‘Ma,’ where’s my lavender stole? called out Rimjhim.
Rashmi put down the newspaper and looked up. Rimjhim stuck her head out from her room, ‘Ma… please, where is it?’
“In your cupboard, somewhere, I presume,’ said Rashmi and picked up the paper again.
‘Really ma this grand ‘Be Independent’ experiment of yours is driving me crazy.’
Rashmi smiled behind the paper and continued to read.
Rimjhim withdrew with an exasperated sigh and rummaged frantically through her cupboard until finally she called out ‘I found it. Thanks for nothing ma.’
Rashmi shook her head and laughed softly at the sarcasm.
‘Ma Vihan and Varun are coming over for dinner tonight,’ said Mohit picking up his bike keys and tiffin box from the table, where the maid, Geeta, had left it for him.
‘You should have told Geeta before she left.’
‘Come on ma, call her please, or tell her when she comes in the evening,’
‘I’m busy today, beta. You have her number. Call her or order in. I will be out all day.’
‘Ma it’ll take two minutes,’
Yup exactly, why don’t you do it rightaway?’
‘Really, ma!! Said Mohit annoyed at her steadfast refusal.
This was unusual!
‘..and here we have a fresh victim of the ‘apna kaam apne aap’ movement. How do you feel Mr Mohit? Empowered, overwhelmed or simply annoyed?’ queried Rimjhim thrusting an imaginary mike at him.
‘This is a mad mad household,’ he muttered brushing her hand away. He looked at his mother again and asked, ‘Are you alright, ma?’ The thought had been plaguing him for some time now. She definitely had not been herself over the last few months. She seemed kind of absent minded, distant, removed from them all.
He put down his bag and sat down beside her.
“Ma, is all well?’
Rimjhim looked up at the serious note that had crept into his voice and edged closer. She had noticed the change in her mom too. It bothered her.
‘Yes ma, what’s up? You’re not helping us these days, you shut yourself in your room for hours and you’ve been going out almost everyday. And who is this Dr Amrita you keep calling up? You’re not going away anywhere, are you?’
Rashmi looked at both of them guilty.
‘Ma,’ Rohit shook her, ‘are you sick?’
‘Are you dying?’ asked Rimjhim. She was close to tears now that the thought had struck her.
‘Oh stop, you two. For goodness sake,’ exclaimed Rashmi and smiled, ‘actually it’s a little bit of both.
‘Stop talking in riddles please ma,’ entreated Rohit.
‘It’s a bit of a long story and I guess I might as well tell it all. You think you have the patience to hear me out?’ The two nodded mutely, apprehensive of what was about to come.
‘Well, I was always an average girl with average aspirations and I grew up to be an average woman fulfilling each of them in turn.’ She put up her hand when Mohit tried to protest, ‘Let me finish please’, she said, ‘Life has been good. Not remarkable, but good and I’m not complaining.’
‘But then the other day Sunanada passed away. You remember Sunanada Aunty from the 7th floor?, Yeah, so when she passed away I realised how ephemeral life was. I realised that ‘average’ wasn’t good enough, that each of us needs to make his or her life remarkable in whatever way, small or big. I needed to do that for myself.
‘Does it sound silly? I knew it would, which is why I said nothing’, said Rashmi
‘It’s not silly at all’, said Rimjhim, ‘so then…?’
‘So then before I could do any of that I had to make sure you guys would be okay without my continued presence in your lives. So I made out a bucket list that the old me had to complete before I could embark upon my new life.’
‘And look how wonderfully it has turned out. Rohit, you’ve learnt to run the washing machine and figured out how to match your socks, your dad has finally understood that a navy shirt doesn’t go with navy trousers. When he can’t find his glasses he knows now that they’re probably perched on his head, Geeta can cook just the way each of you like your food and even Rimjhim can find clothes from her mess these days,’ she laughed, ‘my bucket list is complete, except for the one last grand finale.’
‘A few weeks back I enrolled in music class. Dr Amrita is my teacher, by the way. She is a doctor, but an academic one not a medical one. She has a doctorate in Music.’
‘I’d thought I’d surprise all of you with my grand performance next week – the last thing on the bucket list – the thing that would finally kick off the old ‘average’ me – and usher in the new me with a whole new bucket list. I want to travel, learn Salsa maybe, take Spanish lessons. I want to make my life remarkable.’ She stopped self-consciously, embarrassed at having got carried away. Darn! It sounded pompous even to her own ears now that she was saying it out loud. She searched for signs of laughter on her children’s faces.
There were none.
Just lots of love for their new remarkable mom.
Written for the Write Tribe Festival of Words June 2018 for the Day 4 prompt:
Write a story about a character who finds out that he or she is dying and has been knocking things off his/her bucket list and has finally reached the last item.