Raman was the lone son of his mother. His father was quite alive and kicking and active. But he wantonly denied his financial support to the family. His actions carried negative effects. When in the morning he was asked to bring stuff for cooking food, in the evening he would come duly equipped with some cheap quality alcohol. Not a single day passed without the peaceful atmosphere at home being shattered with ruckus arguments. A daily avalanche of vituperation occurred between him and his wife. Persuasive efforts to bring him to the right path proved futile and his obstinacy not to improve resulted in disastrous financial consequences for the family. The entire responsibility of running the household thus naturally fell on Raman’s mother, Shanti. While she felt helpless, a powerless anger simmered in the son.
The unfavourable circumstances compelled Shanti to learn tailoring and then start sewing new clothes and repairing the old ones while staying at home. Over a period of time with these brave efforts, the life became somewhat tolerable. A sign of large contentment prevailed in the house.
Shanti along with her family was staying with her mother in the city. She had no shelter of her own. Her stay with her mother also provided the latter some relief which is generally needed when the old age rages over us.
Their dwelling was quite modest consisting of two small rooms with a makeshift bath room. Unless there was an advance warning, it was quite easy for others to set their sight on the one having a bath. One day it so happened that while his mother was bathing, Raman saw her back and then noticed that the surface of her hips had turned quite black. For him it was quite surprising. He knew that there was nothing of the sort respecting the male folks. He had no guts to find out reason for this from his mother. He was too shy to ascertain the cause for such a sight from somebody else. Ultimately he took courage and spoke to his Nanny (mother’s mother) to clear his anxiety. She listened to him intently during which Raman looked at her and noticed tears were brimming in her eyes.
“These black spots indicate the extent of hard work that your mother puts in every day to earn a livelihood to run the house. This is result of her constant sitting. At the end of the day, she is completely tired”.
Leaving her alone, Raman went to the roof to spend some time in seclusion. He thought over various options to provide some relief to his mother. At this time he was in his fifth grade in the school.
One day at the end of her daily routines, Shanti had hardly closed her eyes while lying on bed. Raman went to her bed, sat near her feet and started massaging her legs, arms, feet, hands, etc.. Being dark in the room, she enquired who was there.
“Raman”, he said with a covertly triumphant voice.
“What are you doing?”
“Nothing, just providing you some relief from the day’s tiredness”.
“Leave me and go and study”.
“My studies will not be harmed if I spend just ten minutes with you”.
Shanti sat up and kissed Raman. “Who told you to do this?’
“When you are doing so much for me, cannot I be of some relief to you? Please do not stop me. Let me also sleep at the end of the day with the satisfaction that I have done something useful”.
“All right”, Shanti said.
A flood of pride rose in him and a solemn glee possessed his mind.
At this point, Raman realized that he should have done this earlier so that her mother could have slept deep sleep every night.
Raman continued this service to her mother till he completed his tenth standard school. But he was still not satisfied.
After a few months of relieving her mother’s tiredness, Raman thought to himself. “Mother needs something more. How to provide her financial support so that she becomes independent and does not have to look at others whenever there is an even small slightest additional burden on her savings. There is no job for me; nor will anybody give him one. Nor will she allow me to do any extra work to earn something in order to supplement her income.”
When all openings had been considered and all possibilities explored, he had even stopped thinking in this direction. Several times he mustered courage to ascertain from those who ran big show rooms if they could provide him some part-time job. But he did not play with this idea further. Such employment might come to her notice and also he could not spare 4-5 hours daily at the cost of his studies. Circumstances had rendered him a crop of disappointments. At this stage a great pang gripped his heart. He felt as if he was incapable for doing anything for his mother.
It was just a coincidence. One day he was returning from School. He saw a young boy like his built gathering some small and big packets that were scattered on the road side because a running man collided with his bundle and things got apart. He immediately extended his helping hand to keep these packets together. Raman enquired and he was briefly told what all this was. Raman noted down his address. He met him next day at his house.
Raman got a job! He was very happy. He had to work hardly for two hours daily and earn some money. These small packets were for registration at the post office. He was doubly happy that her mother would not know about this. On occasions Raman found his income was slightly more than his mother’s. He would keep his earnings to himself for a week and then at its end, when his mother would go to a local temple, would open the big tin box and mingle his earnings with those kept by her mother. This did not give any impression that somebody had played with the box. But at the end of week she often realized that the total had increased and that it was just not her only earnings. She now started thinking in a puzzled manner and got no answer. On one occasion, Shanti even spoke about this riddle to her sister. She dismissed her anxiety saying it seemed that she had either started earning more or was always wrong at totaling.
Raman left several years behind and was now working in an office. His zeal to progress in life got a push because of the inspiration provided by her mother. He believed that the day is not far off when he would get promotions. For him mother’s blessings were always greater than God’s kindness.
Shanti was fortunate that in the marriage of Raman she got a daughter-n-law who served her with utmost care and respect. All the relations declared in unison that Shanti was reaping the seeds she sowed with affection and hard work. With the permission of Raman the daughter-in-law decided that there would be no more tailoring works at home. These seeds had flowered into beautiful and peaceful days and nights for Shanti.
In the meantime Shanti’s husband had left home and gone somewhere, never to return.
Old age had all ready started affecting Shanti’s health. Her frequent illness had become a cause of worry but with the reasonable medical aid having been provided, the final outcome was left to the hands of God.