Watching Eyes

by Shilpa Kamath

The clock showed 11.00 p.m. She walked into the bedroom and straightened the bed covers. It had been a long day. She lay down, pulled a sheet over herself and closed her eyes..........

She watched... as the baby let out a happy gurgle and wrapped her little finger with a tiny hand. He kicked his small little legs and tried to turn on his stomach. She picked him up, kissed his forehead and held him close to her bosom.

She watched... as her three-year-old looked at her with a tear-stained face wondering why he had to leave her and go. She pushed him gently into the arms of the teacher and as the school-gate closed behind him, her heart broke into a million pieces.

She watched... her six-year-old bounce about the house mimicking the cartoon playing on the television. His first tooth had popped out today and he was super-excited about it. She had given him a small plastic box and he had preserved it carefully.

She watched... as her nine-year-old waited impatiently for his father to return from work. For the umpteenth time, he asked, "When will daddy come?" He had won the trophy for "Best Athlete" in an inter-school sports competition and was desperate to show his father the same.

She watched... as her thirteen-year-old asked her why his voice was suddenly sounding hoarse. She smiled to herself and knew that she and her husband would have to talk to him about puberty very soon. Her little boy was growing up.

She watched... as her fifteen-year-old rubbed his tired eyes. She removed his books and told him to go and sleep. Sacrificing sleep was not going to help him prepare for the tenth board examinations. How hard he studied! She shook her head and wondered what it was about the tenth standard that put so much pressure on everyone?

She watched... as her eighteen-year-old combed his hair and surveyed himself in the mirror from all angles. He had already changed twice. Today they were celebrating "Rose Day" in his college. He was unaware of her watching him. She chuckled to herself. So much for thinking only girls spent time in front of the mirror. She wondered whom he was going to give a rose.

She watched... her twenty-one-year-old take out the belt from the drawer, slide it through the loops of his pant, tighten it and then straighten his shirt. He started his new job today. Her heart gave a pang. He dressed exactly in the same manner as his father did every morning. As they say, Like Father, Like Son.

She watched... as the police put down the stretcher on which he lay covered with a white sheet and his eyes closed. Fatal accident, they said. Drunk driver, they said. It didn't matter. All she could do was stare at his face. His eyes remained closed. Why didn't he open them? Her mind screamed, "OPEN YOUR EYES....OPEN THEM..."

Her eyes jerked open and she got up gasping for breath, perspiring heavily. She took a few deep breaths and slowly her breathing returned to normal. She wiped her forehead and lay back on the bed. Afraid to close her eyes again, she kept them open, staring blankly at the ceiling. The clock showed 1.00 p.m. She let out a sigh. It was going to be another long night.....

This is a fictitious story. Losing a child, adult or kid, is devastating for the parents, especially the mother. I admire and respect their strength to carry on with the life despite knowing that life can never be the same again. This short story is a tribute to those parents.

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