The doctor who knew Monica for several years was shocked at her question. She told her that she would not operate on her to remove her kidney.
“Why? Why do you want to deprive yourself of one of your kidneys? Kidney is such a vital organ. Its not easy to get one when you will be in need”.
“It’s ok. Doctor”, Monica was firm. ” I am prepared to give mine for a needy person”.
Reluctantly the doctor explained to her the request that had come to her from a rich lady who desperately wanted a kidney and was prepared to pay any amount of money to the donor.
” I don? want much money. Will she pay me about fifteen lakhs?” Monica wanted just the amount her children had demanded from her.
” The rich lady is prepared to pay even twenty lakhs provided she finds a donor” the doctor replied as Monica?s face became radiant with joy. She was not at all willing to do the surgery but finally gave in to Monica when she told her the entire story with tears in her eyes.
The day was fixed for the surgery. Monica did not tell anyone, not even her husband. Nine days later after nine days of novena Monica got admitted to the hospital. The operation was successful. Monica had parted with her kidney. She lay on her hospital bed groaning with pain as she came to consciousness. There was no one even to give her a drop of water to drink. Her throat was parched. The children were not there beside their mother. With what love she had nursed them. How many sleepless nights she had spent when each of them was sick. The elder son her first-born was so seriously ill when he was just two years old. He was placed in ICU and Monica remembered how every minute, every second had become an eternity to her waiting outside the ICU with eyes full of tears and a heart full of pain. She had longed for nothing but to see her little son open his eyes and call her Mummy. She had stormed the heavens with her cry and unuttered words. She had woken up in the middle of the night with fear and fright. She had bad dreams that her child had closed his eyes forever. She had screamed in the little verandah where the parents were given little space to sleep at night. The night duty nurse had consoled her at that bad moment. Her little one had finally opened his eyes after seven days of battling for his life. How happy she had felt at that moment. Her heart was jubilant like an athlete who had won gold in hundred meters. She had won her victory over death. But now?.. even her dearest son forsook her.
When Monica did not come home after the novena, her husband got worried. The children who had never been without the mother missed her for the first time in their life. Not knowing where to look for her, Albert went to the church. But the parish priest had not seen her around after the novena. He then went to the hospital. He knew Monica used to go there for a check up and the family doctor was still practicing in the same hospital. When he came to know what had happened, he did not get angry with his wife but felt so guilty himself. He sat with her comforting and encouraging. Then he went home and called all the children. He blasted them with authority in his voice. He spoke as a responsible father for the first time.
“It?s a shame how you live and how greedy you are for money. Have you ever realized what great sacrifices your mother has made for you? Forget me if you want but never forget the mother who has borne you in her womb and nursed you at her breasts. You have sucked her blood all your life. Haven?t you? Now you are responsible for what has happened to her.”
None of them knew the meaning of his words. They kept wondering as to what had happened. The angry father explained every detail of the painful story. They were shocked. They were now beginning to realize the love of their mother. But it was too late. Their mother had paid a heavy price to make them happy. They wanted to run to the hospital. But their father asked them not to.
The two sons felt remorse in their hearts for abandoning their godly mother and turning a deaf ear to her. They were blinded by greed, autonomy and selfish and possessive love of their spouses. They had made a stupid mistake of neglecting their mother when their wives had entered their lives. They should have loved their wives without of course neglecting their mother. They should have been wiser by striking a healthy balance between the two. It was now too late. There was no use regretting. They had lost all opportunities to show their mother how much they appreciated her sacrifices, how much her love meant for them and how they wanted to show their gratitude to her.
Monica did not want anyone to visit her in the hospital. When the doctor discharged her, she wanted to go straight to Shanthi Ashram. However, she did not want any ill feeling to remain with her so she decided to go home for the last time and bid everyone goodbye.
When the mother arrived unable to walk properly as before, her children had no courage to face her. One by one they came and fell at her feet.
” Mummy, please forgive me” everyone sang the same chorus. She had no words. Her only answer was tears freely flowing down her cheeks. Monica could not speak but her husband intervened. He told them about her decision to go to the Home for the aged and how she had made arrangements to meet everyone?s need for money.
” See what your mother has done for you. You wanted money and not your mother. Now you can have your money but not your mother anymore.” An angry and crestfallen father spoke to his children. There was sadness in his voice that did not go unnoticed by his children. They knew by now how much their behaviour had hurt him. They were shocked to hear his words.
” Mummy”, the eldest son cried, “please do not leave us orphans. We need you. Please stay with us. We know we have hurt you so much. We do not even deserve to be called your children. Please forgive us Mummy.” He could not speak more as he broke down. They all came near her. Their eyes were opened. They could see their God in her. Their hearts were filled with grief and remorse for their negligence. They realized how deeply their mother loved them even to the extent of parting with her kidney to give them the money they wanted. They felt so guilty for pushing her to do such a great sacrifice. They felt ashamed of themselves. She looked so tall in their eyes and they felt so small before her.
…The eyes that shed tears for her children were forever closed but the eyes in her heart could still see the children she loved most…
Monica took a few things she needed to spend the rest of her life in Shanthi Ashram. She asked her husband to bring her to the corner where she could take a bus.
As she was leaving, one by one her children came with tears in their eyes. “Mummy, please don?t go away.” They begged her for the last time not to go. “How can we live without you Mom?” the eldest son pleaded.
” Mom, please reconsider your decision. We need you.” The youngest daughter hugged her.
” No one is indispensable. You can live without me.” She said hiding her pain.
” Mom, without you, it will be a long dark night for us here” the younger son lamented.
“Don?t regret because the Sun sets. You must have the courage to live in the light of the stars.” Monica comforted them with her encouraging words.
“Mom, why should you go at this time? Please stay with us. We will look after you. Why go to an Ashram when we are here?” even the daughters ?in-law joined their husbands.
” There?s a time for everything”, said Monica. ” The time has come for me to go. Now it?s your time to glow. Burn bright my children. Keep the flame of love ever burning in your hearts.”
” Mummy, won?t you listen to our plea? Won?t you forgive us and change your mind? Please mom. Stay with us. We need you. Without you our life will be empty.” The youngest daughter felt guilty for being rude to her mother. She felt guilty for breaking her tender heart.
” I have forgiven you all. There?s not a trace of hurt feelings in my heart. There will always be love in my heart for you. I have prayed for you and will continue to pray for you. May God bless you all…” Monica could not continue. She could not hide her tears as she hugged one by one. Albert watched the farewell scene. He could not hold his tears anymore. He put his arms round his wife and led her to the gate which stood wide open to bid goodbye to the mistress as though for the last time.
The bus stopped and both Monica and Albert got in. Their children stood waving their hands. Theirs eyes were moist with pain. With a heavy heart they returned to their house. It now looked empty without their mother. They missed her. They felt emptiness burning them deep down in their hearts. The house their parents had built seemed like a house in ruins. The pillars of the family had been shaken. The earth beneath their feet was opening up.
The sky was overcast by then. The severe lightning heralded a peel of thunder that rent their ears. There was a heavy downpour and the mighty wind blew off the roof of the house.
The night was dark and the stars were far! A dog barked at a distance. Loneliness and emptiness had filled the house.
The next day the house collapsed. Monica?s home turned into an orphanage without her got the shocking news. Her children couldn?t believe their ears. Their mother had breathed her last. Her journey had ended in the Shanthi Ashram. The hand that rocked the cradle and wiped the tears had fallen lifeless. The eyes that shed tears for her children were forever closed but the eyes in her heart could still see the children she loved most.
Her face shone like the Sun. She died a peaceful death.
A true mother had gone like an innocent child to her heavenly reward but the children were weeping for their mother.
Also read previous part:
Author: Cyril Vas- Bangalore