The face was calm and composed. There was a positive aura surrounding her,the way it had always been. 'Amma' was what she was known as in our locality. Her real name was Dhairyalaksmi, Dhairya meaning courage, something which she had always represented throughout her life.As Kartik stood there watching her, memories flashed through his mind.
Amma had moved into the colony with her husband and son around 30 years back. Her son Vinod was of Kartik’s age and in no time they became the best of friends. Being neighbours he often used to spend time in their household. She always used to treat him equally as her son which was a quality, Kartik thought was rare to find. The morning hours in their household used to be bathed in loud carnatic music. She had immense faith in god and which reflected in whatever she did.Everyday as he and Vinod left for school she used to say, “Bye, Kartik. Take good care of Vinod”!.
Life has its own strange ways of unfolding events and that was precisely what happened with her. While they were in10nth standard her husband died in an accident. Amma decided to take tuitions to support the family. She also started stitching clothes for the women in the locality. Even then it was tough for her to make both ends meet. However she never let it show whenever her son was around. She was determined to see to it that he completed his education and fulfilled his dreams of becoming an engineer.
Two years flew by. Kartik and Vinod were awaiting their 12std results. Both were nervous as they walked to school to get it. Amma accompanied them with her usual smile chatting and talking animatedly along the way to cheer them up.Her smile made Kartik wonder about her inner strength. It was not as if she wasn’t anxious. Her husband was no more, she had done mundane chores, sacrificed a lot so that her son, Vinod could fulfill his dreams. If the result turned out otherwise, engineering would then become a distant dream for him. Still she was her jovial self. Always with her trademark smile on her face, it appeared as if she was making a mockery of the trails that life was throwing at her.
As she chatted with Kartik’s mother about how admissions have become highly competitive ,the results were announced...Kartik saw a single tear drop down from Amma’s eyes as she heard the result. He had never seen her this way before.Vinod had topped the school and was on the university merit list!!!
Congratulations flowed. Relatives who had mocked her for making her son study further and not sending him to work, now applauded her for her bold and wise decision!. Amma was amused at the end of it all. Vinod was jubiliant as it was a defining moment of his life.“Amma, I will become an engineer and all our financial troubles will vanish. You need not work when I take up my job. God is great. I had always dreamt of this day…” He just went on and on and Amma embraced him affectionately!!!”
Katik’s results were not that great but were decent though. Vinod got admission to the best college in the town. Kartik’s marks ensured that he just about got into a decent one. “I will miss you Kartik, you are and will always remain my best friend”.“Its ok Vinod, remember we still stay in the same building and our stream is also the same. So we will be in touch yaar,no probs”, Kartik consoled him thus in a lively way.
Four years went by. Vinod emerged as a very brilliant student. He topped all semesters and got placed with a leading German firm.As they used to study together, even Kartik was able to secure good marks which gave him a good placement with an Indian company.Life all but settled Vinod’s eyes were moist as he was about to bade farewell at the airport. “Be bold son, this is what you had dreamt about and having achieved it now, make sure that you maximize this opportunity. Your amma is here only am i am sure that Kartik will take good care of me. Next year when you come,you will be happy for having taken up this opportunity.”
All the communication that took place after that between them was mostly over the phone.As Kartik had an internet connection at his house,sometimes Vinod used to chat through the webcam, much to Amma’s amusement.“How fast has the world progressed, in those days you could not even talk to people who are far away, now you can even see them”! she often used to say.
“Amma there is a chance of my contract getting extended for another six months. But it's totally at my option. Pleased with my performance the management has given me this opportunity.I am confused Amma; its been one year...i want to see you”.Vinod said the other night. “ Listen vinod, show some maturity. Its a matter of another six months right… Haven’t I waited for you for one year..even this too shall pass..Go ahead son.and do well. After you finish you could be home this Diwali,It shall be wonderfull!”“Yes amma ….i will do exactly that and come home for diwali.”..Vinod replied .
It was Diwali.The bursting sound of crackers woke up Kartik and yes how could he forget his best friend was coming home!!!. He had to be there at the airport in two hours.
He dressed up fast and before leaving just switched on the TV. There was this breaking news…
“Flight from Germany to Mumbai crashes into the Arabian sea…no survivors so far”. Kartik felt a lump in his throat as he saw it. He immediately left for the airport. The airport was a complete mess. It was a flood of people making enquiries about the incident. The scene was chaotic and saddening as many families were mourning and lamenting the death of their near and dear ones. Kartik first checked the list of passengers hoping against hope that Vinod should not have boarded it. But destiny had already executed its cruel plan. His name was there…
He then went to the site where operations were being carried out to fish out the bodies and remains of the aircraft. No luck so far.As he walked back home with a heavy heart, there she was sitting silent and shocked by his mothers side. The news had obviously reached her too. Kartik’s mother was trying to make her talk, but she was possibly too struck by this tragedy that nothing made her move. The phone rang...the divers had fished out Vinod’s body.
After the mundane formalities, they got the body home. Once glance at the body and she erupted….tears flowed ,she became uncontrollable with grief and nobody could console her. Kartik had never seen her so emotional before. Not even her husbands death had moved her so much. But then today was the day when all was but gone for her!!!
Years passed. Amma had moved on.. The last years of her were spent in an ashram serving the poor and needy. Kartik was married and even had two kids.He often used to visit the ashram with his family. Even his kids called her Amma and loved her company. She used to shower the same love and affection on them as she had showered on Kartik and yes, Vinod!. The smile, the laughter everything seemed intact.
Today morning there was this sudden call from the ashram, which had made Kartik rush to the spot. “Extremely sorry Mr.Kartik,…it was Mr Moorthy the ashram manager. "She was perfectly alright till yesterday...was possibly the last one to go to bed after doing all her supervisory activities, never complained of any sickness or pain! It was only when the ashram maid went to wake her up this morning that we realised, we had lost her...” Even the doctor has confirmed it. Seems like she died in her sleep.”
…Or maybe death was too scared to approach her while she was awake!!!...Kartik thought. As Kartik stood there speechless he still found her smile intact, the way it had always been.
It appeared as if she was saying to the world," you know why i can smile at life... because i have known sadness!"


Anonymous said…
A very touching Story....

Amma nothing could be better than you..

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