It has been five days since Lakshmi came to stay with her son and his family in the city and already she feels lost. The whole of her life she had spent in her village. No, no now it had become a town. But she was used to it. Of the slow pace, of clear winds and an open sky. Here even for a look of sun she had to dangle out of the window. The lights in the flat had to be kept on the whole day.
She would have continued staying in her house if she hadn’t fallen down from the stairs. She had only strained her ankle but then Vishal, her son had insisted that she came with him. ‘who will look after you amma?’, he had said. She had said that her friends would but then seeing that Vishal will not be at peace, she had complied.
But then she felt lost….. Both Vishal and his wife would leave for their respective offices. The children to school. The maid would do her work and leave. The whole day Lakshmi would be at a loss. It was no better in the evenings as the rest would be busy with their work. Vishal would come and speak to her a bit. His wife Aruna would speak leisurely only on weekends. And she didn’t blame her. Managing a home with a job was difficult.
Meena her grand-daughter taught her to start the computer and how to browse. Initially she started reading the news but then yesterday Meena showed her facebook. And so today was happily spent looking at pictures. ‘Who are they, paati’, Meena asked.
‘I don’t know, I was seeing some pictures and then I read the comments. Then I clicked some name and saw their pictures. ‘, she smiled her toothless grin. ‘But I spent my morning happily’, she added.
Used to having everything fresh, Lakshmi could not eat food properly. The vegetables were bought once a week. And though they were bought fresh it somehow lost its taste once kept in the fridge.
Also Aruna would cook once in three days or so. Or whenever she had time. Now Lakshmi had problems with that. ‘Ayurveda says that food loses its properties after three hours of cooking’, she mumbled one day.
‘If that is so, then I will have to resign and stay at home’, Aruna said. Lakshmi just nodded a yes.
Days passed. Lakshmi was getting better and more bored. Slowly she gathered enough courage to go out in the evening. She found out that there were some like her. Like her meaning aged and bored.
But then there was a difference between them and her. They were either busy and bored looking after their grand-kids or were busy and bored with their TV channels.
I am neither busy nor boredwith anything, Lakshmi thought.
Aruna had a habit of cooking in bulk. At the end of the week. the excess would be thrown away. ‘You are throwing away Lord’s energy’, she mumbled one day.
‘The kids sometimes eat nicely sometimes they don’t. How will I know how much they will eat’, Aruna replied. Lakshmi would have very much liked it if Aruna cooked a little less and if there were shortages, she would have gladly cooked. But then modern ways…less oil, not much masala…no Lakshmi could not cook that way.
‘No time for exercise but enough time to sit on the internet. If they just moved a little, that would have been good. There would have been no need to be so careful while cooking’, she thought to herself. ‘They say no oil, no heavy food etc and then go to the restaurant and eat all oily stuff , huh’.
The family usually ate out on weekends. Lakshmi didn’t understand much about eating out. Neither did she understand much about what they were eating. These Mexican and Chinese and Continental were beyond her understanding.
And she was really fed up of all that food sitting in the fridge and so she thought of a plan…..
Lakshmi’s mood improved considerably. Aruna’s mood improved too thinking that her children were eating well.
Until there were tiny paw marks outside their door and complaints from the watchman.
Lakshmi everyday would take some food and then go and feed two of the stray dogs which used to loiter outside the gates. Little did she know that those puppies would love home food. They started following her home. Neighbours started objecting too citing that the puppies might attack their kids. There was a meeting and then Vishal was told strictly that his mother could not feed the puppies.
Lakshmi was given the ultimatum. She felt lost. Somehow she found solace in the dogs. After all they too were lonely.
‘Vishal can you take leave for some days and drop me at our village, my leg is fine now’, she said here.
‘Come on, mother just because we asked you not to feed the dogs, you don’t have to rebel like this’, he said.
‘Rebel? Why should I rebel. Don’t You understand I don’t belong here. You are busy with your work and internet. Your life style, I can’t follow. I have nothing to do here. I am better off at my house, where I have freedom to live as I want’.
As she smelled the fresh air from the windows of the train, Lakshmi felt happy. She was going back to her place. Her home and her garden, which she could tend as she pleased. Her friends with whom she could go on long walks. But best of all she would be with the cows, the hens, the dogs and the cats who lived nearby and whom she could feed as much as she wanted.