I ran. Fast. Out of breath. Lungs bursting. Legs hitting the earth. I thudded up the path, around the corner, right up the stairs and reached the door. I flung it open and..
It was pitch dark. And quiet. Only the slow creak of the fan that moved unseen above, broke it. I stepped into the cold floor, instinctively leaving my slippers behind. She had never liked my coming into her room with my footwear on. She had never said so. But I had always known, even whilst breaking this unspoken rule.
As I moved in, I could feel her presence. She never had had a bed of her own. But the last time that I had visited her, there had been one. A metal contraption of the kind that she would never have approved of, had it been her choice. As my eyes got accustomed to the darkness some of the first shapes I could see were that of the IV stand, tubes running down its length and a white basin placed at the foot of the bed. The rest of her bed was one amorphous being.
I had been told not to bother. She would most likely not respond. The doctors were doing their best to keep her out of pain, I had been told. She slept through the days, waking only to scream and be calmed down by medicines.
A memory flitted by in my mind as I moved towards her bed. I was five then. Mother had gone on one of her field trips. Only Baba and the other servants were there at home. Bhai had left the room after touching my forehead but once. 'Oh no, you are ill again' he had said. He was thirteen then. Meena had comforted me all through the night, as my body raged with fever and sleep came in the form of nightmares. She was not allowed to sit on my bed and even though there was no one to remind her of this all night, she stood there for all those hours. Patting my forehead down, and praying beneath her breath for my recovery.
I could see her now. Her mouth open and coverlet askew. I picked up the basin of water that lay near her feet and readied a cloth to wipe her mouth. Meena would not approve. But this was my choice. In gratitude to the woman who had lived her life without many choices, but had helped bring up one who had fought and won her right to choose.
THIS POST IS PART OF THE MARATHON BLOGGERS WEEKLY THEMED CHALLENGE. THE FIRST PARA OF THE POST WAS THE PROMPT FOR THIS STORY THEMED CHALLENGE :)