Monday, 13 January 2014

The chair she sleeps in

It was her favourite corner of house; gave her adequate sunlight in winters post noon and satisfying breeze in summers. She used to sleep almost entire day peacefully on her rocking chair. After my in-laws got killed in an accident, she was the only one we had who we could call a family. My husband, my four years old daughter and I took turns to sit with her and tell her what is going on in our respective lives. My daughter loved her the most. She used to keep scribbling and doodling things we have not been able to discern from one another. Then she always used to hand over her art to her beloved grandmother who played along and praised her. My husband, no matter how tired he was, used to sit with her and pressed her legs till she slept.

I also did my best to keep her happy; but I was so jealous of her, jealous of the fact that she could afford to sleep all day while I slog in kitchen for a daughter and a husband who paid no attention to me and jealous of the fact that she had the most amazing corner of the house. However if you ask me what was I most jealous of her; it was her rocking chair. Sometimes I used to imagine myself sitting in that chair, admiring myself in mirror on opposite wall and fading into slumber while I oscillate. I was amazed at how I had never seen her leaving that chair, how she manages to do her chores even without asking my help and even without leaving that chair. This is one mystery I could never solve. I had lost all hopes of ever sitting in that chair; but luck was in my favour.
She had slept the entire day without moving from the chair as usual. When my husband was pressing her legs, he felt they were colder than usual. Thinking that she was unwell, he tried to wake her up. She never got up. After she was gone, we felt if we had awakened from a dream. Suddenly we did not know what to do in the spare time which was earlier spent with her. Next few days were very depressing and uncomfortable for both of us. Now we had time for each other but nothing to talk about. One day not long after the grandmother died, I spent one such wordless evening with my husband and then walked out of the room to look after my daughter. She was as usual doodling sitting in that corner near the rocking chair. I realised in last few days, I had forgotten both, my daughter and the chair. I kept looking at her while she scribbled with absolute concentration, but what she did next made me shiver. She offered the notebook in the air, as if her grandmother was still there to praise her. Next few moments she kept chuckling as she used to do when her grandmother told her jokes about what the doodle appeared to her as. I lifted her in my arms while she kept pointing at the chair as if her grandmother was still sitting there.
I had not slept properly since she died. It was a lovely winter afternoon and that corner of house looked particularly tempting with sun coming in through the blinds. I had waited for this moment for a very long time. I slowly settled into that chair. As soon as it started oscillating, I understood why I craved for it so much. It was so soothing and relaxing. I also knew now how she managed to sleep for entire day, since only after two minutes my eyes got heavy. I must have slept for hours when a touch woke me up. My daughter handed over her doodle to me. I looked at it and she chuckled even when I did not say anything. I tried to get up but could not. And then it dawned upon me. I looked at my shrivelled hands. I looked at myself in the mirror only to find reflection of a vacant chair. I wanted to scream but I could not.
And then something happened which made it all clear. I came out of the room and kept looking at my daughter. I seemed frightened watching my daughter chuckling. Is this not the dress I was wearing yesterday? How can I see myself standing across the room? And then I picked up my daughter and went into the room while the real I was still sitting on the chair. Or was she real?
And then she came back, looked into my eyes and said – “You wished for my life, I wished for yours”.