The banks always flooded this time of the year. There was no helping it at least in the previous years they could leave easily, but now with the kids around it was supremely difficult. They didn’t know how much it would rain each year and they could only wait till the news let them know that the rain would continue and that the banks would flood. But this year with the downpour being so aggressive the electricity was cut, and they couldn’t check the news on TV anymore.
Raghav woke up unaware of the time, he started to feel cold all of a sudden when his eyes finally opened the lower half of his body was soaked in water and that’s when he realized that their home had begun to flood, he quickly woke Uma up and they took the kids and whatever else they could take with them and ran. They knocked on their neighbours doors and informed them to leave too.
They made it up to the highway which was the closest road by their home and waited for a vehicle to pull around. Raghav holding their 11-month-old, and his wife held their 7-year-old daughter, with her daughter in her hand she looked back to check on their home, the waters were rising. She looked toward Raghav again, as the house began to sink further, Uma’s heart began sinking as well.
A truck that was rushing through the heavy downpour noticed the flailing arms and stopped. Raghav approached the window and after a bit of deliberation, he asked them to hurry on and climb on to the back. Raghav climbed up first, then took both the children, then stretched out his hand to help his wife up. The driver took off, Raghav moved into the front seat to talk to the driver, he asked him where he was headed, he was headed into the city. Raghav told him to drop them off anywhere near the city where they could find shelter. The rain was still heavy and made it difficult to see the road, the light was minimal and the rain didn’t help. On a curve Just before the entrance into the city roads, the driver was late to notice an oncoming car, he turned the steering wheel hard and the wheels swiveled out of control on the slippery tar, the panic within the truck was crazy but they didn’t know how to react. The truck went off the highway, the impact was instant and there was no way of stopping it. The nearby people rushed to help out, an ambulance was called and drove them immediately to the hospital.
Waking up with a blinding headache, Uma instinctively looked for her children. She was stopped by a nurse from getting up. She told her that her kids were fine and were in the other ward with Nurses looking after them, she breathed a sigh of relief. Then the panic returned and she asked the nurse where her husband was, the nurse didn’t respond and told Uma she will be back in some time to change the IV bottle. She told her she would return with the doctor who would answer all her questions. She laid back down, after half an hour of delay the doctor walked in. Uma had fallen asleep from the headache and the doctor left. Mid-evening her consciousness returned and the panic set back in, she called out for her kids but to no avail. A nurse finally walked in reluctantly and told her to wait, she rang the doctor and assisted Uma in going to the toilet.
The world was caving in around her, she felt her arms tremble with anger, but she didn’t have the strength to move them. The answer had shattered her completely, left her in ruins. Her world would never be the same again. She let out loud wails as she cried, she wouldn’t calm down no matter how much the nurses tried. Raghav and the driver had passed away immediately at the sight of the accident. Their truck had steered off the Highway and crashed into a broken-down truck by the side. Uma and the children survived because the driver had managed to slow the truck down enough.
She cried hysterically which made it hard for her to breathe, the doctor instructed the nurse to sedate her which was the only way to calm her down at this point.
When she was finally up the next morning it was because of Jyoti tugging at her elbow. She smiled seeing her daughter, the toddler lay in a cradle next to her. She had to stay strong for her children; they still had their whole lives ahead of them. She was feeling better and her injuries had healed, although she still had to get the stitches on her legs removed next week. With no source of income, she had to find a job, one of her friends had recently picked up a job in the city cleaning houses.
The search for the job was disappointing, luckily she ran into a woman in the market that wanted a maid. Uma agreed to work for her, she did want food for the night and a place to stay, the woman had agreed to let them stay on their front porch for the night.
After finishing work, Uma fed the kids and left them at home, to go look for a place to stay and another place she could work. She found a Landlord that had a spare storeroom, so he agreed to let her and the kids live there rent-free on the condition that she worked as a maid for him without pay. Jyoti woke up from the noise, she saw her brother begin to wake up, he was getting hungry and crankier, but their mother was nowhere to be seen. Her mother had left a bottle of milk right by where they slept, she picked up the bottle and brought it to the lips of her tiny brother, he began suckling, and gradually fell asleep again.
She put the bottle down and fell asleep. It was raining again now and Uma had to rush back home. She saw her kids waiting for her. She looked at the bottle and asked where the milk went and Jyoti told her that she had fed Rohan. They moved into the storeroom of the landlord the next day, and everyday Jyoti took care of Rohan she fed him, cleaned him, carried him around in her arms, and everyday Uma worked long hours getting home and cooking dinner for herself and Jyoti.
Rohan and Jyoti were inseparable, and although Rohan didn’t remember Jyoti taking care of him as a child, as he grew up his mother would tell him stories of how his sister took care of him their whole childhood. Rohan was enrolled in the same school as Jyoti and they travelled together every day, making their bond ever closer. He immensely respected and cared for his sister. College was a different story as Jyoti had completed school first and Rohan had to go through 8 years of school alone.
Both of them chose completely different fields of study in college as well.
Jyoti got a steady Job which massively improved their way of living. They had moved out of the storeroom that they called home and gone to a better home. Uma talked to her about getting married, but Jyoti had stubbornly decided that she wouldn’t go to any home that demanded dowry.
As the day of the wedding drew closer, the festivities were through the roof on her Sangeet ceremony. Rohan was asked to be the host, and he gladly obliged. The ceremony had been an all-round success and everybody had a great time. Rohan came up to the stage one last time and held the mike, he said that he had a few words to say, everyone turned to him intently. He began, “For 18 years she had been his rock and had always stood by his side taking care of him every day. Through hardships and celebrations, she had always been there. All the time throughout his life I had thought I was unlucky to have lost his father at an early age, but what I was too young to realize was that I had been blessed with two Mothers two Pillars, that have held me up for 18 years of my life, two Mothers who have given me everything from the day I was born. Although I was too young to remember, Mom told me stories of how a 9-year-old took care of me, how she shielded me from every fall, and cushioned my every injury. And as I grew up and grew capable of understanding, I saw with my own eyes how much love I was showered with. Her affection was so palpable that it could build bridges when it seemed like the edge of the world. It took me a long time to realize that I was given a Mother and a Sibling in the same person. So, to ‘My Sibling Mother’ l wish you the most beautiful future, you deserve all the happiness in the world.”
Jyoti wrapped her arms around her brother and almost ruined her Mehendi.
They looked at the pictures from her wedding now, three years on from the day of her marriage she had conceived. There were none as happy as Rohan he got to be an uncle, but most importantly, he got to see his Sibling Mother, have a child of her own and there was never a doubt in his mind, this child would get heaps of love and care, He was sure of it. He was happy because the person, who helped bring him up, had risen above every problem that faced her and won. She had looked at the universe and took on the worst it had to throw; she beat it and then some. Jyoti, on the other hand, was nervous as all mothers are, but her brother reminded her kind of mother she had been to him. How she already had all the maternal instincts she would ever need all within her.