IT was almost a week after Mother’s Day when Sajani saw the male nurse again. It was late in the night and she was reading a book, not sleeping well again, when she looked up and saw him standing by her bedside. He always seemed to appear suddenly without a sound, unlike the fussing of the female nurses.
“You’re back,” she said with a little happy feeling.
He smiled casually and nodded, no evidence of the pain she had seen on his face on Mother’s Day.
“I was kinda wondering about you,” she said.
“Well…” she paused, “Because you hadn’t a mother to go home to.”
He smiled wryly, “It’s something I have been living with.”
“Why didn’t she…?” she left the question unfinished, not sure how sensitive it was to him.
“It’s a long story, I will tell you about it one day. How was your day with your sons?”
“It was quite wonderful,” she said with a happy smile that faded after a while, “I miss my home and my family so much.”
“We don’t get to write our own life stories,” he said to her, feeling sorry for her grief.
He stayed with her for a little while more then bid her ‘good night’, “I’ll leave you to get some sleep.”
The next afternoon he took her around the garden that, once again baffled the female nurse who saw no one. It gave Sajani a bit of a thrill, a feeling she had never experienced since being in the nursing home.
He did not come that night nor the next, and she laid in bed thinking of her past life, not finding anything that showed she had done a wrong.
“Or maybe I hurt someone,” she mused silently, “But who?”
She sighed deeply and settled to sleep, the book she wanted to continue reading falling to the ground.
In a country far away, a lone figure stood in the deep shadows under an oak tree and whispered in a soundless voice, “She has to remember me or else…”
The sentence was left unfinished as the figure melted deeper in the shadows.
Sajani found some fond memories as her mind went back to the past when she was young and carefree. The little house in the countryside held some precious memories. She had stayed there after marriage with her husband and it was there her first son was born. There was comfort and happiness but cracks started to open in that relationship. She wanted out of that marriage by the time she got pregnant with her second child.
That was when her mind hit a closed door. She couldn’t remember anything more of that break-up nor the baby she had been carrying.
“Why is that part of my life shut away?” she questioned silently.
She needed someone to talk to, who had the patience to listen and understand her problem but the female nurses were too busy and hadn’t the time to listen to extracts from an old woman’s life story.
“I will wait on the male nurse,” she said not too quietly and the female nurse attending to her asked, “What male nurse?”
“The one who takes me around the garden and speaks with me at night.”
The nurse looked at her, not too surprised and gently informed her, “There’s no male nurse working here.”
“Of course,” Sanjani responded with a touch of sarcasm, “It’s just the imagination of an old woman.”
So she waited patiently for the male nurse who had the patience to listen to her.
On the first night he came, she told him, “I remembered much of my past but something seems to be missing between the separation from my first husband and marrying again.”
He didn’t respond for a long moment then he said, “You probably don’t want that period to be a part of your life.”
“I don’t understand,” she said with a puzzled look, “Why?”
“Before you separated from your husband, did anything happen that you didn’t want to happen?”
She closed her eyes, thinking, then opened them and affirmed, “I became pregnant.”
“Good,” the male nurse said with relief, “We are getting somewhere, and…” he prompted her.
“I couldn’t have a baby while on the verge of divorce.”
“So what did you do?”
She took a deep breath, painful regrets in her voice, “I tried everything possible to get rid of it but all failed. But the local herbs must have taken a told on the fetus, so after birth, he lived for twelve minutes.”
“Yes, it was a boy,” she said, a little sob escaping from her lips.
“Why did you lock that away in your mind?”
“Because of guilt, I couldn’t bear to think of what I did. I didn’t want my baby so I killed him.”
The sad truth gave her the answer she had sought.
“I am now paying for that wrong.”
“Yes, you are,” he said, “Not wanting one child and giving all your love to the other two who now don’t want you.”
There was a tinge of anger in his voice and looking at him, there seemed to be a shadow over his face. That strange tremor she had felt the first time she saw him now felt stronger and she said to him, “You never told me, why your mother didn’t want you.”
“You just did.”
“What?” a perplexed look crossed her face, “How…?”
A glow appeared over him as he stepped closer to her bed.
“I am the son who you didn’t want.”
That revelation stunned her and the tears that had dried up, flowed again as she listened to him.
“My soul did not leave because I was a baby, bonded still to the mother, so I grew up in your shadows as you moved on with your life.”
She shook her head, shock and regret rendering her speechless.
“You never mentioned me, I didn’t even have a name, the unwanted baby I was, but I never hated you and when you got struck down by illness I felt sorry for you.”
“I am so sorry,” she cried hoarsely, barely finding her voice.
“I had to help you remember me,” he said, “So I can be released from that bond to leave.”
She broke down and cried, “I am so sorry, what I did to you, my son, so sorry.”
He looked at her for a long moment, sorry that he now had to leave her and how alone she would be in that place.
“Thank you, dear mother, I will now leave. Someday we will meet again.”
“My son,” she cried, reaching out her hand but she couldn’t touch him as he left in a glow of light.
Under an oak tree in a cemetry in the countryside, sunlight shone through the tree unto the tomb of a baby.
The mother remembering her child, took away the darkness, for she is mother.