I Don’t Know Where They Have Gone

Swing on the porch

“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.”

“Why?”

“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.”

*             *             *

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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20 thoughts on “I Don’t Know Where They Have Gone

  1. What a beautiful post! I’m sorry to hear all of your grandfather’s friends have moved on, but it brings me happiness to see that you are still there for him.

  2. People miss their old friends most during old age. Your grandfather, thankfully, has health on his side and isn’t like his friend who doesn’t recognise him. Dad stays alone Deb but refuses to come and stay with me or my brother because he doesn’t want to leave the familiarity and warmth of our home. I can completely understand how Grandpa feels. Give him a hug from me, please. This got me teary-eyed.

    • Yes, it is indeed a blessing that he has health on his side. Touch wood. I can understand how your Dad feels – my FIL feels like that too – but I can also understand how it must make you feel.
      The next time I meet grandpa, I’m definitely giving him a hug from you. Thanks so much ❤❤

  3. Old age can be lonely as you keep losing family and friends. My Dad passed away in April last year and a Christmas card arrived from an old friend of his from Mumbai. I called the gentleman and said “I’m sorry if you weren’t informed…” and he responded “I know. I’ve been sending Christmas cards to him for over 50 years..it’s a habit I can’t break.”
    Your post bursts with love for your grandfather. Long may your special bond continue.

    • Corinne, that was a beautiful incident you shared. How much joy old habits can provide; what a heartwarming way to stay in touch even when the person you wish to connect with has moved on from the world!
      Hugs to you and thanks a lot for dropping by ❤

  4. Awww. Wish I lived closer to you. I’d pop right over at tea-times and keep him company. I miss my grandfather a lot. I love sweet old people. They are treasure troves of wisdom.

    • Aww you’re the sweetest for saying that! Nothing like good old tea-time gossip. My grandpa would be sure to make you sample a treasure trove of Bengali chaai goodies too 😀

  5. That balcony image! I just wish I could teleport there with a mug of tea right now! Your post made me miss my Grand Mom. We lost her nearly two years ago. Even with kids and so many grand kids, she was still lonely. I used to call her often but still feel I should have called her more. Regret not speaking to her for a while before she passed away.

    • I wish I could teleport there too. Do you know any tricks to do that, by the way? 🙂
      Big hugs to you, Tanvi. I think I can understand how this makes you feel…grandparents have such a special place in our lives. I am sure she is looking over you still ❤

  6. When we lived in Mysore and later Bangalore, Baba would be with us for a few weeks after Ma passed away. He would get restless in a few weeks and insist on returning back home. Eventually when we moved back, I know he was the happiest because finally he had the option of being where he belonged. Beautiful nostalgic post.

    • Thank you for sharing this, Sonia. Home has a distinct pull, especially when we get older, sometimes for reasons that seem unfathomable. So happy you liked the post. ❤

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