‘Things were going to be fine. Didn’t you say that?’ he said with the same old innocence and recent lucid grief in his eyes.
‘Isn’t it fine, Ron? Look at me,’ she said, ‘It’s all fine,’ and shifted closer to Ron, who was sitting on the bench with a flower in one hand.
Ron didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know what it looked like when it was all fine. After all, an eleven-year old kid cannot be expected to know how cruel life can get. With no answers to reply with he hung his head down to hide the trickle of tear. He had thousands of questions to ask, hundreds of stories to tell; he didn’t ask, he didn’t tell either. A kid doesn’t know how to hold back his tears but Ron had mastered it; though when he was with her, he couldn’t hold them back, he didn’t want to hold them back.
Sky was clear allowing sun’s mild rays fall on her breezy brown hair. Ron looked back at her with eyes which had love and hate- both at the same time- for her. He wanted to say something, she knew, but forcing him would do no good, she knew that too.
Sometimes, even when we have all the pieces of puzzle, it’s for the best to not to solve it, to let the puzzle be as is. Some things are best if left unasked, unsought, unsolved, unanswered.
‘How was your day in school?’ she asked in hope of hearing his voice which she loved, to have a look at three broken teeth which she found endearing. But Ron had decided to punish her with his silence today. I am not going to say anything. She always does this. I won’t say. I won’t…I won’t… ‘It was good. Sameer had his birthday yesterday. We ate cake. I didn’t like it though. It was chocolate, you know…’
She made him turn to her and cupped his face, ‘And you like every chocolate of the world but not the things made up of chocolate. I know.’
He smiled weakly and turned his gaze to a tree. She knows me more than anybody else ever will.
Ron could hear children playing at the other side of the park; they were his classmates, he knew, but he didn’t want to play; he wanted to sit beside her; steal glances at her and still pretend that he didn’t love her. This had become his ritual of every Friday or any day when he could sneak out of his house.
Just when he was going to turn to her and ask the heartrending question which was at the tip of his tongue and pricking him like bee’s sting, a ball stuck his left foot. A boy, who couldn’t be more than twelve, came running towards Ron from the far end of the park. The boy was wearing a cap and a tired expression on his face. Ron picked the ball up and handed it back to the boy when he finally reached the bench.
‘Thanks!’ The boy said and was about to run back when he stopped, contemplated a thought (which his face implied was a serious one) and asked Ron to join him and his friends in the cricket match.
‘No. Thank you. But I didn’t come here to play.’
But this answer didn’t deter the boy. He asked again, tried to lure him with the bait of making him the team’s captain but all went down the drains. So many efforts to make the count of players in the teams an even number but no luck.
‘I need to talk to her’, Ron said. Boy gave him a puzzled glance and was about to ask him a question but then thought better of it and ran back to his world cup match.
She looked back at Ron and held his hand. He didn’t try to get out of its hold.
‘Mom?’ Ron said with his head still hung down. He couldn’t look at her while asking her that why…
‘Yes, Ron. Tell me.’
‘Why did you leave us? Why did you go to God’s place leaving us behind?’ His hand started to tremble. She tightened her grip on his hand which relaxed it a bit. Ron looked back at her. His eyes neither had love, nor hate, but tears of pain, of loss, of a vacuum.
She smiled back at him. She knew she wasn’t star-crossed but her husband and their two kids- Ron and his younger sister Crystal of five-years old were. She knew Crystal was too young but Ron? Ron was an eleven-year old boy who had lost his interest in playing, who now preferred to spend his time in a park’s bench with his mother who used to descend to Earth from God’s place every once in a while.
‘Don’t say that, Ron. You know that’s not true.’ He still didn’t look up. She got up from the bench, kneeled down in front of him and, gently, tucked his chin up. Ron’s face was now at his mother’s level. She looked into his eyes, wiped his tears and said, ‘I left because I had no choice. People who are sick, who are suffering from deadly diseases have to go to God’s place. But look at me now, Ron. I’m not sick anymore. I neither have those bumps of syringes on my arms. It doesn’t hurt anymore.’
Ron knew what his mother was talking about. He had seen her in the last stages of cancer. She was so sick that her body had become a living corpse and all she could do whole day was whine in pain. No matter how much his mother tried to withhold those screams within her in front of him, Ron knew she wasn’t fine. Perhaps, she would never be fine now, he used to dread; and one day she was gone. For good though, his dad had said.
Ron hugged her and held on to her tight with all his might. She hugged him back and caressed his back. He cried his heart out. It was as if tears just needed an excuse to spill.
Ron said in his cracking voice, ‘But I’m in pain now, mom. Dad asks me not to cry. To be strong. Crystal asks about you and I have to lie to her that you have gone for a vacation.’ His grip around her tightened. ‘I’m all alone mom. I feel lonely. I need you. I want to come with you too.’
She pulled herself back and put her hands on Ron’s shoulders. ‘This is being selfish, Ron. Who would look after Crystal without you? Don’t you love her?’ He wiped his tears and told her that he loved Crystal the most.
‘Soooo, you’re going to take care of Crystal and daddy. Daddy will take care of both of you. And that is how Alberto family will stay happy forever. I, anyway, come to meet you. Don’t I?’
She stood up and held out his hand. ‘Come on now! Time to go home. Won’t you drop me at my place?’ She asked him.
Ron took the flower, which he had kept aside when the boy came for his ball, and started walking with her.
None of them talked till they reach the place. She, swiftly, pulled her hand out of Ron’s, started to move towards the white headstone, which read,
10th April 1975 – 3rd August 2017
A loving mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend
whose absence will be felt forever
and stood by its side. Her face was as solemn as it was in the park but her eyes- they told a different story; there was pain, there was fear, there was soreness. But she had to stay strong.
Ron moved towards her, looked at the headstone and gave the flower to her. She took the flower, and tried her best to keep that trickle of tear, which had started to form, in her eye; she succeeded.
Both of them held each other’s faces in their eyes for some time. And when sun started to bid its farewell for the day, she threw her biggest smile one last time for the day to Ron and started to move in the depths of the cemetery.
Ron didn’t move. He stood there. His eyes fixed on her mom until she got lost in the air like an angel in the sky. We’ll meet again but it’s hard, mom. It is really hard, he wanted to scream to her. But no. That would make things harder. And then… he went too, back to his home.
PS – Arrivederci is an Italian word which means “until we see each other again”.
IF YOU ARE A FIRST-TIME VISITOR OF MY BLOG, DO REFER ‘First-Timers’. IT WOULD HELP YOU IN EXPLORING THE PLACE.
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Copyright © 2017 by Idle Muser. All rights reserved.