The lock hangs heavily on her door!

It hangs hushed and still, and yet as I look at it, it’s deathly silence screams accusingly, “She’s gone!”

I had not wished her goodbye when I’d left for America. I’d meant to, but whenever I passed her home and peeped in, I saw her lying on an unmade bed, and told myself I shouldn’t disturb her. Once she had told me that as she lay on her bed she could see me walking my dog every night but was too weak to greet me.

Which meant she could have been wide awake, and I really had no excuse!

There were many such excuses I made, as over the years she’d stopped sitting on her doorstep where I was forced to make conversation with her, and moved inside her house where I had the choice of not meeting her, and didn’t! 

She was quite old, widow of an engine driver, and when I stood at her door and allowed my dog to walk around on his own, she told me stories of her husband’s steam engine, of bringing her children up in a railway junction, of the theatre next to her home whose owners were very friendly with her, and would allow her children to watch any picture they wanted free of cost.

 “Bob, we could hear all the movie songs through the common wall!” she would say with a smile.

I loved steam engines and told her I would bring my iPad down and we could watch steam engine Youtube videos together.

She was excited, but I never did.

I never did many such things. Oh yes, I sent my driver to her home in a jiffy whenever she made Goan fish curry for me, or cooked crabs, all of which I loved and which she did quite often. Once when I was in the US I got a call, “Bob, I’ve made crab curry for you!” her voice was weak. “I’m not at home!” I said, not having the heart to tell her I’d left without saying bye.

I’ve been staring at the lock ever since, and later was told, “She’s been taken to an old folks home quite far away!”

I decided to call her son and ask for the address of the home, and pay her a visit, and then asked myself, “Would I?”

The lock on the door screams at me in silence, even as I see thousands of other such locks all over, speaking of mothers, fathers and others who wait for that call or visit, then, heart-broken move far away, oftimes in a lonely hearse..!

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