by Mark Ulyseas
From Seductive Avatars of Maya: Anthology of Dystopian Lives www.amazon.co.in
Travelling alone brings one closer to the earth. The dust in the nostrils. The smell of life and the ever present vibrant ethos of a foreign land and its peoples.
A short while ago I visited the ruins of a temple. After having trudged in the noon day heat through the edifice photographing the rhythms of history carved in stone I sought shelter in a nearby restaurant.
“Where you from mister?” asks the young lady who handed me the laminated menu.
“I will have a fruit salad, please”, I reply, ignoring her question.
She stands there for a moment, then walks away. Later she returns with the fruit salad, places it before me and sits down at my table.
“We same colour like chicku”
“Why some endians white, beautiful? They marry inglish?”
The salad is a huge plate of cut mango, water melon, pineapple, guava, papaya and dragon fruit, luscious and crunchy.
She gets up walks to a stained green hammock picks up a bundle and carries it to my table.
“My son,” she says proudly.
The little soul looks at me. He is quiet as if contemplating the futility of my existence.
“How many children do you have?” I ask
“Two…two sons…but I want a daughter”
“Because son expensive to marry. Son have to give money to girl to marry.
“Oh… how old are you”
“But I no start for daughter. My husband says wait a moment.”
“Because my son, this one he dead.”
“No he is not dead he is looking at me”
“No…no…I mean it he dying. He was born home and problem with heart.”
I pick up the little soul and place him on my lap. His fingers and toes have turned blue. They are cold and the rest of him is warm. He clutches my thumb with one hand and picks off a morsel of mango stuck on my cheek and places it in his mouth…then smiles. The aroma of curdled milk permeates the air around me.
“I feel sad…want to cry…I don’t want my son to go away…I feeling like it to die with him. I mother. You know mother how feels?” she asks, tears swelling in her eyes, “You man never know how mother feels when her child dying.”
I push the plate away. Hunger appears to have suddenly vanished and in it’s a place an emotion I have not felt for a long time…a mother’s love.
We sit there in silence. The little soul on my lap and the lady gazing out at the ruins of the temple.
“Do you have money? She asks.
I give her a ten dollar note. She flings it back across the table and says, “I no beggar. I want very small note”.
I remove a ‘small note’ and hand it to her.
Evening descends on us and when I am about to leave she puts a paper in my hand, closes it and kisses it. “Don’t see till you go, ok mister?” she says.
I put the paper in my pocket, give the little soul a hug and leave without looking back.
In the car I reach for my pocket and remove the paper.
It is the currency note I had given her in the shape of a heart made by a mother who was watching over her dying son.
January 14, 2015 © Mark Ulyseas