Chapter 1

Written by: Suraya Dewing

Chetna closed her eyes, leaned back and imagined the moon’s light gently massaging her face. Suddenly, loneliness engulfed her. 

Intellectually she knew this was how it worked with children. 

They filled your life with noise and busyness and as a devoted parent you nourished them physically, mentally and emotionally. She had done all that, making sure Ashok had the best education money and now a good job in IT.

With a loud sigh she pulled her brightly coloured silk Pashmina shawl around herself. 

She did wish Ashok would occasionally call home. All her friends assured her she was asking too much, that she should be overjoyed he had a secure job….as that was absolute proof she had done an excellent job of raising him.

She wandered over to the night watchman who sat in a small wooden hut beside the entrance. 

“I see you here every night,” she said, "do you have a family?”

He told her that he did, then asked about her situation.

Cynicism touched the edges of her voice as she told him she was Group Area Manager for Retail Banking and Wealth Management for the Hong Kong Bank. She had worked very long hours to achieve this position. Now her hours were even longer with intelligent young rising stars falling over themselves to take her place.

Leaves of nearby Boston ferns rustled as a languid breeze drifted through them. The sweet scent of Juhi brought back happy memories of her childhood home with her mother cooking delicious hot Rotis and Sabzi and her father's large hand patting her on the head.

“Are you sure you're all right,” the night watchman earnestly asked, peering closer.

The icy moon had picked up the silvery tracks of tears falling down her cheeks and the night watchman wondered if he had said something to upset her. He had watched Chetna come and go, her face tight with stress and worry, and he had felt very sorry for her.

Chetna gave a little nod. “Sometimes you wonder if you did the right thing, don’t you?”

He chuckled. “I also wonder that. I have a wife who nags me from dawn to dusk and six children who think I’m the Bank of Hong Kong.” 

He gave another hoot and a startled red whiskered Bulbul flew up from a tree.

Despite the heavy feelings and thoughts weighing her down, Chetna smiled. 

She pulled her shawl closer around herself, not because she was cold but because its softness gave her much comfort. 

The loose gravel crunched beneath her soft leather sandals.  

“You are very right. I should be much more grateful. Here I am dreading my mother’s bossy ways when she comes to visit next week. I should be pleased she even wants to come.” She lifted her eyebrows...."not like that ungrateful son of mine."

The night watchman hooted. "Show me a child who isn't ungrateful."

Comments

What a lovely piece of writing Suraya. It's not easy to engage readers when the action is mostly internal but you have done this beautifully.