Mrs. Latchu never expected such behaviour from her only child. Since he married two years ago, she felt she had lost a son, rather than gained a daughter-in-law.
“This house is too big for you ma.” Varun slid into the chair across from his mother and leaned forward. “What if something happens to you and no one’s around?”
“I feel like your father still here.” She lifted her eyes to the ceiling.
“Pa’s been gone for over a year, you shouldn’t talk like that.”
“You go understand after you spend your whole life with somebody.”
“I’m just concerned about you, that’s all.”
“Then you and Kate should come and stay with me, you didn’t have to move.”
“I told you, Kate wanted to be near her parents and her job after the baby’s born.” Varun shifted a few times in his chair. “At least think about it, you’ll fetch a good price for this house.”
“Your father build this house with he own hands.” She tapped the hand-crafted wooden arms of her antique rocker. “He give me this when you born, and I used to rock you to sleep here every night. He say it go support me in my old age when he not around.”
Her hands were unsteady as she placed them on Varun’s shoulders and kissed his forehead, just as she did when he was a little boy. “I can’t live nowhere else.” The tears came streaming down her cheeks after he rose and locked the door behind him.
A week later he turned up with a sale agreement and confessed that he had found a buyer for the house. He needed to secure his job at the realtors and pleaded with her to sign, which she did with quiet resignation. She vacated the house a few days later, taking only some photos and personal items. Varun promised to return with a van the next day for her rocker.
“You and Kate wouldn’t even know I there.” Her voice was barely audible from the back seat of his car.
Varun focused ahead to avoid her eyes in the rearview mirror. “The baby’s almost due and we’ll need the extra room. But I found a nice seniors’ home nearby where you’ll be comfortable and I’ll visit often.” He lapsed into silence.
She wanted to say that he barely visited her before, when she already had a comfortable home.
Mrs. Latchu watched the other residents with their visiting families during the first week at the seniors’ home. She remained confined to her quarters to evade their prying eyes, which held only pity. She grieved for her antique rocker that often brought her solace.
“Are they treating you well?” Varun turned up two weeks later and sat next to her on the edge of the bed.
“They okay.” She managed a smile. “You bring the rocker for me?”
He lowered his head. “It fell down and broke while I was moving it so I threw it out. It was old anyway.”
Her lips parted, but there was no sound. The silence stretched between them. They exchanged a few words and he sprang to his feet, bidding her farewell.
Her eyes rested on her wedding photo on the bedside table, and shifted to the photo beside it. She recalled that moment when Varun had taken his first step and she had grabbed the camera, encouraging him to walk towards her. He had fallen a few times and she took him into her arms, assuring him that she would rather die than see him fall.
She lifted the photo and pressed it against her chest, her eyes glistening with tears. She closed her eyes and a smile lurked about her mouth. Her husband was beckoning her with outstretched arms.
Vashti Bowlah is a writer from Trinidad and Tobago, and a participant of The Cropper Foundation/UWI Creative Writers’ Workshop. Her articles, poems and short stories have appeared in newspapers, journals and anthologies, and she continues to pursue her passion for writing, with special focus on the short story. She has won prizes and awards for her writing, including the David Hough Literary Prize awarded by The Caribbean Writer. She also freelances as an editor/proofreader.