A Precious Gift -1

A Precious Gift. Phoenix Edition

Present Day
Grandma will be arriving the next day. Everyone is happy in the house except for my father and me. I don’t know why she loves my brother a lot but treats me like an outsider. Is it because I am a girl? My father thinks so. He hasn’t conveyed it to me frankly, but I have known this from his contemptuous looks that he gives when Grandma ignores me. Maybe that’s why, even though being the only son, he mostly avoids talking with her.

Every year, Grandmother visits us during the month of May when my little brother and I are having vacations. Even at such an old age, she has never missed a trip to see her beloved son and daughter-in-law because father will never leave his work and take time to spend with her. Father might pretend to be arrogant but he too, loves his mother a lot. He will ask mother if Grandma had taken her medicine in time or not, if she wants to visit a place in the city or if she has a wish to purchase something from the market.

Grandmother brings gifts for everyone in the house except for me. At first, when I discovered this habit of her, I asked her casually one day,”Grandma! Where’s my gift?” To which she just humbly replied,”I forgot to bring one.” She didn’t even mention that she will remember to bring it the next time she visits. In her successive visits, I asked her this question but the same reply several times over, gave me my true answer.

The Next Day
She came early in the morning the next day. My little brother darted from our room to the verandah to hug her. Mother too left her cooking and went to see if Grandma needed any help. I went there, grudgingly and knelt to touch her feet. I don’t like her, nor did I kneel out of respect but because my parents told me to bow to everyone who is elder than me and I don’t want them to feel ashamed.

For the first time, she actually stroked my head and said,”Ayushmati bhava.” I looked up in astonishment to find her smiling.

I don’t know what happened to grandma this time. She was talking fondly with me, eager to know how I’ve been and how I am doing at school. I am studying in sixth standard, but I enjoyed listening to the childish stories she told me and my brother during bedtime for the first time. She even made cookies for me and brewed a special soup just for me. I wanted to ask her, why such a sudden change of heart this time, but in her eyes I felt that she knows that I have this question in my mind and wanted me not to ask her that question, so I didn’t ask her.

We had so much fun this time. We went to walk in parks together, went shopping where she insisted I buy stuff for myself which I humbly denied. She taught me stitching, knitting and cooking too. All this time, I could feel my father watching us from a distance and noticed a change of in his expression. He had a gentle smile stretching across his face as if he had found contentment amidst chaos.

Our vacation was ending soon and I didn’t want her to leave. However, she said that her life is in the village and gave a bad excuse of her plants being thirsty. In the last day of her stay, she called me to her room a few minutes before she left. I answered her beckoning and entered her room. She was sitting on the bed packing her things in the bag. She saw me and took my hand and placed a piece of paper on my palm and wrapped it. “Don’t share it with anyone. Enjoy it all yourself.” She said in a choking voice. I could see tears in her eyes. After that, she picked up her bag and walked outside abruptly. Perhaps she didn’t want me to see her cry. I opened my palm to see what it was. It was a thousand rupee note.

I rushed outside to say her goodbye and I witnessed something that will forever be etched in my mind. My father knelt to touch her feet and she picked him up and hugged him tightly. She cried silently for a few minutes on his chest. My father too, despite trying his hardest, couldn’t stop the flow of tears from his serious eyes. I couldn’t say goodbye to her as she left in a hurry.

A few months later, we heard news that grandma is terribly sick. We couldn’t reach on time to save her.

Girls aren’t allowed to cremation grounds but father took me with him to pay my final respects to her. As her earthly remains blazed brightly and reached to the heavens, I prayed for her to find peace. For the first time, I felt my prayer was sincere one as there was no selfishness attached to it.

After returning home, I took out the note that she gave me from a drawer in my cupboard and vowed to keep it forever close to my heart.

Time passed. No matter how resolved I was that day to hold the memories of my grandmother close to my heart, I couldn’t pass the test of time and slowly all the fondest of memories of her faded away along with countless others. Too bad, I didn’t even realize when it happened.

Many years later, I visited my old house. Mother and father had passed away and my brother was settled in another city. I too had to move from place to place, thanks to the frivolous transfers of a government official. Since no one was staying at the house, my brother and I decided to sell it. I had come to show the place to the interested buyer when I came across a torn out purse. Some force inside of me compelled me to open it. When I opened it, I found that same old 1000 rupee note that my grandmother once gave to me. In these years, the denominations had changed and this one was non-functional but holding it in my hands, old memories rushed over my mind like waves in the ocean. The buyer asked me,”Ma’am shall we finalise the deal then?”

I replied,”Sorry sir, but this property is not for sale from now.” Thanks for reading till the end. Please spare a moment and fill up this up.


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