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The Japanese Pink Umbrella

Jusmi is an English teacher. Obtained her Masters in English literature from Gauhati University India shares an immense love for writing.

Jonita walked inside the old dusty room with heavy legs. She wondered if she is feeling heavy because of her shoes or is it the mental pain that is becoming unbearable for her. It’s been almost ten days now since her mother met with her untimely demise. But she was somehow not able to deal with it. She refused to come in terms with the loss. She wanted to erase it off from her life. It was not that she was very attached to her mother. But, as soon she entered the small dusted storeroom she started feeling pain both in her stomach and the chest. It was like something was burning terribly inside her innards.

As a child, she was always very fond of her father. On her school annual days and other sports events, she would always demand that her father should accompany her. She was hardly bothered if her mother attended it or not. Now being a mother herself she kept thinking why did she distance herself from her mother at such a young age. What was the reason? Was it because her mother was always so busy with her work and hardly had any time for her or was it because she never had the time to sit beside her mother and speak a few words.

Days glided on and when Jonita entered her teens the distance increased more paving a huge gap between their relationship. Even if her mother tried approaching her she displayed a rather cold attitude. On one such occasion when her mother wanted to invite her friends at home to celebrate her sixteenth birthday she flatly refused to say she does not want to celebrate her birthday as it’s nothing to cherish for. She still remembers her mother’s face. It turned white as a sheet but all she said was a simple “Ok”.

She was dragged to the present by the calling bell which was ringing for the third time now. She wondered who might have come now. Jonita was not in a mood to enter into a conversation right now. But, there was no option she had to at least check who is it for the sake of courtesy. It might be someone from the neighbourhood looking for some kind of help.

She adjusted her dress and hair looked at the mirror and went to answer the door. From the security hole, she saw a middle-aged lady in a white lucknowi kurta and silver hair. Jonita smiled and felt she looked like the female version of Santa Claus.

She went ahead and said, “ Yes, how can I help you, ma’am?” The old lady smiled and said, “ Are you Jonita, dear? You have grown up so much. How are Vineet and the kids? Have they also come with you.” Jonita was quiet for a moment and then she replied, “ Well, no they haven’t come. It’s not too safe to bring them here because of this pandemic. I came alone”. Measuring the unfamiliar look on Jonita’s face the lady said, “ Jony beta are you not able to recognise me? I am Binu aunty. Your mother’s best friend and colleague. Binita Pradhan. Now, do you remember me?” Jonita tried hard to remember but she couldn’t. Somehow hiding her doubts and confusions she called Mrs Pradhan inside and offered her to take a seat and a glass of water. Sitting beside her Jonita said, “ Yes, aunty I can remember you. How are you? Hope everything is fine at your end. I am glad to see you after such a long time.” Sipping the glass of water Mrs Pradhan replied, “ I am doing just fine. But, I was a kind of devasted to know about Roshni, your mother. She was such a gem of a person. I can understand what you must be going through. But, beta you need to hold on and keep patience. The bad time will pass.” Jonita nodded, “ Yes, life has to go on. Nothing is in our hands. After papa's death, I am not scared anymore. Death doesn’t get a upper hand of me”. Mrs. Pradhan looked straight into her eyes and said, “ Why do you hate your mother so much. She loved you dearly. Perhaps more than anything else in the world. But I cannot see anything for her in your eyes. What’s wrong”? Avoiding the question Jonita straight away said, “ Nothing. Even if something is there its between me and mom. So, I would definitely not like to share. Thanks for coming and kindly if you can leave it would be really appreciated.” Mrs Pradhan replied, “ Sure, dear I was almost leaving. But before going I wanted to give you this. This is the reason I came for. I had to do this for Roshni. Hope you find the time to check this out now. Remember when she got you this gift and you hardly bothered to accept it. She was heart broken and left this gift to me saying that i better throw it or do whatever I want. But I decided to keep it hoping someday it would help you both." Saying so she kept a box wrapped in golden gift paper and an envelope on the sofa and left.

Ten minutes went by Jonita kept staring at the gift and the envelope wondering what it might be. Gathering courage she opened the envelope slowly. Out came a small note. The paper on which it was written had turned yellow and dusty. It was from her mother and it read,

“ Dearest daughter Jony. Wishing you a very ,very happy fifth birthday. You remember that Japanese pink umbrella which you wanted so bad and I refused you and you were so mad at me. That I did only because I wanted to gift it on your birthday as a surprise. Please open the box. Hope you like it.

Love Mom”

Tears welled up in both her eyes. Slowly she opened the box. There was the Japanese pink umbrella which she wanted as a child. Also, along with it there was a sliver pendant and a chain. She remembered everything now crystal clear how things turned sour between her and her mother because of that ordinary umbrella. She remembered now how that small incident created so much of difference between them. Which slowly with time created huge distance between them and there was no bridge for them to connect again. But now she understood her mistake. Every time her mother tried saying something to her she would hardly care. She never had the time to listen and clarify. Hugging the letter closely to her bosom all she could say was, “ Mamma, please forgive me. I love you”. Saying so she wept bitterly but with an empty heart. She felt relieved of the load she had burden all her life till today.

© 2021 Jusmi Saikia