Cotton Candy

It was 6:40 AM. The first ray of sun hit the window and got reflected on to a metal bed which flashed on to Radha’s face, waking her up. Radha looked at an old woman lying on the bed. The old lady was still asleep and her blanket was lying on the ground. Looked like she kicked it down deep in sleep. It was really cold and the lady was shivering. Radha picked the blanket and covered the lady. “Mother!” she called the lady softly as the lady moaned “Yes?” in sleep. “Will you try to wake up slowly as I brush my teeth? It’s time for your Insulin injection!” Radha whispered as the lady opened her eyes. Radha moved to next room to see the bed empty. She sighed and started brushing her teeth. The day has begun for Radha, she’s not only the lady’s daughter but a nurse, a housemaid, a cook and after all this is done, she turns the computer on and starts working on her data entry job which is the only source of income of that house. This is her day! She wakes up, cleans herself, cleans her disabled mother, treats her, feeds her, works and waits for her good-for-nothing son to return home all day. Her son claims that he stopped going to college as he doesn’t see any use of it, but the fact is, they kicked him out! He roams with a mobster who happened to be the local political leader. It was 11 PM, Radha slept on the dining table with an empty stomach waiting for her kid to return. She woke up to him munching and gulping food loudly like an ape. “Where have you been all day, Raghu? Were you roaming with that buffoon Shekhar again?” Radha yelled at him. “Mother, not again! I’ve told you not to disrespect the only person who stood by our side since father passed away!” Raghu yelled as a response. “Stood by our side? By doing what exactly? Pouring alcohol in your mouth?” Radha asked sarcastically. ” A monkey can never understand the value of a silver coin!” Raghu sighed as Radha started to laugh. “What an irony!” she said. Raghu looked at her and was about to shout but something stopped him. “Did you eat?” he asked. “No! I should eat now” she said. “Mother! How many times should I tell you not to wait for me! What if I arrive at 1 AM? Would you still be waiting with an empty stomach? Insane! be practical! Eat when you are hungry. Ok?” Raghu yelled. “Hmm… Don’t get too emotional! It’s just that I get bored to eat alone” Radha moaned as Raghu looked at her. “As if our lives were interesting! Find something interesting! It’s not loneliness, it’s your routine that’s boring. Why don’t you ask uncle to take care of her? Why do you have to sacrifice your only life for this routine while they roam all around Dubai? It’ll be easier even if you guys shared the duties” Raghu whined. “She’s my mother! Shut up and speak in your limits Raghu! ” she yelled and there was an awkward silence. Radha started eating and she smelled something. “Is that stink from cigarettes?” she asked Raghu as he acted like he didn’t listen. “Did you start smoking?” she asked as he whined, “Since when did you start caring?” and went into his room. It hurt Radha in so many levels! Her eyes grew teary as she never thought she would hear that from her son! Flashes of her family appeared before her. Radha, her husband Venkat and young Raghu all dining happily sharing jokes and talking about movies. She recollected many images of them travelling a lot of places. The visual which stuck in her mind was of them going to the local fair which happens every year. Each year there was a difference in toys that Raghu used to buy at the fair. Till 5, he bought playable comic character dolls. After 5, he started buying remote cars. After 12, he started buying toy guns and after 16, they stopped going to the fair after a tragic incident which took Venkat away from them. Since then they moved on to her mother’s house to have an emotional support. But little did they know that not the mother but Radha would end up as a support to her mother after her neuro breakdown. Since then, the communication gap between Radha and her son formed a void in their lives which they both know but never discussed. “I wish I could reverse the time, go back to that fair when raghu was a momma’s boy, when we three roamed toy stores to find the perfect toy and when we three ate cotton candies. She stood up, sucked her tears in and knocked her son’s door. He opened the door and looked at her. “I’m sorry!” he said. “Ah! It’s nothing!” she smiled. She didn’t sleep that night, she was just lying on the ground, lost in thoughts.

It was morning, Raghu woke up and got ready to leave. “Was I rude yesterday?” he thought and decided to have a look at his mother. He walked in to find her nowhere. “Mom!” he yelled. He started looking everywhere in the house and she was not there. He couldn’t understand! His grandmother woke up to his shouting. “Why are you shouting? Where’s your mother?” she asked. “She went out to temple! Go back to sleep, grandma!” he comforted her and put her to sleep. He ran out to a general store in front of their house. “Have you seen my mother leaving the house?” he asked the shopkeeper. “Yes, she walked that way to the main road” he said and Raghu ran to another general store on the main road. “Bro, did you see my mother coming this way?” he asked the shopkeeper and he said “Yeah, bro! She stood there for a long time and then got into an auto-rickshaw. It was strange seeing her outdoors. I don’t even remember how long has it been since I have seen her on the streets! And, the weird thing was, she was wearing sunglasses” he smiled. Confused Raghu went back to his house and took out a diary which had his uncle’s phone number in it. He dialed to his uncle. “Uncle! Mother’s gone somewhere! I don’t know where! what to do now?” he asked. “What do you mean she’s gone somewhere?” Uncle asked in confusion. “I mean, she didn’t tell me that she had to go somewhere”. “What’s the rush? She’ll be back! Don’t worry. Maybe she went to the market” Uncle chilled Raghu a bit. Raghu kept on waiting for his mother. It was noon, Raghu had to clean his grandmother. Raghu went into the kitchen to find the food already prepared. But he thought he would just wait for her. He kept on waiting and it was soon evening. Tensed Raghu called his uncle home. Uncle was looking at his mother while Raghu roamed all the streets and known houses to find his mother. It was 11PM and Raghu was almost crying. He recollected an event when he mistook someone else for his mother and got lost in the fair. He was crying for his mother just like he cried when he was lost. But his mother found her way to him back then. He was wishing something like that to happen as a sound of auto-rickshaw stopping at their house made Raghu to jump and run towards the main gate to find his mother walking in with a cotton candy in her hand. He was shocked and speechless! He knew where she went all day! It was the fair! She was re-living the day as she once loved to live. She was living differently than her routine. That point made him forget all the tension and sadness he faced all this time. He was actually happy for her! He was both shocked and smiling, like a mad person. They both walked in and the uncle started yelling. “How careless of you to leave mother like that!” he shouted as Radha kept munching on the cotton candy. “Where were you all day?” he asked her in a rather angry tone. She looked at him and finished munching the cotton candy. “Since when did you start caring?” she asked and turned to her son. He was smiling. Uncle was all shocked. “I’ve brought you some candy too” she said to her son handing him a cotton candy. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot of work to do” she pushed her brother away as she went to work on the computer. Raghu looked at his uncle “Sorry for the disturbance” he said munching on the candy.

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