The old woman sat on an old rocking chair in her porch. She was waiting for her eldest grand-daughter to take her to a dentist’s appointment.
It was her birthday. But no one in her big family had called her up. She listened to the silence of the house. The house where once the sounds and chatter of little children and grand-children reverberated. Now all of them were grown-ups, had their own lives. Who would bother remembering the birthday of an old woman like her. She sighed and tried not to cry.
Her grand-daughter, Elsie arrived.
“You should not have booked the dentist’s appointment, my teeth are fine”.
“You sound cranky, grandma!” Elsie said.
“No, it is just that you all are so busy, I don’t want to be a bother”, sulked her grandma.
“Haha, you are cranky!”, laughed Elsie.
Her loving grandmother, for whom she had had a beautiful childhood. Oh how she loved this sulky old woman!
“You look too happy,have you decided to leave that ass of a husband you have?”, grumbled her grandma.
“He is not an ass, Grandma, and he really loves you”, Elsie chuckled.
“Well, I don’t love him, or anyone for that matter”, came the retort.
“I know, I know”.
They turned around the corner and parked in front of a party hall.
“This is no doctor’s clinic”, the sharp old woman said.
“Yes, I just need to run an errand,but you will have to come with me”, said Elsie, helping her out of the car.
Taking her grandma’s arm, she led her to the door and flung it open.
“Happy Birthday to you, Happpyy Birrthdday to you!!!”
There stood in the hall,her huge family, her children, her grandchildren, the great grandchildren, friends and family.
“You thought we forgot, right? You must be growing a bit senile, Grandma”, whispered Elsie.
“Senile, my foot! ” said the old woman.
And she burst into tears.
As everyone hugged her, wished her and kissed her, her tears dried up and her old face wrinkled up to form a radiant smile. Only, those were not wrinkles. They were but a patchwork of love.
The fragile dream, the one that had shattered when life took over, haunted him constantly.
A dream of becoming a writer, of travelling to lands faraway, of finding inspiration in little known places.
For years, as he sat in a tiny cubicle in a big office, his desk cluttered with paper and post-its, the fragments of those dreams still haunted him. In meetings, in coffee shops, in malls, the remnants of the dream followed him.
At home, in the lonely evenings, the shadows chased him.
Till he could take it no longer.
He had to bring the dream back to life in order to escape its ghost.
People thought he was crazy.
Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t.
He packed his bags and travelled to faraway lands, wrote stories, made friends, found inspiration.
No more ghosts.
He had oozed life into his dead dream.
And the dream, in turn, now, made him feel alive.
One fine Saturday, she did not go out to party.
She stayed in, cooked up mom’s signature dish( nah, not as good as mom’s), finished a book, called an old forgotten friend, put on the fairy lights, dived into a tub of ice-cream, munched on popcorn and watched her favourite movie.
To unwind, to feel content, sometimes we just need to stay home and do our favourite things.
The glow of the fairy lights on her face was ethereal as she fell into a deep slumber. Joy. Peace.
It was indeed a Saturday to remember.
“I am going out to the bakery”, said the old man to his son, who was basking in the sun, reading a newspaper.
“Dad,just tell me what you want, I will get it for you”, replied his son.
“No, I will get it myself”, said the father.
“Please Dad…”, urged his son.
“Why do you keep me cooped up, son!, I m going, don’t stop me. And anyway, the shop is just round the corner”, insisted the old man as he headed out of the gate.
“Fine, do whatever you want to”, exasperated, angry, his son replied, going back to his newspaper.
It felt good to be outside. He did not remember how long it was since he had been last out. He walked round the block, past the grocers and the chemist. He felt buoyant. He was fine, he wondered why his son had made such a fuss. He was just going to buy a loaf of bread.
Ah! There was the Bakery across the road as he turned round the corner.
As he stepped down from the walk to cross the road, it happened.
Where was he? Who was he? Confusion. He dropped to the ground. A car honked and screeched to a halt.
“I am here, Dad, I am here”, someone said as strong hands lifted him up.
The son. Who had followed his father all the way.
Early Alzheimers, bouts of forgetfulness. His father’s condition. He had not been angry, just worried when his Dad had insisted on going out.
“Let me get you home”.
As they walked back together, the old man leaning on his son, the latter whispered.
“I might sound harsh sometimes, Dad, but I will always be there for you. Always”.
Melancholy clung to him like skin.
An abusive father, a difficult childhood.
Into his cloud of sadness, she walked in. His silver lining.
In the years of bliss with her, the sun was just breaking into his cloud, when death snatched her away, at childbirth.
A new cloud of sorrow. The tiny baby in his arms, his new silver lining.
She gently runs her finger across the scar in her abdomen. A long, dark, distorted aberration.
Scars are always ugly, grotesque. A result of pain and sadness.
But this one is different.
It is beautiful.
She looks at the tiny,sleeping baby and blows a kiss.
A scar to be cherished. A scar to be proud of.
My parents made a long journey to witness the birth of my child. But they had to leave soon after and it broke their hearts.
So after seven months, I made the long journey with my baby to spend a few months with them. Just so that they could see her grow a little, so that they could love her in person, hold her, hug her, kiss her. Everyday, the joy they bring to one another amazes me.
Now I have to leave and it shatters my heart.
There will be video calls, virtual hugs, flying kisses.
What will be missing is the halo of happiness that engulfs her, them when they are together.
But what will remain is their remarkable love, the ardour of which will be enough for my child to bask in, inspite of the distance.
And to my husband, who never complained even if he missed seeing his baby’s first crawl, first word, first wobbly step, but whose love reflected off the screen in the video calls each day.
This is my story. An ordinary story of ordinary people, ordinary lives, of extraordinary love- a constant flow of it. And indeed, isn’t love all that matters?