My mother called me for the third time. For the third time, she said nothing; not a single word or a syllable. I imagined her sitting on her bed in front of a blank screen television, the phone pressing against her fragile skin. I called out: Ammu, Ammu, Ammu … until she hung up; until the beeping sound beeped once, twice, thrice … until I pressed the red disconnect button.
A case of Hydrocephalus, her doctor said, roughly means “water on the brain.” Her dementia had also reached an advanced stage, he said more. His medical version failed to reach my unmedical perception. The weight of his words only unsettled me until I stopped nodding; until I stopped listening; until I accepted the truth that Ammu would never be the same.
She would forget most of the things, things that made her happy, sad, sour or just human. Yet, yet … perhaps … once in a while … she would remember something, a name, a face or a fragrance would float in her fluid-filled mind. She would pick up the phone and press the last dialed number. She wouldn’t utter a word. Not a syllable. She would show no emotion. But she would make that call. And I would wait.
Marzia Rahman is a Bangladeshi writer and translator. Her flashes have appeared in 101 Words, Postcard Shorts, Five of the Fifth, The Voices Project, The Pangolin Review, Fewerthan500.com, WordCity Literary Journal, Red Fern Review, Dribble Drabble Review, Paragraph Planet, Six Sentences, Academy of the Heart and Mind, Potato Soup Journal, Borderless Journal, The Antonym, Flash Fiction Festival Four and Writing Places Anthology UK. Her novella-in-flash Life on the Edges was longlisted in the Bath Novella-in-Flash Award Competition in 2018. Her novella-in-flash If Dreams had wings and Houses were built on clouds was longlisted in the Bath Novella in Flash Award Competition in 2022. Her translations have appeared in a number of anthologies. Her translation of Syed Shamsul Haq’s The Aftermath (Ditiyo Diner Kahini) has been published by ULAB Press in 2022. Rahman is currently working on a collaborative translation project on Shahaduz Zaman’s Ekjon Komlalebu and Saleha Chowdhury’s Ekjon Jushnara’s Galpa. She is working on a series of flashes too. She is also a painter.