Photo by Sue Vincent
The day his mother died Raman was by her bedside. As she lay on her death bed, she pressed him to her chest and whispered into his ears, “Ram, I am breathing my very last breaths. You need to be strong, and take care of yourself. And also, you need to promise…”
Her voice fell silent. An eerie silence filled the thatched one room mud hut.
Outside, lightning flashed, followed by thunder.
Light streaked through the tattered leaves, illuminating his mother’s face.
Helplessly, Ram stared at his mother’s jaunt bare boned face. Her eyes were a sunken hollow, her once lustrous hair now thinned to reveal the yellowed skull.
Cancer had sure eaten into her vitals, scooping clean all ounces of human life.
For an instant, Ram thought she had died.
Then, suddenly, he saw her lips had moved.
She was whispering.
He brought his ears closer to her mouth.
It was then that he heard her last, agony filled words, each syllablic sound, stretched and stressed out,
“Ram, my son…promise me you will take care of your little brother”.
All Ram could whisper back was,”Yes Ma, I promise you I will forever take care of him.”
Silence followed. His dear mother, the woman who had given him birth, was no more.
And the other human being, who too had contributed in bringing him and his brother into this world, had long left them for another woman.
From that moment onwards he took care of Arvind, seven years younger to him.
Fifteen year old Ram ensured Arvind never walked alone in this bad, bad world.
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