FOR US ALL..
We were close to each other, all of us, and we needed no substitute to fill in for anyone. We fought, cried and laughed together and enjoyed every bit of it. At that time we had no critical bearings on the existence of God and the only person we could trust was the person next to us.
We had blind faith in each other. I remember there were times when we would sit in a circle, huddled together, and feel so secure. These were the moments when we talked about our little secrets, about home, about our parents and you would be surprised to hear that we actually commented on life! And our perception of the same was a lot clearer than it is now. We had our own inferences of incidents and they were extremely simple.
On one such occasion, we were huddled together and everyone was in a sad mood. One of us had lost his mother. He had been home for the funeral and was now back in school. The monsoon season had begun and it had rained heavily in the morning and throughout the afternoon. It was after tea time that we had come together as the playing fields were wet and ‘games’ for the evening were called off. It had just stopped raining and one could see patches of blue from between the clouds. We had opened the window to let the fresh air in and there, underneath it, we sat on a bed discussing ‘Death’.
He told us that god had taken away his mother because he needed her help as there were many children in heaven who were in need of a good teacher [his mother was a teacher]. We all agreed with it and one of us even asked the name of the school where she might be teaching now. ‘That God will decide,’ was the reply. Suddenly, the whole concept of death became so honourable because then one could be closer to God, almost on personal terms. Even though he was sad, he was a little boastful.
‘When will you go there?’ someone asked. He said that his father has told him that mummy will first see the place and then call them there. ‘So you will meet her again!’ Someone said. ‘Yes, I will,’ he replied. ‘Then why do you cry?’ One of us asked. He paused for a while and said, ‘it will take some time.’
A long silence followed this conversation as we all knew what it was like to wait for someone. We were used to ‘waiting’. We did it every day. We huddled even closer, supporting each other and still felt weak.
From the window we could see the clouds form again. One of these had a peculiar shape and suddenly someone shouted, ‘look, it is your mother, she is saying goodbye!’ All of us turned to where he pointed. It was a cloud in the shape of a human form. We looked at it in wonder and invariably started to wave at it. Slowly it mingled with the other clouds and then there was lightening followed by thunder. It was loud and clear and we all felt her pain and anguish at having to leave her son behind.
It started to rain. ‘She is crying,’ said someone, but then who wasn’t? We all gathered around the window with tears rolling down our cheeks and rain beating our faces. Her tears washed our tears. Even in her going she consoled us and we clung onto each other, never to let go or loosen the grip.
We at the age of five knew what clouds are made up of. It is a pity most of you still believe that it is water vapour. ARUN MARTIN CHAUHAN L ‘98