Nina and Diana returned from the cafeteria. They were seated outside their mother’s room in the hospital. Suddenly Nina got up from her seat and opened the window to take a glimpse. She was greeted by the soft cool breeze. The busy streets, whimpering kids, the local market and funny haggling moments caught her attention. 

Meanwhile, silence reigned between the two sisters. Nina was so lost watching her hometown from that window that she didn’t realize it was past 7 pm. “Di, I’ll stay back tonight with mother. You must be tired, you should take rest and freshen up”, said Diana breaking the silence. Nearly startled, Nina couldn’t make sense of what Diana had just said. “Sorry, I didn’t get you. I’ll what? Ca..Can you please repeat,” Nina fumbled. “Its ok… I was just saying I’ll stay back tonight, you should go and take rest,” said Diana, secretly smiling to herself. “No. Kids need you, take them and go home, I’ll be here,” Nina replied in one breath. 

Diana and the kids left shortly. Nina felt deserted! She thought of sneaking into the room to take a glimpse of mother. But she hesitated. After a vigorous tussle inside her, she finally opened the door and went in. She saw her mother was taking deep breaths, she was clearly uncomfortable while breathing. But she felt blank inside. “Why can’t I feel anything? Have I turned into a stone?” Nina whispered to herself. Nina extended her hand and touched her mother’s forehead. “Excuse me Ma’am, visiting hours are over. Please wait outside; don’t disturb the patient.” Nina got startled when the nurse chipped in. “Yea..yeah sure. I’ll wait outside”, Nina replied to the nurse. 

Nina got seated outside and she was observing other patients, nurses, doctors, ward boys, their way of talking, their psyche… all seemed busy and were walking hurriedly. As night progressed, Nina felt her consciousness ebbing away, and a warm blanket covering her. Her eyes felt heavier and she leaned against the wall and drifted off. 

Diana, on the other hand was tensed. She couldn’t sleep… she kept tossing left and right on bed. She had called Nina twice, but it went unanswered. She thought of going out but then who would look after her kids. Unending thoughts stormed her head. “I think she must have dozed off,” Diana concluded finally. That was the longest and hardest night for Diana.

Next morning, light breeze and soft golden sun rays filled the corridor and along with it sneaked in a bumble bee. As Nina was sitting near the window, the bee happily buzzed near Nina’s ear then went to nose, and then from nose to ear and it continued. As a result of the continuous buzz, Nina woke up. She angrily waved her hand trying to shove the bee away. She checked her phone, “ten missed calls!”, Nina shrieked! She immediately called Diana. “I…I don’t know how I had dozed off, I couldn’t take your calls, everything okay at your end?” , said Nina. “Yes, things are fine here. I wanted to know how things were at your end?”, replied Diana. “I’ll reach in an hour”, said Diana and hung up. 

Nina grabbed a cup of coffee as she waited for Diana. As she was strolling down the corridor she heard Kiara and Riya scream, “Good morning maasi”. “Good morning, my honey buns”, replied Nina hugging and cuddling them. “I think you should go and get refreshed”, Diana interrupted them. “No, not now, after doctor examines her”, said Nina firmly. “Doctor will be late, so you go and get refreshed”, chipped in Diana. 

Nina left hesitatingly. She drove hurriedly in search of a small hotel that she thought to book for few days but came to a bumping stop at the signal as the signal changed from green to red. She took a deep sigh of relief. As she glanced to her right, she saw a scantily clad child whimpering and asking her mother to take her home. The word “HOME” rung deep into her ears. As the signal turned green she drove homewards. Part of her was hesitant but the other part was longing to have a glance at her home. With mixed feelings she rang the doorbell. Sathya gasped! “Didi, have come home” Sathya couldn’t believe her eyes. Nina just smiled and went in. “Breakfast is ready, you freshen up, I’ll….” Sathya turned to Nina and saw that she went inside the house, room to room, hurriedly, touching the walls, windows, doors, taking a keen look at the interior décor. Nina was amazed to see the interior décor was exactly the way she liked. She was clean bowled by the symmetrical alignment of things as per her choice. At last she entered her parents’ room. She gave a quick glance and turned to leave, just when her eyes caught notice of a tin box which was covered with dust from all sides except the top part. It seemed strange to her. Still, she turned to leave but she changed her mind and turned towards the box. With much difficulty she grabbed the box and opened it. To her surprise, the box was full of Nina’s childhood dresses, toys, and… several gifts neatly wrapped along with a letter. When Nina saw all this she didn’t know how to react. From the handwriting she knew it was her mother. Those gifts and letters were for her birthday. She opened and read the letters. Nina noticed all the letters had a similar conclusion which read as, “I am very sorry dear Nina. I didn’t mean to hurt you, I never did. I love you a lot, but I have failed to express my love for you. If possible forgive me.”  Nina was dumbfounded. She didn’t know how to react. She got alert by Sathya’s presence and immediately told her, “I’m coming, you go.” Sathya left. 

Nina rushed to freshen up, gobbled up the breakfast and left for the hospital. Puffing and panting she reached the third floor and nearly dashed against Diana. “Ouch!” cried Diana. “Sorry, I didn’t see. What did the doctor say?”, inquired Nina. “Di, calm down, reports are good and mother is recovering, but she is still weak so we cant proceed with the chest scan now. Doctor has advised to follow a strict timing of her meals”, Diana said assuring Nina. After a while when the nurse came with breakfast, Nina volunteered, took the food and went inside. Nina saw mother’s eyes were still closed. She began caressing her head softly and after a while she opened her eyes. Mother saw Nina sitting in front of her. She didn’t believe it and closed her eyes. Again after sometime she opened her eyes and again she found herself looking at Nina! “I think I have started hallucinating!”, mother thought. Third time when she opened her eyes and found Nina still sitting beside her, she was about to close her eyes and turn away her face, just then, Nina said, “I am very much sitting here”. Her mother didn’t blink her eyes; she was just looking at Nina. She just gazed at Nina. Nina gazed back. Not a word was exchanged, but still everything was understood. After a while her mother pointed towards water. Nina gave her the glass but she was unable to drink from it. So Nina gave her water in spoon. It seemed each spoon of water that Nina offered, bridged each of those distances that had distanced them. Silent and heavy tears flowed down from their eyes. Neither of them turned their face away, neither of them blinked. But silence spoke louder than words that day. Nina could feel, her mother wanted to sleep. So she patted her mother and she fell asleep in no time.

(Image Source: Google Inc.)

Nina went out of the room. She felt nauseated as a dense cloud of mixed feelings engulfed her. With several thoughts, Nina absent mindedly sat on the edge of the seat, as a result of which Nina had a great fall and found herself kissing the floor. Squeals of laughter greeted her. “Maasi fell down, maasi fell down”, yelled Riya. Kiara joined her. Kiara and Riya threw themselves on Nina and all had a hearty laugh. 

First time after years, Nina caught herself laughing from the bottom of her heart. Nina recalled the words of Victor Hugo, “laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”

Quote of the day

You need not be disheartened at the failures, just try changing your mindset and perspective towards it.


“Sorry ladies! I understand that you are worried about your mother but hospital has rules. Ok? I cannot let you enter for another couple of hours. It is the ICU – too many visitor disturb the patients.” Said the Nurse.

“At least let us know how she is doing?” demanded Diana angrily

“Let me just get her reports and notes and I will update you in a minute.” Nurse walked away in a hurry. As she promised, nurse came back with a few papers in her hand.

“So, let me start. Your mother was brought in by the maid named Sathya who found her struggling to breathe in her bedroom. She had her inhaler but that only gave solace for a while and after that too she kept taking long puffs as if she is choking. She has a history of asthma which was diagnosed 15 years back. As per her, she always had it in control with her inhaler but this time it did not work. We have done a thorough checkup. Her vitals are stable now although blood pressure was higher when she arrived here. We wanted her breathing to become normal so we have given her nebulization and constant supply of oxygen. Once she feels better, we need to do chest scan to look for some congestion which could be a probable reason for this episode.” Narrated the nurse as if this was a small everyday incident.

Diana shuddered “What if mom was alone at home? What if Sathya hadn’t noticed her struggling in the bedroom? What if.. ? Oh my God, we could have lost mother forever today.”

Nina was gazing at an empty wall. She did not really feel anything. No fear, no sadness, no remorse – nothing at all. She was blank.

“Ma’am, you need to visit finance department for the payments. We do not have her insurance details as well. Please if you could make the payments urgently – we could proceed with the further diagnosis.” Said nurse interrupting the sisters’ thoughts.

“Who would be taking care of the payments?” asked the nurse looking at both of them turn-wise…

(Image Source: Google Inc.)

“I will take care of it. Where is the finance department?” Nina said with surety. She looked at Diana who was still very scared at the thought of losing their mother. Diana nodded while Nina turned away to walk with the nurse. Diana returned her attention to her daughters who were both busy playing games on her mobile phone. She stared at them with wet eyes.

Her mind went back to the day when mother had locked Nina away in a room for more than a day. How could mother be so cruel? What was running in her mind? I have my daughters who are the most lovable human beings for me. Can I really ever lock them up without food or water in a room for 28 hours? Can I ever hit them with ladle so hard that they would have to be hospitalized? What was wrong with mom? Why couldn’t she ever love me and Nina?

Nina has been a protector to me. I cannot even count the number of times she has saved me from mom’s rage instead she took all the punishments that were meant for me. That ladle was supposed to hit me but Nina stepped in just in time to get injured. It was me who had spilled that breakfast that Nina had prepared so lovingly. But Nina got the punishment. Nina had always been there for me. I can imagine why she is so negative towards mom. She always got the brunt even for my mistakes. As for Dad, he was not really there for us. He loved us but he was always busy with work which apparently was more important than us.

Diana looked up and Nina was standing right there signing some papers for the man in black coat – probably from the finance department.

Nina then came and sat next to Diana. “We still have an hour before we can visit mother and they need to keep her in observation for longer before they can take her for scan. Do you want to go and get something to eat? Kids must be hungry.” Said Nina holding Diana’s hand.

“Yes massi, I am starving. Can we have some sandwiches?” shouted Kiara

“Ok, let us go. There is cafeteria on the top floor. We will come back in an hour.” Said Diana

I have to tell Nina what happened after she left home to study in the boarding school. I also have to tell her what happened when father died. I don’t know how will she take it but she needs to know.

After they ordered food for kids and coffee for themselves, they sat on a corner table. “Nina, you need to know some things that happened at home in your absence.” Said Diana with a lot determination.

“What? I don’t want to talk about it, Diana. I told you in the past as well. I have got nothing to do with mother.” Snapped Nina

“It is not about mother. It is about your life. Till you forgive mother and move on from what happened in your childhood – you will not be happy. You don’t have to tell me but I know how miserable and lonely you are in your life. Don’t you want to be happy and content?” explained Diana

Nina smirked. “Happy and content! That only happens in fairy tales, Diana.”

“Listen ok? Just listen.” Said Diana

“After father sent you to boarding school in class 9th – I pleaded with him to send me too. I could not imagine living in that house without you. I was always scared of mom. But I just knew one thing that I should never reply back to her or try to reason with her when she was angry. That saved me from being a victim to her anger. Dad refused to send me to boarding then – he said I need to be class 9th to join the boarding.” Said Diana

“I remember that mom and dad were fighting all the time. I never ever saw them smiling at each other or even looking at each other lovingly. Dad was always working late hours – he was mostly not there for either mom or me. But whenever he came – he always took me in his lap and told me that I should not worry about them. These are grown up problems and kids shouldn’t concern themselves with this. And that mom loved both of us but just that she was short tempered.” Diana continued looking into Nina’s eyes now…

“I never understood why she was so short tempered. What was troubling her so much? I could not even figure out what triggered the fits of rage in her. After dad died of heart attack, I saw that mom softened a lot. She has been living with us since then and I don’t see the same mother anymore. Once I saw her crying looking at her wedding pictures and I asked her what made her so angry when they were kids.” Diana’s look softened remembering her father’s death…

“She mentioned that their marriage was not working. She and Dad were not compatible at emotional level at all. She also suspected dad of an illicit relationship with another woman. In fact she said that she is very sure that father was cheating on her. All those frequent tours and work was not really work but was a woman” said Diana…

“I never asked mother any more details about their relationship. But Nina, just for a minute look at mom and dad not as your parents but as a couple who had their own problems. Maybe you will just see …” Diana continued but Nina interrupted in between…

“Wait, do you have any evidence of this allegation on dad?” asked Nina, her eyes wide open

“Errr… yes. But why is that important? Whatever was there, was there. I hacked into his Gmail after he died and I found a few emails that proved that he was involved with somebody else. I just read a couple of them to know for sure – but did not probe any further. I did not want to lose respect for my dad.” Said Diana lowering her eyes

“Nina, whatever wrong Dad did and I did – it all came out on you. Mom could not handle her emotions appropriately. As a 12 year old child – it was obvious for you to hate your mother. But now as a 40 year old woman – do you think you can forgive her? She had to give up her career to take care of us and almost after you were born, Dad started to lose interest in the marriage. Of course, all this took a toll on mother and she couldn’t handle it.”

(Image Source: Google Inc.)

Tears were rolling down Nina’s cheeks now. She did not know what to believe and what to think. “So, dad was involved with another woman! And mom was angry on him all these years. But why punish me for all that? It wasn’t my fault. How was I supposed to know and understand all this as a child? Now I do understand, at least I think I do.” Said Nina talking loudly to herself

This piece of information was transformative for Nina. All these years, she blamed her mother without understanding or even thinking why her mom was the way she was. Now she had an opportunity to look at the world from her mom’s point of view and that could be an opportunity to forgive her also.

Quote of the day

Keep on cherishing the pleasant moments the life provides you or else learn to live miserably.


She continually honked to get ahead in her hurried frenzy, overtaking a few cars a bit rashly. Diana was sitting by her side in the passenger seat with her daughters in the back. She placed a hand on her elder sister’s hand on the steering wheel. It was cold and was trembling.

Diana looked a long minute at Nina and Nina was acutely aware of her younger sister’s unwavering gaze. She looked in the rearview mirror and wiped her sweaty brow with a tissue she extracted from a box on the dashboard.

“Di, what is up? I have never seen you worried about Mum before today. I had called you many times, requested you to talk to her, come and meet her as she was longing to see you, but you never budged. Then what happened today?”

Nina gave her younger sister a haughty look and opened her mouth to retort back when she closed it. Diana wasn’t wrong. She had never cared, she had given her mother back what she got from her, bitterness and uncaring indifference. Then why today? Nina’s eyes were on the road, but she was back in time, lying in her bunk bed in her bedroom that she shared with Diana back in her childhood home when she was 12, and above her on the bunk was Diana. She had cried herself to sleep when she saw her father let her mother off the hook.

At midnight she got up and went to the kitchen to get water as she was feeling parched and saw the kitchen lights on. She hid behind the door and peered inside through a slit in the door. Her mother was sitting on the kitchen floor and crying holding something close to her chest. Upon looking closely, she saw it was her dress. The one she was wearing when her mother hit her. The dress had her blood stains on it. Her mother hugged the dress and rocked back and forth crying as she chanted only one thing “I am sorry. I am sorry, baby. I am sorry Nina. Forgive me, baby. My darling, I am so sorry” – saying this, her mother kissed her dress over and over.

Nina drew in a sharp breath, and her sigh was heard by her mother who hid the dress in a kitchen closet and came outside. She saw Nina and looked at her with her red-rimmed eyes. She held Nina firmly by her arm and dragged her back to her room. “Why were you outside your bed? Hasn’t the doctor told you to rest ?”, her mother yelled at her.

Nina looked at her mother with compassion and forgiveness which seemed to have agitated her mother even more as she let go of Nina’s hand and said, “Never pry into me again girl. It won’t do you any good.”

“Mom….” Nina said holding her mother’s dress from the back as she turned to leave.

She stopped. Nina could tell she was working hard to control the barrage of tears in her eyes. “Mom…..I need you. Sleep with me tonight.” Nina had asked in a pleading voice. Her mother was taken aback by her innocent request and was about to scold when her features softened and she sat on Nina’s bed. She lay on the bed and made Nina lie by her side. Nina placed one arm over mother’s arm and felt her mother’s warmth fill her with unsaid words and hidden love. Nina dozed off soon but not before she felt a tear fall on her shoulder and wet her dress from her mother’s eyes. She felt a soft kiss on her forehead and a loving caress on her head as she heard, “I Love You both. I am sorry for everything. But I know you have forgiven me already.” Saying this she slept by Nina’s side, and that was the only night when Nina felt loved and cherished.

(Image Source: Google Inc.)

The next morning Nina had woken up with a hope in her heart that from that day things will get better. That ‘today’ was the dawn of a new life in which she was loved by her mother like all her friends. She went to the kitchen and made a beautiful breakfast of Cheese Toasts and Milkshakes as a pleasant surprise for her mother, and went to take a bath wishing she would see it all and feel happy and would shower Nina with her love. She was waiting for her mother to wake up expectantly, the air seemed to be filled with her palpable positivity. Her mother came outside and went into her bedroom. Her father was already gone on a tour by the morning flight without informing them, leaving a note behind for her mother. Without a word, her mother stormed into the kitchen muttering something to herself. With bated breath, Nina waited for her to emerge with a smile, but all she heard was a scream. She ran to the kitchen and saw her mother standing there in a fit of rage as Nina felt her breath caught in her throat.

“W…wh….what happened Mum ?” She asked her mother tentatively trying to figure out what wrong she did as she saw the breakfast she made lying on the floor amongst broken dishes.

“Who told you to make breakfast?”, her Mum asked with gritted teeth.

“I made this to please you.” Nina managed to say with tears in her eyes, trying to figure out how it was on the floor when she saw Diana hiding under the couch and crying with her hands covering her mouth. She understood that Diana must have felt hungry and attempted to take breakfast on her own and spilt it all.

“You have succeeded in pleasing me beyond my imagination. Let me reward you now”, saying this her mother grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her into her bedroom shoving her in and locking her from outside.

She cried and hammered the door “Mum what wrong have I done!” But no reply came, no one opened the door. Nina was locked in that room for 28 hours before her father came back and opened the door for her. No, she was locked there for last 28 years, she never left that room it seemed.

(Image Source: Google Inc.)

Today the 40 year old woman was going to return that one gesture of love, to the woman she knew to be her mother. Today her mother needed her, just like that Nina who had needed her mother.

She looked at Diana and told, “I have always given Mum what she gave me. I was not like you. You were much more kind and forgiving. You let her back in your home and heart after father died. But I never let her back in my heart”, Nina said as she was passing the Mysore Palace. “But today I am going to return her the one night of love she gave me.”

The sisters pulled into the Hospital in which their mother was admitted and unbelted themselves. Diana was sliding out her seat when Nina held her hand, “Diana, I always feared that I would be a mother to my child like my mother was to me. So, I never started a family. But I am happy to see you. A great mom you are!” Nina looked at the sleeping Kiara and Riya in the back seat and smiled. “I am glad that these two angels have a mother like we never had.” Saying this she hugged her, and both sisters had a tearful rendezvous in the real sense.

“Come, let’s go inside,” said Diana and Nina nodded taking a deep breath.


Nina woke up and grabbed her mobile phone. She was in Bangalore- the city where her love of life lived. “Just a glimpse”, she said to herself.  She just wanted to see him once. She opened the Facebook app on her phone and searched for ‘Ankit Kumar’. She scrolled through all the Ankit Kumars, she scrolled down and down, he wasn’t there. 

She typed in ‘Ankit Kumar’, location ‘Kolkata’, still her Ankit wasn’t reflecting in the list. Frantically, she typed in the name of the organisation where they worked together. Yes! He was there. She quickly clicked on his profile. He was just the same. She was smiling at his profile picture, but something else caught her attention- “married to Nisha Sharma”.

Nina couldn’t believe her eyes. She wanted to check again, she was swiping her fingers on her phone screen. There were  many pictures of Ankit and Nisha, but she was confirmed after seeing them together in the attire of groom & bride. Nina had lost Ankit’s love forever. There was nothing left.

Nina broke down, wailing like a little baby. She was full of regret. If only she could have talked her worries to him… if only she could have shared her views on marriage with him… if only she could have agreed to her sister Diana… if only…

(Image Source: Google Inc.)

“Nina massi, Nina massi”, Kiara barged into the room crying. “Massi, Mom is crying over the phone, something has happened to Nani”, she yelled. “Wa…watt?” Demanded Nina and rushed outside.

She quickly snatched the car keys from Diana and instructed her to guide the way.

“But di…”, Diana tried to stop her.

“I can’t lose her”, Nina said and got into the driver seat. Diana hugged her daughters and sat inside the car with them.

“Mom was having difficulty in breathing lately, but it got worse in the morning and she’s being admitted to the ICU now.” Diana told Nina on the way, crying. 

Nina was trying to stay calm but tears were rolling down her cheeks. She was driving as fast as she could but she felt that the traffic had come to a standstill.


Rapidly moving lights and darkness seemed to take control of Nina, before she fell into a deep sleep. When she regained her consciousness, she saw her father sitting beside her, holding her hand. The doctors were able to save Nina, but had put her under observation for 72 hours.

Nina felt unwanted, but most of the little attention that she had got, was from her father. He always chose to work longer, than to come home and fight. He had promised Nina a birthday cake, which he forgot to get, as usual. Nina knew it was for this reason that he wanted to come home late. He tried to avoid fights, which wasn’t always possible. There were many reasons as such, which made Nina respect her father a bit more than her mother.

Nina’s doctors came quickly to see how she was doing. They gave her a thorough examination and later that day, they released her from the hospital. At that time, she wondered if the doctors knew how did it happen. On their way back home, everyone was silent. Nina though, from her hind side, could see her mother staring at her, with lack of courage to either face her or love her. She could hear her mother sniffing and see her wiping away her tears.

“Are they of any value, mother?” Nina thought, “Those feelings of regret?”, “All you did, in your rage, was to hit us. And it could have killed me. Huh!”. They reached home and with a heart full of hatred towards her mother, Nina entered their house.

Nina’s mother was guilty. She wanted her husband and kids to forgive her, for her recent actions. Her bad temper had now landed her in trouble. Nina prayed secretly, when she saw her father comforting her mother, that, “God please make father punish mother. Please make him hurt her. God make her go to Jail.” An angry kid’s prayer is so dangerous.

(Image Source: Google Inc.)

Later that evening, Nina’s mother asked her husband to forgive her. Nina thought, “Daddy, be it whatever, don’t forgive her”. But he, somehow forgave her. Nina was astonished and wondered angrily- “That man, who fought so mercilessly with that woman, is now all forgiving? He forgave her for almost killing me?”. Seeing her parents understanding towards each other, rather than fighting for her made her feel all the more lost, lonely, unloved, neglected and undervalued. This action of her father affected her young mind so adversely that she lost the respect she had for her father. There was nothing left in her, for her parents.

Nina woke up with a jolt. She had fallen asleep on the couch, in her hotel room. “Mother!”, she felt. “How does she look like now? Will she even recognize me? Why didn’t I ask Diana, what issues are there with her health? Should I go and see her? It’s been so many years since father’s death, is she still fighting like that with Diana? Is she a better grandmother?”, she thought.

Shivers went down her spine by the mere thought of meeting her mother. She still had time. Two more days, a little bit of emerging emotion for her mother, wish to see her and lots of anger within. She secretly wanted to meet Ankit as well. She wanted to see him, talk to him and wanted to find out if there was still place for her in his life. “But, would it be a fruitful and not a painful experience, to go and meet her mother, or to look for Ankit.” She struggled thinking all that and was in a lot of dilemma. She wanted to finish her remaining work too and then think about all this. She decided to go to sleep and give these heart wrenching thoughts a rest. She struggled a bit, but eventually pushed them away and fell asleep. Continue reading “REGRETS HAVE NO VALUE – VII “