Slanting rays of the setting sun fell on her work desk. Nita was sitting on the adjoining chair trying to shield her face even from the dying light of the day. Finally, the sun said its goodbye to this half of the world and went down to light up the other half. The room became totally dark.
She had thought that darkness would blank out her memories and bestow numbness upon her; and bring about a pain relieving effect. But she was sadly mistaken. She reasoned to herself ironically, “Are not cinemas projected on screens in dark halls to make the pictures stand out! So her memories stood out clear and distinct; replayed again and again without her control over it.
But this time when the memories came flooding back she did not fog them out with teary eyes, but decided to face them with open vision. The enemy of Troy had let in a wooden horse, which had destroyed the great city; so would she send her painful memories in, to attack her long insulated self. She reasoned to herself, “For how many days can I try to protect myself from the stark reality? I have to bring in the wooden horse.” She thought bravely, ‘May be, she would not be destroyed like Troy, but would win her battle.’ She thought further that what needed to be destroyed was perhaps the façade between her and the acceptance of reality. “History is a teacher and I should take a leaf out of it to find a solution. My Trojan horse of memories would win the battle for me and will again give me a reason to live.” she whispered with a pensive look.
Life is strange and sometimes, we are rudely shaken by its strange deliveries. They had always called her their Rock of Gibraltar. The people around Nita: her friends and relatives, who had always turned to her for succor; to pump up their depressed selves with courage; could not understand as to why a strong character like Nita had become distant like this. Why was their dear mentor unable to face life?
She had a brilliant career with good opportunities. But she had also seen a dream to shape up her only child’s career. He was a brilliant student but a remarkable sportsman too! Being a wealthy young widow, she had no worries on the financial front! The only glitch was providing that moral support to this God gifted rising star! Nita had seen God’s message in his eyes. He was gifted. It was up to her to enhance those gifts to draw the brilliant feats from him!
She was mesmerized to see her toddler son stroke-playing with a plastic bat. She had also sensed with immense pride how wonderfully amazed his instructor was to see his batting genius and how he prophesized his destiny. The instructor had said, “Madam, you have to give this angel of God a lot of your time, that’s my earnest request to you, then only we can nurture him in the right way”. Without any further delay, she had decided to sacrifice her own career and spend her time planning the career of her little one.
She can remember all her diary entries revolved around her son’s cricket. Her day began with him and it ended by his side; dreaming a dream shared by both of them.
Nita remembered the day he was given the Man of the Match; to be correct- Boy of the Match in his first Match. How happy he was! The small cup took its first position in the line of bigger and bigger cups which were to follow in the showcase. Filling that corner of the room with trophies and certificates was her agenda. Sometimes Nishant lost his groove and became depressed. Nita was his pillar. She poured all her hopes into him. Sometimes she these thoughts crossed her mind that if she continued to pour everything into him, “Can she herself survive only in an empty skin.” A chill went down her spine. But the elixir of her life was Nishant. She had never complained to God about the early loss of her husband. She felt that God had compensated it by this bundle of joy that would be her store of energy and reason for survival.
Nishant did not fail her. His young shoulders had to carry the burden of her great expectations. But inborn talent and great love for the game worked wonders. Plus, he had the blessings, moral support, financial backing of his dear mother who had resolved to make this star shine on the horizon of Indian Cricket.
Days passed and Nishant climbed the steps towards his goal one by one. Starting with the School League, followed gradually by the Inter-Universities, then the Ranji Trophy, Nishant had stormed his way and stamped his presence everywhere. Nevertheless, the greatest dream remained elusive. Nishant was dying to don the blue colors. Nita, by now had started daydreaming about Nishant’s inclusion in the playing eleven.
But dreams take time to realize. Nishant, being young would lose heart, “Mama, there is politics. You have sacrificed everything for nothing”. With her mature instincts, she would try to soothe his feelings, “Son don’t lose heart. A day will come when our dreams would be realized.”
Finally, the stage was set, Nishant had blazed the domestic matches with his fireworks in such a splendid way that the selectors were forced to put aside their petty politics and pick up this son of the soil who had no Godfather in Cricket. Nishant was selected. He was on top of the world. Nita could not classify her feelings. She was elated beyond words……….
“No, No, No, she cannot remember after that. Or she did not want to remember after that.” But today, she decided to become fearless. “I have to put a full-stop to all this” Nita articulated her thoughts aloud, that finally wielded strength to translate into action. She thought aloud, “Did my son don the blue colors. Yes he did! No he did’nt. I will not allow myself to accept! How can I accept this cruel blow of God! Why did God bless him in the first place, when he did not want to fulfill his ambition?? Why, Why, Why???? No answer. Nita shook herself, “Why is she asking questions to God? Can he answer? No, he cannot. God had taken away my husband, I saw him in my son. I decided to keep my husband alive by using every bit of my spirit in building a dream! But God was not satisfied. He has handed me an empty platter again”. She stopped her train of thoughts, “O God! Have I again relapsed into self- pity? Then, this is not my domain. God! I only pray to you to give me strength and allow me to emerge out of my escapist tendencies and empower me again to face my share of difficulties in this world with courage and determination of a brave soldier and not a soldier who runs away from the battlefield. She ruminated, “O God! You had helped Arjun to come out of his depression Can you not help me? She smiled sarcastically and added wistfully “God, my prayers are in vain if you help only heroes like Arjun or only men”. This change of gears accelerated her thoughts and brought alive her feminist streak and in a fit of rage she decided to take the bull by its horns today. She experienced the truth of the proverb that God helps those who help themselves. Finally, God blessed her—she saw a ray of hope, she could sense her old confident and brave self on the horizon.
With surging confidence, she decided to visit her flashback again to let the truth sink inside her. Nishant was overjoyed by his selection and decided to break this news to his friends. She could even now hear her reverberating words distinctly, “Beta don’t go fast. You can even phone them!Nishant had called back excitedly, “No Mama, I want to break the news personally”. Further into her flashback, Nita could now only hear the humming sound of his bike turning into a roar and the swinging noise of the gates. As the roaring of the bike had receded, she remembered that she understood how Nishant must be excited to break the news to his friends. She also decided to light the lamp in her Pooja room, but before that, she lingered before the garlanded photo frame of her husband. Brimming with pride, she remembered how she had told her husband the jubilant news. Suddenly again, she was frightened to dwell deep into her flashback. The smoked events ahead terrified her. But today she had decided to become strong, isn’t it ? What followed …… Tring Tring the ring of the phone down the corridor. She goes to pick up the phone, ‘Aunty, please hurry! Nishant has met with a horrible accident; you have to come to J.J. Hospital immediately. I am coming to bring you here, Aunty” .The voice of Nishant’s friend kept echoing, “Aunty are you there? ’However, the world had already collapsed around her.
In the hospital, her beloved hero was lying unconscious. What she saw, she could not believe; what she saw, she refused to believe. She had never thought that God could be so cruel with her. Everybody else had slowly assimilated the fact that Nishant had lost both his legs in the accident. But it was hard for a mother to accept this irreversible truth who had big dreams in her eyes for her only son!!! She had refused to believe. No No No……….
Everyone consoled her. Tragically, the roles had changed. Now they counseled their once upon a time mentor patiently to accept the truth and take care of Nishant-her only son who had lost everything. However, she had gone into a shell: a secluded shell where she felt the reality of this tragedy would not reach! She told everyone. “No, my Nishant is safe. Nothing has happened to him”. All the efforts of the relatives and near and dear ones had failed to drive this truth into her.
But today she pierced into her memories further and drew the picture of her son with no limbs to walk. The truth dawned on her, “Her limbless son was not a tragedy. The bigger tragedy was with her, as she did not have the heart to face the truth. She knew she was running away from the reality. But what had reality left for her? Now no dreams to pursue!! All her dreams had vaporized into nothingness when the wicked hand of Fate had snatched away the very limbs of a batsman who had left commentators breathless with his amazing footwork!! She would be unable to see her limbless son. How can she face him?
Till now, her thoughts had failed to pierce the curtain of falsehood that she had drawn .But today, the memories in the guise of a Trojan horse were doing their work and finally she yelled out—“But where is Nishant?” She shuddered, “How can she leave him like that. She had been for him everywhere and every time for his smallest need.. And now when he needs her the most; is she going to back out!” She had so many times instilled courage in her son to face ferocious bowlers. Now when he has to face the worst crises in his life; she has left him in the lurch. The wooden horse was piercing the iron walls of her heart. The city of Troy was laid a siege. She struggled; she battled the sorrows! Finally she triumphed!! She laid to rest her memories once and for all times. Now the only memory was of her son Nishant in a wheel chair crying out, “Mama! Where are you? I need you. I need you.” She called out aloud, “Nishant. I am here, Beta. Where are you? I am sorry, really sorry. Forgive me, your weak mother, who could not support you in your ultimate hour of need. Forgive me Forgive me”. Hearing his mother call him after so many days of oblivion, an eager Nishant wheeled in the darkened room. Nishant put on the light in the room. “Mama, what are you saying? Nita turned around and saw her son wheeling himself towards her. She ran and took his face in her hands. “I have won the battle of Troy”. “What Mama, I cannot understand you”. But I cannot express,how much happy I am, that you, my dearest Mama has finally spoken to me. “Nothing” Nita said, “This is not the end of the road, beta”. Our new battle begins today”.
Nishant beamed. I knew you would not stay that way for long. “O! I am so happy that I have got my strong mother back”. Both became a formidable team again!
The battle of Troy had been won. The city of Troy- the heart and the mind had got its strong ruler back.