Lost In the Silence
“My mother works so hard for me. She is the strongest person I’ve ever known and she’ll always be my inspiration,” she exhaled as she ended her speech for the competition.
As she walked back home from school she realized how smooth her to lie to the world had become. Then again, what she always iterated to people about her mother was never more nor less than the truth. At the back of Gina’s mind she nursed a guilt for praising her mother in public. Her knocked at the door of the house was received by the help who reached out for her backpack. Her mother was seated comfortably in the living room before the television screen.
“How was school?” her mother asked not once looking away from the screen.
“Um… it was okay,” was all she could mutter not bothering to tell her about the Speech Competition. She mused that neither this regular question nor its predictable reply had undergone any variation over the years. She never bothered to tell her mother of all the competitions in school she had participated in and the fact that she had won most of them. Locking herself in her room she showered and changed into a fresh pair of clothes. At the dining table she sighed as she found herself seated alone for lunch while the help served her with a smile that never failed to appear on her face. She had been with Gina and her mother since Gina was five. After the quiet lunch, she withdrew to her room closing the door behind her. The house remained quiet at all times except for the voices that came through the television which was turned down to the lowest audible volume and the whipping sound of the tired ceiling fan.
Lying on the bed she plugged in her earphones from which she was gradually becoming inseparable and checked her phone which was flooded with messages from her friends. Her friends, the only people around whom she could never be quiet always brought her reasons to smile. Gina an introvert my nature seemed to transform amongst her friends. Around them she was always the wildest, the goofiest and the one who laughed the loudest keeping the pack together. In the company of her mother though, she was a completely different person.
Surrounded by the four walls of her room and enclosed by the deafening silence, Gina developed an elemental dislike for the house she lived in and all its occupants. The absence of a person at home with whom she could talk of the mundane if not more, gnawed at her. She hated the fact that her mother had hardly been around in her growing up days. The days when she was, her own exhaustion had deprived her daughter of her company. Through the years the distance grew between the two grew to isolate both in a world which brooked no conversations and thus Gina’s achievements and failures lived with her in the silence of her room.
Unaware of the feelings that Gina repressed within herself, her mother threw in casual disapprovals of what it seemed to her as Gina’s busy social like that kept her from making more than an offhand conversation with her. Gina’s festering frustration and anger often turned to raging outbursts that sent both into a tattered mess of tears and misery.
Unable to bear the tension in the house Gina demanded that she be sent to a boarding school to which her mother hesitated initially but gave in eventually. Contented with the idea of change Gina set foot into a new environment leaving behind her old life and her old friends. People change with time, so did Gina. She was allowed to call home every two weeks and as the days went by she realized she had started to open up a little to her mother. The hectic schedules and the many tasks kept her occupied. More importantly they kept her away from thoughts which tended to drag her into the familiar walls of depression she had left behind. While she strove to create a niche for herself in her new school, she continued to remain elusive of the person hidden within her.
That day as she sat down to study she drifted off into her train of thoughts. The music that flowed through her earphones started off with a soft hum. Simultaneously her thoughts drifted into a memory from two years ago. A figure of a man came into appearance. As the music in her ears built up the scene in her head shifted to a couple of montages where she saw the man and her mother together, laughing and embracing each other. The man however was not her father. As the scenes shifted, the music in her ears rose to a crescendo that matched the pace of her heartbeat. She didn’t realize that her eyes had started to brim with tears so she broke off from the milieu of her thoughts and let her heartbeats quieten to the rhythm of the music.
School broke for holidays as it must and she seemed to be the only one who met it with very little enthusiasm. The journey with her mother back to their home was covered in the familiar silence.
Immediately on reaching home Gina sought the refuge of her room. That night as she turned on the shower she stared at her bare back in the mirror. The bruises had long faded yet the pain of the memory remained. She was glad he left. At dinner that night, Gina and her mother ate in silence. Some things perhaps were never destined to change.
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© 2017 Deirdre Basumatary