"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan

Three of her sons: her Three Musketeers. And musketeers they indeed were: setting out at dawn, traveling far and wide, hunting, gathering, foraging - doing what was expected out of good sons - until it nearly wore them down, and then returning home, tired and famished, to snuggle up in their mother's warm blanket. Puppy musketeers!

To her it didn't matter whether they brought anything home for her; it gave her joy just to see them go out and fend for themselves, seeing their nimble limbs scampering around to nourish their feeble bodies, to see them active in struggle, to see a certain shine in their eyes that seemingly drove their every step. It was like they fulfilled her very need in producing them. She would just sit and watch them go about their every day.

Yet, her unassailable motherly love would cringe at times, when she remembered the birth defect that all three of her sons had been endowed with. It was almost like a curse. Their brains and hearts were deemed to be undersized, viz. those two organs would stay as they were at birth-time and never grew as her boys grew up, and there was apparently nothing she could do about it.

Which meant they would forever be stuck into an infantile kind of life. While the small size of their brains seemed to restrict their mental-ability, their undersized hearts drew walls around their passions. It was like her kids had to attain maturity through self-control rather than through freedom of expression and exploration.

Sometimes she felt it was an interesting challenge that her kids had to fight with, but sometimes it drove her despondent, especially in the case of her second-born.

Her first-born had the typical Freudian will to power. His soul was a bundle of nerves that titillated with passionate outburst. His was a nature to dominate, and being a smart one he knew of his defect. Day in and day out he would seethe in anger for being born in a state of disability. It seemed like he had almost given up on his hopes, as he would curse his fate and frequently take recourse to drunken brawls and wrangles. Sometimes he would escape into intellectual posturing, slipping into seeming rational discourses and faith-based healings as means to rid himself of any self-guilt. He would sometimes blame his Mother and censure her for his distasteful birth and, at rare moments of heightened abstraction, would altogether reject her love, or sometimes even deny her existence altogether.

The Mother felt sad for the first-born. But her sadness was soon tempered by the sight and sound of his domineering will. He seemed to her like a baby squirming to take birth. Her sadness was alleviated by hope; hope that his anger would one day show him the Light.

Her last-born was the typical Adlerian driven soul. He had a cheerful air about himself, driven by an ecstatic optimism about the possibilities of his life. He was, most likely, completely ignorant about his birth defects, or maybe he chose to ignore. (His untainted cheerfulness may be seen as proof of the former). He knew his strengths and sought opportunities to realize the benefits of his self-growth. He had ambitions, he chased dreams, and he frolicked around in spontaneous celebration of his immediate successes. He unfailingly savoured the warmth of his Mother's presence and cherished her for having begotten him.

The Mother felt sad for her last-born too. It was a sadness that was weighed down by the fear of the day when the last-born would discover his defects and the wave of despair that would descend upon him.  Yet her sadness was alleviated by respite; relief that as long as he was ignorant he would continue to enjoy his life.

Her second-born was the one stuck in-between. He had realized not just his defects but also the helplessness of never being able to recover from them. He had realized the inherent limitations of his life and, hence, had given up not just his ambitious projects but also his will to fight. He was neither driven nor ignorant - just stuck in between. He was neither nascent nor nescient - he was damned. Unlike his brothers, he wasn't stuck at the wild shore where he could ride the wave of passions - he was just all at sea. He went about his life in mechanical fashion - doing what the law of causality deemed him to do - because he knew not a way out of it. He lived a life of loneliness and suffocation - it was like he had emerged from a dark burrow only to find a vast dry dreary desert all around. He would watch his Mother with a blank face, like watching a meaningless painting.

The Mother's sadness for the second-born knew no bounds. If he showed anger, she could hope that he had some passion left in him. If he showed the zest to live, she could be relieved that he is at the least driven in some direction. But he showed none, and she did not know what to make of the blank slate. She did not know what colours to paint him with or what light to see him in.

It seemed to her that the second-born was the one who needed her attention. He was the one she had to expressly help. She just kept wondering how to...