“I will make it right this time,” she was determined as she thought to herself.
It was a cold and windy night and very few people could be seen on the streets, especially at fifteen past midnight. She had been walking briskly since the last ten minutes. She passed a few teenagers sitting on the pavement near the road feeding on something she assumed to be akin to drugs. She skipped a beat as it made her anticipate the near future even more. Seeing a couple cuddling and kissing each other, made her walk faster eventually to break into a run. It was her last chance and she had to make it right this time. She held the jacket she was wearing, closer to her cold body and ran as fast as she could on the streets of Philadelphia.
“How about never giving up?” He asked his mother who was sipping on her third cup of coffee. Neha had this habit of drinking a lot of coffee whenever she was worried. Rohit continued to motivate his mother, the way he had been doing from the last half-hour, to change her newly made decision of quitting her job but Neha was only half listening. She was lost in her thoughts of the dreadful politics that was going on at her work-place.
“I am tired, beta.” She said to her 15-year old son. “Leave me alone for some time.” Neha had been feeling too old of late; too old to avoid the politics, too old to even take part in it. She felt hopeless and Rohit’s encouraging words went to deaf ears.
The following day, Rohit saw his mother coming home early with tearful eyes. The two words “I resigned” was all she said that day.
Five months had passed since Neha quit her job but she seemed to have never moved on. She would talk less with her son, she would avoid her neighbours and she would never go to the parties her family was invited at.
His mother was the only family Rohit had and after losing a father at the tender age of eleven, he almost felt like he was losing his mother too. She looked older than her age, she acted older than her age and she would no longer be there for him to solve his issues or even to talk about them.
He had issues – in his love life, in his friends’ circle, with his teachers, with the kids of the society they lived in. Rohit, the boy who once was talkative, became as silent as his mother at times. He felt he lost his best friend, his mother, too. And Rohit, the same boy who had once motivated his mother so much, was now at a phase of life where he lost all hopes from the people in the world.
It was an early Saturday morning when Neha saw something she should’ve noticed long ago. While returning from her visit to the mart she saw two guys sitting on the pavement near the roadway. One of the guys was Rohit looking up at the sky. In his hands was something that a fifteen year old shouldn’t hold, neither by law nor in the outlook of a mother.
“Drugs”, Neha uttered a scream. Rohit’s friend, a black little kid of about thirteen years of age, fled the scene seeing a lady in front of them. And Rohit sat there unable to perceive what was happening.
Neha didn’t know what to say to her little son who chose the wrong way. She was never a good counselor and the recent happenings made her feel like a bad mother. After she caught Rohit doing drugs, she made it sure that she walks with him to his School and accompanies him while he returns so that he doesn’t bunk school to sit on streets with random strangers. But even after a week of doing the same, she received a phone-call from the Principal of the school informing her that her son’s attendance is marked low. On further asking, she realized that he hadn’t been attending his classes since the last three weeks. A speechless Neha held the receiver while the gentleman kept asking if her son is unwell. Neha didn’t know how or why her son had been doing all that nor could she answer the person over the phone.
Neha needed someone to tell her what to do. She stood perplexed whether to ask her son forthright or whether to ask his friends to find out the matter. “And I don’t even know who are his friends,” Neha realized. She had been so engrossed in her own grief of loneliness and inability to continue her job-life that she neglected a son who was at a tender age where often teens choose the wrong path. She felt like a loser.
When her son returned home that day it was he who spoke first.
“Did anyone call for me?”
“No.” Neha lied.
Rohit went straightaway to his room with an expression of disappointment.
“May be all he needs is a little attention from your side.” Neha’s mother said over the phone.
Neha had finally decided to consult her mother in India about the matter and after talking to the old lady she realized it was a sensible decision she made.
“Talk with him; you’re his mother, not a stranger,” advised Neha’s mother.
Neha understood this time, although late. She walked to her son’s room, calling out to him that dinner was ready.
The door was ajar with a note hanging by the doorknob that said, “Goodbye, Mom.”
“I will make it right this time,” Neha said to herself as she ran out her house searching for her kid. She asked a few passersby who showed her the way they saw the kid walking. She dashed in that direction, she knew she wasn’t much late. She looked at her watch, it was fifteen past twelve. She had been walking since the past ten minutes in the middle of the night with no signs of her son to be seen. For a moment she thought she lost him but that’s when she saw the silhouette of a young man wearing a jacket and standing near a bridge that crossed a small river. She heaved a sigh of relief.
“Come home, son.” She called out to Rohit. “I am sorry.”
Rohit looked at the water below the bridge he was standing on. He took a step forward towards the edge of the bridge.
“Wait,” Neha interrupted the train of thoughts Rohit was in. “Where are you going?”
There was a smile on the young guy’s face. Rohit threw a final glance at the water below and shook his head.
“I am coming home, Mom. I am coming home.” Rohit said and backed off from the bridge, walked towards the lady he loved the most, his best friend, his only family, his mother, Neha.
Sometimes we feel the urge to lose ourselves to oblivion, to simply fade away, to vanish from the sight of everyone we love. Does that mean we be lost forever?
Nay, sometimes all our heart wants is for it to be loved, to offer that one last chance to the ones who care enough to will to mend what has been broken.
Sometimes we seem to want to simply fade away only to be shown that we are not invisible, we matter.