‘Sonny! Get me an Aspirin, will you? This blasted headache is killing me.’ The old woman sighed and took a sip of her lemonade, ‘and get me last Thursday’s newspaper. I missed the comic strips.’
‘Two minutes, ma.’
She loved her son. He was her rock. He did the cooking, and the washing, and the cleaning, and the gardening. She used to do all those chores when she was still married, and happy, and well. Then, her husband left her for some hotsy-totsy, and she had collapsed – internally and externally.
She had varicose veins that made walking difficult and acute diabetes that forced her to visit the bathroom often. Arthritis decided to join the cornucopia of the ailments in her body as well. One day, she couldn’t make the ten feet trek to the bathroom and had urinated in the hall.
Her son had scolded her. Not for urinating, but for not calling him for assistance. That very day, he resigned his day job and stayed at home for her. At first, she was embarrassed, but her son insisted and now she didn’t feel any different. She was proud of her son.
She was about to holler again when her son came in with the newspaper and aspirin. He’d bought orange juice to wash it down with. Without her asking, he sat down and started massaging her calves.
‘Ma! I’ll be gone a few hours tonight. Will you be ok?’
She didn’t answer and instead turned her attention onto the newspaper.
‘Ma! I’ll leave by eight and be back by eleven. That’s your usual nap time, right?’
‘Are you going out with that bitch again?’
He paused for a second, ‘Don’t call her a bitch, Ma! I happen to like her.’
‘Pah! Evil bitch is trying to steal you from me.’ She went back to her newspaper, ‘What if I have an emergency?’
He scratched his jaw. His four-day stubble had a generous amount of white interspersed within. ‘Ma, why are you being so difficult? It’s just couple of hours.’
‘Fine, then. Go! Go be with that witch. Forget about your poor, sick mother who is in this state because of you. Now, don’t you stare at me, you ungrateful boy. Your useless father dumped you on my head and ran away with some bimbo. Now you are doing the same. You’ll be fucking your bimbo while your mother will be lying on the bed, hoping you’d come soon just so that she could take a piss.’
Her son stood up abruptly, ‘I’m sorry, Ma. I won’t go out tonight. I’m sorry you are in pain. I’m sorry that Dad left you and I’m sorry that you were burdened with the task of bringing me up. But you need to realize that now, you are a burden to me. I don’t complain. I quit my job to help you, not because I felt it was my responsibility.’
He picked her up and laid her on her bed.
‘That was because I love you.’
He removed the covers of her pillows and put fresh ones on them.
‘It’s been fifteen years now, Ma. In another life, I’d have had a family of my own. But you don’t seem to realize that. You feel that I have an obligation to cater to your whims. How many pillows?’
She showed two fingers. He fluffed them and kept a pillow gently below her head.
She muttered, ‘I said two.’
‘In a minute, Ma.’ He placed the other pillow over her face and pressed gently, ‘I’m sorry, Ma. But this is the only solution.’
He increased the pressure and sobbed softly over her stifled gasps.