She awoke with a start. She had fallen asleep on the sofa. She looked at the time, it was 5:30 in the evening. Her husband will be home soon.
“Mom!” Now the call was more urgent. She said, “Yes Aryan, I am coming.” When she entered her son’s room, she found him sitting on his bed eagerly waiting for her. His curly hair was unkempt as always and with a wolfish grin he beckoned her towards him.
“Let’s play hide and seek Mom”, he said.
“All right”, she replied. “But first, tell me are you not hungry?”
“No,” he said, “I am full. Come on Mom, you seek and I will hide.”
“Ok. Go hide. I will count to ten. One, two, three”
She heard the doorbell ring. It must be Avi, she thought as she ran to open the door for her husband. She opened the door for Avi, and he was welcomed by Aarti with a smile on her face.
“You are in a good mood today,” he said.
“Yes, I had a good day today,” she replied.
He was glad to hear this. Ever since their son’s untimely death three months ago, Aarti had forgotten herself. She had let grief overtake her and he always found her sitting on the sofa, staring into oblivion.
“Aryan and I have been playing all day.”
He stopped in his tracks. He turned to face her as her words shook him. “But baby, Aryan is not with us anymore. He died, remember?”
She stared at him like he was the one talking nonsense. “What the hell are you saying? Aryan is here in the house, with us.” And she started running around the house screaming her son’s name. “Aryan, Aryan. Where are you hiding son?” Come on out, Dad’s home.” She kept at it for almost quarter of an hour. Avi couldn’t take it anymore and took her to a psychiatrist friend. He had her admitted for treatment of breakdown due to grief.
Avi came back home late that night, changed and went to sleep without having his dinner. He was heartbroken and had no idea what to do. Thinking about Aarti, he fell asleep. Just before day break, he was awoken by tiny hands shaking him. He woke up and switched on the bedside lamp.
There he was, his and Aarti’s son, their Aryan.
Standing in front of him with his curly hair unkempt as always and a wolfish grin on his face but his eyes were white, plane white. Avi looked at the ghost of his son in terror.
“Let’s play hide and seek Daddy,” Aryan said.