Mr. Sinha came out of Food Bazaar pretty pleased with his purchases. His daughter was coming on vacation after 4 years with her daughter who was 2 yrs old ( and whom he had not seen at all except her pictures) and her husband Rajeev.
On reaching home he put away all the purchases in their proper places. His wife had died of bone cancer 4 yrs back and he was all alone. Both his son and daughter were settled in USA. He had kept a cook but for his daughter; he wanted to cook himself. He was thinking about what all he wanted to make when his eyes fell on the Knorr soup pack. He picked it up with a satisfied grin. He had got a soup bowl with 5 packs of soup mix. Not bad at all. And he stored it with all the other items he had got for free.
Neha came running inside the house as soon as the taxi stopped. It felt nice to be back home, to relive your childhood. She ran from one room to another, but what’s this, she thought, mammas things are still kept ?
The initial days were spent catching up with the news, while Suni got acquainted with her grandfather and Rajeev relaxed. And then Neha asked, ‘ Papa last time when I was in India that is after mammas funeral, I had packed all her things and labeled them. So that you could give it to charity or to old age home etc. why haven’t you done that. ‘Mr. Sinha fidgeted nervously. ‘And why do you get all these free things-the soup bowls, the plates, you don’t need them, you have enough for your needs. A single person doesn’t need much.’ She was becoming aggressive in her tone when Rajeev interrupted, ‘Neha I want a cup of tea, please’.
Later in their room he told her, ‘why were you so harsh on him’. ‘Harsh Rajeev, look at the pile of junk. Why does he need all this. And he hasn’t disposed off mammas things.’
‘Try to understand his psychology Neha, he has still not accepted that you mother is not going to come back. So he is holding on to her things. With both you and Nishant not around, he is holding on to things as his family. Don’t be explicit somehow we will make him understand the reality.’
The next Sunday they kept a puja at home, a sort of memorial service in which they kept a photo of Mrs Sinha, sang her favorite bhajans, made her favorite food. The invitees were asked to narrate how they had met Mrs. Sinha and how she had touched their lives. And Mr. Sinha found tears flowing out of his eyes.
Suni had put on a new outfit and Neha remarked, ‘isn’t she looking just like mamma. I feel sometimes mamma has taken birth again’ and Mr. Sinha was thoughtful.
And so it went. Rajeev and Neha would drop hints at every opportunity.
Rajeev was going out for his morning walk when he noticed Mr. Sinha sitting in the garden lost in his thoughts. ‘Papa ‘, he urged. ‘Come sit here Rajeev, tell me, all these round about talks are to make me understand isn’t it?’
‘Yes papa. Mamma is not going to come back. She had suffered a lot and it was good that she went. At least that was the end of her suffering. Papa a suggestion, sell of this house, there are too many memories here and its too big for you anyways. As such you have 10 years US visit visa, come and stay with us and Nishant. I propose to return to India within 2 years and settle in Delhi to be near my parents; they too are getting old. You can stay with us or near us’
‘Sell this house? No, no. We had built this house with so much of love and dreams, can’t sell it’, and he got up abruptly and walked off.
Neha was busy gathering her things. In couple of days they were supposed to go to be with Rajeev’s parents when Mr. Sinha called her, ‘Neha these are your mother’s things. If you want something keep, rest I want to be donated to old age homes, slums etc. And I want Suni to do the donations. And all this utensils and crockery are to be given to Ajay. You remember Ajay, our maid Sumatibai’s son. He got married recently, he will need these.’
Neha was relieved that finally her father was coming around.
Couple of months later Rajeev got an email; it went,
I thought a lot over what you had said. But I just can’t bring myself to sell this house. Nor do I want to come down to US. US for me is good for travels, not to live. For me my motherland is the best.
I plan to make this house into a home for lonely people like me, My architect friend is making a plan to renovate this house so that it could accommodate more people. We will have a prayer house, an exercise room and numerous other things. I will send you the plans. But before I do any alterations, I want to have Neha’s and Nishant’s approval. It is their home too and I need their permission. Can you put it across to her? You know she is a bit impulsive and I am afraid to talk to her.
And Rajeev’s day was made.