She was sitting on the steps, oblivious to all the dirt and the dust on them. Last night’s dust storm seemed to have gathered the entire city’s dust on the steps of the house.
Her mother was watching from the window. In the twilight she could still very clearly see the sadness in her eyes and the tears that had just about begun to well up. The little girl missed her father. Work kept him away most of the days. He seemed to be missing all the important dates in her life. Her first play – she was the proudest pumpkin there ever was, but he wasn’t there to see it, just like all the other times for the first something of her life.
It broke her heart to see her girl so sad.
She decided to make her little one’s favorite nimbu pani and carry it out. While she got busy stirring it up, it struck her. She carried a pitcher of water as well along with a few things from the kitchen.
She went out and sat next to her on the steps, held her baby’s little palm in her hand and gave her the glass to drink, wiping the little pearls falling down her cheeks from the corner of her sari. The little one gulped it down. The magic of nimbu pani was working. She drank it all up and wiped her mouth with the back of her smudgy dirty little hand. That is when she noticed the pitcher of water and the other paraphernalia ma had brought along. With questioning eyes she looked up at ma and asked, ‘What is this for?’
‘Hmmm, I thought we’d make some mud dough to build daddy’s favorite doll so you can play with him when he gets home. What do you think?’
The little one’s eyes lit up. Playing in the mud was an activity for special days and allowed only before bath time. Most definitely never on school days. ‘Yes please ma! Let’s!’
The sad was gone, the twinkle back. She looked at the little head working as furiously as her hands to shape up what she thought was the perfect toy for her perfect daddy.
It was the moment; she left the little one absorbed in her thoughts and the task at hand. Smiling, she walked back to watch her from the kitchen window, allowing her girl the space and freedom to be with her father.
Years had passed. The little one not so little anymore, was sitting on the very same steps watching her baby make little distorted animal figures from the mud dough, only this time she knew he would never come back, he was gone from where he would never come back. She felt a lump in her throat as yet again a helpless mother watched her from the kitchen window. Shaking her head, she walked to the counter made a glass of nimbu pani for her girl and walked the slow yet determined steps down to where her girl was sitting, lost in sadness. She wiped her tears from the corner of her sari and handed the glass to her. She smiled, with a twinkle in her eyes, as she gulped down the entire glass in one swig, wiping her mouth with a perfectly manicured hand.
The little one had made a puppy, nanu’s companion, in his afterlife. It looked more a rat, straight out of a horror movie as both the young and the old burst into laughter, making the boy beam from cheek to cheek, fully proud of his achievement. The dog was placed with care next to the little clay doll that still sits proud on the mantelpiece next to daddy’s picture.
It was the moment – the moment just like many others, where a mother held her daughter’s hand, gave her the hope and faith to carry on. A mother does only what a mother can…
You were so I am,
You show what I see,
Without you, nothing there would be…