Old Woman Cooking 2

THE SWEATER (FLASH FICTION)

RevathyLast Seen: Jan 19, 2024 @ 6:35am 6JanUTC
Revathy
@Revathy

7th January 2024 | 9 Views
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THE SWEATER

THE SWEATER

She is a soul dampened by the coal-fired kitchen. The smoke has strained her lungs, yet she blows it away with her impoverished breath, which is about to reach its last exhale very soon. This was a time when people in villages still had to rely on coal for cooking.

The night is embellished with loneliness, but she doesn’t fret over her loss or curse her fate. She is not an ordinary old woman with complaints. She’s a fighter who toils all day just to get a mouthful of food. Her nights are spent reminiscing about her son’s banter and mischief. She did everything she could to get him educated and set him free when he got wings, unlike other parents who expect a return favour from their children.

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 Ramanamma is neither imperious nor servile; she is a woman whose soul is like a blazing sun that never takes rest. When she married Yadayya, she was just 9. Yadayya fed his wife well so that she reached puberty early, enabling him to impregnate her. Such was the dismal life of women at that time. Ramanamma remained illiterate all her life, but she knew the value of education more than an educated man. She gave birth to her son Krishna when she was 15, an age when the present lot goes to college, some grudgingly and some merrily depending on their circumstances.

She too dreamed of studying, but her poor parents neither believed in educating a girl nor had the money to fulfil her fancy. Her husband even resorted to beating her when he was angry at her cooking. She bore his twaddle, which escalated since their wedding. But she never let her son witness her sobs or cries. After school, when her son returned, she would make a delicious variety of items to keep him happy. She also yearned for a daughter, but her pregnancies resulted in abortions due to implicit stress. Thereafter, she began to grow frail. Her husband died in his sleep when her son turned 10. From then on, the responsibility of shouldering her son’s expenses fell on her. She was skilled in tailoring and knitting, and her hobbies became a source of income in her new solo life. After completing graduation, her son Krishna went abroad in search of a more profitable life. He received a lucrative offer due to his intelligence and exceptional academic record.

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 Ramanamma didn’t draw any lines to restrict his growth. She made him a free bird with large wings and dreamy eyes. Twenty years rolled on, but her son didn’t find time to see his mother. Her failing health alarmed her of impending death, so she wanted to gift him something. A gift that’s not bought but created with her own hands. As he went to a cold country, she started knitting a sweater. Like a workaholic, she knitted day and night. The wool she bought was very precious, as she saved pennies to buy it. Sometimes her heart burned, not due to her hungry stomach but because of the estrangement with her son. In the lantern light, she knitted the sweater in a beautiful pattern, never minding her trembling hands. She wove it, on par with big brands, and only a soul with empathy could know its true value. It was priceless. Every night she kept the sweater beside her pillow. Her old age forced her to have intermittent sleep, and so, in between cycles, she wept.

Her big day came when her son returned to visit her. When he landed before her house, a group of people surrounded the hut. His heart began to pound as his thoughts sent a silent chill down his spine. He guessed that his mother might be unwell, and shoving people aside, he entered the hut. There lay a beloved mother who lost her life waiting eternally for his return. He dropped down on his knees and wept. If only souls could talk, she would have caressed him and told him not to mourn. A man patted Krishna, and when he looked up, the man gave him a letter. The letter said, ‘My son, I did all I could do as a mother, but I realized it was not enough for you, and so you never looked back at me. I hope my last gift will protect you in cold winters, like all the gifts I gave you that protected you from all that could have hurt you. Take the sweater I knitted for you. This is all I can give you as I have nothing left. My spirit will protect you from now on.”

BY REVATHY

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RevathyLast Seen: Jan 19, 2024 @ 6:35am 6JanUTC

Revathy

@Revathy

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