Sunday, December 22, 2013

Short story - Home for Christmas

Ravi alighted from the limousine and looked around. It was good to touch the ‘green, green, grass of home'. Having been abroad for over a couple of years, he was glad to be back for Christmas in the old familiar surroundings. His parents and sisters accompanied him proud and happy to have spruced up the house and garden for Ravi's arrival.

Ravi appreciated the old Christmas setting. The crib in the corner with the Christ Child, the whole panorama of the event unfolded the Christmas Tree blinking, resplendently garbed in its Christmas finery of baubles, decorations, toys, illuminations. Christmas carols playing softly in the background. All was perfect. Ah! It was good to be home.

Home, home, sweet, sweet, home 
There's no place like home 
He hummed and whistled in turn softly to himself.

Then he stopped in his tracks. “Achchi! Where's Achchi? She's not come to greet me. Is she sick? Is she asleep? Then don't disturb her. Time enough for her elephantine hug in the morning. But I'll just take a peep”, he did. The room had been completely transformed. It looked like a guest room but there was no achchi.

“Amma what's happened?” His heart skipped a beat. Had she? Had she? Passed away in his absence? Amma was apologetic. “No putha, we put her in an Elders’ Home. That's much better for her. She'll have company there, She's well settled in her new environment. You can go to see her tomorrow.”

“But Amma tomorrow is Christmas! Isn't she coming home for Christmas? Since when has she been away? Ravi could not stand this. He loved his grandmother and feelings were mutual. He was disappointed. Gone was the tune he was humming and whistling. His face had turned ashen but he couldn't tell his parents anything no sooner he arrived. His parents and sisters were taken aback at his visible reaction but brought out arguments in support of their decision. They did not want to spoil his vacation.

“Come on Putha, we've planned a sumptuous feast for you. Everything to suit your taste. Your favourite dishes. Take a wash and come over, there's so much to say, do and eat. “Yes son don't worry about Achchi, she's quite comfortable there. We can visit her tomorrow evening” piped in father nonchalantly.

Ravi proceeded to his room upstairs. He didn't even notice the beautifully decorated banisters. Everything was lost on him now. After a while there was the whirring of a car taking off. All ran to the verandah to see the car turning out at the gate. It had to be Ravi. They looked at one another bewildered, flopping on several chairs randomly, wondering what to do or say. They had not expected such a turn of events.

After sometime they heard the familiar whirr of the car and sprang to their feet. There was Ravi cheerily helping Achchi to get off and steering her towards the house. Achchi's wrinkled cheeks were wet with tears. Ravi's parents looked quite abashed. Rallying themselves quickly they invited all to dinner.

Ravi spoke at the dinner table. “Thatha, Amma, I want to ask you for one great Christmas present. Don't ever send Achchi to the Elder's Home. Her place is with us here. I have experienced loneliness away from home. You can't realise how much she had been sobbing today.

Those care-givers told me and I saw for myself. Please! Please! Let Achchi remain with us. We'll all be going for the midnight service, won't we? Achchi too!” he smiled giving her a big hug. The music in the background was playing, “This comes to pass when a child is born”.

Sunday Observer - by Jeannette Cabraal