The Last Wish

By Mozhgan (Ocean) Mahjoob

The spider’s web was spreading all over the room. The old woman was trying to string a needle with her skinny hands, but her hands were shaking and her eyes could not see the needle, so she left the old carpet. Outside the room, there was a cold wind. The old woman put some potatoes into a black dish and fired under the dish. After a while there was a black and suffocating smoke in the air. She put the raw, starchy potatoes into a broken bowl, brought them home and tried to peel them with her shaking hands. Slowly, slowly the sun was setting. There was darkness all around but inside the old woman’s room there was no light. She took one of the potatoes to eat but couldn’t swallow it. A cold clear tear fell down her cheek. The house was so cold, but there was not even a white quilt in the old woman’s room; she put an old scrappy piece of cloth over herself and whispered under her breath: “They are coming for me, they will take me with them and we will live happily together onwards.” She repeated those sentences several times and again the drops of tears covered her face.

The next day, there was heavy snow outside the house. The broken windows of the old woman’s room were filled with icy snow. A cold wind was rising from the snow outside of her home. She had nothing to eat except some potatoes from last night. She felt pain all over her body and did not even have the power to walk. With tired, motionless eyes, she gazed out of the room where it was white and covered by snow. Today everything seemed different to her. She gazed at the door and waited but no one came in. When night spread its dark wings over the white snow, her eyes were closed.

In the morning there were many people gathering in the old woman’s room, but the old woman was lying with a pale, yellow face. She neither talked nor moved. Her eyes were fixed toward the door, and a piece of paper was beyond her reach. “Poor old woman is dead.” “Today I brought her some food but found her dead body.” “Does she have someone?” whispered two women together. “I heard that she has four sons,” said one of them. “But where are they?” “Do they know about their mother’s death?” asked another one. “Go away!” “Let us go inside the room!” said a young man. He came home with three other young men. “Mom, no!” shouted the young man, and he hugged the old woman’s dead body.

“No! You are not her sons!” shouted an old, desperate man who was a neighbor of the old woman. He put down a piece of paper that he had been silently reading and said: “Although she had four sons, you left her alone, in all these years you did not come to meet her even one time, so how can you call yourselves her sons?” he continued. “When you call her mom aren’t you ashamed? Shame on you! If her neighbors did not call you, you would not have even come to bury her dead body.” Then he started reading the piece of paper in his hand.

My dear sons!

Your father and I have faced so many hardships raising you, we did our best to provide you the best life we could. We worked hard all day and nights to provide money for your education and did not let you feel poor among other children. Whenever you were ill I felt your pain as well. If one night you had fever I did not sleep the whole night with rainy eyes, I prayed to God to recover you soon. You were kids, and I took your hands and taught you how to walk on the streets and how to fight against the difficulties of life.

I remember all those nights when you were hungry, I gave you my own food; I spent the hunger in nightmarish nights till dawn but I never ever let you feel the lack of nourishment at home. Since you have grown up and gotten married you have forgotten even your old weak-kneed mother, but it is good that your father has not seen the misery and pain that you have given to your old mother in his absence. As much as I spun the cotton, my hair became white. Yesterday I wanted to string a needle, but my hands shook like the cold winter wind and my eyes neither saw nor recognized anything.

Everyone bought woods, birds closed their nests, the creeping went and hid somewhere, but I was the only one in this cold, frigid winter who had nothing. As much as I patched up my dresses, those patches were torn again and again. When there was no light in the sky, my room was thick with darkness in these winter’s long and scary nights. Since I have slept hungry many nights, there were no remedies at all, as much as my nose smelled the neighbor’s foods, so it repeated. Seems this white cloud informs me about going to my eternal room. Maybe one day you will come but it is so late… Maybe you are shouting or crying over my motionless dead body, but it will be useless and brings only hopelessness.

When I was alive you did not come to meet me. If you pour water on my gravestone after my death it will be useless and give no remedies for all my pains and sufferings. My dear sons! I loved you and do forever. Meeting you was my Last Wish, but it seems that it will be impossible for me to meet you for the last time. This withered, old woman has nothing to give you, but she has always prayed to God for you and asked Him to bestow you whatever you want in life. I have forgiven you for what you did to me and wish you a good and successful life filled with happiness forever.

Your old mother

After reading the letter everyone was crying. There was a silent moment inside the home. The old man went back with the letter in his hand and fell on the ground. People were still waiting outside the room and trying to come inside. Four young men were hitting their foreheads with their hands, crying loudly and blaming each other for not taking care of their old mother and for being late as they were supposed to come and take her with them. The old woman‘s dead body was still staring towards the door without achieving her dying wish. Four young men were still hugging her body which was as cold as winter and said one of them: “Mom! Please get up and give us one final chance, please mom!” But she didn’t move. The spider’s web was falling down, it seemed that even the spider was not interested in remaining in that house anymore. The cold wind was still blowing outside. Tears fell down on everyone’s faces, even her neighbors were feeling sad for not taking care of her. But as the old woman mentioned:

“It was too late…”

14 October, 2022