When I Saw My Mother Cry

At key moments, I often forget codes for accessing different units within the complex of Stratosphere VR but this does not indicate that I have an indication of the onset of Alzheimer’s (or could be).

Stratosphere VR is confronted with an incurable paranoia: someone would enter and could steal something, physically and virtually. So, it mandates padded security in addition to finger prints and facial recognition.

I stand at a peripheral unit of the complex to enter in but I can not enter in. I’m stuck. I run out of all options. But the sensor the gatekeeper asks me, “What is your earliest memory?” The answer to the question ushers me a shower of sadness and happiness. Sadness for the loss of my mother. Happiness at the recollection of the earliest memory of my mother.
Instead of answering the sensor, I wait outside for few more minutes to feel the whiff of moistness swelling in the ethereal (ETHER) world. I want to tease and test the sensor for I know the answer for ‘what is your earliest memory’.

Only a small-scale farmer in India knows what a wretched life it is to make a living out of farming, and to raise a family. Farming families relentlessly struggle to escape from farming but the romance of soil, to be in the midst of hide-and-seek nature of rains, the thrill of a promising harvest at least in the next season and the joy of watching something grow every hour of everyday pulls him or her back from leaving his or her land. Unless, romantic opportunities and richer dividends appear before him. Because the romantic opportunities and richer dividends are elusive, a farmer wishes his children shall escape from making a living out farming.

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One afternoon, I was playing outside the house with other children, on the banks of a stream that made its way to the river called Papagni, suddenly I felt terribly hungry. I did not ate anything since morning and the sun had started to tilt towards west. With all the strength in my limbs, I ran towards my house thinking of my mother.
Whom else a child remembers?

As I came closer to my house, at a distance I could see my father and elder brother going in the direction of Road from where busses took the villagers to the nearest and farthest towns and cities. My father was carrying a jute satchel, and my brother had a bag hanging from his shoulder. The bag was made out of old clothes by my mother. They were going, somewhere, to see a relative or someone, I reckoned.

I ran faster, and entered into the house but I could not find my mother. My eyes moistened. I searched for her. Adjacent to our house was a shed made of grass-stalks for buffaloes. At a corner of the shed, facing her face to the wall, I saw my mother crying. Tears gushed from her face. There was the sound of cry all around. She saw me but she could not stop from crying. I did not cry but I was shocked to see that a parent can also cry. Until then, I thought only kids cry. My hunger vanished possibly I was in the company of my mother.

If my mother would not have noticed me, and if she would not have thought that I was hungry, she would have continued to cry till her body dried and nothing came out of her eyes.
Because she realized that she had to feed me, she let me follow her into the house to serve me a meal.

I asked my mother, where did my brother and father go, and why I did not go with them.
My father had made a decision to send my brother away so that he would be at his paternal uncle house in the nearest town of Rayachotty in rocky Rayalaseema, and study: education.
If there is no education, he would end up as the farmer! My father did not want his son to be a farmer, my mother, too but they had to make a sacrifice: the joy of seeing a child growing.
And the following year, it was my turn to send me away from home, house, village. I’m sure, my mother would have had cried, again, when I was taken away from her.

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At the unit of Stratosphere VR, I shout to the sensor, the answer, ‘when I saw my mother cry’. The sensor says: YOU ARE WELCOME TO THE UNIMAGINED WORLD!

—Kovuuri G. Reddy (This story was first published on Telugurajyam.com)


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