“Lily hurry up.. you will be left alone if you don’t hurry up”
“I don’t wanna go mom.. ” came the reply amongst muffled sob
Anita rolled her eyes and placed her hands on her forehead, “honey its gone be ok.. Saritha aunty has promised to look after Irene” .. there was a soothing tenderness that accompanies a mother’s voice. She hoped it would pacify her daughter
“What’s the delay ? I have been waiting for you in the parking lot for about half hour, the taxi is there, if we don’t move we will miss our flight” .. said the impatient voice from the doorstep
“Samuel she is a bit upset.. let’s give her sometime she will come down” Anita was a bit worried now, she knew Samuel was short on patience, especially when it came to dealing with what he thought was an irrational concern of a 4 year old girl. “Our vacation will be ruined if she were to keep crying all along”
Reason seemed to be the last trigger.. “You get the house keys, I will get Lily”
“Samuel..” protested Anita. But he had already climbed the stairway
“No .. I don’t wanna come.. I don’t wanna come” Anita heard the wails now growing louder and louder.
“It’s gone be ok Lily.. Now stop crying and be a good girl” thundered the voice
The wailing became more resolute “Daddy please I don’t want to go..”
Samuel came down the stairs carrying a struggling Lily in his arms. Lily put up a ferocious fight to free herself but in vain. Samuel handed her over to Anita. Lily hugged her mother, put her tiny hands around her neck and buried her face in her mother’s hair. “It’s gone be ok” said Anita in a soft voice. “Saritha aunty will look after Irene and we will be back in a week” she embraced her child tightly
Reason often prevails. Lily kept to herself the entire vacation worrying about Irene. Anita worried about her and Samuel felt being confined to an open solitary prison cell. Worse still Lily didn’t speak a word to him and Anita’ eyes were accusatory. Samuel’s pride over powered his love for his family, he kept resolutely silent all the while hoping the other side to blink. But they had each other for company, he was the one stuck with solitude.
“I want to see Irene open the door.. open the door” said Lily impatiently
“Wait a minute let me find the keys”
“Mummy !!” Lily cried out loudly
“Hi, Anita you are back” said Seema coming out from other end of the corridor. “I heard Lily’s voice. How was the trip Lily?? Did you enjoy yourself?”
Lily ignored the question. “Maama open the door” she shouted at the top of her voice
“Lily be polite” Anita snapped at her. “Seema aunty is asking you something”
Lily fell silent from the chastisement and put her head down. “It was ok Seema aunty”
Seema smiled and patted her head. “I will catch you later then Anita”
“Please don’t mind her Seema she is just impatient to see her plant”
A broken young heart is not healed easily, especially when its soul had been preserved in the departed
“Lily calm down. We will go down first thing tomorrow morning and I promise, you can get 4 rose plants” pleaded Anita. But deep down in her heart she knew it wouldn’t be the same as Irene. Irene was her mother’s gift to Lily. Shortly before her passing, gran-ma Rose had presented Lily a rose plant – christened among much fanfare as Irene. It meant the world to Lily after her passing. Questions like I want to talk to gran-ma , I want to go to gran-ma’s place , It’s Sunday why isn’t grandma coming with us to church.. were deviated. Obscure answers had indicated to the gentle blooming soul that all she had left of her granny was Irene.
Reason doesn’t hold water always, pitted against a mother’s love for her child a rational argument never works. What then matters is only love. Lily fell ill the day after seeing Irene all weathered off. She had left a dark green plant, with lush green leaves and a blossoming red rose and returned to a dry, dark brown stem and the dark ash of the rose. Saritha the maid who was supposed to water the plant had an emergency back home and had to rush out. High fever and Lily’s refusal to eat properly had the entire household in a gloom.
“You haven’t talked to me for the entire week. It’s not my fault. I love my daughter too..” Samuel’s solace for the past week had been sitting on the couch appearing to be watching tv while his mind alternated, between guilt, prayers and worry. “Anita say something..” he cried
“I am going up to feed my daughter. You can help yourself to dinner” Anita knew it wasn’t fair making her husband feel guilty. The doctor had said it was probably something in the cold high altitude hill station that had infected Lily’s lungs and that it would take time but she would be ok. But Anita wanted somebody to answer for her daughter’s suffering; she was cross with providence but couldn’t vent her anger.
Lily showed no signs of cheering up, not eating properly had made her weak, the fever refused to die down even as Anita stepped up her late night vigil. Samuel felt himself shut off from his daughter, he went in to check on her in between the time Anita was away doing house chores. She barely batted an eye lid.
“We will need to put her on drips for a day or so if she doesn’t eat properly. Her hemoglobin levels are coming down. Let’s wait for another day if not bring her in and let’s admit her to the hospital.” Dr Kamath tried not to betray any sense of uneasiness in his voice. “But the good news is, her x-ray scan shows that her lung infection has gone away” he added quickly sensing the tear drop from Anita’s eyes. “It’s just that she is weak from the medication and not eating properly is adding to her condition. I will prescribe some supplements, try mixing it with fruit juices and give it to her”.
The Doctor’s visit did not augur well for Samuel. He was filled with guilt. He prayed that his last ditch effort yield fruit. He poured some more water and kept awake checking every half hour for the first sign of life. It was around 6 in the morning with sore eyes he went into the room..
“Lily “ screamed Samuel.. and ran upstairs to his daughters room. Anita woke up startled.
“Lily.. look.. look its Irene she is alive, her stem is green again” said Samuel holding out the rose pot in his hand. To his amazement Lily opened her eyes faintly and looked at the pot first with mistrust, but after a pause her eyes lit up. He let out a faint smile. Samuel knew she was bodily still weak but the spark had returned. “ You can sleep now honey” said Samuel kissing his daughter’s forehead. “ Mummy will get you breakfast later”
Anita had a bewildered look in her eyes but kept quiet. “I kept watering the plant the day after we came back and Lily feel ill” said Samuel as they walked down the stairs from their daughter’s room. “It showed signs of coming alive yesterday but I wasn’t sure. Today morning the stem turned green” said Samuel with a smile. Anita hugged him tight.