He gives me a warm tight hug. The blue veins on his bony hands distinct and bulbous . The creases on his face deepen as he breaks into a smile.
He lets go after several seconds. The smile still in place.
“Do take it from your Dida. I am in a hurry. I was waiting for you.”
As I watch him take careful, measured steps, I notice he is stooping a little more than when I saw him last. The pajamas flap in the wind as he retreats.
I have seldom ever seen him in anything other than humongous spotless pajamas, khadi kurtas, patent Bata sandals and a jhola.
On wintry days his only additions are a sleeveless ‘Jawahar jacket’ and a snuff coloured muffler. Today is no abberation.
I climb up the stairs.
A collection of poems by Neruda on his bed. Over the years his overflowing book rack has made me familiar with Wodehouse, an English version of Le Petit Prince, Saki, Joseph Turner ‘s landscapes, Van Gogh’s angiush and much more.
The yellowing loose pages with messages scribbled are far more alluring than any book I have ever bought/will buy. There’s an intimacy in old borrowed books, that make sparkling white pages very cold and distant.
The room is always neat. Bright sunlight makes playful structures on the mosaic.
“Take this,” Dida is holding an envelope in her extended hand. I snap out of my trance.
He never forgets. He never expects.
I extract the card delicately from the folds of the envelope. The lone card I receive. In person. By post. In the city. Out of the city.
The frenzy of the inccessantly beeping phone engulfs me. The black ink refuses to melt away. On the inside, written in beautiful steady writing:
“Let it be a journey to fresh woods and pastures new”…………..