Ketan sat playing with old bottles of Pepsi and Mirinda. He loved to play make-believe games with old bottles, utensils, potatoes and onions rather than playing with toys. Just then the door bell rang, his Nani (maternal grandmother) opened the door to find his mausi ( mother’s sister).
‘Hello darling, see what I have brought for you, brownies from Monginis’, said she. Ketan with all his 3-year-old wisdom didn’t quite follow what brownies meant and so she opened the carton , he peeped inside,’ well it looked like chocolate cake and he licked his lips. Mausi chuckled and gave him one to eat,’but I am sorry darling, forgot to bring some toys for you.’
‘He said,’ Kketu loves bottles’, he said to give her comfort as to he really did not want any toys he was happy with these old cans. ‘Oh my darling,’ she said and hugged him.
‘How is she?’, asked Nani and Ketan became attentive. Here she referred to his mother. His mother had told him when they came to this place that she was to have an operation.
‘They removed her bandages today Maa but she is still in pain. They may discharge her tomorrow’, Said Mausi.
Ketan grew sad. He missed his mother. With her around there was nothing to worry. She knew when he was hungry, she knew when he wanted to sleep. Nani and Mausi were good but…. Maa treated him like a big boy, playing with him, telling him everything. Baba sometimes scolded her that she treated him like an adult and that she should let his innocence stay. A tear rolled down his eye, Mausi noticed this and immediately cuddled him.
It was night and he slept between his nani and mausi, he pretended to sleep but did not. At home he slept with Maa and Baba. But now Baba too was with Maa. How he missed her warmth, her lullabies, Nani sang the same lullabies but it was not the same.
It was 10 am, tring tring the phone went and Nani picked up the phoine.
‘Hello, really that’s nice, yes I will keep everything ready’, she said and called out for Ketan, “ketu your mummy is being discharged.
Today Ketu had his bath and his breakfast without any complaints. He had resigned to the idea that maybe Maa will not come for a few more days and was quietly playing with potatoes. But on hearing this he jumps and rushes to the door.
‘No beta, it will take some more time. The Doctor has to prepare the discharge summary and your Baba has to pay the dues and then she will be back home’, and Ketan quietly returns to his play.
It’s 2pm and Ketan has had his lunch, he is sleepy but doesn’t want to sleep and then the phone rings, ‘Ok you are near the entrance, ok, ok We will be near the door’, says Nani and exclaims,’Ketu your mama is back’ and she perches him on her arms and they rush to the door.
They stand outside facing the elevator. They see the elevator open, first Baba comes out and then Maa slowly. KEtan watches her and feels so content. He wants to rush hug her, kiss her but he doesn’t do anything, just places his head on Nani’s shoulders and watches the figure slowly glide towards him.