This incident occurred in the early months of the year 2007. My mother was soon to retire from her bank and I was busy and occupied in my new fledgling IT career that was going splendidly well. On one particularly warm night my mother asked me if I wanted to accompany her to drink tender coconut from the nearby shop. It was almost 8 o’clock and my mother’s night vision isn’t great, so I agreed to go along. My friend and I were continuously messaging each other on phone about office work and I was not really paying attention to where we were going.
On our way back, I took the short flight of steps leading down to our building and my mother took the small sloped driveway that had sand scattered over it. I was busy chatting with my friend when my mother slipped and fell hard on the cement pavement. It took me few seconds to realize what had happened. My mom had fallen on her back and since the landing was hard she must have broken some bones. She found it impossible to move because of the searing pain in her back.
Ever since I was a little child, whenever I saw my mom in pain or suffering due to injury my mind goes blank and I panic. I just cannot think straight. And that day too, when I saw my mother in tears, a cold terror gripped my heart. I ran inside our house and called out to my brother and we somehow managed to take her to the hospital. All through the ride my mother gritted her teeth in an attempt to bear the pain but assured us that she was fine.
When we reached the orthopedic doctor, he advised us to get a series of tests conducted after which he confirmed that my mother had fractured her backbone. What made things worse is my mother’s old age which made healing slow and her brittle bones that may have had a severe impact due to the fracture. He further warned us that if my mother did not undergo complete bed rest for the next 6 months, there was a danger of paralysis. My blood ran cold and I almost fainted listening to his words. I regretted for not taking care to see where my mother was walking. When we went on walks, I always reminded my mother to walk carefully or alerted her if there was a slippery area.
After reaching home my brothers and I realized the gravity of the situation. I didn’t have the necessary skills to manage a house or cook meals and I hadn’t really bothered to learn because my mother took care of us. Not only I had to cook, clean and look after the house but I also had to take care of my bedridden mother. We couldn’t afford to keep a full time nurse and a cook but our neighboring aunty offered to cook lunch for us for a paltry pay for the next few months.
I lost count of nights when I cried myself to sleep. It was difficult to see my normally active mother in bed with a cast around her waist. She took absence of leave from her bank and my brothers and I took turns to apply leave from office. In the beginning I was clueless about how to care for my mother or how to balance my office work and home. My poor brothers never complained once about eating overcooked dal or half burnt chapattis. After one particularly harrowing incident in kitchen I was ready to call it quits. My life was a mess because I couldn’t concentrate in office and at home I only thought about pending work and imminent deadlines. I cursed myself for my negligence and blamed myself for my mother’s injury. I was filled with negative thoughts and was on the brink of depression.
Then one day when I was at home, my mother called me to her bedside. She had tears in her eyes. I went into panic mode and asked her if she was in pain. She just took my hand and kissed it and thanked me for looking after her.
She said that she was sorry for what happened and she should have been careful about where she was walking. She said because of her mistake her children were suffering and she had to be dependent on them for every tiny little thing. She promised to get better soon; in fact she resolved to heal even before the doctor’s timeline of 6 months. She wanted to get better because she didn’t want to be a burden on us. She thanked me because I was looking after her like a child- feeding, bathing and even helping her in the toilet without uttering one word of complaint. And she said that she was proud and fortunate for having a daughter like me.
Needless to say we were both in tears and hugging hard like our lives depended on each other. And in a way it did. My mother’s words filled me with optimism about our dismal situation. I knew that I was doing best to my abilities to help my mother.
I prepared a schedule and got up early everyday so that I wouldn’t be in a hurry. Saturdays and Sundays I learnt cooking from a book that I bought. I helped my mother to take few steps everyday and spent some time with her talking or watching television. Gradually my mother’s injury healed and in 4 months she was walking around the house.
Even now my mother proudly recalls about the way I took complete care of her during those days. Only I know about how mentally weak I had become and how my mother’s kind word had filled me with optimism and hope for the future. It had given me the strength to survive in the storm that had threatened to play havoc in our lives.
This post was written for Look Up Stories