I had forgotten my cell phone on my office desk before I went in for a meeting with my staff and when I came back, I saw that there were 38 missed calls in 10 mins. I wondered what was going on. All the calls were from my mom. I called her back thinking that it was an emergency.
“Ma, are you alright? Has something happened?”
“No Jenny, it’s just that I missed you. I felt like speaking to you.” Mom’s hoarse voice came over the phone.
“Gosh Ma, I thought something bad happened. You gave so many miss calls. I have a job and I’m busy throughout the day Ma. You should at least think of others before disturbing them during the day.” I ranted as my assistant came to inform me that I had a client call pending in 5 mins.
“Jenny, I felt like speaking to you. I don’t know why I’m feeling sad and depressed from few days. I wanted to speak to you desperately. I understand you are busy.”
My assistant kept waving her arms frantically trying to indicate that the clients were waiting and getting impatient.
“Look Ma, I’ll call you later. Right now I’m busy.” I cut the call before my mother had a chance to speak again.
The entire day I was busy in meetings and drafting proposals. I was the editor and co-owner of a leading women’s magazine. It had been just a year since we started publication, but things were rolling quickly for us. I was proud of my magazine which I believed helped many women across our country. But of course it had a downside. I was so busy that I never had any time left for a personal life.
At 11 o’clock that night as I headed home, weary and tired I remembered my mother’s phone call but I was too bushed to even make polite conversation. I decided I would call her the first thing tomorrow. I realized that Ma would be feeling lonely in her retirement home and I felt a pang of guilt. But I quickly reassured myself that at least there, she would have had company. If I had kept her with me, she would be bored.
As soon as I reached home I wearily climbed to my bedroom and fell asleep promptly. But I was woken up after an hour by the door bell ringing incessantly. I panicked. It was 1 o’clock in the night, who would come to my house at this late hour?
I cautiously approached the door and opened it a little to peak at the visitor. My mother stood outside covered in a threadbare coat and shivering in the night chill.
“Ma, what are you doing here?” I quickly pulled her inside the house before she caught a cold.
“Jenny I missed you so much. I had to see you. I don’t know why but I couldn’t rest until I saw you. Did I disturb you?”
“Ma, how can you be so irresponsible. You traveled alone at this late hour just to see me. What’s come over you?” I couldn’t believe that my mother could be so silly.
“I know my dear that I have acted irresponsibly, but I had this unexplainable urge to see you one last time. “ She explained in a small voice.
“What do you mean one last time?” I thought my mother had gone a little off, but I made her sit at the dining table and prepared a hot cup of tea for her.
She didn’t touch it. She looked at me intently. “You look tired. Have you been working round the clock? You should take better care of yourself dear.”
I looked at her as she kept talking about her life in the retirement home. She had aged so much, the happy lines around her lips that formed whenever she smiled were gone and there were deep wrinkles around her eyes. ‘When did she age so much’, I wondered.
“Yeah ma, I am busy these days. There’s so much to do, with meetings and conferences and the deadlines. How are you? Are you comfortable at the home?”
“Oh yeah, it’s absolutely wonderful. I have so many friends but I miss you a lot. I miss talking to you. I miss listening to your voice and I miss hugging you”.
My eyes were downcast as a lump formed in my throat. I hadn’t realized how much I had ignored my mother in the past year. I was all she had had, and I was so busy caught up in my work that I had forgotten to call her or visit her. When I was a child, my mother was always there for me, when I was sick she would be sitting at my bedside stroking my forehead. When I came home from school, she would be waiting for me with a little snack ready on the table. When I was depressed over my first heartbreak she was there beside me to wipe my tears and comfort me.
What had I done? I felt the hot tears stinging my cheeks. I wanted to hug my mother. To tell her that I missed her too and that she would stay with me. Yes, I would bring her back and look after her, take care of her, shower her with love as she had done to me all through her life.
My thoughts were interrupted by the phone ringing. “I’ll be right back Ma, and I have some good news to tell you”, I said to my mother as I ran to the next room to receive the call.
“Hi, this is Claire from Asha Nivas old age home. I’m very sorry to let you know that your mother expired an hour back. We just came to know about it few minutes back. We called for the doctor but he confirmed that she has been dead for an hour or so. Can you please come as soon as it is convenient for you?”
“What, is this a joke? I don’t find this funny. My mother is here with me. You must be mistaken.” I almost shouted. What kind of sick person would crack such a joke?
“Miss Jenny, there’s no mistake. Your mother died due to a fatal heart attack. The doctor has examined her body and he said she went in peace. She didn’t suffer much. I know this must be tough for you…” I dropped the phone and ran back to the kitchen.
The cup of tea sat untouched but there was no one at the table. “Ma, ma where did you go?”I called out, searching my house and but she had gone. I wish that I had hugged her one last time, told her how much I had missed her and that I was sorry for what I had done. But she was gone.