Last Bath


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1. Last bath

                                                Last Bath

 

 

“Do we need hot or cold water for the bath mama ji?” asked Anurag innocently as he heard his mama ji talking about bathing ritual to a relative.

 

His mama ji did not bother to answer the innocent question of eight-year-old Anurag. Everyone gathered in his home was busy providing solace to his mother and grandmother. Every relation that day was only concerned with the fulfilment of his or her role that day. The sun had completed its morning round and afternoon had arrived.

 

Anurag shouted his question in front of the crowd which had filled in his home.

 

Anurag became disturbed as no one answered his question. Had his father been there, he could have thrown a tantrum and elicit an immediate response but his father was nowhere to be seen. So, he approached his grandmother repeating the same question.

 

“Grandma! Do we need hot or cold water for the bath?”

 

Grandma embraced him, wept for a long time, and only left him when Anurag pleaded for some breath.

 

Now he turned to his mother and repeated the same question.

 

“Maa! Do we need hot or cold water for the bath?”

 

 But his always lively mother had turned into a stone figure that day, showing no emotion or response to his query. Anurag was relieved that at least his mother did not erupt into the same weeping ritual like his grandmother.

 

Anurag was puzzled that why was no one answering him? He was the apple of eye of everyone in the family until that day.

 

Then his eyes fell on his father who was tightly wrapped in a white bed sheet placed in the middle of the room. He walked to him and asked, “Papa! Shall I bring lukewarm water for your bath?”

 

It was only then that his mother rose and lifted Anurag in her arms as her eyes produced an incessant flow of tears interrupted by some gasps.

 

 She could find no answer to provide to the question of Anurag who just wanted a hot water bath for the dead body of his father in the bone-chilling climate of January.

 

 

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