Mallini’s eyes flew open. Her heart started to beat so loud and fast in that very instant. She struggled to hurriedly get up from her rocking chair. She stumbled in the darkness of her musty room as though she were not familiar with her own room anymore. She opened her room and ran across to her daughter’s room. She flung open the door.

“Nandini…” she exclaimed under her breath.

There she stood in her daughter’s room with one hand stretched behind her on the door knob, the other swinging by her side. Her hair wind blown and wild. Her face hollow and lifeless. Her eyes sunk and tearless.

There she stood in her daughter’s room ..alone.

The silence tore at her with its sharp claws.

Everything was in it's place. Like Nandini never left. The room smelt of some perfume Nandini once wore.

Her bed looked like it was slept in that morning. Nandini loved cartoon characters. Her pajamas always sported them. Even as she grew out of her teens and into her early 20s, Nandini never changed. She loved her Winnie the Pooh, Tigger the Tiger and Piglet.

Mallini’s heart fell. Again. It has been a year since she lost her only daughter Nandini… sparkling, bubbling Nandini with the sweetest smile on earth. Not even her illness had taken that smile off her beautiful face.

Time never heals. It never has. It never will.

Mallini dropped her hand, stilled her wild heart and stepped further into Nandini’s room. She looked at a book by the pillow on Nandu’s bed. ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ by C.S Lewis. That was Nandu. She loved children and loved to save the world. ‘I wish I had asked her how the book was’, she thought. She picked up the book and flipped it open. The page fell open at a bookmarked page. Nandu had not completed it. Mallini felt tears build in the back of her eyes; she felt weak again.

‘God, you took her away before she could complete this book…or her life’.

She reached out for support on to the chair nearby. Her hand felt her daughter’s sweatshirt. Her mind sprang alive with afresh with more memories and more pain. She could not move her hand from it. She felt its texture, the cloth… as though it were Nandu herself. She gently picked it up and smelt it. Somewhere she could smell her daughter come home after a game at the tennis court.

She burst into tears. She thought she could cry no more but the tears never stop, the pain never goes away.

She pulled the chair out and sat down slowly onto it. She laid the book down on the table and folded the sweatshirt onto her lap. She looked at Nandu’s table. Like as though Nandu never left. Above her table was her graffiti board. Pictures were pinned up of happier days… happier life… another lifetime. Nandu with Jency and Divya at their Graduation; all in saree, Nandu with little Meena, her cousin, Nandu with Sweta and Sameera, Nandu with Ram, Nandu and Cuckoo the dog, Nandu on the Cruise Ship, Nandu with Harini and Rohini in their school uniforms, Nandu in her car, Nandu onstage during her Karnatic recital…

Mallini wondered where the other girls were. Did they move on? Do they also have these pictures on their walls? Or have they buried it along with Nandu? She remembered another life where she would serve any one Nandu bought home, with iced lemonade and cookies.

She bowed her head down with pain. Squeezed her eyes of tears.

She looked around on Nandu’s table. A writing pad with some notes. A few pens. Three P.G. Wodehouse stacked on one side. A few sheets of paper. And a coffee mug stain on the table. Was that the last coffee Nandu had in this house? Had she make that coffee for Nandu?

She could bear this no more. She wailed out loud and ran to her room, slamming her daughter’s door behind her. She collapsed on her rocking chair… in the comfort of her own safe haven of denial and isolation.

She was so lonely since her beautiful Nandu… Nandini was buried. She never went back to school. At first her fellow teachers and many students dropped by with flowers, fruits, cakes and chocolates. Eventually they stopped. Her relatives would come with empty words and limp shoulders. Now that too has stopped.

The worst hit was her husband. She could not blame him for avoiding her. She knew it herself and he had said so many times… sometimes in deep pride, sometimes in annoyance – “Your daughter is just like you”. Her baby girl grew up to look like her.

Now he could not bear to remember what he had lost. He had sold his mind and heart to the demons of work and money. He did not keep time for the dead. His dead daughter nor his dying wife.

Mallini was alone among the living. Dead but still living. With time and memories haunting her. Her eyes closed with unshed tears at its brim and weariness stinging. Her breathe became slower as her wild mind lay itself to deceiving stillness. She slowly calmed. Her heart stilled. Her breathe slowed. 


Mallini’s eyes flew open. Her heart started to beat so loud and fast in that very instant. She held fast to the arms of her rocking chair and willed herself not to get up. She squeezed her eyes shut and began a silent pleading sob. 

Mallini refused to respond to her daughter’s calling.

Nandini Krishnan
Nandini Krishnan - Smart, Sweet and Sensitive. A close friend and the sweetest person I have known passed away on Christmas eve, 2005. She succumbed to a war she was fighting against cancer. She did win the battle.

I will always remember her smile every Christmas.

(This account is only a story though Nandini was real and still is for many.)


01/07/2013 5:44pm

beautiful. so sorry for your loss. life is indeed more sorrowful than fiction.

01/31/2013 8:05am

Indeed it is! I wish upon her parents (she was an only child) more comfort as the years gather up.

01/19/2013 5:12am

Gins, you r the kinda person who will never forget a friend right??? though they are here in this world or the other one.... i remember you telling about this friend of yours,,, still it brought tears in my eyes!!!

01/30/2013 8:59pm

Oh baby *tears and hugs* .... You understand well - friendship , life , death and emotions . Love you.

01/31/2013 8:06am

Friends make a man complete. S/he can have family, lover(s), children but friends add that color to life that noone else can paint. Cheers to you, dear friend!

Arun Kumar
01/30/2013 9:25pm

I still remember her struggle during one of the class presentation and was forced to leave. Never realized she had cancer until we heard that sad news.

01/31/2013 8:08am

We were all shocked. I regret being young and frivolous back then and not giving Nandu or our class the attention that it deserved.
She was a gem. Somedays I still miss her and I always wonder how she would have been, had she been around today.

02/11/2013 1:56am

Used to call her bubbles. Didn't have words when i went to her home. Harini broke the news to me. Damn... I was happy when i heard that she is ok and back from treatment, but then...

02/11/2013 8:50am

Yes, bubbles. She was all Bubbles. I was in Beijing when I heard. I clicked with just a few people at our college (mostly by foolish choices and partly because I was still growing up) and to have one of them taken away was brutal. Weeping amongst strangers did bring comfort - the loneliness was welcomed.
We lost a few from our class, didn't we? I am glad to be back in touch with a hand full and to finally get to know many of our mates.


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    Every once in a while, I feel like a story. I read one or write one. 


    January 2013