your mother about your whereabouts but, right now, I am waiting for the updates. This is the irony of life.”

Prema just held his hands without giving a reply as she didn’t know how to react to it.

A half an hour has passed involving four phone calls, each one conveying bitter news than the previous one.

Every night in my dreams I see you, I feel you……

“Your father is no more. Please do reach home at the earliest possible time.” 

One year has passed since that fateful day. In the meanwhile, Shyam and Prema have finished their post-graduation and got selected in MNCs.

“It’s been more than 300 days. Though I feel happy and look normal outward, many a time I feel regret. The pain that I can never love my father kills me every day,” confessed Shyam.

“You couldn’t love your father as he is no more, so it’s not your fault, Shyam,” said Prema hesitantly. 

“If it is a matter of “couldn’t” I wouldn’t have felt regretted, but it is a matter of “didn’t”, that’s why I am unable to forgive myself,” expressed Shyam with tear-filled eyes.

“If you are comfortable, could you please share the reasons why you didn’t love your father?” asked Prema tenderly while holding his hands. 

Shyam narrated his story about how he has been joined a residential boarding school at a very tender age and how much he missed parental love and affection during his childhood. 

“I never felt any love towards my mother or father. In fact, the hurt I experienced during my childhood transformed into a kind of hatred towards them. During my childhood in the hostel, I made sure there was not a spare second to think about them by engaging myself in different sports activities. During my college days, I spend my free time with friends. However, once I got a job and I am left with neither friends nor sports in the evenings, but just my mother and myself, the hurt got resurfaced. To cope with it, I started watching at least one movie per day so that I can kill close to 2 or 3 hours of my time. I speak very little with my mother because I can never love either my mother or my father. Now, when I look back, I feel like I am the worst son anyone could ever imagine.”  

“Did your father ever express love towards you,” interjected Prema.

“I don’t remember him showing outward love towards me. But, whatever I asked him, he tried his best to fulfil it. Whenever he calls me he never forgets to remind me to call my mother. He always told me, “If you can, please call your mother regularly. I at least have colleagues and friends but your mother only has you as she always stays at home.” He never asked me to call him but my mother said a few times that my father expressed displeasure that I never make phone calls to him.” said Shyam. 

“The fact that I can never speak to my father is very painful. I tried reading self-help books and took therapy sessions to come out of this depressive mode. But, nothing seems to work for me. Could you please help me out of this, Prema,” asked Shyam with eyes full of tears.  

Prema listened patiently to Shyam. She gave him her handkerchief and made him feel comfortable. Then, she said to Shyam that they will meet tomorrow at the same time. 

“Shyam, to be very honest I am quite surprised to hear these things about you as I always thought of you as a happy-go-lucky person,” said Prema the next day.

“I came to a conclusion after contemplating about you for a couple of hours. I understood why neither the self-help books nor therapy sessions help you come out of your turmoil.”

“The self-affirmations might help you for a few days, but in long run, I doubt whether they will come to your aid,” said Prema lovingly and added, “Please listen to me carefully and think about it deeply.”

“Shyam, please accept the fact that your father has passed away and you can never express your love to him. Whether you accept it or not, your mother will leave you in twenty or thirty years time. Though it might look harsh, it is the truth. So, according to me the practical approach to your situation is: Instead of feeling guilty that you didn’t express your love towards your father, start loving your mother. Because love has immense power to heal the pain. In your own guilt trip, you forgot that your mother exists and if I am not wrong, you are her world,” said Prema.

“Love your living mother instead of your passed away father,” said Prema as a concluding statement. 

Shyam remained silent for a few minutes. Prema didn’t interrupt him and she checked her mobile to give some time for Shyam to think. 

“How can I love my mother. I never loved her in my living memory,” said Shyam slowly after a long time.

“One practical way of loving a person is through gestures,” said Prema.

“What kind of gestures?” asked Shyam innocently.

“It could be as simple as feeding a morsel of food to your mother with your own hands during lunch or dinner, giving a loving smile at random times while looking at her or giving hugs or kissing on her cheeks. Please feel free to try each one of them or a combination of these on a regular basis, if not, daily. Ask her what food items she likes to eat and bring them when she is least expecting them.”

On the next day before leaving to office, for the first time in his life Shyam bent and touch his mother’s feet. With utmost hesitation and complete lack of love, he kissed her fleetingly on her hair above her ear and rushed out of the house. For the first time, after an year, Shyam smiled from his heart and felt good about himself.

A few months have passed in Shyam’s life…..

Before leaving to office Shyam bent down on his knees, waited for 5 seconds while he mentally said “Thanks, Maa”. He touched his mother’s feet softly with his fingers and then placed them mindfully on his closed eyes and stood up. He smiled at his mother and kissed her lovingly on her right cheek.

“Shyam, you have emerged as a beautiful person, and true to your name, Shyam Sundar, after Prema entered your life. But beta, you are about to marry Prema next year, she might think bad if you kiss me in front of her,” said Maa.

“Maa, if that is the case, I will kiss on both of her cheeks, then she might not feel bad,” said Shyam with a broad grin on his face.

“You, silly boy, go to the office,” said Maa lovingly.

Shyam Sundar and Maa laughed……

Pic credits: unsplash

Keep smiling often and keep loving often. Take care. 

Lots of love to you. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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Vamsi Krishna Anyam

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