Anusha adjusted her seat belt as she waited for the plane to take off! It was nearly two weeks since that fateful morning when Amma had “flown” out of her life!! She could not help wondering about what she might have done when she was onboard. Had she spoken to her co passengers? Did she have a window seat or an aisle seat?
It was probably during the time they were serving breakfast that the fuel tank trouble had been diagnosed. Had they announced it ? Had the crew tried to calm people?
But most importantly, what had been Amma’s thoughts? Had she thought of her dear Anu? What about Appa or her younger sister? Did they figure in her last thoughts? Or … had it been Amin?
Amin…..!! The mystery man from her mother’s past…!
Anusha had called Saleha Aunty late last night and asked about him.
All she had said was “So you know!” and Anusha’s response had been “Does he know?”
“Yes” said Saleha.
She had let the question about why had not contacted her with at least a condolence message hang unasked in the air.
Perceiving the question Saleha said “ Anu, he had wanted to call or email you with a condolence message but given the way, Amby had broken links with her past I advised him not to. But now that you know…” she said trailing off.
His email had come this morning. He had introduced himself as one of her mother’s “close friends” from college. He had written about how shocked he was to hear that she was no more. But as he explained to her, he had come to terms with her absence in his life nearly thirty years ago. He was living in Canada now. He had been married but was now divorced. He had a teenaged son who lived with his wife and visited him during vacations. He had enquired about what she was doing and ended the mail with an invitation to visit him if she ever came to Vancouver. He had signed off as “ Uncle Amin”!
She had wanted to respond to his mail but was unable to compose anything coherent! There were so many questions that only he could answer! She had wanted to know if he had bought her the bead chain and the glass bangles she had found inside her mother’s “memory” box. What were the stories behind the peacock feather and the withered flowers? Why were they so special to find a place there?
How many years had it taken for him to forget her mother and marry another woman? Did Ambika still find a place in his heart or was she just a distant memory in a far away land?
But she knew she could not ask him any of those questions because they were just too personal!! He was also probably very badly hurt with the broken relationship- twice unfortunately in his case!!!
She tried to imagine his life living all alone without his wife or child. She wondered why he had divorced? Was he unable to love another woman as much as his first love or was it something else? Well, if it was the former then it was unfair to his wife… After all, hadn’t her mother given her all to her marriage and ensured that it worked? She had never once complained about her husband or her mother in law to Anusha!! Instead, Anusha had always been scolded whenever her mother felt she was disrespectful towards them or was disobeying them. But she also remembered how her mother supported her silently on important matters. The time when Appa had been against her taking up a course in communication. He had wanted her to pursue law like him and keep the family practice going. But Amma had been firm about letting her follow her own dreams.
“But what about this practice? This law firm” her father had asked angrily!!
“That is not her problem. We cannot impose our expectations on her” her mother had said quietly.
Her father had grumbled and sulked but finally allowed her to join the course.
Anusha smiled when he thought of her father. He was like a child!
She thought of him now, all alone in that huge house at Luz. She had asked him to come with her to Mumbai for sometime as the change might do him good. But he had refused saying that the cases were piling up and he could not afford to leave them to his juniors.
Her father’s cousin had recommended a housekeeper cum cook. An elderly lady who was distantly related to Appa. Anusha just hoped that this lady would be able to manage things the way her father wanted. Though not yet sixty, he was set in his ways and quite inflexible. She wondered how a sixty plus lady would react to someone nearly ten years younger ordering her around….
“ He will have to learn to adjust. He cannot expect another Ambika” she thought with a sigh!
The landing announcement was being made. Anusha checked her seat belt and opened her window shutter. The flight was circling over the Arabian sea. Her eyes filled with tears as she saw the wide blue expanse below. This was where her mother was resting…!
She foolishly searched the water to see if she could find her mother. But what she saw were many different people ! There was Ambika Sivaraman, the bright and intelligent older daughter of the late Dr. Sivaraman , there was the beautiful girl who was Amin’s beloved, then there was Mrs Ambika Venkateshwaran, dutiful wife and daughter in law. Which one of them was her mother?
All of them, yet none of them!
She had had her mother’s complete love all for her herself – every moment of her twenty eight years on this planet. She had experienced her mother in a way that no one else had. That love was special and she carried it close in her heart. She just knew that she was the person who mattered most to her mother among all those she knew in the world that she had recently left.
She could almost feel Amma next to her. She was running her hand over head and whispering into her ears “ Stop crying now you silly girl”.
Anusha looked for a tissue in her bag. The flight had landed and people were scrambling to collect their baggage from the overhead lockers.
She switched on her phone and as the signal came on called Appa to tell him she had landed. She knew he would be worried. It was just that he had no idea of how express to his feelings!
She walked down the aisle and into the terminal outside. Life had taken over….!!!