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     Volume 5 Issue 125 | December 22, 2006 |

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The sound of her footsteps

Syed Nadeem Ahsan

I have always loved winter, perhaps it's the cold, perhaps it's the fact that the sun seems to rise late and disappear earlier or perhaps it's the early morning fog. I just don't know. It's one of those things that you cannot find a tangible explanation for. This winter is very different from all the ones that have passed through my life. It is much colder, much more subdued and much foggier. Strangely I have all the reasons to feel otherwise. I have finally finished my MBA this winter. I will be travelling to the US as an immigrant, which has been a dream from childhood, also this winter. But there is the numbness that gripped my heart the day my mother passed away late in October. It has been days since then but that remains and I am speaking for all my siblings too. It's as if we have all realised the meaning of life or rather how meaningless it is. Her death has diminished us all.

It is strange how every morning my ears strain to hear the sound of her feet coming to call me to wake up, afraid I may be late and rush to office without my breakfast. On many of those mornings before she was able to call me I would declare I was awake hearing her coming long before. It was a game I played with her. If I surprised her by being awake first then I was the winner. It's one of the thousands that I had created over the years. If I was late in coming home from work she always assumed I am all starved. I could never make her understand there were actually places outside where I would eat with my friends and not stay starved till I dropped. We have all been going through the motions in our daily lives, going through the day with all the strength in the world. We keep our world locked up deep in our hearts to face everyday challenges with all the strength that we can muster. It's one of the qualities that have been handed down directly from my mother. She has been the guiding star all of our lives, only shining even brighter since the day my father died 14 years ago. She taught us to be kind, strong and above all live a life of honour in a country where all those values seem to just come crashing down all around you.

Even as I write this piece I can hear my nieces and nephew playing outside. But somehow it's not as loud as it used to be. They are too young too realise what has happened in all its gravity and will only remember their grandmother from her photos and from the stories that they will hear from us. But I do hope they learn to model themselves from the stories and remain simple in a complex world and yet not get washed away by all its complexity and can hold on their own.

Nature in all its cruelty has shaken the ground right underneath our feet. But we have not fallen. Yes, we have realised that happiness is fleeting. And now everyday my siblings and I hope sadness is passing, fleeting too.

The writer is associated with Etcetera

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