She turned around and saw nothing. No one was in sight. “What…”, she thought to herself. The rain was pouring down as if to taunt Anna, as if to say, “Yeah you there, we know you are scared and we love it!”. No, no one was in sight. But she was sure she had heard the sound, there was a definite whimper. “Maybe I am just imagining it.” She tried convincing herself, then turned and walked on. “I am not alone, no, there are people all around me, only they’re inside their homes and I am not. But the good thing is that I almost am home, just a little more distance to go” She was returning from the hospital at 6:32 in the morning, her father was sick, she had just visited him and was going back home to get her younger brother ready for school. Her mother had left the family when she was 15, a year back. Her mother was a travel photographer and so she would leave home for months for her assignments but the last time she had left she didn’t return. There was no contact, search teams were sent but with no results. No one knew what had happened to her but Anna believed she would come back she sometimes got a strange feeling that her mother was watching over their family. It was creepy really. And needless to say, at that very moment when she was walking down the path alone in the rain with her blue umbrella towards her home, it was the strongest yet. Just when she started feeling it was all okay, she heard a faint something, something that sounded like her name, like “Anna.” “Oh gosh!! Oh!”, she had never been so scared before, no one was in sight, not even a bird, but she heard it. She could swear she had heard her name. And again, “Anna”. This time more clear, more definite, more maniacal. She was so scared that she froze, no sound came from her mouth, her eyes wide open searching for anything that moved, anything that had eyes or a mouth, but nothing! Suddenly, like this wasn’t enough, there was a loud bang, lightening. She spun around and right in front of her, an inch from her face, her wide open intense eyes, was a black hazy feathery figure, it struck her face, stunned she fell backward and hit her head on the ground. Everything went black.
Everything was blurry, covered in pain and confusion. She slowly sat up straight and in that blurry mess, she saw a familiar face peering down at her with concern. “Anna, honey, are you okay?”, asked a familiar voice. “Maa?”, she managed to let the words out. It was not the shock but the pain that made it difficult for her. She was surprised, yes, but not shocked, in spite of what everyone said about her mother she believed in her mother’s promise. “I will love you forever”, she had promised Anna, and she would keep her promise. Her mother, Maya, helped her daughter up to her feet. “You’re back!! I knew you would come!”, were the first words out as soon as Anna regained control over her senses. “Yes, baby girl” “Everyone said you were gone, but I knew you would be back, I believed in you Maa, I knew you could never leave us, you love us too much.” Maya smiled. Anna had missed this smile more than anything, she hugged her like it was the last time they would see each other. “So, let’s take a walk and talk”, suggested Maya. There was a year to catch up on, Anna thought, but the biggest question in her mind was “Maa, where did you go? What happened?”, but Maya dismissed the question, “It doesn’t matter, now I am here right?.” This confused Anna, but she was happy to see her mother again, after such a long time, “Right.” They talked, and talked, for a long time, these were precious moments. Then suddenly Maya said, “I need to go. Don’t worry I’ll be back soon.” “What! No, you just got back, how can you already be leaving?”, replied the confused Anna. “I will explain it all later, everything, but I need to go now.” With these words, Maya turned and started walking away quickly, but Anna couldn’t see her walk away like that so she followed her. “Wait!”, she called after Maya but Maya had already turned around the corner of the street, out of Anna’s sight of vision. When she reached the corner she saw no one was in sight. “Maa!”, she called frantically, but no reply. There was no one, she called again and started to run ahead on the street. “No no this can’t be, no, where did she go…”, she thought running along, her feet stepping ahead one another in a panic-stricken frenzy, on rocks and pebbles and all the discarded litter on the side of the road, and then a puddle. As soon as her foot fell on the puddle it slipped and made Anna fall down and hit her head on the sidewalk. Again, everything went black.
This was starting to become a habit now. The same old feeling of waking up from being passed out. But this time she found herself in a room on a bed. It was her bedroom. She saw the fresh raindrops on the window pane. It was raining outside, she looked at the wall clock, it was 7:15. She tried getting up but the throbbing in her head was too intense, so she just laid there thinking of all that had happened and tried making sense of it. “Anna, are you awake?”, asked a voice, she turned her head and saw her neighbor who was also her very close friend sticking her head from behind the door. Anna barely could nod her head. “Thank goodness! We were so worried.”, replied Nikita. “What happened?”, she could hardly get the words out. “Oh, you were returning from the hospital when you fell down. I saw it happen. It was a bird that caught you off guard. So when I saw you fall down I quickly called my dad to help, good thing it was his day off and he was home.”, Nikita smiled and sat down beside Anna on the bed. Anna tried to process the information, “No, but I saw Maa, she is back, I talked to her, I woke up and she was there, then we talked but then she went away.” Nikita’s smile faded, now there was sadness in her eyes, “What? No Anna…that never happened. I just told you what happened, I saw the whole thing, in fact, I called out your name to freak you out, I know you’re always scared while walking alone, you already looked scared, sorry that was not a good thing to do, really.” “No! You don’t know!”, Anna suddenly sat up in her bed, her face had turned red and she had tears in her eyes. “You’re lying!!”, she screamed, hearing her voice Nikita’s father and Anna’s uncle who was also their doctor ran upstairs to find an agitated Anna standing up with the support of the bed stand and a scared and unsure Nikita sitting on the bed. “What happened? Is everything ok? How are you feeling Anna?”, asked her Uncle. Nikita told them all that had been said in the room. “Is all that Nikita said true? Did you all bring me here from the front street?”, asked Anna, still agitated. “Yes dear”. Anna stared at all of them for several seconds. Then calming herself she whispered, “I need rest. Please can you all leave me, I need to sleep.” “Yes sure”, replied her Uncle and motioned for the others to leave. Before closing the door behind him he turned and said: “Anna I know you miss her, we all miss her too.”
It was silence after they left. Only the sound of the raindrops on the window pane but that too Anna didn’t hear. In her head, it was absolute silence. She just stood there staring at the floor of her room, the air inside the room seemed heavy, tears slowly started welling up in her eyes, lips moved in a way that couldn’t be comprehended, “But..I thought…I miss you maa…please come back”. She broke down, sobbing, for a moment she felt her life would be the same as it was again, their family would be together again but no it was just her dream, all she could do was dream a little more and hope that reality would soon change. The only words resounding in her ears were, “I will love you forever”.
Alisha Phillips, the combination of psychology and writing. There are those who are appealing on the outside and then there are those who are appealing on the inside, she happens to be the latter. Don’t let her devil-may-care giggles fool you. She’s a cosmos of thoughts. An ocean of emotions and a novel of intellect.