Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Grandmother


THE GRANDMOTHER
A Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

I recognized her at once.

She was my course-mate’s wife.

It was 7 o’clock in the morning.

She was standing with a little boy who was wearing school uniform.

The school-bus arrived.

She kissed the little boy on the cheek.

The small boy waved her goodbye and got into the school-bus.

The school-bus departed.

She turned around.

And – she saw me.

She recognized me.

She smiled at me – and walked towards me.

“What are you doing here…” she asked me.

I said to her:

“I have been watching you for 5 minutes – but you were so engrossed in the little boy that you didn’t even notice me…”

“He is my grandson…” she said.

“I thought as much…” I said.

“My grandson is the only thing I have got in my life…” she said.

“What about your daughter…?” I asked her.

“She is there – but she is very busy with her work…” she said.

“Oh – so you are doing “nanny duties” in your daughter’s house…?”

“What to do…? She lives all alone – and she has such a busy career – so I have to look after her son…”

“You daughter lives all alone…? What about her husband…?”

“My daughter is divorced…”

“Oh – I am sorry to hear that. What happened…? Why did she get divorced…?”

“Compatibility Issues…!!!”

“If “compatibility issues” was a reason to get divorced – all of us would have got divorced long back – especially you and…” 

I instantly regretted my words.

So – I said to her:

“I am sorry…”

“It’s okay. He passed away so many years ago. I have got over it long ago…” she said.

“Yes. 25 years. He was a dear friend – and – of course – he was my course-mate since our academy days…”

“My daughter was just 12 years old then – now she is 37 – I brought her up on my own…”

“I know – it must have been tough – but full credit must go to you…”

“My daughter has done really well – she topped in her engineering course – and now – she is working for the best Software Company – and she is doing really well in her career…”

“That’s really good…” I said.

“The only bad thing that happened is that her marriage broke up…” my course-mate’s wife said.

“But you are there for her…” I said.

“Yes – I am living with her for the last 9 years – ever since my grandson was born…”

“Oh…”

“My daughter – she got divorced 6 years ago – and since then – she has immersed herself so much in her career – that she has absolutely no time – and I am looking after my grandson – doing everything – as if he was my own son…”

“That’s really great of you…” I said to her.

She looked at me and said:

“I have been talking all about myself. What about you…? What are you doing here in Pune…? And that too in our residential township…” she said.

“Well – I retired from the Navy last year…”

“Settled in Pune…?”

“No. I have gone back to my hometown – we have a huge ancestral home there…”

“Oh. So – visiting someone…?”

“Yes…” I said, “My uncle lives here – in “E” Building. You may know him – Mr. “XXX”…”

“This is such a huge gated community – I don’t even know the people living in my own building. Out here – life is different as compared to Navy Townships – everyone keeps to themselves…” she said, “and I am so busy looking after my grandson – that I really don’t have any time for anyone else…”

“Let’s go and meet your daughter – the last time I saw her she was a small girl…” I said.

“She is not at home…”

“Does she go to work so early…? I thought “IT Firms” open quite late – after 9…”

“My daughter has gone abroad for 3 months – to the US – for a project…”

“Oh…”

“She has to travel a lot for work…”

“And you are there to look after her son…”

“Yes – I told you – my entire life revolves around my grandson…” she said.

I spent a week in Pune.

During that week – I met my course-mate’s wife every day in the morning when I went for my morning walk – and – she invited me home a couple of times for tea and dinner too.

I saw that my course-mate’s wife was devoted to her grandson.

Her entire routine revolved around her grandson – dropping him on the school-bus – picking him up after school – taking him for various tuition and hobby “classes” – monitor him as the young boy played sports or had a swim – his meals – his studies – everything – she did more for her grandson than normal mothers do for their children.

She was constantly with her grandson – not leaving him alone even for a minute.

Once – I said to her:

“You are getting too attached to your grandson. Remember – he is not your son…”

On hearing this – she got angry – and she said to me:

“Don’t say such things – he is more than a son – I love him much more than people love their own children – and he loves me too – even more than his own mother. I told you that my grandson is the only thing I have got in my life. He is the light of my life…”

It was true – her grandson loved her very much – he was indeed the “light” of her life.

10 YEARS LATER

I visited Pune 10 years later to see the same uncle.

But this time – I went to visit him in the “Assisted Living” facility of an “old age home”.

My uncle was suffering from dementia – he had been afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.

He was in bad shape.

I felt very depressed after meeting him. 

As I was walking towards the main gate of the “old age home” – I saw my course-mate’s wife coming out of the reception office of the “old age home”.

Yes – it was her – my course-mate’s wife – who I had met 10 years ago – the woman who loved her grandson so much.

I smiled at her.

She smiled back.

I said to her:

“So – you’ve come to meet someone here…?”

“I live here…” she said.

“You live in this “old age home”…?” I asked her, surprised.

“Yes…” she said, “you were right. I shouldn’t have got attached to my grandson so much…”

And then – she broke into tears. 

VIKRAM KARVE
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Disclaimer:
All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
 
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