Short Story: Tears of regret | Sunday Observer

Short Story: Tears of regret

The death of an old woman did not cause that much sorrow to the villagers. But, there was a large crowd in the funeral procession as the family had been living there for many decades.

Nithya was surprised to see tears rolling down her father, Nathan’s cheeks. He was looking down at his mother’s corpse placed in the coffin, often approaching it, with a look of sadness.

For the first time she had seen her father crying in such a manner, and was proud to see that he was so greatly attached to his mother. But her mother, Nalini, did not have any regard or respect for her mother-in-law.

An elderly woman, a mourning neighbour, said to Nithya, “If your grandmother had a daughter she would not have wept as much as your father. His love towards her seems to be very deep.” Nithya, while listening to the woman also watched her father’s face and shed a few tears herself, unable to control her emotions.

Though her father’s tears roused her feelings, her only uncle Niroshan (father’s brother) appeared normal with no appearance of sorrow on his face, maybe it was in his heart. She could not understand him, nothing outwardly seen.

Nithya thought to herself, why was it that one son, her father, was so sad, while the other, her uncle was just moving around talking to the visitors, After sometime, Nithya heard a distant relative of hers making the same comment as her neighbour.

The burial was held. Nathan attended to the post funeral rites and rituals. Niroshan was sitting in a corner of the verandah in a pensive mood. Later, he began to arrange the house with the help of a few who were present.

Gradually, the relatives left and the house became quiet, with only a lamp burning in a corner.

Nithya going to her father asked him, “Appa, does your mother’s death still worry you?”

Nathan did not speak. He was quiet. She continued, “Do you know what the people of the village said?”

“What did they say?” Nathan questioned after a few seconds.

“They said that you loved your mother very much. But, your brother is a stone hearted man, no tears were seen in his eyes”. After a pause, “I could not understand what they meant.”

She continued, “I too was watching you and for a moment I thought you were acting. Obviously, there seemed to be a difference between your sorrow and your brother’s”.

With a deep sigh, Nathan said, “My dear, actually I am stone-hearted. But my brother is a soft-hearted fellow. He shows his love and kindness to all, even to domestic animals.”

“What do you mean Appa?”

“Yes, my dear. Niroshan need not cry after your grandmother’s death. He is the one who looked after your grandmother for four years doing everything possible. In fact, he spent a lot of money on her, especially, for medical expenses. You too are aware, I believe”.

“Yes. I have seen it several times when we visited her”, replied Nithya, nodding.

“He had to manage, looking after his mother, as his wife Nirmala was not happy about it, and often gave him trouble. The normal ill feelings of a wife, when the husband cares for his mother, was there in her too. Despite all practical difficulties Niroshan did a lot to our mother,” said Nathan.

Nithya accepted the fact of her father’s failure in attending to his mother, especially, because her mother was totally against keeping the old woman in her house.

Nithya understood well that her father’s tears meant he was filled with regret. And Niroshan, he had no such regrets to repent or cry, though he grieved in no small manner.

The joy of a family at some stage turns sad or cruel in one’s life.

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