The Come Back – Chapter 29

by Anita Menon

‘Oh my! She looks so much like me!’ , exclaimed Anna, standing in the middle of the white corridor of the hospital. She wasn’t saying this to anyone in particular but was completely taken aback by the mirror image standing that the door. A small crowd had accumulated outside the emergency room but it was so easy to spot her from the crowd. There she stood transfixed at a scene that Anna shuddered to even think about. Ash,  Uncle David, whom she was seeing for the very first time and Richard were there too, since he was the doctor on duty. But Anna’s eyes were fixed on Maya and she could easily see how she was Maya’s daughter. The resemblance was striking. When she said that,  it was loud enough for a few nurses to turn back and glare at her for being so loud in the silent corridor. Anna gathered her wits when she approached Maya but then did not stop there. She brushed past Maya and entered the room to be shocked by the scene. She saw her father on his deathbed but then miraculously returning back to life. She was again thankful to Richard and his team for doing all that they could. Anna held Ash’s hand the entire time.

To see her father battle the toughest contender and then emerging out of it successful was the most spectacular thing she had seen in her life. Richard did take her on the side and briefed her about were the precautions to be taken and when he could be taken home. Richard was in awe of her Papa’s tenacity and the will to live. Anna understood that this will to live came from his desire to make amends with Maya. She looked around a couple of times at the door to see a shrunken image of herself yet Maya looked so beautiful and alluring. Somewhere she was so glad that they looked alike and that she was able to see that atleast once in her life. But strangely, it did not seem any different to have both her parents under the same roof. It did not make her joyous or angry. Intrigue, she felt but then that had to wait until her Papa recovered. For now she was going to focus only on her father and her sister. Her Mother will have to wait. Anna also realized that Maya was completely struck by what was happening to her father and didn’t each register anybody else’s presence in her room. Maya sure was pretty strange and that made Anna a bit more wary about her.

But something entirely different unfolded when Maya came to live with them in their home. Maya was given the guest room that hadn’t been used for years. Mrs. P had done a marvelous job of prepping up the room which now sparkled to welcome an old occupant. Anna managed to avoid Maya at all costs  because she did not know how to react to Maya’s  presence and did not know how to address her. Maya too did not seem too keen to get acquainted. That lead Anna to believe that Maya really didn’t care that she was back with her children and didn’t even feel the need to know how they had been. What sort of a mother does that? What sort of an ego was this? Suddenly Ash seemed like a simpler person to handle compared to this new person who had made an appearance out of nowhere claiming to be their mother. Funnily, Maya, herself never made that claim. Anna was only making such assumptions herself.

Why did life have to be so complicated?

Many times when Anna tried to think about anything that she could remember about her mother but she always drew a blank. But now that Maya was back in their lives and occupying the same space, Anna felt she could recall a few details. Anna remembered a loud laugh that sounded like Christmas, so cheerful and happy. She also remembered a shadow that was dark and always guarding but it could also be Ash’s. So Anna wasn’t very sure. Memories can trick you into believing anything.

Her relationship with Richard which she thought was on barbed wires after the last meeting with him became normal after she saw his dedication towards her father. Ash still did not approve of Richard and that made Anna very, very unhappy. Why was Ash’s approval so important to her suddenly? After a lot of thinking, Anna realized that in an event where Papa wouldn’t be around anymore, the only other person that she could call her own was her sister. She needed to talk to Ash about Maya and Richard at the first given opportunity. Ash seemed to be more comfortable around Maya but Anna felt herself fleeing whenever Maya entered the room. Sometimes Anna spied on Maya whenever she found Maya in the study writing with her head bent and completely oblivious to the world around her. Anna googled Maya and found that she had written numerous award-winning titles for children and adults alike in India. Somewhere she felt very proud but quickly erased those emotions as didn’t want to be attached to Maya in any way.

Anna had overheard the entire conversation between Mrs. P and Maya and her heart skipped a beat when Maya confessed that she did miss her children when she was away. Anna felt elated and she ducked for cover when she saw Mrs. P walking out of the study, smiling to herself. Even this little evidence was enough for Anna to prove that Maya was not as hard hearted as she had made her out to be.

In the days that followed,  a routine had come about involving the two of them. Anna went out running every morning and when she came back from her jog, she always found Maya waiting for her at the breakfast table. Silently the two of them would then have their breakfast all by themselves. With Papa still in the hospital, there wasn’t anybody else at the table to share breakfast. Ash was never an early riser and was expected only when lunch was being served or it might be just a ploy on her part to avoid Maya at as many meal times as possible. Anna had started to quite like this new arrangement of sharing a breakfast in silence and then nodding to each other one either of them was done. She also realized Maya was taking longer and longer to finish her breakfast and that some how even slowed Anna down. It was like Anna and Maya were content in each other’s silence and presence and were absorbing every bit it of it when it was possible.

Anna felt so cherished after such a long time.

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