“What do I do with these, Mom?” Karma whispered to her Mom as she took the petals from the red roses being passed around and cradled them in her palm. “Throw them on the grave when I throw mine, sweetie,” Sarah whispered back.
“How ironic that they’re red roses,” Sarah thought to herself as her mind started to wander back to a day some thirteen odd years ago.
She was in her early thirties then, and had finally met the man of her dreams – Sheldon. Theirs had been a whirlwind courtship. They seemed so right together – they seemed to have it all, same background, same values and loads of passion. Sarah was ready to believe in his dreams and encouraged him to go after them. Sheldon was so happy to have finally met someone who would support him in his art. His ex had insisted that he stick to the law firm and even pushed him to try for a partnership in it. He hadn’t had that kind of encouragement before, he confessed to Sarah.
They discussed a possible future together. Sarah was mentally prepared to support them, while Sheldon focused on his art studies. Sarah was also ready to move to Mumbai, knowing that his chances of success were better there.
That day in May, she was happy to be visiting Mumbai on work. It meant that she got to spend time with Sheldon. It also meant that she would be able to tell him her big news. He picked her up from the guest house and took her to Church. After Mass, he stopped to buy some roses. A whole big bunch of roses. As he stepped back into the car, Sarah was so thrilled. Could this be the day he was going to formally propose to her? But he placed the flowers on the dashboard without a word. “I’m taking you home for breakfast,” he said. When they reached his home, he took out a single flower from the bunch and absentmindedly gave it to her. Sarah was puzzled, wondering who the roses were for. It was only when he presented them to his mother, that she realized it was Mother’s day, and felt a little foolish. But she held on to that single rose, still hoping for that proposal. ‘Next year, he’ll just have to give me a fantastic bouquet,’ she smiled.
Later in the day, he took her for a long drive, parking the car in a quiet spot under the tree. “You know I love you,” he said. She had guessed of course, but he had never actually put it in words. Sarah nodded and smiled quietly. “Here it comes,” she thought trying hard to quell the butterflies in her stomach. “But, I’m sorry I can’t marry you. I’ve thought about it and I realize I want to have children. You’re in your thirties, already. I can’t take a chance on not having children. I’m the only son after all and my mother needs grandchildren.”
Sarah answered with all the dignity she could muster, “I understand, Sheldon. I hope you find someone who loves you as much as I do.” He nodded, relieved that she hadn’t made a scene. She looked down at her lap and saw that she had crushed that rose and scattered those petals. ‘Broken,’ she thought, ‘much like my heart.’
Standing here today, she wondered for a brief moment whether she had made the right choice back then. But then good sense took over. Her life since that day hadn’t been easy but she had lived with dignity and with a lot of love, joy and laughter too.
The service was getting over and she threw the petals, nudging her daughter to do the same. Then taking the girl’s hand she turned and left the cemetery.
“Mom, didn’t your friend have a family?”
“Not any more. I heard his mother died a few years after his wife did.”
“So sad. And didn’t he have any children, Mama?”
“He had a beautiful daughter he didn’t know about, sweetheart. But that was his Karma.”