Saturday, 2 August 2014

The Jog

"Hate is the last stage of fear. We start hating people when we are afraid of them or when we are afraid for them."

My name is Rose Williams and I live in Chennai, very near to the beach. I was 11 years old when my father died in an accident. He used to work in a software company in Mumbai and he used to come home every month. My mom was a house-wife who looked after me dearly and cater to all my needs and deeds. She'd a bachelor's degree in engineering and helped me in my studies and homework. My mom was forced to work in the software company after my father's death. She was a quick-learner, and became a HR manager in no time. She started to concentrate more on her work and her entire personality changed from that of a simple house-wife to a complicated HR manager. In the meantime, I started to focus on my attention on sports & I became a volley-ball player, one of the finest in my school. I also became very moody and was often called into the principal's room for behaving rudely with the teachers & students.

It was one of those days when I'd been scolded by the principal & I'd just returned from school. I was texting with my boy-friend Rohith, a sweet 17 year old boy who'd just moved into the neighborhood with his parents. My mom stormed into my room.

Mom (Angrily) : "I heard you were scolded by the principal for rude behavior again."

Me (Turning towards mom) : "It is none of your business. By the way, who gave you permission to enter my room ?"

Mom : "Listen girl, you are my daughter. Just because you're 16 years old, doesn't mean that horns have grown over your head." (Phone rings) " Hello ! Yes sir, I'll be there in 15 minutes." (To me) "This conversation is not over"

I was surprised yet again. The same thing used to happen all the time, and the conversations were usually broken by a message or a phone call. I resumed my texting. Apparently, Rohith was flirting with me and I didn't want this to end at all. Afterwards, I went to the refrigerator, on top of which I found 100 Rs that my mom had kept for me for food. I then ate at a restaurant and went to sleep.

I was woken up at 5.30 by the sharp alarm tone on my phone. I sleepily brushed my teeth, and wore my track suit. I waited for my mom to come out. It had been a custom in my family to go on jogs everyday regardless of whether we spoke with each other or not. Before my father's death, we were a happy and a close-knitted family who enjoyed nature. We used to make jokes and sing songs during the early mornings. But after that fateful event, everything faded into nothingness. My mom started listening to songs on her i-pod in order to forget all those happy memories. The jogs now became a way for her to stay fit and healthy. She never talked with me about anything. So, I too gave her the "silent treatment" as a punishment.

My mom at last came out, wearing a blue track suit and listening to her i-pod. You know, for a 48-years woman, she was quite attractive and was the role-model for all the ladies in the neighborhood.

We started jogging on the pavement near the beach. I was fresh with excitement, so I began running a bit faster than my mom. But in about 10 minutes, I started taking heavy breaths, so I slowed down and ran slowly. I stopped to look at my mom, who was nowhere in sight. I waited for a few moments and turned my head. There she was, jogging at the same pace she'd started from our home. In no time she caught up to me, but never stopped to see me. I again resumed jogging, but, had difficulty in catching up-to her. Suddenly, I saw her disappear some-where into the alley. I went to see what happened, but she could not be found. There were a few garbage cans nearby. I didn't go near them since they were stinking horribly. I searched for a while, but couldn't find her. I got terrified but then she emerged from the garbage cans suddenly. Her hairs were spread out, & her i-pod was not there.

She came to me & said, "I fell down in there & my body hurts. Let's go home honey. I am covered with dirt." I had a deep feeling that something was not right, but I calmed down & rented an auto nearby to take her home.

On the way, she was looking at me with some sort of sadness in her eyes. I grew really uncomfortable, and asked her not to stare at me like that. The auto driver also was looking at me with surprise. I told him to stop looking & drive us home.

I helped her out of the auto and paid him. He was still looking at me. "What a pervert !" I thought, and helped her into our home. It was Sunday, so I used to stay at home. She even went to office on Sundays too. I told her, "Amma, don't go to office today. You're hurt and you need to take rest."

Mom (With tears in her eyes) : "It has been a long time since you called me as "Amma" !!!"

I was surprised to hear that. Usually, I never used to go to her regarding any problem. Call it ego or anything, but I always kept my problems to myself. But today was a bit different. Unknown to my senses, something was going on between me and my mom. After all these years, I was still inclined to call her "Amma".

Me : "You are always my Amma, whatever be the situation."

Again, I never knew why I'd uttered those words. It was like my mind had no control over my tongue. Somewhere in my mind, I craved to speak with her.

She hugged me and gave a kiss to my cheek. She said, "I'll always love you my child. No matter what happens, you are the apple of my eye forever."

I was astonished by her words. I never knew she could be so emotional !!! It was for the first time in my life that I was actually speaking with my mom. Always, we used to fight with each other for silly reasons.

I suddenly got to my senses and said, "What has happened to you amma ! You've changed a lot."

She replied, blinking away the tears through her eyes, "I've changed girl. From now on, I promise to look after you like I used to, before your father died."

My heart began to thump with excitement on hearing her words. This change was what I was expecting in her. Suddenly, her phone rang. She switched it off and kept it aside, saying, "Today, I spend all my time with you, my child ! Now tell me, what do you want to do ???"

I told her we could go to a movie, to which she agreed. We got ready and went there. I reserved two tickets and on the way, the ticket collector looked at me suspiciously. We ignored him and went into the theater. It was almost noon by the time we finished watching it. We went to a nearby mall, ate some food, and bought clothes. Even in the mall, I could sense some people staring at us. I'd been used to people staring at me, so I simply let it go.

In the evening, we played in the beach, and all those faded memories were re-lived by us. At night, I slept in her lap for a while. Afterward, she told me to sleep in my bed, and that she accompanied me. We slept peacefully, after so many days of fights & quarrels.

I was woken up by the alarm on my phone. I saw her sleeping peacefully near me. It was the second day of my life with my mom & I was really excited. I was again the early bird & waited for my mom.My mom came out, but she looked really sad today. I tried to ask her the reason, but she only said, "Hate is the last stage of fear. We start hating people when we are afraid of them or when we are afraid for them." We started jogging together. The moment we reached the alley, my mom suddenly disappeared into thin air.

I searched for her everywhere, but I couldn't find her. Then, my instinct told me to search near the garbage cans. I began rummaging through the hordes of waste materials when all of a sudden, I found a hand sticking out of the pile. I removed all the waste and there she was, lying dead.

I was totally terrified, and it was then that everything struck me like lightning. I called the ambulance, & they told me that she'd died from heart attack exactly one day ago. And, since the garbage cans were no longer taken care of by the municipality, nobody could find her dead body yesterday

Now, I realized, why the auto-driver, the ticket collector at the theater, the people at the mall & restaurant, even the people at the beach, were all staring at me.

Now, I knew why she didn't eat the whole day, all the while saying "I am not hungry, I always observe a fast on Sundays."

Now, I knew why she'd said that she wanted to spend the whole day with me.

All the time I spent with my mom yesterday was rolling around in my mind, saddening me for every second.

All the words she'd spoken were exploding in my head, creating smokes of pain & regret.

All the excitement I felt while buying clothes, was striking my head like missiles.

Epilogue :

The experience was so traumatizing, that I went to Bangalore to stay with my aunt. Even though, I looked normal on the outside, all my memories I had with my mom were burning me from the inside.

Now, after two years, I set foot on Chennai again. I've got a seat in an engineering college here. I never stopped the habit of jogging. In fact, in those two years, I became the athletic champion of my school. I always think of catching up to my mom before starting any race, & I always win. All the memories come to life again, when I begin jogging in Chennai for the first time, after 2 years. I reach the alley, to find the same garbage cans near which I'd found my mom's body. I close my eyes in sadness.

On opening them, I see a faint silhouette of my mom approaching me from the garbage cans, with spread-out hair, saying, "I fell down in there & my body hurts. Let's go home honey. I am covered with dirt."