“It has become really hot in Delhi. Perhaps, he likes to stay inside the house.”
“The weather never bothered him before.”
“Have you looked carefully in the park when you go for your evening walk?”
“He isn’t there. He isn’t in the bank, the market or the post office either.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything. My grandfather went on: “He has disappeared, just like everyone else. Only I remain.”
It is slightly windy in the evenings these days. My grandpa sits in the balcony, gently swinging in the swing he purchased for me decades ago, after I threw a particularly intense tantrum for needing a “park in my home”. He watches the sun go down and the birds return to their homes for the night. The koel refuses to leave until the street-lights come up; she is thirstier this summer and remains perched atop a tree across the street, pining for rain. My grandpa doesn’t come inside the house until it is time for dinner. He sits there reminiscing old times and flipping through photo albums, thinking of old friends he hasn’t seen in years, and will probably never see again.
“Why do you think you are all alone?” I asked him one day. “You know that many of your friends have moved to Kolkata. Some of them spend half the year abroad with their grandchildren. They are all hale and hearty; it is just that your paths don’t cross too often.”
“I used to meet him at the fish market every evening,” he spoke of one of our neighbours who had worked with him in the same office until retirement. “His wife loved katla fish, and he bought some for her daily. But he doesn’t shop anymore.”
“I don’t know. I went to meet him one day, but he was sitting in his armchair in a dark living room. I think he didn’t recognise me.”
My grandfather looked at me directly in the eye and said: “I tell you, dear one, only I remain. I don’t know where all of them have gone, but I am sure we will never meet again. No one talks to each other anymore; they certainly don’t have the time for an old fellow like me. I make people gloomy.”
Whenever I meet my grandfather, I hug him and comb his hair in a ponytail, just like I used to when I was in school. It hurts me immensely to see him sorrowful and lonely, for he has always been full of zest. He loves to travel. He loves to chat with people. He loves keeping himself active and doing multiple chores around the house. But I cannot do anything to bring him back his lost mates, many of whom have moved on in more ways than one.
“You don’t make me gloomy,” I tell him, caressing his soft, silver hair. “It cheers me immensely that my grandpa has the coolest hairstyle in the world.”
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I am taking up the April #AtoZChallenge 2019 and will post every day of the month, except Sundays. I look forward to your company!
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