Categories
Short story

Last Letter Written (fiction)

It wasn’t until late December that I found the envelope. It was addressed to no one. It bore the seal of ‘Vrindavan Home for the Aged’. That is how I realised it (perhaps) belonged to my father.

Before you stand on high moral ground and fire me for having sent away my old (and ailing!) Dad to the Home, do try to understand, and if possible, even believe that I truly did not want to send him there. At sixty, he was fit as a fiddle. We used to fight over the TV every evening, and would both finally lose to my son, who decided that Ben Ten was the right programme for us. So we, the boys of the house, would sprawl on the sofas and watched the inane aliens fight gory wars.

I digress. Like I said, the envelope, slightly yellowed and crushed, was addressed to no one in particular. It just bore my address. I assume my Dad had written it for me! Which made me curious, as he was not the sort of person who would write letters! If my memory serves me right, he was particularly not fond of reading or writing. So this was special. I didn’t quite want to open it. The last two months had been rather painful. First, the agony of losing him. Second, the fact that I had left him to die alone. I can never get over it. Ever. And third (perhaps, the most important reason) – I was afraid… of what the letter might contain!!

It was my birthday. In no mood to celebrate, I decided I would open the letter after all…

My dearest,

You know how much I hate to write!

Bang on! This was definitely from Dad!! My lips curved into a smile.

I want to let you know something… its been on my mind ever since you left me.

I stiffened. It was not like I left him! It was HE who decided to leave us. Vidya and I pleaded. So did little Prithvi. But he had made up his mind.

Home away from Home

I like this place they call ‘Home’. Its spacious, airy, the nurses take care of me. I have no complaints.

I visited him almost every Saturday. I would take his favourite food. Sometimes, Vidya and Prithvi came along, at other times, they didn’t. Dad would always recognize Prithvi, no matter what! The moment he saw his chubby little grandson, his wizened face would break into a smile. I felt relived that he liked the Home.

But you know… I want to write this before I can forget everything.. before my traitor of memory fails me. Sometimes I cannot even remember your face. At other times, I feel like you are standing right next to me. I know you are there. Its just, I don’t remember who exactly you are ..  or at times, who I myself am!! I have to confess that part is a little scary.

Lost (image courtesy healingwithnutrition dot com)

So that was why he wrote the letter!! When he was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it had come as a brutal shock to all of us.

On most days, he was very normal. The same old Dad who steadily picked his nose as he sat in his oversized armchair, watching children play cricket on the street! On other days, he would turn into a complete stranger. He would just stare at the ceiling. At times, he would simply grab the nearest object and smash it into the wall. He would walk down the street, to buy a packet of chicory, and wouldn’t return home until dark, when one of us would go in search of him, only to find him sitting on a broken bench, looking dazed and confused.

Finally it was he who suggested being moved to the Home. We wanted him around. He, however, was adamant. He left a day after Prithvi’s fifth birthday. We had a great party. He joined in the fun. I almost called the Home to cancel the move. But the next morning, he woke very early, bathed, and packed a little holdall with a couple of shirts and bare necessities. He did not give us any opportunity to try and persuade him against going. Before he left that morning, he blessed us with wishes for a ‘long and happy married life’, and said, very simply, and as a matter-of-fact, ‘Tell Prithvi I love him the most!’

When Prithvi returned from school that afternoon, he searched for Dad in every room of the house! And when he didn’t find him there, he cried himself to sleep.

There’s one little person I always seem to remember. A lovely cherubic little boy. Let me try to recall.. Preetham.. or was it Prithvi? Yes, I think it is Prithvi. My darling little angel. He visits me often. I can’t often remember his name, but I know that he is part of my soul.

I fought hard to blink back the tears. Dad wouldn’t be kind to anybody who cried at the drop of a hat!!

So, my dearest, I had better finish this letter quickly, as I might just not remember about it in some time.

Very often, nurses wipe tears rolling off my cheeks. Sometimes, they say ‘tut..tut..’ and walk away, cursing (in a rather filmy style!) my ‘supposedly wicked’ son who they think has left me here.

Little do they know, that these, in fact, are tears of joy.

Joy at a life well lived. This is the happiness of a husband, who found a good and loving wife. The pride of a father, who raised a strong and caring son. And also, the yearning of a grandfather. Whose only (albeit greedy) wish was that he had a few more years to spend with his grandson, frolicking in the park, or sneaking away from the watchful and loving eyes of his Mummy, to lick an ice-cream cone. But then, I’m just being ungrateful.

I could have lived with our children. But you know, much as I hate to boast, I think our son adores me! So does Prithvi. I want them to remember me as their Hero. Not as a senile patient who couldn’t recognize them! No. That wouldn’t work for me.

So, this is my big secret. I want you to know, my dearest, that every time I remember us, and cry, it is only to say that I have lived a very happy life.

I think I will see you soon.

Dad’s last letter. It had not been written for me. Or for Prithvi. But for Mum. I was stunned, at how Dad never let us see how much he missed her. I hoped they were together again.

To me, the letter had a cathartic effect. I don’t know if I can ever stop feeling guilty, but this day, I felt a little better. He knew what he was doing. And he did it not just for me, but also for himself.

I guess he was right afterall. When I think of Dad, I only recall a tall, strong man, who would throw Prithvi up into mid-air and catch him as he fell squealing with delight. I remember him as a level-headed counsellor, who simply declared that every workplace had its share of politics, and it was upto me to handle it or steer clear! Vidya remembers him as a loving father, who would make her a cup of ‘straang filter kaapi’ when she returned home from work every evening.

And Prithvi.. well, he does not remember much of him. When we happen to mention Dad, he perks up, curious to know more about his childhood friend. We cite him examples of how Dad used to pretend to be his Horse and ‘giddy up’ as Prithvi ordered him to! Prithvi chuckles shyly when we mention such incidents.

Often, he walks into Dad’s old room (that has now been converted into a Study) as if looking for something.

Sometimes, I follow him, and find him gazing at a picture of Dad’s. At other times, I find him dozing in the big arm-chair.

Well, whatever it is he is doing (or not doing!), I get the feeling this room is his favourite haunt. He seems happy here.

As for the letter, I placed it back in its envelope, labelled it as ‘First Letter Written’ and tucked it far, far away inside my wardrobe. I could perhaps give it to Prithvi when he is grown up enough to be deceived by ‘Success’ manifesting itself in the form of money or fame?! Will it make any sense to him, I wonder…

Or perhaps, I will simply start writing a letter of my own…. hoping that I too, can be a Hero to my son, as Dad is to me.

—————

To read my other pieces of fiction, please click here. Thank you!

Categories
Humour Incidents Short story

Secret of the TV Wall – My first 3WW

I’ve been following the very interesting 3WW at Intrepid Dreamer’s blog for the last couple of weeks. Every week, I manage to miss it… and today, finally, I landed at the page on a Wednesday 🙂 So here’s my entry:

3 words: Engulf, Imminent, Tamper

———–

Daughters. Sons. Grandchildren. They huddled around the hospital bed. She was 90. Frail, weak. ‘Some water, Ma?’ the youngest daughter asked. Ma shook her head. Very slightly. ‘Wi…’ she muttered. Nobody heard. They were far too engulfed in sorrow. Much as they had hated the old hag, the fact was, they had spent a lifetime with her. Living off her ancestral wealth! ‘Wi…’ Ma said again, this time, a little louder.

The eldest daughter heard. ‘Did you want something, Ma?’ A look of exasperation crossed Ma’s wrinkled face. She motioned to the  wall across the huge hall, on which hung a massive TV. The ‘TV wall’ was famous within family circles. It was supposed to have a secret brick, which, when removed, would reveal the ‘Keys’. Keys to what? That nobody knew. Except Ma.

They crowded closer by her bedside, to get a better view. Or to hear better, as the case might have been!

Go on Ma, tell us..’ the eldest grandchild coaxed.

Wiiiiiii…’ Ma urged, motioning wildly towards the ‘TV Wall’ with both hands.

Murmurs arose within the closed room.

‘Wall? Is she pointing at the wall?’

‘Shush…quiet.. I think she means her Will. That’s what she’s been hiding behind the TV all these years!’

‘Tee hee, Granny wants to wee ;-)’ giggled the youngest of the brigade.

‘Wow.. a Will.. Wow!!’ the older ones whispered in sheer admiration. A real mystery, that too, in their otherwise mundane, insignificant little lives!

The macho men in the room took big strides towards the TV wall, and tried to pry the TV off from its stand.

Ma raised her eyebrows in alarm.

‘Don’t worry Ma, we will give you the Will in a minute..’

Ma shook her head, and lifted both hands towards the heavens above.

The daughters nodded wisely. ‘We know, you’ve waited all these years to share this moment with us…’

Ma clutched her head, and with all her energy, managed to pull out some perfectly silvery hair.

‘What’s wrong, Ma? Are you not happy? We won’t tamper with your Will, don’t you worry! Your wish will be our command! We swear!!’

Ma shook her head, rather vigorously.

‘My end … is imminent!!’ Ma cried.

‘Be brave, Ma, it is us who will be left alone..  Come, let’s atleast read your last wishes in the will now‘, the daughters sobbed. A small, empty bottle of glycerine lay in the dustbin under the bed.

The men were still working hard at removing the TV. ‘Fetch the screwdriver, you fool! We don’t have all day!!’ shouted the elder son to the younger.

There was chaos all around. Men hunting for a Will. Women waiting for the hunt to end! Children whispering animatedly, at what would be in the Will!

Until finally, ‘Crash!’ Ma grabbed the glass of water by her bedside, and threw it on the floor, with all her might.

‘Can you dumb fools stop breaking my new flatscreen TV?’ she managed to scream.

The daughters looked at each other, in disbelief. Sons and grandsons heard it loud and clear. They turned around, confused!

‘But.. but what about your Will?’ the daughters questioned, tears having disappeared rather magically.

‘My Wi…’  Ma whispered again.

‘Your will, dearest Ma?’ the youngest daughter cooed.

‘Shut up, you useless fools. No damn will. And no bloody money. I’ve donated everything before you vultures came to my deathbed. Now give me my damn Wii from the rack beside the TV. I want to play one last game!’

——–

… To read my other pieces of Fiction, please click here…Thanks!!

Categories
Humour Incidents MommySpeak Movie Review

An afternoon with Giri

An afternoon with Handsome Giri, is what this title should actually read.

Yeah, now do not get ideas. ‘Giri-giri Peck’ – the dashing Gregory Peck (as my lovely little sister adorably named him once upon a time, when we – my sister and I – were both children).

Now, this week has been pretty busy, and with school re-opening today, I decided at noon (yesterday, that is) to ‘enjoy’ what was technically the last ‘holiday‘ for the term, by spending some quality ‘me time’.

Lucky for me, this is what we stumbled upon. And I say ‘we‘ because the brat refused to nap, and insisted on watching the movie with me, sitting ‘quietly’ on the other sofa!

As the curtains unfolded, I grabbed a mug of hot chocolate (Sigh! In reality, all I had was a plastic throw-away cup with some plain old water!), and curled up on the sofa. To watch the movie I’d last seen about two decades ago 🙂 with my mum (who had this huge crush on Giri-giri, which – at that time – I found utterly silly!)

Scene 1 – Dainty Audrey Hepburn (I’m sorry I only managed to find this video from Youtube and didn’t get the direct scene from the movie)

As I watch the movie unfolding, grinning stupidly, I am interrupted by this…

Lovely Audrey

‘Is she a Princess?’

I am amused by the brat’s interest. I reply ‘Yes darling’ with a huge smile. Yay! My son and I can actually enjoy a movie together!

‘Why is she removing her shoes? Is she naughty?’

I grin again. My sweet little funny, silly boy.

Wicked Witch??!!!

‘No, she isn’t naughty, her feet are aching, so she wants to take off her shoe for a few minutes’.. I venture to explain.

‘Is she trapped in a palace? Is there a wicked witch? Is that woman there the witch?’

I turn my head away from the TV, squint at the brat, just to check ….

Nah! Can’t be. He’s hasn’t even turned four. He can’t possibly… he can’t actually be doing this on purpose… !

‘No, there is no witch, now let’s keep QUIET and watch the movie’, I mutter.

A few seconds of golden silence. The spell is broken by this:

‘Why is she crying? Why? Why?’

‘Because SHE WANTS TO RUN AWAY from the palace… ‘ I say rather loudly, emphasising the ‘RUN AWAY’.

An innocent: ‘Why?’

‘Because she wants to enjoy life irresponsibly – like you – but cannot’ – I say, scathingly.

A few sober seconds. He watches TV. I watch him.

Next, the scene where Audrey Hepburn actually manages to run away from the palace.

The barrage of questions resumes. Reinforced.

‘Has she run away now?’

I refuse to answer.

Please speak! Has she run away?’

I give a cursory nod.

My eyes are now glowering, smouldering.. whatever.. at the little nuisance.

THE GLOWERING LOOK

Now, THIS look is going to keep him quiet. If this doesn’t, I swear I will change my name.. to.. to.. Oh sod it! Let’s just see if he can shut up now!

My brat looks uncertain for a moment. Then, he replies – BOTH to the nod AND the look, by a simple (and unflinching) – ‘Wwwwwwhyyyyyyy?’

And I’m thinking WTFFFFFFFFFFFFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙄 😦

The brat didn’t let me reach even this scene… that has been made, and re-made without shame, into every Indian language available.

So, guess what I very wisely did – turned the TV off, and took the brat outside instead!

Sigh! So much for an ‘interesting’ afternoon with a handsome hunk!!

I leave you to watch this: (well, if your children/grandchildren/neighbour’s children.. ANY children allow you to watch!)

Finito! The End!