I woke up with a start. It was 3 a.m. I couldn’t remember the dream or the nightmare, try as I might. There was some sound coming from outside. I walked into the living room and pulled the window blinds.
It was raining heavily. The clothes we had hung only today morning had left the clothesline and fallen to the ground, soiled. My mother’s mango tree was swaying to the wind like an old lady dancing to jazz. Suddenly a strong gust of wind blew a rather big mango leaf towards me and it landed at my window sill, wet and quivering.
I glanced back at Puru in our bed. He was fast asleep. I walked over to the fridge absently. A sip of water? I opened the fridge and there was nothing. Nothing. No water bottles, no leftover food, no fruits or vegetables. Empty fridge. Like new. This was absurd. My fridge never looked like this. We always had to struggle to wiggle in the leftovers every night. Was I still in a dream?
I brought my hand to my face and touched my cheek. It felt cold and stiff. Real. I blinked a few times. I removed my slippers and touched the cold marble floor. Felt the stone. No. Not a dream.
I walked over to the other bedroom where mother was asleep. She never closed her bedroom door. She had her her back to me. I tiptoed in. She stirred. I stopped.
She turned around and without even opening her eyes, said-
“Ma… You aren’t asleep?”
“I was. You woke me up.”
“But I didn’t even make any noise.”
“You didn’t have to.”
She opened her eyes and smiled at me. Her voice came out hoarse.
“Uh-huh. Sorry to have woken you up.”
“It’s okay. I like it when you wake me up.”
I smiled at her, my fragile, dear mother.
“I always love you. You know that right?”
Our eyes met. I suddenly had a memory of when I was only 4 or 5 years old. And on a particular day, I had angrily stomped my feet and told her my friend Sharu’s mother was ‘much, much, much better than her’. I didn’t remember why I had said that, but it had brought about a glint of tear in her eyes. She had quickly turned away and hid it. But I had seen it. I had said sorry, but what was said had been said. I couldn’t take it back. I just remembered it. And just like that, in this moment tonight, she read it in my eyes, how sorry I was and how I loved her deeply. There were no more words needed. She really understood.
She touched my hand lightly.
“I will go back to sleep now”, she said.
I walked back to my room, got in my bed and was fast asleep in no time.
Next morning, Puru woke me up. It was already 9. I had overslept.
“You seemed so peaceful in your sleep, I didn’t feel like waking you up sooner.”
I sat up and stretched leisurely. I did feel well-rested. Puru went to the kitchen and called out.
“I am making you a strong coffee and a nice egg-toast.”
“Thank you! Is Mamma up?” I shouted back.
Puru came back in immediately.
“Did you say Mamma? Are you missing her, Anya?”
Puru sat next to me and looked at the picture of Mamma next to my bedside. It came to me. Mamma was no more. She had died 3 months ago.
“Sorry, I guess I dreamt about her…”
But I was not convinced. It had not felt like a dream. I walked out to the living room and saw Puru take eggs out of the fridge. The same fridge that had been empty last night. Okay, fine.
“So there was no rain last night too, right?” I said looking at the drawn curtains.
“It’s sunny and a 39 degrees.” Puru replied, looking a little worried.
I pulled the window blinds. Everything outside was bone-dry. All our clothes were fresh and dried, still hung neatly on the clothesline. No sign of a drizzle, let alone heavy rain.
“It was a dream.” I murmured to myself.
I was about to close the curtains when something caught my eye.
A mango leaf was on my window sill. Stuck to the paint. Still wet. As if it had landed there only last night.