Friday, July 19, 2013

UBC day 19- Ground Zero- part 2

read part 1 here.

Two months had rolled by without any news of their daughter.

“Suni, I got a call from Sawanpur,” said  Kunal one day.

“They found Komal?” she asked eyes brimming with hope.

“No Suni, They asked if we would volunteer to help rehabilitate the villagers. Being a doctor, I couldn’t refuse. Would you like to come with me?”

“Of course, maybe we can search for Komal again.”

He didn’t know what to tell her. A mother’s heart could never accept that her child was no more.

They reached Sawanpur by the army helicopters as the roads had been completely washed away.Temporary tents had been erected at various places .They had been devastated to see how flat the whole place looked. No sign of the hotel they had lived in.

There was nothing in that place. It seemed like there was never anything in that place. Sunita’s eyes welled up again thinking about Komal. She could not bear to think how the heavy walls must have weighed themselves on her child’s delicate body.

She walked to the ground, sat on it and cried for some more time. She knew she had to accept that she had lost Komal forever. Maybe, acceptance would give her some closure. The hotel was above a small hillock and she saw some flowers growing by the slopes. She gathered herself and walked to the edge, to pluck some flowers and lay it on the place where she had lost her daughter. That's was the only goodbye she could afford to give her child.

Eyes still blurred with tears, she knelt to pluck the flowers. That was when she noticed a small shanty down the hillock. A woman was trying to light a stove made of wood while a little girl played nearby. She stood watching the child, as if it were her own. She couldn’t see their faces clearly as it was several feet down. But she could still feel the mother-child bond that she saw between them. She watched the mother feed and then lull her child to sleep.

As she walked back to their tent, she could not stop thinking about them. Each day after Kunal left for the medical camp, she would unwittingly find herself being carried to the hillock to see the duo. Every day, the little girl would chop some wood from the nearby shrubs using a small pickaxe and bundle it in a neat pile. 

She was amazed at the precision with which the girl chopped the wood, sorted out the dry and wet ones and bundled it neatly. There was a rhythm to the chopping; it almost felt like a song. She also wondered what kind of woman would let a child handle a pickaxe by herself. 

She, for one, had never let Komal even touch the kitchen knife. But, C’est la vie, she told herself,….such was life!

Then she would carry it over her head and bring it to her mother. Her mother would use it to cook food, while the little girl tottered around carrying pots of water from a stream nearby.

“What a difficult life for a 6 year old,” she thought. Her child had never had the need to as much as lift a finger. She would happily dote around Komal all day long, attending to her every need.  

The mother would then lead her child to the stream and give her a bath. The child seemed to like splashing around in the water. 

Sunita smiled. Komal had loved splashing in the water too. She would break into an impromptu dance in the tub, splashing water everywhere! 

 Then she would feed the child ever so lovingly. The child would always eat in silence.

Komal had been quite the prankster. To get her to eat a morsel of food had been so difficult. She would jump all around the place, refusing to open her mouth till Sunita told her a story

And then the mother would pat the child to sleep. Perhaps she sang her a song, her pats felt rhythmic. 

Komal had loved the lullabies that Sunita sang for her. Her favorite had been a Krishna-Yashodha song that she would ask to be sung everyday. 

 This girl was so much like Komal. But maybe all little girls were like that, she told herself, not wanting to get emotionally attached.

                                                        ******to be cont*******

Read concluding part here

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