She stood there everyday. Everyday for hours. The stairs watched her wait. The stairs watched her go back. Each day she waited with those shivering fingers on the support stick and each day she went back for the next day to arrive. People asked her to go to her room. She stayed there still. Everytime they told her that she need not worry, they ll inform her if any visitor would come. She overlooked their emboldening and said ,”He said to wait here. He ll come to meet me”. Amongst the people who were living exactly like she was,hope had survived its way out at its best like she had survived the bad miseries of her life.
Where she stood everyday waiting was the first floor of “Vridhaashay Old age Home”. This woman was a seventy eight year old bent and happiness deprived creature who was never deprived of hoping. Harassed by her mother in law when she was young, mocked at by ladies of her colony when she couldn’t produce a child for years after marriage and when she did give birth to Saar, her beloved son, he became the world of happiness for her. Her miseries had no end, her paths were too bent, her skin had seen so much but still prayers for Saar’s goodness were everyday to the God she sent.
An unlucky widow of a gentleman who went away to abode heaven giving the last of his blood drops to his nation. Aasha Rastogi, wife of late Honorable Major Anand Rastogi,was living in a small room of Vridhaashay Old age Home in Delhi. The woman who became a widow in just early forties and who nurtured her world, her boy Saar amidst all problems she faced being alone in her journey was left cruelly alone like the same in her old age when she needed nurturing, when she needed love. Saar, her son was an NRI. She had put all the funds she received after her husbands death in providing best education to her son.
Of course she did, but lamenting on the fact that he couldn’t nurture his morals. He couldnt educate himself morally and left his mother behind the doors of this old age house when she needed the tenderness and love she deserved for devoting her entire life in him. She had not remarried despite the facts that she was young when she became a widow and was also proposed for marriage by a college mate of hers who had fallen for her dedication and love as a single mother. She grew old. She grew pale, weak and bent serving her child. Tortured by her daughter in law who treated her like some dirt in the kitchen ,but whenever Aasha raised hands it was only to bless them.
She loved her granddaughter but was kept aloof from her too by her London return daughter in law for whom she was nothing more than a nuisance. She always wanted to get rid of her and eventually she did. Holding his mother’s hands for the last time, he dropped her at the last stair of the old age home. The very same one where she waited for him each day. All she remembered was his last words “Ma,stay here happily.I ll come to meet you everyday here at this spot before going to office”. But neither that day came, nor her son returned. She wrote to him regularly in hopes of seeing him and her little Amaaya, her princess granddaughter again.
Another day she was back from her usual waiting thing, she took out a paper with her shaking hands from under her pillow. This was another of the letters she was writing for him and was determined to complete.
Ma is sending her blessings full of love through this letter. M sorry beta if you dont understand my handwriting, your Mimmi has turned seventy eight this year. She is in the last phase of her life. I don’t know whether i ll be see you before i close my eyes or not. I miss you and Amaaya a lot. Tomorrow is her birthday,give her wishes from her Dadi. I wait for you beta at the same place where you had asked me to meet. Everyday i go out of my room unaware of the day and its challenges i would face but waiting for you is the biggest strength i have. It has made me deal with my arthritic pain. I have adapted it well to stand for my Saar everyday. This room here is too lonely beta and i miss Amaaya’s voice around me. The way she curled her hands around me all day. How is Shaana? I hope she is well and happy with you. Give her all the happiness beta. But never forget to take out time for once to meet your Mimmi..
You ll find me standing on the staircase of the first floor every morning.I will not take much of your time.
Mimmi was how Saar used to call her mum in his younger days. She longed to hear it once more. Hopeful again,she happily gave the letter to the teen boy she regularly handed her letters to post. A smile landed on her wrinkled cracked lips thinking may be this time there will be visitors for her. This hopeful attribute was every time she gave her letters to be posted.
Days passed,Aasha continued to wait inevitably at the staircase in excitement and hope but each day despair kissed her thoughts. She smiled and cried watching other old ones like her being visited by their children. This made her heart long for her son more. To see him before she die. This was all she wanted. The staircase had footsteps of all visitors for the other residents but it kept silent for old and bent Aasha.
One day she stood peeping the footsteps in the morning again. Again she stood there in apprehensions. Yes there were two pairs of feet that were slowly urging towards her. It was an old man with a young man in his forties holding a paper in his hand.
It was not Saar.But they were there for Aasha.
“Aasha?…oh you look beautiful still..”,an old voice serenaded Aasha’s ear.
She tried to recognise with her weakened and high powered spectacles eyes.She saw a familiar face.
“Ajeet…”,she said smiling.”Oh..this is..your son.?.”
“Yes..My son Veer”,Ajeet introduced the old lady to the young man.The man touched her feet and kissed her hands.This made move to tears.
“Your wife has brought him up so well..God bless you child..”
Ajeet smiled and said,”I did not marry Aasha. I adopted Veer who became my world and he took care of me more than my own son could have. I did not fall in love again Aasha. I still love that independent lady i had proposed.”
The lady Ajeet was talking was Aasha herself. Ajeet was the man who wanted Aasha to remarry and had proposed her after her husband’s death.
“I wanted to meet you since long. I went to your house but got to know your son shifted to London two years ago and that you are here since five years.These letters you wrote to Saar were bathing in dirt in the letter box.Then Veer brought me here.”
Aasha was in tears knowing her son had shifted without even meeting her once.She felt devastated thinking about her waits of everyday.All were in vain.Veer kept his hands around her,”We are here to take you Ma. Thats what i and Papa want”
Aasha looked at him shocked.”You-You called me— MmmmAa-aa”,she stammered.
“Yes Ma, Don’t cry over the ones who did not respect your love. There exists a man who has waited for you since more than thirty five years. He did not love anyone else again. My Pa loves you still. Give us an opportunity to make you trust relations again”
And she looked at Ajeet whose old and wrinkle eyes were still filled with love for her.The wait was still in his eyes.For her to say “Yes” which she wanted to when young but had sacrificed.She felt so overwhelmed and ecstatic after years.
And then the staircase which had never watched anyone go up to meet her,watched her walking down with two people who took her to the place she deserved. She was loved by Ajeet,His son and daughter in law and his grandchild, Keeshu.
This made her know that there is no age for love. And also no age for new relations to welcome us.