O’ MOTHER! HEAL THYSELF!”
Little Soni’s mother was sick for the last few days. Her father had been meticulously slathering wet- cloth-strips over her mother’s forehead every day, praying all the while for the fever to break. But the malady had shown no signs of abatement. The affliction had steadfastly stuck on, gripping her mother tighter, day after day. In a matter of few weeks, her mother had been transformed from vivacious, verdurous lass to a sallow bag of bones.
Soni recalled what the old –man from the neighborhood had said, “The incessant demands of the household and farm work have taken a toll on her. Plenty of rest will probably get her on her feet… Nature has bestowed everyone with a relentless ability to heal.”
The old–man’s words reminded Soni of her favorite book– ‘Neela’s diary.’ Written a long time ago by a ten-year-old girl Neela as diary entries and published later on, the book spoke of Neela’s journey during the Corona pandemic. She opened the book at a random page and began reading—
Yay!! The exams are canceled!
Everyone seems to be talking about only one thing these days–the COVID-19 virus; that was all dad watched on the news yesterday.
Mom told me we are not allowed outside, so I’ve made plans to sit in front of the TV all day! Awesome!
Soni turned a few pages,
This lock-down doesn’t seem to be ending. Since they started remote learning at school, the holidays stopped being fun. I’m missing hanging out with my friends. I couldn’t have imagined ever saying that, but I’m really missing school. Most of my mornings are barely crawling by. I’m either cooped up with the laptop attending school or hanging around the window with my face pressed firmly against the pane.
Some days I hang around grandma watching WhatsApp videos. One of the clips showed a hoard of wild animals thronging the urban localities while humans were hunkered indoors. It seemed a shot straight from my favorite movie Jumanji. Grandma elaborated, “It’s happening all over the world. People have sighted swans gliding over clear canals of Venice. In India, people could see peaks of the Himalayas from as far as Punjab because the skies are no more strangled with smog.”
“It seems Nature has pressed its reset button. The man who had plundered and pillaged his mother, the Earth, is now kept away, just like an unruly child. This is like the ‘me- time’ all the mother’s need for a sound spirit and mind. A mother who is fulfilled has so much more love to give! “Grandma concluded.
At night, I knelt down and said aloud, “Mother earth! Heal thyself; we need you to mother again!”
Closing her book, Soni let out a deep sigh. Her mother needed solitude to heal, just like Mother Earth. Soni looked up. She couldn’t wait for the day when just like Mother Earth, her own mother would pull out of the woods to reclaim herself.
I wrote this story for a prompt-based contest by the Asian Literary society. The prompt was to weave a verse around ‘Mother Earth Heal Thyself.’ This story was chosen as one of the winners. you can see the certificate here-