Anisha Bhaduri’s story with its tender narrative from a child’s perspective is a heart-warming tale of parenthood, a mother’s love, and growing up from a child’s perspective.
Rafin watched his mother sour a little every day. Her laughter still made him gurgle as it used to and her eyes warmed a hole in his middle. His mother’s touch told him a lot more than her silences, even the long, brittle ones that invaded occasionally.
Sometimes, he would watch other children playing from his window. Often, he would even watch the window from his bed: the long, almost floor-length bars and louvres that gracefully opened to the outer world. When it rained hard, the spray would dampen his bed on the side Rafin must lean on to stretch his leg, to press his right foot on the floor to leverage the left. On good days, he could almost do it ~ hang his legs down the side of the bed and scramble for support before he remembered to call out for Kamala.
But some days, his mother would wonderfully materialise.
Even a few months ago, Rafin would hold out his arms and his mother would always pick him up to carry him to the veranda, to her room, to the kitchen – wherever he wanted to go. He merely had to point and purse his lips and his mother would angle her head, her beautiful mouth shining, her eyes serene. Rafin would stop breathing then and even forget to think about his father. He usually thought about him a lot. And he could never forget the holiday in Puri.
The overnight journey from Howrah station was his first on a train. Rafin’s parents had chatted easily from parallel bunks as the sleeper swayed on its wheels. His mother had patted him to sleep to the rhythm of the ride.
When he first saw the sea, sitting on his mother’s lap as a cycle-rickshaw painstakingly ferried them to the hotel, Rafin had thought the sky was leaking. “Look, Ma, it really is,” he had pressed a palm on his mother’s cheek to make her see it his way. “A leaky sky, that’s right. Yes, it is.” His mother had thrown back her head and laughed and his father had smiled quietly.