The lone naked bulb blinks and buzzes, interrupting the silence which has seeped into every inch of the narrow corridor. Just a few hours ago, the air was heavy with hushed conversations between those in white and khaki. 

Now all that remains is an astringent odour. 

At the far end of the corridor, a middle-aged woman is resting against the wall. Her blanched face makes one wonder if it is a corpse. The feeble trembling of her cracked lips proves one otherwise. She arches her stiff back and catches sight of the policeman guarding the door. She inches towards him noiselessly, her eyes craving for a glimpse; her heart aching with hope. 

“Madam, you can’t be here.” The policeman mutters, but gives in to the sunken eyes, pleading in desperation. “OK, you can stay. But please leave if someone comes.” 

She peers through the transparent partition, which turns hazy under her breath. Wiping it with her palm, she leans in for a clearer view. Her knees quiver at the sight ahead–gigantic machines blinking and beeping, a web of tubes running crisscross and underneath them, the love of her life lying still, battling for life. 

The widowed mother and her daughter had been happy once… until the daughter joined college and a tsunami swept over their lives. The once studious student was now changed. Forever glued to her phone, she obsessed over likes and the number of followers. She spent hours pouting in front of the phone and uploading selfies. Alas, none of her efforts brought her more followers, and she continued to sulk and sink further. 

With time, the daughter distanced herself from her mother. She blamed her mother for not understanding her, for not being with the times. The hapless mother tried her best, but despite her best efforts, the gap continued to widen. 

One day, for reasons unknown, the mother stopped trying; after that, it was just two strangers living under the same roof… until an ominous phone call shook her world. 

Suicide, the sympathetic policeman had said. 

But as more facts continued to emerge, it was clear – this was not a case of suicide, but murder. 

Investigations revealed the daughter had conducted a poll on her social media handle, asking her followers if she should die. The poor girl, aghast at the results, was forced to give in to public demand. 

The mother shudders at the irony… the number of followers shot up the roof. 

The police assure her they would nab the perpetrators. After all, it is not who fired the shot, but who paid for the bullet… 

But only she knows who paid for the bullet. 

This cross is hers to bear… 

She can’t rest the blame on trolls or peer pressure alone. She has failed… she shouldn’t have stopped trying. She should have poked and prodded, helped and guided.

Her lips tremble as she prays for one more chance to hug her daughter and see her live life once again…  





Photo by Hernan Pauccara from Pexels

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