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It was the noon of a windy, wintry December, when she managed to wriggle out of an overcrowded ticket counter of a railway station, with her meagre belongings and a ticket and find herself tucked into a cozy corner of a train’s window seat. Her first train journey ever, in forty long years! As the train chugged out of the platform’s edge, all the cacophony of the station receded, and the vast expanse of the sky was in view. Sweekruti soon turned into a spool rewinding her life’s record playing in front of her mind’s eye. “Oh! my thirty golden, prime-time years – how they glittered all along, only to delude me” she whimpered internally. Sweekruti got liberated after a term of rigorous imprisonment for which she had been sentenced ten years ago. Sweekruti was headed in the right direction, now, for the first time in life! Yes, she was heading towards her hometown to meet her mom, Saraswati, praying feverishly that she would get to meet her after thirty years! “How much of suffering would I have subjected her to, all these years” thought she, ruefully. “This meeting is my most cherished wish of life and may the Universe grant this to me, without fail” she prayed. Touching fifty now, she was waiting to lap up her mom’s lap with faint memories having enjoyed this luxury last, only as an infant as she never even cared for it later on in life. But, today, this was almost like her dying wish, after half a century of human life, just wasted away! She witnessed blurry scenes of greenery outside the window. Realizing this, she soon cleared her eyes. Flashbacks nudged her gently once again towards her past… her ‘nasty’ past. “How recklessly led a life, was mine!” thought she. Sweekruti vividly recalled her first day of imprisonment. Though physically imprisoned, strangely enough, she was mentally liberated from a deluded state of mind that all along kept her trapped in a huge ego bubble, which finally burst within those dingy prison walls, brightening up and illumining her from within. These ten long years of her lifespan worked about a total metamorphosis, of an incredible kind for Sweekruti. She had turned spiritual. For, she did not bear the slightest semblance of guilt, fear or humiliation moving out into the public now. With objective attention, she only pitied her older version that was glossed in arrogance, ego and pride associated with fixed notions of superiority of her hi-fi academic achievements, professional achievements and political thrones – all of which stood nullified now. She had once aimed to see herself at such an exalted position that she threw up caution to the winds when it came to her core relationships– thankfully, it was perhaps Nature which took over the ‘Nurture’ of her own daughter, Akruti. She did not even have the faintest idea, though, of the welfare of both - her mother and her daughter. Deep down her heart, she could only just pray! “Life would soon unfold”, Sweekruti thought. She remembered her husband’s last deathbed days and how his unprecedented demise that ensued, had brought about drastic changes in her life. History had perhaps repeated itself – for, her dad too had passed away, leaving her dear mom alone, a couple of decades ago! But, the difference? Sweekruti’s Mom took up great challenges that confronted her but still led life gracefully, while, she, on her part, had sought several unethical routes tosuccess at the cost of neglecting both Mom and her young, preteen daughter. She decided to quit home to carve her seemingly quick, unethical routes to success and fame. Result? A negligent ‘Mom Sweekruti’, with a self-sabotaged image; in search of the two lost, invaluable treasures - a Wonderful Mom & an Awesome Daughter! She woke up from her state of stupor with the train coming to a sudden, jerky halt and passengers elbowing their way towards the exit door. She packed up too! In an hour’s time she found her trembling hands pressing hard at the door bell… No response. Sweekruti checked the address on her cell phone. “Well, that’s right! What on earth had happened to Mom then? Would she be alive still?” With imaginary fears, she trembled, allowing a frail figure in emaciated form beyond recognition, in her late seventies or so flash across her mind. “After all of life’s harshest blows bestowed on her, what else could one expect?” thought Sweekruti. Her racing mind wouldn’t rest a wee bit. Jerking herself back to the present, she muttered: “That was so stupid of me! What if she were hard of hearing”? No, she would not believe the doorbell now. She knocked hard and harder still, at the door, not minding her palms hurting her badly in turn. Still, no response! All of a sudden, the door gently opened. There stood a radiant, beaming Mom garlanding her with the brightest of smiles, least expected! Why, she was “Peace Personified”! The house wore a welcoming look and with fragrant incense soothing her senses, the ambience was simply, “Heavenly”! She entered with a quickened pace, as if unwilling to believe in ‘time’ any more. She led her mom straight to the bedroom and seating her there, on the bed, begged for her ‘Lap’! And, lo! her wish was granted!! Moments of stilling silence embalmed both! Sweekruti could not avoid soaking mom’s dress in her tears! “Where were you these thirty long years, Mom?” She asked sobbingly. “I turn that question on to you, my sweetheart! Where were you? You were the one who disowned me! Here’s my long prayer answered, finally”, beamed an overjoyed Saraswati. “I am glad I found my destination Mom, but now wonder where and how my dear Akruti would be!?” stuttered Sweekruti, between her sobs and pangs of guilt. “Rest in peace, my dear, for, in the safest and softest of hands, is our Angel”, said her ‘Mom- turned-successful-catering entrepreneur’. Well, she had catered to life’s needs, in every true sense of the term. “While both of us had, in some way, failed as mothers, here stands a proud Grandmom” said she, narrating how she successfully filled the void Sweekruti had left in her daughter’s life. The Long-lost Lap had worked wonders, for, it had continued to silently and unfailingly nurture the granddaughter - Sweekruti’s daughter! Just then, Akruti, as if out of ‘nowhere’ appeared and ‘lapped up’ her mom’s Lap!! A Mother’s mother and a Daughter’s beautiful daughter- both were well intact, for a reformed comeback- ‘Mom Sweekruti’ now! ‘So Magical’ was the power of ‘Long-Lost Laps’ ...Wasn’t it?! - by Vaidehi Krishnan


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