It was now evening. Although I didn’t have a watch; I had lost my best one I bought from the Sunday footpath market on a bet over a pack of cigarettes; it was a nice one, a bit of gold plated, but smoking was much better than wearing watches, so I dealt it, but lost…. Anyways, by the sky I could tell there was still about an hour left for the sun to set. The sky was growing a bit dark, from white it started turning purple, and the crows and white pigeons sitting with me, had also started leaving, for their homes, leaving me alone as earlier. I kept sitting on the steps, waiting for my father to come, and say “Let’s go.” I had told him to reach here by afternoon, but as usual, he is late, and today was no different.
I always loved my father. He was a different man. Not like the other dads, but a soft-hearted, and I always took advantage of that… may be he will never realize how much I loved him and how much I cared for him; he was bald, with a bit of hair in the front, although the sides and the back of the head was covered with hair. He looked good that way, short-heighted, with a moustache; black-white combined, no beard, and wore a pair of spectacles sometimes which made him look even cuter. I loved the way he smiled at me…. All sweet memories suddenly coming to my mind; but now I was angry with him, for being late; the river flowed with its own slow speed, it was rather dirty, but the reflection of the sky made it look beautiful.
I was getting bored, and the only way I could devise now of entertaining me was throwing stones in the river, pebbles, but there also my bad luck… the small children did this so passionately that there was hardly any pebble left. “Ahem!” I suddenly got alarmed by a voice from behind. I turned back, uninterested… the dim light around me lessened by the shadows of the palm trees, huge tall ones, but no palms; it wasn’t the season,; prevented me from figuring out who it is. So then I had to stand up and then turn around… hated doing that, I was so happy sitting, I am a bit lazy I guess.
Standing at a bit distance I figured it was a woman. In a white sari, and a big smile, she was looking beautiful. If only I can see her face I thought. She was definitely not my mother, my mother never used to wear white saris, those were meant only for old women, and my mother was young, very young, at least for me. No she wasn’t my mother. I went a bit closer. Now I could decipher her face. Yes she was old, as I knew old women had wrinkles on their faces, and she had a number of them. Her eyes, more beautiful than any other girl even of my age…. I stopped thinking. I just ran to her. Yes, yes, I guessed right, she was my grandma. My sweetest pal. Oh!!! How did she get to know I was here?
When I was small, and when I used to be sitting alone, she would come and sit with me, telling me stories about her childhood. God knows whether they were true or just a fairy tale, I couldn’t care less. Old memories started flashing through my mind. She always came to our home during the puja vacations, and we used to roam the cities together, papa, mummy, nanny and I. And then at night we used to chatter and chatter and chatter. Oh what a lovely time it was……. Wait!!! Was I dreaming??? Is it really my nanny??? I took a second deep look, yes, definitely she is my own sweet nanny. Why were both of us acting so awkwardly??? We were not talking only. I went up to her, “Nanny!” I had been used to calling her Nanny, since my elder cousins did the same. I said, “There’s time for dad to come. Let’s go and sit by the river and talk.” She just smiled, but didn’t say anything. I clasped her hand and we moved slowly back to the steps.
I started tweeting away, I always did that; never allowed her to answer my questions. I used to question her, and then I would answer them myself, and my nanny would just look at me and smile. I started telling her how bored I was feeling here. “Dad’s so bad,” I said. “I told him to come an hour earlier, he didn’t reach till now.” And I kept on talking and talking and talking. I somehow assumed that my nanny had come to the temple beside, although she never said anything like that, but the basket in her hand… the basket I had given her a few years back; and it was her favorite basket… and the flowers in it brought me to that conclusion.
I had so much to tell her, all about my new school friends, and how one had beaten me up so much that he was suspended from school. Oh, that boy, I really really hate him. And then I wanted to tell her about our new teacher who came to teach me at my house… and my new computer… and that my dad had bought a new car, the one in which you wished to sit. Suddenly she rose, and when I asked whether she was getting late, she smiled, patted on my head, and then…. She kissed me. Yeah, I felt it. I couldn’t control myself. I hugged her hard and started crying. Then she left.
It wasn’t even five minutes she left that my dad came to pick me up. I had planned to shout at him for being late, but now I was so overjoyed I wanted to tell him everything that just happened. He came, and I suppose he was also expecting me to shout at him, so he got rather astonished at me smiling wide. I asked him, “Did you see her?”
“Who?” retorted my father, puzzled.
“Why, nanny of course! She just left. Didn’t you see her on the way back?”
My father silent. After a moment he said, “No. May be I missed her. Let’s go now.”
I agreed and we both drove home. Reaching home, I rushed inside. And……… I was then shocked. There was my nanny, lying down, my mother lamenting over her body. She had left for her heavenly abode that noon…. but I had talked to her in the evening…. Then…… was it….?