Grandma's Torment -
This is one of those improvised childhood memories that still linger even as you grow old
“Grandma, can we play a game of cricket?” pleaded Pappu, “I promise I won’t hit hard, and I’ll fetch the ball if it goes under the bed.”
Grandma peered over her spectacles, and put aside the knitting she was making of Kali standing over Shiva with her tongue out. “Ok,” she said, “but where’s the ball?”
“There it is, right beside you, on the bed,” Pappu said, holding a table-tennis racket and jumping with excitement.
Reaching out for the ping-pong ball, Grandma thought, “If only my children had remained like this, I’d feel so much happier. They were so friendly with each other then, just like brothers should be. But now…”
“Don’t bowl too fast, Grandma, and lob the ball a little.”
“Ma?” Pappu’s father entered the room, “Bablu told me that you are planning to sell this house? Is that true?”
“Here we go again,” thought Grandma.
“I have not yet decided,” she said, “Bablu wants me to sell it, as he has no plans of coming back here. And as you come here only once in a while…”
“But, what about Pintu? He lives here.”
“Yes, I know. I have been thinking of asking a contractor to divide the house into three parts, so you can share it amongst yourselves…”
“Bowl, bowl grandma, please,” interrupted Pappu. Grandma lobbed the ball, and Pappu hit it out of the room, and went out to fetch it.
Grandma continued, “If Bablu doesn’t want to keep his share, he can sell it. I don’t see any better ways of handling the situation.”
Just then Pintu, the youngest of the three brothers, shouted from the doorway, “Haven’t I told you already? I don’t have the money to buy my portion. What do you want me to do, go live in the street? And, let Bablu say what he likes, I don’t care, but I am not going to let you sell this house.”
Grandma turned to Pappu’s father, her eldest son, and said loudly. “You see? This is how I have been treated these last few months.”
“Accha?” Pintu yelled, “And what about me and my wife? We have to spend day and night listening to your constant bickering, and just keep silent. It’s very pleasant for us, is it? Anyway, I am not going to let you sell this house, and mind you, this whole town supports my decision,” saying this, Pintu stormed out of the house.
Grandma kept quiet.
Even if she spoke, who’d understand her? These days, all her children thought about was money, money and money. Ever since her husband died three years back, the house seemed to be breaking up. Gone were those days when everyone lived in perfect harmony under the same roof. She had absolutely nothing to worry about then. Who’d think this was what the future had in store?
Pappu came back with the ball and handed it to Grandma.
“Listen,” Pappu’s father said, moving towards the bookshelf, “It’s up to you. Think it over properly, and make a decision as soon as possible.” He took out one of Sharat Chadra’s volumes from the shelf and walked out of the room.
“Yes, that’s what I have been trying to do,” Grandma whispered to herself, - “make a decision that’d keep the three of you happy, but is that possible? Ma, when will you take me away from this world? You’ve made me suffer long enough…”
“You can bowl a little faster, Grandma.”