Flash Fiction: The Dweller of a Misty Land

By: Debjani Mukherjee

“Oh! Maa what have you done! Why are you taking the idol of Krishna (Hindu God) to the bathroom?” Sukumar couldn’t keep himself from shouting at his mother this time. Namita Devi is 95 years old and couldn’t really remember things beyond the time span of five minutes. Her body still works fine with a stooped backbone, as she roams around the house all day leaning on the walking stick with full energy executing her crazy ideas which seem not at all crazy to her delusional brain. After having a half an hour meal she would complain that no one is taking care of her and she had been kept hungry for the whole day. Or in the middle of the night she would just decide it is already morning and everyone in the house should get up and perform morning prayers. Sometimes she would find no harm in mixing dirty water with clean drinking water and sometimes bedroom pillows would rest without any harm on toilet seat.

Sukumar is the younger son of Namita Devi he was always the favorite of his mother. Though previously, Namita Devi used to stay with her elder son Dibakar, but after he had been diagnosed with cancer she came here to stay with them. Dibakar dada and his wife are in Mumbai Tata Memorial Hospital for the last few months for treatment and this morning the news came which broke Sukumar. After father’s death, dada was a big support for him. The regular news of his consistently deteriorating condition tore him apart mentally and with all of the chaos created every moment by Maa, it drives Sukumar completely crazy. His 68 year old body doesn’t support much tension nowadays. His wife Latika has Parkinson’s so she is hardly any help in her condition. His only daughter Sova is settled in America with her family. So the only help Sukumar has is two nurses for the day and night shift and two maids for household work.

“This is not the bathroom. This is my Pooja ghar (temple) and can’t you see how I cleaned it today with the washing powder? Now you get lost from here and let me do my Pooja (worship), after I can have my breakfast.” Namita Devi declared with full command. Her thin voice trying to make it sound as strong as she could as she walked towards the bathroom leaning on her walking stick holding the idol of Krishna in her hand.

Sukumar had no option but to hold her hand and snatch the idol from her. Then he made her sit on the chair of the dining table in the hall and put the idol back in its proper place. Namita Devi was furious her Pooja got interrupted for no reason. It was so insulting that she was being dragged and made to sit on a chair like a child by someone whom she sees daily but can’t recognize properly.

“How dare you treat me like I will no longer stay in this house. I will go to my house. I don’t know who are you and what right you have to keep me here without my permission,” she said as her frail trembling voice was filled with anger. “Don’t you think I am helpless and alone. I have my son and I will go to him!” She slammed at the man who made her sit in the chair like a child.

Sukumar sat beside his mother and asked her in a composed voice, “Okay, so tell me where is your house? I will take you there and you can stay there, tell me who your son is. I will take you to him. Tell me Maa.”

Namita Devi’s eyes went vacant searching the walls for answers, her lips fell apart. Her mind crawled to the most distant foggy lanes of time and could recall just a face of a twelve year old boy who got a fish bone stuck under his foot on a winter afternoon. He coming back home hobbling bare foot from the pond which they used to have behind their house in their village, where they used to live in some forgotten pages of the past.

She murmured almost like a whisper, “My son is twelve years old, he is very naughty and he got a fish bone stuck under his foot”.

Sukumar understood she is talking about Dibakar dada. Her blurred memory is recalling the son she lost this morning. God has his own ways of touching the lives of his children. The woman who can’t remember the difference between day and night, who is unable to recognize the son who is sitting just next to her talking to her, is remembering her other son who was far away from her and just few hours before left the world forever.

Sukumar held his mother’s hands and clasped them to his chest. Tears flushed his eyes like wild streams. He said, "Maa, dada is dead. This morning at 7:40 a.m.. We lost dada. I am going to Mumbai this evening. You lost your elder son Maa."

A helpless look captivated the wrinkled face of 95 years old woman and very slowly she said, "May God rest his soul in peace." She stood up resting on her walking stick and said, "It is time for my afternoon nap. I must go to sleep now.”

Sukumar didn’t understand whether his mother realized what actually happened or not but he didn't push it. He took his mother to her room and had lie her down on the bed and closed the windows and the curtains. Its 10:30 a.m. in the morning, but her world is now far beyond from the normal timetable of conscious people. She now is the dweller of a misty land.

Bio- Debjani Mukherjee, an MBA in applied management has a passion for studying human life and has put her observation and feelings into words. Her poems, articles and short stories are published in many international anthologies and magazines. She is a regular contributor to magazines like GloMag, Destiny Poets, Different Truths, Tuck Magazine, etc.. Her short story “The Summer Moon” won the summer contest of the USA based magazine Academy of Heart and Mind. Her other short story “The Paper Boat” recently managed to secure its place in the top ten list of the prestigious Bharat Award for International Literature.

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