Okay! And here’s the last paragraph (well, not exactly one para…) to the story of The Old Armchair.
I did try my best… to wriggle out of writing the conclusion to the story 😉 but you guys/girls kept close watch 😉 So here it is. As always, please let me know what you think….
Priya noticed her mobile flashing as she unpacked her suitcase.
‘Gues wat I found 2day? – Lav’
‘Er..wat?’, she sent a text back.
‘Wooden armchair!!! Exact same thing!’
Priya smiled. She instantly knew what Lavina was talking about. ‘Wow! 1 4 me pls?‘ she typed out on the phone.
‘Done!C u soon!’ – pat came the reply.
She smiled again. Eight years had passed since they had graduated. She still remembered the day they left Mrs.Marathe’s apartment. She and Lavina had been in tears. They were both overwhelmed with emotion. It was all too much to handle. Bidding farewell to a wonderfully carefree college-life…to freedom.. and to Mrs.Marathe.
‘God bless you!’ was all she had said. Mrs.Marathe. Along with her blessings, she also gave them a little idol of Lord Ganesha each. ‘You will call when you have time…?’ she asked eagerly, but trailed off without waiting for a reply. She hobbled back slowly, to her favourite arm-chair. It was time for her daily siesta. She didn’t stir as the taxi came to take them to the station. She didn’t open her eyes as the girls touched her frail palms to bid farewell. If she did find it hard to swallow that lump in her throat, she didn’t let them notice it.
The girls moved to different metros. A lot happened in those eight years. Priya built a successful career, travelled a lot on work, was engaged to be married. Lavina on the other hand, chose to build a family. She had two beautiful cherubic girls. They reminded her of herself and Priya. And the happy days they had spent in Pune.
Priya and Lavina had both called Mrs.Marathe regularly for the first couple of months after they had left college. They called her every Saturday, as they knew Mrs.Marathe’s sons would call every Sunday.
‘Hello Auntyji! How are you?’
‘How is your health?’
‘Are you eating properly?’
As they became busier with their lives, however, the phone calls gradually became less frequent. In a year’s time, they had almost entirely stopped.
Over the years, they had even forgotten the old telephone number. When Priya finally moved to Bangalore, where Lavina now lived, they met frequently and whenever they reminisced the old times, they couldn’t help thinking of Mrs.Marathe. They would feel a surge of warmth. And of guilt. They never spoke about it aloud. But it was there.
They didn’t try to look up the old address. They didn’t try to contact her again. They didn’t expect to see her again.
A week later, Lavina had delivered a beautiful arm-chair at Priya’s house.
‘Wow, Lav. This is beautiful Nearly the same thing as what Auntyji had!’
‘Yep! Bought a pair, one chair for each of us’, Lavina replied softly, and smiled. Priya smiled back.
They stared at the arm-chair that had been placed in the verandah. It was a beautiful mahogany colour. Standing there. Simple. Sturdy. And silent. Silently observing the world whizz by. Just like Mrs.Marathe once had. Probably still did!
‘To Auntyji!’ she said suddenly, and raised an imaginary toast.
‘To Auntyji’ Priya chimed in.