Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Bond...

'Nice tea!', he said and gulped it rather quickly. Quicker than usual, she thought. She collected the cup from his unsteady hands and smiled. He started for the door in his unsteady and frail steps, trying to be as quick as he could. She felt they could have spared some more time for a good conversation, as always. After all, they had always enjoyed the long chats over matters that bound them. But he was unlike himself today. She rose to see him off and stood by the door as he waited for the elevator and started in the direction of the ascending staircase. She redirected him and made a mental note, 'All is well'. Back home, she eagerly opened the small box, it contained some fine crockery. The miniature glasses were very special, his parting gift.

Four years ago, on a wintery evening, he had called her. His voice was unsteady. She answered the phone and heard a strange request from a shaky voice. 'Can you please come over for sometime? The baby is missing her mother'. At first she was amused at this rather unusual request.  What could a girl like her in her early twenties do to pacify a six month old?  Nonetheless, she obliged. The baby was cute and clung to her. He was happy and she was surprised. For a long time she pondered, 'how did he know'. Then it became a regular practise. They would meet up and invariably discuss subjects close to their hearts. She was a book lover and he a loner looking to kill time. Soon enough, books were shared and conversations revolved around them.

He confessed to her that without the books, he felt very lonely. They were his solace. In return, she tried to keep him busy. She would pass on every good book she knew. His appetite for reading grew and he relished the fare. She admired his interest and he in turn whole heartedly thanked her contribution. Slowly conversation veered towards more personal issues, she realised that he was a keen observer. His observations were sharp and astute. His anecdotes were interesting, his ways affectionate.

He spoke of his life - the highs and the lows, the depression and the triumph. The wretchedness of life and its ability to keep you occupied. A deep friendship blossomed thick and air tight. They had shared concerns with kept them occupied. After all, love demands devotion. They were devoted. He to his wife who was now a septuagenarian with child like habits and she to her octogenarian grandmother. And between them, they celebrated their everyday milestones.

Then came the news of his daughters transfer to another city. He was to leave. She was worried about his mental well being. But he assured her that he is going back to the place he belongs. She hoped for the best. He bequeathed his collection of books to her, she had received few gifts as precious as these.
He visited her, a day before they left for the new city. She intuitively knew, they would hardly meet.
Yet he assured her that he would keep in touch. She wished him good health in return.

She was going to get married soon, he wished to attend her wedding. She felt honoured and overjoyed. And then the phone rang one day...he had left for a better place, they said. The bond was stretched beyond the horizon and yet she knew like before, it was strong enough to bind them, the stream of memory was steady.

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