A Bouquet of Red Roses.
Updated: Jun 13, 2020
Shalini suddenly woke up with a fright. She was perspiring. She sat up, folded her legs, and placed a pillow on her lap. She rested her elbows on the pillow and started to rub her temple. She looked at the time, the clock showed 2 am. She had a heavy head. With great difficulty, she got out of bed and went to the kitchen to get some water.
“I thought I heard you in the kitchen,” said Shruti as her daughter entered.
“Yeah,” Shalini said in a low pitched voice.
“Are you ok Mom, you don’t look too well,” said Shruti.
“I think I’m getting a headache,” said Shalini.
“Come let me give you a head massage, I’ll sleep in your room tonight,” said Shruti.
The next morning Shruti got up earlier than usual. She prepared breakfast and finished whatever chores she could. She didn’t want to trouble her mother. Over breakfast, Shruti asked her mother, “did you dream about dad and the accident again?”
“No dear, I’m just a little stressed about work, don’t worry. I’ll be fine,” said Mom.
“You’re not that good at covering up you know,” said Shruti as she gave her a tight hug and a kiss on her forehead.
“I have a great idea, tomorrow is Saturday, why don’t you go and attend the book club I mentioned to you earlier. It would get your mind off things. Mom, you need to get out of your shell, you can always evolve your life around me, the house and work,” said Shruti.
Shruti only meant well for her mother. Shalini was six months pregnant when her husband died in a scooter accident. She was devastated when she got a call from the hospital. Although it had been almost twenty-two years, it still felt like she just finished packing his lunch and said bye to him before he left for work. That was the last time she ever saw him. Held him close. Felt his heartbeat as she rested her head on his chest.
Ever since Shalini single-handedly looked after their daughter. She always gave her the best she could. Shalini was unemployed. She didn’t even have a degree. She finished school and did pretty well and wanted to study more but at that time her parents felt it was better if she got married. The good part was, she learned how to sew from her grandmother. She made Shalini an expert.
Initially, Shalini started working from home. She started off with small orders, it was difficult to make two ends meet, but soon the news spread, the orders started increasing and the clients were thrilled with the finished product. As work picked up she moved out of her home and opened her own boutique. It was a huge success. But even after everything she missed her husband tremendously. Her daughter Shruti was a huge help. She was a happy child and hardly troubled her mother. Shruti would sit in the small room in the boutique and finish her homework. She would then go out and play with the kids and make the most of her childhood.
When Shruti started school, she would see that most kids had two parents. She wondered where her father was. One day, at school they had an annual day function. All the parents attended the function. It was after a week she finally had the courage to ask her mother, “Mumma, where is Dada?”
Her mother was in the kitchen preparing lunch as her daughter fired the question. She looked at her daughter and dropped everything. As tears rolled down her cheeks, she tightly hugged her and said, “Dada has gone. He isn’t going to come back.” Shalini didn’t want to lie to her or make stories up. She felt she had every right to know the truth and slowly explained to her what had happened.
As the years went by, Shruti grew into a fine young lady. She was mature enough to make her own decisions. She worked hard in school and was an active member of the school debates. Soon, she started going to college and was doing very well. She made her mother proud. Shalini, on the other hand, did a correspondence degree in fashion designing. She started reading a lot of books so she would do better. That helped her learn more and make her boutique a bigger hit.
On Saturday evening, Shruti drove her mother to the book club. It was a few blocks away from home. She really wanted to help her mother. She just wanted to see her happy. She thought maybe if she does something different or if she interacts with people of the same age it would make some difference.
Shruti’s idea worked. Her mother had a great time and started looking forward to Saturday evenings.
After a couple of months, Shalini was not only a regular member of the book club and started taking charge of things and delegated responsibilities. One Saturday evening, they had a new member of the club. Mr. Chatterjee. He was ruggedly handsome, tall, and had a very loving smile. He was almost the same age as Shalini. They both met and had a chat. She introduced him to the other members of the team.
After a couple of meetings, it turned out that Mr. Chatterjee and Shalini had a lot in common. They both had similar interests in the same type of books and had a lot to talk about. Not to mention Mr. Chatterjee had never been married. He always believed in falling in love and then marrying, unfortunately, he never found the one. No matter how hard he tried, love just never stood by his side. He would keep himself preoccupied with work but still would end up feeling lonely. They both were tired of the monotonous rut and desperately needed some change in life.
One evening, Shruti walked into her Mom’s room.
“Are you ready to go to the book club?” asked Shruti.
“Hmmm, actually Raghu is coming to pick me up,” said her mother grinning like a teenage girl.
“Who’s Raghu,” curiously asked Shruti as she frowned.
“Oh! Mr. Chatterjee,” she smiled and said.
“Actually today is his birthday, so we are going for dinner after the meeting at the club. I hope you can manage dinner for yourself,” said Mom.
“Oh look at you, this is great! Is that why you’re still staring at yourself in the mirror?” said Shruti as she teased her Mom.
“Oh shush! It’s nothing like that. We’re just good friends. And we have a lot in common,” replied Mom.
“So, it’s a friendly date? Ok ok, I’m not going to throw a million questions at you right but, don’t be late ok,” teased Shruti as she was grinning away. She felt happy deep down as she could see a sparkle in her mother’s eyes.
“You’re looking drop-dead gorgeous,” said Shruti as they both hugged and kissed goodbye. Shruti saw her Mom leave the house.. ‘She has aged like fine wine. That lady can just about carry off anything’ Shruti thought to herself.
The next morning, a bouquet of red roses was delivered to their place. The note said, ‘ I can’t wait for next Saturday. Love, Raghu.’