Leela Soma

She switched the light on.

The darkness of the night that had enveloped the room was now in a soft glow. Four am, a few hours before the sun rises. The world will awaken to a new day. An Easter card, Jamie, her grandson had made was lying on the bed. Easter eggs, chicks painted in yellow brightened the card. Did she buy a chocolate egg for Jamie? An egg, the symbol of new life and rebirth, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish,so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:40.Why did these words come to her mind now? Was it because of the Easter church services that she and John had never missed? She sighed. Jamie, his cheeky smile, mischievous behaviour, was the one who made life bearable. She placed the card beside the framed poem on the bedside table. A sad smirk, almost a smile lightened her face.

Clickety clack, knit one purl one, talk lots, knit again.

The Knitting Bee, the small talk, the gossip, the jokes on the lips, of friendships traced like patterns, rich and lush or light and faint like some pale yarns that knitted the weekly club together. That last piece lay there, on the dressing table, like a museum piece the needles stuck in the middle of the front piece of the jumper she had started. The pale cream wool of the background with the Fair Isle design still to be started, the pattern that she had done so many times, a family favourite and the envy of the Knitting Bee caught her eye. No, she couldn’t bear to touch it, or move it at all. At age eight her mum had taught her to knit, a craft that she nurtured over the years. How many jumpers had she knitted for all the family? Each piece was chosen with care, from the yarn colours to the patterns, the excitement of the finished work and the smile that spread on their faces as they wore her beautiful creations. A deep sigh, the reverie was broken by the need to go to the bathroom. She tossed and turned, sleep evaded her, the warm tears on soft cotton dampening her cheeks. She got up, read the framed poem, held it close to her heart as she walked over to the sitting room, and opened the
curtains, the faint dawn light painted the sky in shades of peach. She paced up and down, returning to bed much later.

How long had she been lying there?

She heard the familiar click of the front door. Her daughter, Sue, let herself in shouting ‘Mum, are you okay?’ She heard her walking over to the bedroom.

She sat up quickly put her bed jacket on. The door opened.

‘Nana,’ she felt the soft cuddle of the little one on her legs. He reached up holding out his tiny hands. She picked him up, held him tight, the resemblance to John, made her heart flip. She put him down gently.

‘Mum, were you up late? Not like you to sleep in,’ a concerned wrinkle appeared on Sue’s forehead.

‘I… I was reading.’

‘Nana,’ little Jamie tugged at her night dress, ‘look.. bunny,’ he waved a tiny soft toy at her.

‘Lovely,’ she said. ‘I’ll be with you in a jiffy,’ she wrapped the jacket tightly and went into the bathroom.

‘I’ll put the kettle on.’ Sue strode into the kitchen. Jamie followed her. He ran over to his box of toys in the corner of the tiny sitting room.

She watched him playing with gusto, racing the train on the carpet and making ‘choo,choo’ noises as he traced a path on the carpet. Jamie looked up. The curl of his lips and shape of his eyes… so like John, a blush spread across her cheeks.

Sue came in with a tray of tea and toast.

‘It’s nearly a year mum,’ Sue said gently.

Holding the warm mug of tea was comforting. She nodded and gripped it tighter.

Sue changed the topic.

‘There is an egg hunt at the nursery, you must come, Jamie wants you there.’

Easter, the jollity, the chocolate eggs, joy and excess noise, children running excitedly, the scene spooled in her mind. Her body shook slightly, she slurped her tea loudly.

Silence as they finished the tea. She closed her eyes.

The clatter of tea mugs being washed made her look up.

Jamie was bashing a toy train against the window sill. She looked shocked, rose and then found her legs give way and sat down heavily. The framed poem fell down, shattering the glass. Sue came in took Jamie away strapped him on a high chair and started to clean the floor. She gathered pieces of glass and handed the poem to her mum.

The laughter of the Knitting Bee faded away as she held it. Felt like the end of things, the darkness in her soul surged up again.

She held the paper carefully not wanting to crush it or damage it in any way, then read the poem.

Jumper

I searched for you in the warmth of wool
Hugged the smell of you in the blue yarn

Unpicked the knit and purl, simple design.
Threads that held you and me together

The white of the hospital room, the steel bed
Doctor’s words, like crochet, lacy and ethereal.

Unravelled our world as in slow motion
The yarn snapped, and the needles lay still. 

Sue came in to the room; saw the tears in her mother’s eyes. She hugged her and they sat quietly till Jamie called his mum over.

Sue carried him over to the window. The sun was bright. The blue skies had a smattering of white clouds. Daffodils swayed in the gentle breeze, the bud-filled plants, lifted her spirits. She pointed to a plane drawing patterns in the sky with its white contrails.

Jamie clapped his hands, pointed and called out.

‘Come here, Nana, look… plane.’ They stood watching the plane.

‘Is it not the Vernal Equinox today, mum?’ said Sue.

Her mum nodded and smiled at them.

Leela Soma was born in Madras, India and now lives in Glasgow. Her poems and short stories have been published in a number of anthologies, publications. She has published two novels and two collections of poetry. She has served on the Scottish Writer’s Centre Committee and is now in East Dunbartonshire Arts & Culture Committee.  Some of her work reflects her dual heritage of India and Scotland.

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