I had been calm and composed, and took care not to tear up. Santu hates crying.So I had controlled myself till the last goodbye,and then I turned.That sight of my son waving goodbye at me, captured. There were people all around me;running all around, restless, and yet all those sounds didn’t register. I felt, all of a sudden, lonely. I came back home, in a trance.
I returned to the Serampore house, and as I was opening the lock of the door, I heard Lata.
“Boudi,your son went away? Where is Dada? ”
“He did not come.” I said, slightly irritated on my husband’s mention.”He had said to Santu that he would be busy somewhere.”
“Oh, ” Lata sighed.
Satisfied, she went inside her house.
I closed the door and kept my purse on the table. I went to the bathroom and freshened up, feeling better. The small bathroom window was still shut.It was Santu’s habit- I smiled – to keep that shutter closed. “I don’t want anyone to peep while I’m bathing! ” he would say when I shouted at him to open it. Now, I let it be.
——
The bedroom now feels strikingly empty. The sofa, on which Santu had scattered his books and clothes, felt clean and somewhat unidentifiable.All his clothes, which I had washed and dried and ironed,which were kept neatly folded for him to pack into the luggage, were not there now. The only mark my son had had left in the room was the half eaten Marie-biscuit which was kept on the plate beside the tea-cup. Santu had grown an apathy towards Marie biscuits, it used to be his favourite when he was small, but now I don’t even know what is his favourite biscuit.
——
This time around, when Santu came back after his semester exam, I was shocked to see him. He had changed so much, his thin frame making him look so tall. He has outgrown me. Now when he walks with me outside, I don’t feel him to be the same Santu who used to clutch my fingers and cross the street. Now, he holds my arm and makes me cross the road safely. He has grown more silent than ever, talking to me only during meals and before bedtime. I don’t mind that. He stays awake whole night and scribbles something in his diary. Once, I opened it, and tried to read. But his language is a level too high for me to fathom. I asked him even, “What do you write whole night? ” “Oh, nothing. ” he had smiled, somewhat surprised. “Whatever comes to my mind at that instant, I pen it down. “I was a bit puzzled. ” You want to publish it when you’re big? “I had asked to which he had only smiled.
——
Now as I stare at the blank walls,unmoving as my name, I think. After a few minutes, when Santu’s dad will come, I will have to prepare the table for dinner. He will ask about Santu maybe, call him to take his whereabouts, and then eat in silence, licking his fingers. Till the time, he finishes his dinner, I shall wait and observe him eat.He never looks up at me. I shall eat after him, the chapatis cold by then, and call Santu up to know if he has eaten.Waiting, that’s my good old job;the entire fulcrum of my existence.Always in the present, waiting for the pleasent future. Just too old to express, I am.
——
Late in the night, Santu’s dad is snoring, and I can’t sleep. Instead I stare at the fan above. I am so tired but still I can’t sleep.Just like this unloving fan, which silently hopes to spring back to existence during summer, I wait for the winter of my life to end. I want to come back into a more meaningful existence, revolving around others, for others. I want to matter. Then they will take care of me, won’t they?
—-><—-

-SHANTANU DAS
BHU

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