Lullaby, a short story
Lullaby, an age-old song.
(The old song)
“Ma you are humming the song that you used to sing when I was a baby in your lap. I could recall the whole note from then.”
“Yeah, it’s that song. But you cannot remember it as the cradled baby. I sang the whole song that night at our home party when you reached your golden five years. Then you may have learned it.”
“No no, it’s not the fact. You believe it or not, even that night when you startled everyone with that lullaby, enthralling and pensive with a vibrant trill, no one noticed that I was there to chorus with you. I knew the hymn ma, from the ancient hours of my birth.”
“How is it possible?”
“You are laughing. You are mocking me, ma. But it’s true. Perhaps the song was ingrained in my memory when I was inside you, at the cosy warmth of your womb. Who is the singer of that song ma, that soothing, emolument song?”
“I don’t know. I heard my mother sing this at the time of my childhood and she might be at her time from her ma, my grandma. It’s a case of transmission from generation to generation like the ancient “Vedas”.
“But I have decided ma that I’ll not sing it to my kids. What should she or he get out of it ma? What have I got- the flooding emotion and no practicality, as Sushant always accused me of? He wished that our children must not be like me, ma, impulsive, emotional, and frail but like him- practical, bold, and smart. I must prepare a new lullaby that will speak of this world, this society, and
this traumatic existence of us.
(The new song)
“Mom, you are still awake! Oh, mom, I told you several times, not to wait for me, just put my food on the table and sleep comfortably.”
“How can a mother sleep comfortably when her daughter has not returned even at this odd hour of the night, how can I?”
“Mom, you are just…..I am fade-up with you. Why do not you understand, I’m a grown-up lady, no more your little cheek.”
“You all are grown-ups and know everything. But whatever it is, for my part, it is impossible to close my eyes in peace when my blood is out on the dark, cold, night. May I ask you what kept you engaged till this time outside?”
“Come on mom, cool down. It is you who taught me from my childhood to fight against the wrongs; it is you who showed me the vulnerable world where only powerful politicians held the vantage point of every opportunity and affluence in life. It is you… mom, who lead me this way, where under every mask there hid an animal, under every smile a bloodthirsty soul. Those are your lullabies for me mom. And now I’m in that vocation to strip off the disguise of smoothly woven plot and highlight the truth in my column, in my journal. Thousands of hands will pick them tomorrow morning with the crowing of roosters and clinking of cycles when the paper men throw them to their veranda. Thousands will click their news app to know the truth. Do you realize that mom? I have to finish the news that I set up day by day, bit by bit, a heinous trap that is hatched under our nose coating with the smell of chocolate and vanilla. That industry that makes cookies also makes something else mom. And I know what it is.”
“But …but I’m scared. Oh, baby, what have I done to you! You are at risk, for me. I have diverted your blossoming young heart to this social restlessness. It is me, who instead of chanting the song of nature, love, sang the song of rebellion. I discarded my mother’s lullaby and sang the new songs. Oh, how horrible I’m!”
“No mom, you are not. What have you gained being the listener of that lullaby that you heard in your childhood and that you regret not to inject in me? What have you got mom? Father rejected you for a smart lady who can sing Beetles and Bob Morley. And you remain as an epitome of failure even to the eyes of your parents, but not to me mom. To me, you are the strength, the flame that flickers under the black cloak of cloud. You are a great creator of lullabies.”
“Do you remember the songs?”
“The songs, I remember those all… ‘His name was John Henry’, ‘Come on the road, and you will know your destination’, and that ‘blood simmering song’, you called it, ‘Who has broken my home, I can recall them, my days sowed in blood, hammering in my conscience’, and the innumerable songs you used to sing mom. They were so overwhelming and blood-fueling for me. I cannot make you understand how I felt when you sang them with all your spirit when you and I were there only, and no one. Papa’s office tour was then so frequent and lengthy, but it did not affect your voice. Maybe I was wrong. Your songs were your show off, your desperate attempt to conceal the gnawing pain. But if it was so, then why do you stop mom? Nowadays, you just keep nagging at me. Why are you so afraid, afraid of what ma? What is left for us to lose?”
“Nothing, nothing, except the trauma if you don’t come back to me if anything wrong happens to you. How can I live then? Sushant has left me. And now you are my only abode, the only reason to live.”
“You have to learn mom to live on your own, for your own. In this world we are the pawn, fighting a fruitless fight. Now come on, serve the food to me, and then we will sleep together. You must sing the songs – your lullabies in my sleep.”
Hey, I am Munmun, the phoenix fabulist who wants to tell you stories. I love to read stories and I love to weave stories. I feel life is an amalgamation of multiple stories, colourful threads, and threads of pain, pleasure, hope, and hopelessness. We just need to pick those hues and arrange them, knitting them with our own emotions and perception. So let’s celebrate the stories of life.