This is a rough translation of a story I read in a Tamil magazine and I’ve tried to stick to the story as far as possible. Since I did not have a copy of the story, I may have missed a few points. This story impressed a colleague so much that she asked for a translation to circulate among members of a mahila samity to set them thinking about it. I too tried to ask myself the question raised by my friend. Do children make one forget one’s duty towards parents or do our priorities change? Is it a natural phenomenon? Well, I must admit that I did not like the answers my ‘head’ gave me and found solace in the excuses offered by my heart. I leave the onus on my readers and request them to give me their true opinion.
Gayatri had just finished her work and was about to sit down with a book when the telephone rang.
‘Could it be Mayura?’ she wondered. The very next moment she remembered that it must be around midnight in America and Mayura wouldn’t be calling her at that time. Mayura was her daughter married and living with her husband and children in the United States. The phone call was from a friend of hers asking whether she was free to accompany her to the market. She was in no mood to go and politely refused citing an imaginary headache as an excuse.
Continuing to remember her daughter, Gayatri recalled the initial years that followed Mayura’s marriage. Phone calls were regular and letters had been frequent. Letters had now almost stopped except for the occasional e-mail and e-greetings. She remembered how she had pestered her husband to teach her to use the computer to be able to access her mail. The phone calls were more regular but this time it appeared as if it was it was unusually long since Mayura had called.
‘When was it that Mayura had last called?’ Gayatri wondered. ‘ Oh, yes’ she recalled. ‘ It was on Diwali day. Nearly a month ago. Twenty eight days to be precise.’ She normally rang up once a week or at least once in ten days. While the children kept her busy, her husband was worse than a child and depended on Mayura for every little thing. ‘The poor girl is over worked.’ She thought.
She wondered if the children were okay. It was wintertime and they were prone to cold and throat infection. She remembered that her son in law had plans to go to Germany on an official trip after Diwali. Mayura might be managing every thing on her own. However hard she tried Gayatri could not get Mayura off her mind. She continued to worry about her daughter when she spotted the postman at the gate thrusting something into the letterbox.
‘ Might be an invitation or greeting card’ She thought. ‘Who bothers to write these days?’
She nevertheless went to get the letter. It was from her seventy five year old mother written on a postcard.
‘ Dear Gayatri,’ the letter said, ‘ long since you wrote. I hope all is well with you. I keep worrying about your welfare. I hope Mayura is fine. When is she coming to India? How is your husband?’ and so the letter went on.