Shwetabari Devi – An old lady
Preeti – A woman
Shiva – Preeti’s husband
Shwetabari Devi : I have always had a tendency to be busy. Though I am old now, sitting in a room the whole day like other ladies is not something I cherish. Yes, its hard for me to walk, but still, I managed today to walk to the park nearby and have some fresh air. It was a fine day and I carried with myself a pair of knitting needles and some yarn. I want to present my grandson a red sweater for his coming birthday.
So I was sitting on a bench in the park and there were children playing with some disc. There were some young couples walking together. They reminded me of my youth.
Just then, one of the couples as they walked towards me, the man stared at me, and kept staring. For a while, I tried to ignore him. But, as he kept staring, it started bothering me. Being a single lady, old enough for some mis-happenings, I felt intimidated and vulnerable.
Then, I gathered my conscience and reasoned that I was after all not that vulnerable as this was a public park with quite a lot of people around. May be, I reminded him of some old acquaintance. Or may be, I, myself, might have been some old acquaintance or even a relative.
In this old age, I could hardly be confident of my memory. As I brought my conscience back into reality, what I saw was so unexpected.
Preeti: Shiva had started crying. I didn’t know what to do. He started crying all of a sudden like a small child. Why? Did I bore him so much? Was this walk annoying him so much? Being a pregnant woman, didn’t I deserve a walk with my husband after so long?
I felt angry for a moment but as I saw him again in the same state of emotional breakdown I became worried. “Please don’t cry, please don’t. What’s wrong? Tell me.” He didn’t reply a word, instead he kept crying.
I felt bad for him. May be, I was unable to meet his expectations. But he should tell me at least. After all, I am his wife. I tried consoling him. Not that it would work, but I couldn’t do anything beyond that
After so many days, he was free to take me for a walk. We planned a baby and expect it 3-months from now. Life seemed so perfect, just a bit short of family time.
Was it the paucity of time that he realized he had lost so many precious moments he could have with me? How sweet! I was tempted to kiss him.
But then, my eyes went on to the lady sitting on the bench whom Shiva kept looking every now and then while he wept.
I understood the reason for his crying. I didn’t say a word to him after that. I just held him tight, my grip tightening with time.
Shiva: I felt the grip getting getting tighter. I knew why she was doing this. But, I was least bothered to respond to her.
I didn’t expect this would happen today. As I came to the park, I saw my mother. She was knitting a small sweater as she used to a couple of years ago. Back then, I was still a bachelor. When I asked her why she was knitting this small sweater she would say that these sweaters would be presents for her grand child. I used to mock at her on this and she would playfully get angry and hit me. I was never hurt.
A few months later, I married a girl and was very happy with my marriage. But just after a month, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Doctors advised me to leave her in the center for better care. But I didn’t want to. My wife insisted we should let her live in the center. We had a fight with words that night.
But I succumbed to her arguments as I was a busy man. I could not look after her all by myself. The decision was the most practical decision then. Even my father was not alive to look after her and my wife had just refused to.
The day I left her in the center, she cried and pleaded not to leave her. Even I could not keep myself from crying with her when Preeti held me, tight enough as now and I had to go back with her.
I have tried to avoid her since then. But, when she became pregnant I realized I had gained some responsibilities. So I went to the park with her. Today, when I saw my mom, I could see that she didn’t even recognize me when she saw me. I felt so guilty and helpless.
I tried to stop crying but in vain. After sometime, my mom came to me with her eyes wet and somewhat red, caressed my back and said-“Don’t cry son, don’t cry. It’s not your fault. Don’t cry.”