Forever and Ever

by Chandra Sundeep
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Forever and Ever

“Amma, I’m scared,” Adi murmured as he nestled into the metallic bed, resting his face against his mother’s. The unpleasant odours triggered an itch in his nose, but he nuzzled closer to his mother, hoping to catch a whiff of familiar scents that had now disappeared.

“Amma, are you sleeping?” he whispered again. His fingers trembled as he caressed her bald scalp. It was soft yet prickly, like thorns. Adi bit his lower lip, “are you angry with me?”

“How can I be angry with you, my darling?” Amma’s faint voice caught him off-guard. Even though he was right next to her, she sounded as if she was at the other end of the sterile room.

“B-b-because I did something bad.”

Amma’s face softened into a warm smile. “What did you do?”

“On my birthday… when you were… I told Him…”

The tubes connected to Amma’s body shook as she lifted her arm and placed it over Adi’s. “I can never be angry with you.”

“But this is my fault.” He sniffled. “Do you remember when you were back home a few days before my birthday and had no hair? I was so worried that my friends would make fun of you that I did a really, really bad thing. That night, I prayed to Ummachi that He should take you back to the hospital and now, you are here and really sick.” Adi spoke without pausing for breath.

“This isn’t your fault. And God didn’t send me to the hospital then, did He? Don’t you remember my new hair that appeared magically on your birthday?”

Amma’s soothing voice brought a wide grin to Adi’s face. “Yes, yes, and not just that… even the magician performed such cool tricks. All my friends said it was the best birthday party ever!” Adi wiped the grin off his face and said, “Amma, is it true?”

“The magic tricks?” The tiniest of smiles appeared on Amma’s face, but her chest rose and fell higher than the waves he had seen on the marina beach.

Draping his arm around his mother’s chest, he sobbed, “Not that! Appa said you are with us for only a few days.” Tears streamed down his dimpled cheeks, “but I don’t want you to die.”

“I don’t want to die either…” Amma stirred and the machine’s loud beep echoed in the room. Her brows creased and she let out a painful sigh. Adi jerked his arm away, ready to jump off the bed and call Appa. But she reached over and took his hand in hers, and he snuggled back in once again.

Amma had been hospitalised when Adi’s midterm exams had begun. Paati and Thatha had stayed with him while Appa shuffled between home and the hospital. Adi jumped with joy when Amma returned a few days later, but his happiness was short-lived. He had so many questions: Why did she look different? Why did she sleep the whole day? Why wasn’t she going to her office? Why were her hugs not soft anymore? Why were her hands like a tree, hard and poky? But none of the answers his father and grandparents gave satisfied him.

Adi gasped when he remembered something. “Amma, did Appa show you my report card? I got A’s in all subjects. Can I please get a new water bottle and a new bag for 3rd grade?”

Her eyes sparkled. “I saw, and I signed it too. Get a new lunch box too. The one with stars and planets.”

Adi kissed her on both cheeks. “Will you come with me to buy the new uniform?”

Amma shut her eyes and tears ran down in rivulets. Adi wiped them quickly. “Don’t cry, Amma. It’s okay if you don’t come.” He glanced at the lobby. His father was still on the phone, talking to relatives. “Appa can take me. Just tell him the size. Last week, he got me new underwear, and it was so small that it fit only on one leg.”

Amma laughed so hard that once again tears started flowing down her cheeks. But this time, instead of wiping them, Adi wrapped his arms around her. “Amma, can I ask you something?”

“Sure! Ask me anything except for the names of astronauts!”

“My friend Karan says he can’t remember his best friend, Anand, anymore. His family moved to Mumbai three years ago. Karan says if you don’t see someone every day, you’ll forget them.”

“Hmm…” Amma lifted her chin and smiled. “So, what is your question?”

“Will I…” Adi spoke again, in a low voice, “Will I forget you if I don’t see you every day? I don’t want to forget you…”

Amma towards the bare walls. Her body shook, reminding Adi of mango trees in the monsoon. He squeezed her shoulders when she didn’t say anything for a long time. “Amma?”

Amma spoke in a hushed voice, “Close your eyes and touch your heart.”

Adi did as his mother said.

“Do you remember our trip to Madurai?”

“Yes! We went to that big temple; I was so tired that Appa carried me on his shoulders. And-and-and then,” Adi licked his lips and rubbed his palms together, “we drank that pink, cool drink. It was yummy!”

“Yes, it was very tasty! But Adi, we went to that temple three years ago. And you haven’t had jigarthanda after that. How do you still remember everything so clearly?”

Adi shrugged.

“Because there’s a secret place in our heart where we treasure our special memories.”

Adi’s voice shook the slightest. “Does my heart have that secret place?”

“Yes, my love.”

“Can I keep you there?”

“Of course!”

“Does that mean I won’t forget you even when I don’t see you every day?”

Tears sprang into Amma’s eyes and her lips fluttered. “Yes, kanna. You will never forget me. I will be in your heart and memories forever and ever.”

Adi’s eyes glinted as he hugged his mother hard and smiled. “Forever and ever.”

 

 

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Forever and ever is my 1000-word submission for #Unik18 #BeyondTheObvious, a prompt based writing contest organised by ArtoonsInn.

 

This post is my submission to the Blogaberry Creative (Monthly) Challenge.

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14 comments

Cindy February 18, 2024 - 10:46 pm

Gosh what a sad story. Blessed are those who are with their loved ones when they are going to the other side.

Reply
Anuradha Sowmyanarayanan February 21, 2024 - 5:03 pm

Touching story. Parents will always remain in our hearts forever and ever.

Reply
Chandrika February 21, 2024 - 7:31 pm

This was hard-hitting one Chandra Sandeep. You had me sniffing throughout.

Reply
Chandrika February 21, 2024 - 7:51 pm

You had me tearing up, Chandra. Such a hard-hitting tale.

Reply
Swarnali February 21, 2024 - 8:49 pm

Chandra, your storytelling style is very captivating. All along I was visualizing the story but honestly it was such a heartbreaking one. Sometimes when we are depressed it’s hard to face and accept the reality. But the way you have woven the story, must say, it feels magical. Wanna read more stories from you.

Reply
Ambica February 23, 2024 - 8:28 am

What a beautifully touching story. So tough for both mother and son, and you have beautifully portrayed the emotions. Forced goodbyes need so much more strength.

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Samata February 23, 2024 - 1:30 pm

A beautiful and well penned story to which you poured your heart. You need to feel it from the core of the heart for understanding the emotion of love to pen such brilliant stories. There is sadness in the story and I wish no mother and child should experience it. Let love bring positivity and vibrancy in life.

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Preeti February 24, 2024 - 12:41 pm

This story was both heartbreaking and heartwarming, all at once. A mother and child’s love is the purest form of love, to have it snatched away by such a profound sickness is very heart-rending but the final words bring solace they live in our hearts forever.

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Chandrika R Krishnan February 25, 2024 - 7:27 pm

Chandra, I had posted my comment but not sure why it is not reflecting. I had shared the same on twitter too. Do respond if you can see my comment. This was a heart-rending tale tearing me up more so for it was too close to my heart.

Reply
Neha February 27, 2024 - 10:34 pm

This is such a sad and heartbreaking story, I have tears in my eyes. No child should ever go through this, losing a mother is like losing a piece of your heart, a bond that can never be replaced.

Reply
Neeta Kadam February 28, 2024 - 7:48 am

Beautifully penned down emotions of child and his mother. Such a heart breaking for a child to loose his mother. I can’t even imagine. The way mother hold him is awesome.

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Prasanna Raghavan February 29, 2024 - 12:25 am

That was a sad story infused with lots of emotions to make the narrative palatable to the story reader’s creative tastes.

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Manali March 1, 2024 - 8:28 pm

Oh my! You’ve made me emotional. What a beautiful and heart-touching story.
And, Amma is right of course. We never forget the people and things stored in that special place of our hearts :)

Reply
Ritu March 3, 2024 - 9:18 pm

Losing a parent is difficult but it is absolutely heart-breaking as a child. Beautifully written. Surely made me emotional.

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