“Aashimadi, uff ektu fan ta on kore jao…”
[Aashimadi, please turn on the fan…]
I grumbled. I was still on my cozy bed.
She rushed into my room and turned on the fan and then continued sweeping other rooms.
This is how Aashima started her day. She came to my apartment before three other houses. She has been working for me for two years already. She is one of the most regular and punctual working women I have seen in my life.
Aashima has a daughter who is in eighth standard. Her husband sells vegetables everyday on the footpath near the bus stand. He smiles and salutes me every day when I go for work.
Radhu, her daughter would sometimes come and sit on the floor in the balcony and wait for her mom to finish. If I woke up early, she would get the chance to watch the news and the music channels on TV along with me.
Despite their poverty stricken household I have never seen Aashima frown or even a tinge of sadness on her face. She manages to send her daughter to a good school and for tuitions in the colony. Apart from that, Radhu is taking dance lessons.
“What do you want to become when you grow up?” I once asked Radhu.
“I want to be a doctor.” She smiled wryly.
“Ami toh boli engineering korte.” [I say to her she should do engineering]
Aashima said from the kitchen still cleaning the dishes.
“Keno dactari te ki oshobhida?”
[What’s the problem with being doctor?]
I replied loud enough so that Aashima can hear from the kitchen.
“dactari korte onek somaye laagey. Toto dine or biye hoye jaabe.”
[It takes a lot of time to finish MBBS. By that time she would get married and have a family.]
Radhu blushed almost instantly.
We never talked about that ever again.
Five years later…
“Abhida, tumi eshe gecho?” Radhu got up from her place and came near me. She tried to touch my feet. I had to stop her half way and blessed her. She looked beautiful in her red sari. She looked pretty grown up with all the makeup and jewelry. I gave her the gift I had in my hand and went to see Aashima. She looked different. She was no longer the Aashima I knew from before. Things had changed when I had shifted to another city because of work. But despite everything she had managed to send an invitation card of her daughter’s wedding.
“Kemon acho Aashimadi?” [How are you Aashimadi?]
I asked her. She was managing thousands of things singlehandedly. She calmed down for a moment when she saw me.
She put her hand on my head and then on my chest and said, “Khawa dhawa thik kore hocche na bujhi?”
[You are not eating properly nowadays I guess?]
“Ami thik achi! Hotat biye?” [I am okay! Marriage all of a sudden?]
We both looked at Radhu. She was smiling.
“Chele ta khub bhalo. Ar chaarte parlam na…”
[The groom is a good man. Couldn’t refuse the proposal.]
She wiped her eyes with her sari. I could understand her problem.
“Or ar dactari pora holo na…” [Her dream of becoming a doctor remained unfulfilled…]
I could sense a feeling of regret in her voice. She couldn’t help but sob silently.
After all she is a mother…
*dedicated to all mothers around the world