The Land of Reality
Place: Shillong, India
Something ominous was happening in this world. People were dying left and right; some in their sleep; some while awake. Countries were closing their entry points. Airlines were being shut down. Neither doctors nor scientists could comprehend what was happening in this world. I was desperately waiting for my mom's return. She worked for a marketing company and went to Delhi for a meeting. I was taking care of the family at mom's stead. I couldn't leave that responsibility to my dad, a drunkard who couldn't even care for himself.
It was the last week of March, the Indian Government had decided for there to be a lockdown of three weeks. Other countries had also done the same. It was on the news that a deadly virus was claiming the lives of people but to me that sounded like a lie. It was absurd. I was actually happy that there was going to be a lockdown. I needed a break. I was tired of going to college, then pick up my sister from a relative's place, go home, cook, clean and take care of my sister and dad, ever since mom went to that meeting in Delhi. Atleast, now I can have time for myself.
Three weeks passed in a jiffy and the lockdown was extended. Mom wasn't home yet. She was stuck in state entry points. For the past three weeks I spokei spoke to her everyday, and everytime I was about to cut the call, she'd try to tell me something but wouldn't. My three-year-old sister was missing her. I couldn't fill the gap of our mom.
With the lockdown going on, the thing that I disliked the most was that dad was at home 24/7. I had wished that it would've been better if dad had been the one stick outside instead of mom. I didn't have any kind of feeling of love for my dad.
'Bah Bah(Big brother in Khasi), when will mom come back?', inquired Deiphi. She has asked me this a thousand times and all I could say to my sister was: She'll be back…soon.
A month went by without mom. My dad has shown some responsibility now. He was the one going out to buy groceries and other necessities. This is just a fluke, I thought to myself.
On the 27th of April, I got a call from mom like always but she sounded happy. "Son, I'll be coming back today", she told me over the phone. I was overwhelmed to hear that.
'Come back safely'. It was all I could say. I tidied up the house with the help of Dad and Deiphi, who insisted she wanted to help. We also prepared her favorite meal: Jadoh (Khasi cuisine).
Finally, mom was back. We waited for her arrival outside the gate. I had once become convinced that dad had no love for mom but he proved me wrong. The car arranged by the state government to pick up mom had arrived. Mom got out of the car. We were overwhelmed and hugged her as soon as she got out.
"Welcome home, mom", Deiphi and I said at the top of our lungs. She kissed us.
'Welcome home, honey', said dad. Mom was shocked to see dad. Get husband who always looked shabby, looked like a man she had once married. She hugged him. We all went inside after taking all her belongings.
It was only after dinner that mom spoke to me. I could see that something was bothering her but I couldn't guess what it would be. Mom sat me down on the bed and all a sudden the atmosphere became tense. My dad entered the room.
"You called for me, dear?", Dad said as he entered the room. As we all say comfortably in my room. Mom looked around as if to check that no-one else was listening.
"Before I tell you something, I just want you to know that I love you guys", mom started. I was shocked to hear that. She never spoke to us in that way. I wanted to tell her I loved her too but I was too shy, since I'm already 19. It would be unusual.
Mom continued, ' You see whatever's happening in this world is not a deadly virus but….'. We listened intently. As mom continued again, ' There's something ominous happening in another world and that is causing our world to face this omen. The Land of Reali…." Before she could utter any other word she dropped to the ground. My dad and I froze. I saw 'life' leave my mom's eyes. She was dead.
"Ooohh—owww! What the heavens just happened!?", cried dad. We both couldn't grasp what had occurred before our eyes.
"Mom just died!", I thought to myself.
At that moment, my little sister, Deiphi, entered the room.
"Why is mom sleeping on the ground?", The three-year-old said. Dad came out of the trance, he was in. He checked mom's pulse. Her pulse was gone. She had really stopped breathing.
We took her to a hospital, where it was declared that she died of a heart attack.
It was unbelievable. She had just came home. She was yet to rest. What was she going to tell me and dad? Why was she being so cautious? What did she mean by 'another world'? I couldn't understand anything.
I couldn't say "I love you too". I should've just said it. Will I regret it my whole life?
It was a tradition to keep the dead body for three days but since the deadly virus was present. They didn't let us do that. It was just some of the hospital staff and just dad and I, who said our farewell to mom the very next day.
Later that night, in the local news channel, in the 'dead people' section. I saw news of my mom's death: "Mrs. D. Kharkongor died on the 27th of April, 2020 and her burial was held on the 28th of April, 2020". Everyone in the locality assumed she had died of the 'deadly' virus. Afterall, our neighborhood was declared a Containment zone.
The sad part about mom's death was that none of us could shed a tear. Deiphi was too young to understand.