The Koko Tree
The little child barged into the house and, darted toward his mother, breathing hastily as if he would die if he didn’t say his mother, ‘Maa, I have something for you!’
The child’s face was besmirched with dust and, the streak of sweat running down his face, making his countenance similar to those of the terrorists’ faces: the kohl smudged dark slanting, parallel across their faces. But, the child’s face had the intense emotion of purity, loyalty, clean-heartedness and, innocence.
His mother was chopping salad for lunch on the kitchen counter. She stopped and, averted her face. ‘What’s that?’ she murmured.
‘Maa, see what I have got,’ after a brief pause, ‘for you,’ the restless child said. He brought his right hand forward stealthily and, put the left hand on the right hand to hide something; he raised both the hand up and opened the palms sideward, making a plate, on which a couple of pink, plumose flowers of Koko tree rested.
‘Maa, this is for you,’ the child said after puffing lungful of air in, relaxed.
‘Where did you get these flowers from?’ the mother question with a lilt of suspicion, in Bengali. She tugged at his ears.
‘Aaa....,’ the child cried in a cadence. ‘Maa, I collected them under the tree shed,’ the child explained briefly, in Bengali.
‘Which tree?’ the mother asked.
‘The big tree next to our building,’ the child remarked.
The child was quiet for the ensuing minutes. The corners of his eyes were glittering as a thin film of water enveloped his eyes. The boy was to cry, but, the mother yanked at his cheeks when the water was about to spill from the corners. The water fell, but, hit smoothly on her fingers. She said, ‘Why are you crying?’
The child sojourned still, not answering.
The mother squatted down and crushed the boy to her. ‘What happened?’
‘Nothing,’ the boy tightened his eyes so hard that forced wrinkles appear.
The mother rubbed the child’s eyes and said, ‘Can you bring me more flowers?’ with a dark shed of sorrow on her eyes, which the child couldn’t apprehend.
The boy’s eyes fluoresced with joy and said, ‘Yes, I can,’ gaily.
‘Go and bring some,’ the mother said politely. The boy wound around and ambled out the house steadily.
The mother sniffled within herself, for she made her little baby cry. She was guilty!
After a quarter of an hour, the child returned back home. He cried, ‘Maa, I have brought many flowers.’ He marched to the back veranda. ‘I know what I’ll do with it,’ he shrieked.
He stood there under the running fan. His mother materialised from the next room. She had parted the hair on both sides and, dragged them behind, piling them into a tapering chignon. He saw her, amused. He wanted her hair to be fastened. He had thought he would have to say her; but, he found her mother the way he wanted her. He said, ‘Maa, come here!’
She walked. She hunched down. The boy wound around her and reached her chignon. He started bespangling the plumose Koko flowers in, around her beautiful, big chignon.
‘Maa, done!’ the boy said, in Bengali. His mother stood and checked the chignon in the mirror.
‘It looks beautiful,’ she said, uplifted him, rested his buttocks on the crook. ‘Can you bring me this flower every day? I’d decorate my hair with it,’ she added after a pause, ‘everyday!’
The boy’s eyes lit up with a feeling of achievement. He assured, ’Yes, Maa, I’ll, for sure!’
She kissed him on cheeks and embosomed him tightly.
Copyright © Subham Srivastava
This post is dedicated to the picture prompt: A week for writing because a day just isn’t enough.