The daily azaan woke her up. She looked at the wall-clock; it was 4:55 am. Getting up with little difficulty, she placed the pillow vertically and rested her back. As she opened the window, a breeze of fresh air greeted her. She then picked up the maala and counted her beads.
An hour later, a glass full of milk-like tea rested on the bed-side table. Savouring it, she called out to Rohan, her 6-year-old grandson, “Again you ran away without hugging me!”
“Don’t worry Grandma, we have an entire day,” he said aloud.
“How come, don’t you have school today?”
Rohan came inside Grandma’s room and cutely stared at her. “Why are you so forgetful Granny? Today is Sunday!”
“Oh, I forgot. But it’s okay, happens at my age,” she murmured.
Paralyzed for last 4 years, Grandma mostly remained on bed. Her son and daughter-in-law were employed full-time and had hired a live-in maid to look after her.
It was a relaxing Sunday. As the family took a pre-afternoon nap, Grandma impatiently looked outside the window. The kulfi-vaala had not come for over a week and she was badly missing her daily dose of sweetness.
Minutes later, the clock struck twelve and she heard the bells, ringing.
“Finally!” she thought to herself.
Soon Rohan ran inside. “Grannyyyyy…. Ice-cream man is here!”
“It’s not ice-cream, it’s Kulfi!”
“Okay, Okay, Kulfi! Now give me the money.”
“Here you go!”
Gaily fleeing with the coins, Rohan shouted, “Byeeeeee!”
Laughing-off at his naughtiness, Grandma peeked outside. As the kulfi-cart neared their house, she was surprised to see a different vendor. When Rohan returned, she didn’t seem happy.
“Who is this new man? Where is the regular one?” she asked.
“I asked him the same question. He said that he’s the son of that uncle. And uncle is now in Heaven. Where is Heaven, Granny?”
Grandma went into a state of shock. She didn’t utter a word. As the kulfis melted on the table, Rohan sensed sadness on her face. He rested on her lap for a bit and left the room. An hour later, the maid came to serve lunch. But she was shocked to see Grandma’s leaning head. The news of her sudden demise saddened the entire house.
Not understanding the events unfolding, Rohan asked, “Dad, what happened to Grandma?”
“She went to heaven, my child!”
“Heaven! That’s where the kulfi-uncle also went. Why didn’t she take me along?”
Hugging Rohan tightly, Dad said, “I’ll tell that to you later. For now, you please go and study!”
Few days after Grandma’s demise, Rohan’s Dad told him that more than the kulfi, Grandma was fond of the kulfi-vaala, for he looked like her father. Every afternoon, she waited to see him and the kulfi’s taste added sweetness to her childhood memories with him.
Rohan only gradually understood what had happened. But for him, since the day Grandma had left, the clock did strike twelve, but it was never like before.
Azaan: Islamic prayer
Maala: a string of beads, used for prayer and meditation
Kulfi-vaala: a vendor selling a frozen dairy dessert
Kulfi: a frozen dairy dessert that originated in the Indian subcontinent in the 16th century
First published on https://writers.artoonsinn.com/