She must be around 25 tall,well built and charming to look. Clad in white pajama and a light blue top, she looked forlorn and lost not knowing even the nature of place she was living. Her separate room, sparsely furnished with a cot, table and chair and a cupboard, is in a small building a little away from the main building. She does not stir out of her room, not that she is chained, but perhaps not permitted to. There is no TV or radio and the room is bare with nothing to cheer about. But the saving grace was the large grilled window that opened to the bright garden and the early morning sun. But she seemed happy in her solitary state and mostly silent immersed in her own thoughts that we have no clue about. She would stand once a while by the window staring vacantly at the scene before her.
Normally quiet, she gets upset with her face changing to scarlet whenever the nurse enters the room. She often breaks into scream like a ferocious cat at high pitch as if someone is assaulting her.Ammini,the tall nurse, accustomed to her nature gives her a cold and stern stare and tells ” Paru,stop it, I say. Open your mouth if you do not want a prick. I have lots of other things to do.” There would be instantly a magical transformation and the young woman as if under a spell would open her mouth obediently and swallow the tablets put along with water.
Ammini’s eyes would turn moist as she pats Paru and asks her “Please lie down. You need some sleep before your mom turns up in the evening.” She would cover Paru with a bed sheet and leave the room after drawing the curtains. This was a daily routine.
“Who are you? Why do you come here daily to disturb me from my thoughts?” asked Paru at the middle aged woman sitting before her in the only chair. A girl younger to Paru stood by the woman’s side staring at her, half in anxiety and half in fear.
“Paru dear, don’t you recognize me? It doesn’t matter. By Lord Guruvayurappan’s grace you would surely be able to soon. I have brought some sweet cookies that you are fond of for you. Please have them” she said as she fed Paru in her mouth. She ate initially with a chuckle and gusto and after two pieces she spat them with crumbs falling on her young sister.
“You should not spit if you do not like. I will keep the box aside and you may take whenever you like” said the woman softly not showing any trace of annoyance.
“I don’t want your cookies. They are poison. You want me to die. Do not think I do not know your plan” saying these hurting words she laughed like one possessed. Abruptly she stopped laughing and started screaming and tearing her hair “Go away, I want my mom here and not you. You are out to kill me. Get out “.
Ammini rushed in and shouted “Paru, be quiet. Don’t hurt your mother who comes daily for your sake” When the scream did not stop and she became hysterical, Ammini gave her an injection. She dozed away soon.
Turning to the woman, Ammini said “Do not worry. Such alternating emotions are common. Doctors are trying their best to cure her. The rest is in God’s hands. I would advise you not to come for two or three days. I want her to miss your daily presence. Rest assured,I will take care of her”
“It is difficult not to come and see my daughter even for a single day. If you think, it may help her, let me try. I am immensely grateful to you for the tender care and patience you are showing towards her”
“It is our duty and I also consider her as my younger sister” said Ammini
Ammini did not notice initially that Paru’s mother had been absent for the last few days. It was only when she saw Paru’s younger sister with her younger brother that Ammini realized it was more than a week since Paru’s mom was absent.
“Where is your mom? Why has she not been coming? Is she not well?” asked Ammini
The girl broke into sob and said “My mother met with accident on the day we came here last. An auto hit her and she is in the hospital .She was unconscious till yesterday. The first question she asked was whether we had met Paru.”
“Where is your dad? Who brought you here?”
“Our dad left us long back. We do not know where he is. An uncle in the next house brought us here and is waiting outside.” replied the girl
“What is your name and that of your brother?”
“Vijaya.He is Kesavan”
“Okay, come along with me to meet Paru” said Ammini
Paru was standing by the window staring vacantly. She did not notice Ammini and her own siblings.
“Paru, see who have come to meet you”
Paru turned and looked at them without any sign of recognition. She then asked out of the blue “Where is the woman who came to see me daily?”
An idea struck Ammini’s mind when she remembered doctors telling that on rare occasions shocking news help in restoring sanity. She told Paru “Do not say a woman. She is your mother and she met with a serious accident while returning after she met you last time. She is unconscious. Do you realize the gravity of what I am telling you? Your mom is critically injured and doctors are trying to save her.”
Paru was blinking initially not comprehending what Ammini said. She was absolutely silent for a few moments and then started shaking her head furiously as if something was trying to explode inside. Her face was drenched in sweat
“Paru, please lie down on the bed. Stop shaking your head” said Ammini as she led her to the cot. Surprisingly Paru wrenched herself away from Ammini and screamed “I want to see my mother right now. Take me to the hospital where she is.Please, won’t you do it” she started wailing
Overcome by surprise at the happy turn Ammini realized that her exaggeration of her mother’s accident as critical had acted as a shock. She wished to make sure that the news had indeed jerked Paru to reality.
Ammini told Paru”I do not know which hospital she is in. Ask this girl and boy if you know them for they may know:
Paru scratched her head a few times and said in a hurried tone “Aren’t you Vijaya and Kesavan.I am sorry I did not recognize you till now. Won’t you take me to amma?”She turned to Ammini and said “I do not know clearly where and why I am here but I know hazily now you are my benefactor.”
Ammini hugged Paru and showered kisses on her forehead saying with profuse tears in her eyes “It is all the grace of my Guruvayurappan that you have become normal now like anyone of us. Let me hurry to tell the doctors immediately. I will surely arrange for your meeting your mom soonest. Please bear with me”