“This story alludes the way we mistreat our Mother Earth. Natures ask nothing of us, except to help restore it in the way it was. But as inhabitants we have become too selfish and careless. Though there are a lot of people who consciously make an effort to take care of the environment, it will be impossible to save our home unless more people participate.”
Cheshta watched the old lady wake up in the unkempt room. The old lady, or Ma as everyone called her, opened her eyes and lay there for five minutes before finally heaving herself up on the cot.
She slowly and tenderly planted her feet on the floor.
“There was a time when Ma owned the whole house. Technically, she still did but it hadn’t felt that way for a long time now.”
Ever since those pesky relatives had moved in, they hadn’t done anything to help.
She didn’t mind them living in her house – she just wished they’d realize how important it was to her to take better care of it.
The days all seemed to blend into one these days. Mostly because Ma was too old to comprehend the vast amount of chaos in the household each day. Cheshta too couldn’t handle everything. After all, the larger numbers always takes the call.
Their day started with a bang (literally) and then the sound of glass breaking and Cheshta rushes to the room across the hall.
Just a year ago, it used to be a beautiful library with multiple rows of old books that Ma had collected since she was five and tiny potted plants everywhere but Cheshta’s uncle had better ideas. He assured her saying, “Ma, you can always use this room. I’m just renting it out for a few days a week. Don’t worry Ma!”. Cheshta stumbles in to find what she always imagined the first stage of hell looked like.
A renter had broken the lantern near the old books in an attempt to kill the fly. The flames dance around the books as Cheshta screams at Ma to call the fire department. The firemen arrive soon but the books and the fire had rekindled their old flame and most of them were gone by then. The flustered uncle consoles Ma saying that he would repay every penny spent on the books but Ma refuses. She couldn’t bring herself to accept money from her own family and anyway, money wouldn’t bring back her childhood!!!
Lunch time came and passed by. It was the same old rice and vegetable curry made by Ma. The family grumbled a little but ate it up, not noticing Ma’s almost empty plate with the leftover food.
Late afternoon, a loud trumpet rudely interrupted Ma’s book time in which Cheshta would read out loud to Ma. There used to be a time when the roles were reversed but that was before Ma’s eyesight depreciated. Before Ma could instruct her, Cheshta gets up and rushes to the other side of the house. She knew the drill by now. Her tune-deaf cousin had decided to invest in a trumpet. “And I thought an elephant takeover would be bad”, mutters Cheshta.
“Could you keep it down? Ma and I are trying to read. Go outside the house and play it so we don’t have to feel like we’re sitting inside your trumpet, please.”
“Cheshta, the acoustics inside are ten times better… It’s fine it’s not like I expect you to know.”
Cheshta rolls her eyes and makes her way back to Ma.
“He’s bought a trumpet.”
“Why can’t he play it somewhere it doesn’t make us feel like we’re sitting inside the trumpet?”
“That’s what I said!?”
There was a time when every evening Cheshta and Ma would go out for a walk. Lately, the evenings are spent in only cleaning up. Anyway, Ma is too frail for walks now.
It is night time and Ma closes her eyes to go to sleep. Cheshta sits in the corner in deep thought. She knows that Ma is getting older and weaker each day. She cannot continue to do this alone every day either. At least for now she has Ma’s moral support but it may not be long before Ma passes away.
Each day, the chaos gets stronger and Ma gives up a little.
She doesn’t want to think of a day without Ma but sometimes she thinks that that was the only way her relatives would learn; they would be evicted once Ma was gone.