Nina got up, silenced the alarm. There was something unusual about this day, it was not the month end targets or lined-up meetings that were driving Nina like she was driven throughout all these years. Nina was not her usual self…she was happy. Without wasting a second she got up and got ready. Her packing was done. She was sitting on the edge of the bed, rocking to and fro. She could feel butterflies in her stomach as she was waiting for the call from the Reception to inform her about the arrival of the cab.
That period of 10-15 minutes seemed to be ages to her. And finally her wait was over as phone rang, “Ma’am, your cab has arrived”, the receptionist informed her.
And within five minutes Nina had checked out and was in the cab. The trip started and her journey too for she was finally taking a step forward, a step little closer – driven by her emotions which had been hibernating within her for so long. Throughout her journey her past rallied in front of her eyes but surprisingly only the beautiful images from the past – fond memories were marching. It was nothing less than an amusement for Nina herself because she was habituated to recall only the dark days which unfortunately outnumbered the joyous moments.
She was lost and a sudden brake brought her back to the present. “We have reached Madam”, said the driver looking at Nina through rear view mirror. “Oh! Thank you”, said Nina with a jerk as if she was completely unaware and someone was physically trying to bring her back to her senses. She got down and the driver helped her with the luggage that was resting in the rear of the car. She thanked him again with a gentle smile, made the payment and turned towards her home.
She rang the doorbell and Sathya opened the door. “Diana Di… Nina Di has come”, she loudly informed the family while taking her luggage in with a smile. “Everyone is at the dining table”, Sathya guided Nina towards the dining room.
It was lunch time. Riya and Kiara like any other kid, were throwing tantrums to finish their meals and on seeing Maasi entering the room they got charged up as usual.
“Maasi, Maasi” they were erupting with joy and were about to get off the table, but were suddenly stalled by a booming voice – “No! Don’t you girls get off from the chairs before finishing your lunch. Even Maasi won’t entertain that”, said a stern Diana. Nina was enjoying this scene – the cute faces were hell-bent on making her laugh, a hearty one but she controlled because she didn’t want her sister to lose control over her kids as a mother. That was important. She went to them, sat on her knees between chairs with her hands rested on chair arms. “My little angels, you must listen to your mom because she is the best and a best mom will always want her angels to be the best and to be the best you have to finish this yummy lunch prepared by your mom. What say?”, Nina waited for their response. “But Maasi we like capsicum only on pizza not in the curry, it’s not so good”, they replied with frowns.
“Hmmmmm, ok finish your lunch – then we will go to the amusement park this weekend and there we will have capsicum….”, she paused to catch the reaction on their faces. They were staring at each other as if asking each other, “what is she trying to say?” then she concluded “….on pizza as you like!”
“Yay”, giggles and cheers followed, and the girls did resume this important task called eating 😀. Diana thanked Nina with a nod.
“I shall leave now and see Ma”, Nina seemed to be in a hurry.
“Yes Di, but please have lunch first, she is sleeping anyways”, replied Diana. Nina refused and said that she would have it later.
“Seems Maasi also doesn’t like capsicum, see mom”, giggled Riya. She was instantly hushed by Diana whereas it left Nina smiling more brightly as she made her way to see her mom. Her sister’s family was a replica of a family she always dreamt of.
She reached the hospital. She went to her mother’s room and slowly opened the door and saw from the gap. Her mother was lying with closed eyes. She carefully entered the room so as not to disturb her and sat on the chair beside her. She was carefully looking at her mother. Her face once very beautiful, had gone through the test of time and now lay parched and wrinkled. Staring at her mother, in no time she was engulfed in a tide of emotions which found its exit through her eyes and a drop landed on her mother’s hand. Nina quickly wiped her tears and was about to wipe it from her mother’s hand too.
The moment she touched her, her mother woke up. “Nina” and before she could say something else “sorry Ma, sorry to wake you up” there was some kind of restlessness in Nina’s voice, pretty much the same she had in her childhood.
“It’s okay beta, I was anyways about to wake up”, mother said calmly trying to get up. Nina lent her support and adjusted her bed in an angle comfortable for her and asked “Ma, shall I bring some tea for you?”
“No, I don’t want anything, please sit with me. It’s been really long since I saw my doll. In fact had lost hope of seeing you in this lifetime for all the bitterness I had shown”, her voice nearly choked.
“Ma, it’s okay, please calm down. In fact I am sorry for being so rude and not being there when you needed me”, she clasped her hands and was trying to calm her mother.
“See Nina, perhaps I shall be the one who should be seeking your forgiveness because you only gave what you got, how could that be your fault my child?”, said her mother as if absolving Nina for whatever she did.
“Ok Ma, let’s stop this here because whatever we say now we won’t be able to change our past. So we should better look forward for a new beginning together.” So saying, she laid her head in her mother’s lap. She felt the warmth of her lap and when her mother’s hand caressed her hair she almost broke down. Had it been on the day when she was injured, things would have been so different but nonetheless no regret from either side would change anything.
After gathering her composure, her mother asked her many things. Where she had been all these years, what she had been doing, who took care of her and so on. Nina answered everything as if she had met a long-lost friend.
“Is there anyone in your life?”, her Mom asked softly.
But this one question made Nina pause and literally took her into a trance.