Kazi Falguni Eshita
“What is the use of being glued to electronic boxes all the time? Don’t you have better things to do?” Raffia Afzal Khan snapped at her thirteen-year-old daughter, Rubina.
“Oh come on mom, I’m watching a hit movie here.” Rubin replied in an exasperated tone. She hated being watched all the time, especially by her mother.
The teenage girl loved to stay up at night, either watching TV or chatting on the social networking sites. All attempts to bring her away from such addictions already failed. She also had to miss classes frequently, owing to her late night feasts. Instead of going out for a morning walk, she would rather sit in front of the computer with a large bowl of chocolate corn flakes.
The moderately heavy curtains swung with the breeze. The computer displayed a few Excel Spreadsheets. Crystal show pieces decorated the office table. Raffia sat on a comfortable revolving chair, resting her head on the back of her palms. Her thick, long hair was tied neatly into a bun.
A sharp, yet melodious tone broke the silence of the atmosphere. It was the lunch alarm. Raffia decided to skip lunch that day despite being hungry. She still had a pile of exam papers waiting to be checked.
“Excuse me, ma’am, you have a call.” The timid voice of a student brought Raffia back to reality.
“Hello, mom, when will you be back?” It was Rubin on the other side of the phone. She sounded pretty sad.
“Why sweetie, what’s the matter?” concern flowed from Raffia’s voice.
“Just wish you were here.” Rubina replied gloomily.
Raffia knew this tone. Rubina always used to call at lunchtime just to hear her voice. The girl had to stay with the maid quite a long time after returning from school. Machines are definitely not substitutes for the company of loved ones. Even at thirteen, Rubin was still mommy’s girl. Her father was crushed under the wheels of a truck, thanks to the drunk driver, a few weeks before she was born. So for her, Dad resided in framed photographs and in the letters written to her mother before their marriage.
Meanwhile, Rubina was posing in front of her full length mirror, trying on various simple ornaments. Doing such modeling was one of her favorite pastimes.
“No, not so pretty.” Rubina said to herself as she tried on a pair of earrings.
A teen version of Rafia adorned one of the walls of her daughter’s bedroom. A long, tanned face and a pair of black, wet eyes reflected intelligence. A thick, long braid slid down her left shoulder. “Wow, I wish I had that beauty.” Rubina thought aloud as she looked at the familiar face on the wall.
“Beep beep!” The constant familiar sounds of vehicle horns, especially while sitting inside a bus, stuck in traffic congestion, was enough to drive one crazy. Rafia was already feeling nauseas. Time seemed to be stuck. Her hands had to be busy handling a few strands of hair which preferred to play with the wind instead of staying at the right place.
“Ouch!” A painful groan escaped Rafia’s lips as she felt a sharp pinch on her thigh.
A particular class of men enjoyed these sorts of dirty actions on the public transports. It’s no use arguing with them so the lady kept mum.
Being a university professor was not an easy job. Handling students of a tender age group, sometimes listening to their personal problems, finding solutions… sometimes both loneliness and monotony surrounded the middle-aged lady. She had to cope up with everything just for the sake of Rubina. Her daughter meant the world to her.
“Hey there, Rubina dear, here’s some Russian salad for you.” Rafia announced one day as she produced a bowl with various ingredients in it. Rubina was busy decorating her bedroom with freshly picked Tube-Roses and Periwinkles. Her mother always liked to see a tidy and pleasant home. Rubina always tried her level best to keep their home spotlessly clean.
“Meow!” a soft purr made her smile. It was her feline friend, Snowbell. The cat had a swollen tummy, and Snowbell’s mistress was already on seventh heaven dreaming of her pet kittens every day.
Gradually, with her mom’s help, inspiration and guidance, Rubina moved away from sugary snacks and television. Munching on cucumbers and tomatoes was her thing now, and morning walk was a must. She loved watching various species of birds at the park. She had the world’s best mother. Despite all the occasional fights, she adored her mom, and would do anything to be an ideal daughter.