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Adventure Desi Fiction

The sweet scent of lilacs drifted towards the mother and daughter, as they made their way around the nursing home gardens. Mrs. D’ Souza in a wheelchair, swaddled in a blanket, and Angela behind her, pushing in the direction of the river.

The garden was littered with forget-me-not and bright daffodils peeked from thick shrubs like mini rays of sunshine. Birds chirped and rustled the branches in the trees above, building nests out of twigs and dried leaves. A warm breeze caressed them as they travelled along the gravel path. Angela looked up at the blue sky dotted with cotton clouds. Her face glowed with happiness and excitement. It was such a beautiful place for her mother.

As they approached the river, they heard the sound of the gurgling stream as it flowed under the bridge. A determined, little brook rushing merrily towards its destiny without any doubts or misgivings. Angela noticed a young bud struggling through the wet, brown leaves towards sunlight.

“Look ma! It’s a Crocus.”

A butterfly hovered over her head and Mrs. D’ Souza followed its flight with envy, her weak eyes could barely make out the tender green of the plant.

“It‘s not a Crocus.” She snapped, irritated by the bees buzzing around her. “I am cold and hungry.” Her raspy voice pierced Angela’s enthusiasm and cracked it like a whip into million pieces. She stammered.

“I am so sorry, ma. Shall we head back to the nursing home?”

“No! I want to go back to my home in Richmond Hill.”

She argued like a petulant child and struggled to free herself from the heavy blanket that trapped her arms. She insisted on going back to her beautiful home, her bedroom overlooking the lakes and mountains. She missed her Mercedes, the young chauffeur, the drive around the old neighbourhood - the spicy Indian food.

Angela sighed, her resolve deflating like an old balloon abandoned in the children’s playground. She glanced at her mother’s stern face, the skimpy, grey hair and the deep folds in her cheeks. There were dark circles under her eyes. Mother fretted and demanded a lot from her. At 83, she had survived two husbands and two strokes, paralyzed from the waist down and an unwilling occupant of the wheelchair. Incapable of looking after herself, she relied heavily on her daughter,Angela who had taken her home, but mother was overbearing and intrusive.

She criticized her cooking, raising her kids and referred to her husband as “Him”-the couch potato. Robert loved to relax in front of the TV with a cold beer but mother had an issue with that! She took over the remote control. Without his evening entertainment, Robert had resorted silent treatment and eyeing the neighbour’s beautiful wife. His resentful looks burnt into the back of her head. Her kids never showed up for supper anymore. With growing apprehension Angela watched her family crumble like an old biscuit; her privacy evaporating into thin air. To make matters worse, her position as a manager at Walmart left her exhausted and edgy. She felt that something was about to snap inside her.

She couldn’t allow her mother to destroy her marriage, her children and her goals towards self-empowerment. Raised by a domineering parent and a constant nag, Angela’s self -esteem had shrunk to the size of a dried pea. She had finally mustered up enough courage to embark on a path of self-discovery - when mother arrived.

A silent rebellion brewed inside her. Her love and sympathy had slowly eroded- the warm blanket of compassion had started to fray at the edges. Nursing home was the best place for her. Her voice trembled as she spoke.

“But we sold the home, remember?” She tried to jog her mother’s faded memory, five years back to the day when the house was sold, the servants left and the chauffeur disappeared. The day she moved in and caused havoc in their peaceful existence.

Mrs. D’ Souza stared at her daughter’s impassive face and remarked.

“Indian people don’t dump their parents into nursing homes.”

Angela watched the gentle flow of the water as it skimmed over the smooth rocks underneath. She hesitated and then pleaded.

“You will love it here, ma. People are very friendly and kind.” She struggled with the wheelchair as she tried to maneuver it back to the home.

Mrs. D’ Souza shook her head vehemently, her eyes shining with fury she continued.

“I hate it here! The staff is rude and ignorant. The food is bland.” and she made a face.

She missed her spicy dal and mango pickle. Afflicted with paranoia and superstition from birth, she continued.

“They might steal my gold bangles and murder me in bed!”

Angela’s face flushed with guilt and to ease her conscience she added.

“I will bring the achar for you, every Sunday.”

Somewhat pacified Mrs. D’Souza grew silent as they approached the front entrance of the building. They entered the cosy lounge, with its fake fireplace and an aquarium in which goldfish darted through mysterious castles and caves. Beside it on a small table, was a blue vase filled with a fresh bouquet of hyacinth from the garden. It’s heady perfume filled the room. In the dining room the crystal glasses glittered and clinked as the residents settled down for their early supper. They heard laughter from the games room. Someone had won the first prize at bingo- Mrs. D’ Souza’s favourite pastime. Her eyes lit up with excitement and she waved her arms, pointing in that direction.

“Take me there.” She demanded. Her face glowed with happiness at the prospect of winning. She wheeled her chair closer to Akash, a well- preserved, attractive man from India, fluttered her eyelashes and asked in a voice dripping with honey.

“What’s for supper?”

“Curry and biryani. It’s the Indian theme tonight!”

Angela couldn’t believe the vision before her. Vixen turned angel. Her mother laughing, joking, playing cards and flirting. She leaned over and whispered.

“Ma, will you be OK here?”

Her mother smiled and kissed her on the cheek and waved goodbye.

Angela walked over to the door, her steps lighter, slightly drunk as the heady perfume of the hyacinth engulfed her.

March 24, 2021 13:53

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2 comments

Rachel Loughran
01:51 Mar 28, 2021

This was a great story! My grandfather was Indian and there were certainly aspects of this story I recognised from family experience - certain attitudes and expectations - it all rang very true to me and I loved the outcome for the character! Great work!

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Prafulla Vyas
16:57 Mar 30, 2021

Thank you Rachel. I am glad you like it and could relate to some aspect of it. Thanks again.

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