The face looked strangely familiar to her – the well brushed salt and pepper mop,  the pair of big, bulging eyes staring with all earnestness through a pair of thick lenses and that walk with a slight stoop – everything reminded her of something, somebody, which she could not, at the moment, honestly place a finger on. He was standing by the roadside –  his tall frame hunched up against the sharp, piercing draught of ice-cold wind,  his ungloved hands dug deep into his trouser pockets trying to hide his ruddy face into the folds of a well-used muffler tied loosely around his neck – when Sonu, the driver, taking pity  on the solitary figure swerved the car close to a stand still. The man took the seat by his side thanking him profusely for the unasked lift. She appreciated such acts of kindness. And the man looked decent enough. So she kept quiet.

“This is Loveleen Nigam with the headlines….” blared the car stereo. Soon after, the songs would follow, she thought. Old Hindi Film songs which she loved so much. They sat quietly, all three of them, as the car covered distances in a smooth glide. Forty five minutes later, Sonu pulled the car by a tall tower which was a testimonial of flawless workmanship of glass and metal. It was the office arcade in the centre of the city. The man turned around and looked at her gratefully,” Thank you very much for the lift. You saved me from the painful one and a half hour bus journey to the office. Anyhow, I had missed the usual one that I take and was waiting for the next one which would have taken half an hour longer to reach me here. Thanks once again.” “Hope you will get the right bus and not have any problem going back home in the evening.” She replied softly. He nodded quietly. However, he took a few more minutes to get off the car. She thought his eyes were moist when he had looked away. But she was not sure…It could be the refracting sunlight.

Sonu drove away through the throng of traffic.  “Tum mujhe yun bhula na paaogey….” The sad lilting voice of Lata Mangeshkar filled the inside of the car like a swirling mist. Sonu was looking at her intently through the rear view mirror. Madame had again receded into a cocoon of forgetfulness. What had Sahab said? It was a disease with her…a disease with a complicated name…Al….Alza…He couldn’t pronounce it easily. So he left it at that. The song had now changed to a foot tapping, romantic number. Sonu loved the song. “Pyar mein kabhie kabhie aisa ho jaata hai.….” The lyrics made him pine more for Mamta, whom he fondly called Mammo. She was the tea-seller’s daughter. They had their stall at the far end of the gully where he stayed. Sonu would one day marry Mammo. It was all decided. He would work for a few years more and then buy a second hand car from his savings to start his own transport business. And then he would ask for her hand from her father. Until then he had to take care of Madam whenever Sahab was not around or at work.

Back home in the village, he had always seen his father returning home late at night horribly drunk abusing and beating his mother in anger and frustration. Her only sin was that she was married to a person who did not have the spine to retaliate back to the  world outside which was too powerful and demanding  on him. Notwithstanding, she would wake up each morning to serve him tea and pack his lunch with a smile on her bruised lips and shine in her blackened eyes when it was time for him to leave for duty.

Later in the night, Sonu wondered what made a marriage tick ? Was it love or something more? He did not have the answer. And thinking too much about anything gave him a head ache. So he sighed deeply, changed side and closed his eyes firmly. Tomorrow, he had to take Madam out for her morning ride to all those places where Sahab thought  she might be able to regain her lost memory. Everyday, they would play the same game of picking Sahab up by the roadside and dropping him to office pretending that he was a total stranger asking for a lift as he had missed his bus because that was the way Madam and Sahab had first met almost thirty years back.

Would Madam ever  remember anything or ever recognize Sahab for that matter? Sonu did not know. But one thing was certain. As he was losing himself in the soporific maze of  wispy  dreams, Mammo would be there waiting for him….to show him the way.

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About gc1963

A working woman with interests in reading, writing, music, poetry and fine arts.

31 responses »

  1. What a story!!! I’m speechless ..really.One of my friends father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s almost a year ago, I’ve seen his condition..a doting father and our favourite ‘Kaku’ can’t even recognize us… 😦 it hurts..really hurts…

    Liked by 1 person

    • gc1963 says:

      Maniparna, I understand your pain. It is dreadful to think we may as well some day catch the disease. However. since the story is based on an indiprompt, the idea is to convey that love has infinite connotations. Sometimes, love can be just a soul’s desire to hang on to a relationship however one-sided or hopeless it is. Very difficult to define the compulsions of attachment and care! All the best.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. crissdude says:

    That was a touching story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Touching and heart-warming story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Panchali says:

    I feel welled up inside after reading this…Ah, life is harsh and cruel. Mankind has no scourge as terrible as dementia…. It breaks you down and grinds you to dust.
    Beautiful…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. KP says:

    I could not guess the twist at the end.Well narrated Sonu’s wait seems quite long

    Like

  6. akaushiva says:

    Speechless!! This was heartbreaking yet beautiful at the same time!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. akaushiva says:

    Speechless! That was heartbreaking yet beautiful at the same time!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. KP says:

    I had posted a comment.Please check your spam as I do not find it

    Like

  9. After all memories are ephemeral too…… A brilliant story… You should get a collection published soon

    Like

  10. Hummingwords says:

    this is such a different story, the ebb and the flow are awesome and this story gives a very piquant feeling to the reader. Lives of all the three characters, entwined in emotional issues make an interesting read. Very nice work!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Amrit Sinha says:

    A very poignant write. Alzheimer’s is painful and sad.

    Like

  12. Eva Bell says:

    A beautiful but touching story! I wish there was a cure for Alzheimer’s.

    Like

  13. Vimala Ramu says:

    Hey, what a twist! I thought it was about the latest hot Uber topic. Well written Geeta.

    Like

  14. I really liked the twist in the tale. Looking forward to more about Sonu’s sweetheart.

    Like

  15. Bikramjit says:

    that was touching … it scares me sometimes to think what wud life be if i dont remeber anything …

    memories is all that we are left with in the end …

    touching

    Like

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