Saturday, May 16, 2015

Aisha #9


After her schooling Anu decided she will go back to India and didn’t entertain any other choice. So she came back to India and requested her grandparents in Keylong if they could come along and stay with her in Delhi where she would be going to college, along with Arun, who would be senior to Anu by one year in academics, as her one year schooling in India was not taken into account in USA. It was an easy decision to make for Anand and Aisha, for they were just reaping the fruits of retired life and their presence was not required for the inn to continue, besides this wouldn’t be the first time they stayed away from home, they spent five years in Hyderabad. They happily consented.

“Aisha, come here for a moment,” called Anand, and added to Anu, “Anu go and tell Thapa that he’d have to take care of the inn all by himself again.”

And just as Aisha entered the room Anand caught the hem of Aisha’s saree and drew her into him and hugged her from behind, while Aisha said, struggling to control her titters, “Leave me, no shame at all, still thinking we are teenagers. Leave me, Anu will come and it’d be awkward.”

“Old age is new teenage my dear wifey! It’ll take Anu decades to convey Thapa the news. Her Hindi sucks as much as Thapa’s English.” He kissed her cheek and asked, “You remember this room and this position?” asked Anand, with a slick grin.

“Yeah, I remember, just like on the day of your tea-message. Leave me, Anu will come back.”

“So we’ll have our third honeymoon in Delhi. I’m so excited.”

“When did we have the second one?”

“Yeah, the second one sucked. I count our time in Hyd as our second one. It was full of responsibilities, raising Anu and all.”

“You talk as if you raised her. Anu was always with me. Don’t lie, I raised her, you just helped a little.”

Anand turned Aisha towards her and said, “Does it matter since it’s not honeymoon even if one of us in engaged in a different work. What I meant was we didn’t have time for ourselves, but yeah, now that you mention it I should have gone in search of another girl, as you say I wasn’t very busy then,” he winked.

Aisha beat him softly on his chest and said, “Why not give a try now, I’m sure so many girls will be interested in you to think of you as their granddad.”

“Yeah, right! I’ll have to settle for a granny. Don’t worry granny we’ll enjoy this time. Anu will go to college every day and we would be free. And we’ll roam all around Delhi,” and he added looking intensely into her eyes, “After all, that’s where we met.” And he released her after a long, fulfilling hug, in that tranquil moment punctuated only by the rhythmic whirring sound of the ceiling fan. He asked her, “Aisha, can you please make me a tea. Not the inn tea, but the one you make.”

And Aisha went to make the tea, emotion welled up inside her, like a hydrogen balloon, and tears came out of her eyes as she tried to contain that cheery floating feeling in her chest. Her giggles were too raw to have sound. There in the tea-box was a note, I love you.


The three of them, Anand, Aisha and Anu, came to Delhi, and Anu went out to hail a taxi and in the Railway station, Aisha, continuing her old habit, went onto the weighing machine, and after taking that weight card from the weighing machine, of which the number showing weight was diligently cut off by Anand, she read the quote;
You might want to run, but you should stay and fight.

 She didn’t like it. It was like an ultimatum. She asked him to try his weight. In all these years, Anand has tried those weighing machines only a couple of times.

“Well, I look fine, I don’t need to know my weight, I’m a hero, my dear,” replied Anand.

“Not for the weight, we’ll see what quote you'll get. All these years I’ve taken thousands of those weight cards and you’ve barely tried it.”

“That’s not true, I used to, when I was a kid.”

“You know what they say? Old people are same as kids, so maybe it’s time you tried again.”

“Talk for yourself, granny, you’re the only old lady here, I’m as young as ever. I’m wolverine. I don’t age.”

“Yes, right, with that snow white hair of yours, huh?”

“Maybe I’m silver blonde?”

“No, you’re not.”

“How can you say that?”

“What about those wrinkles on your face?”

“Loose skin?”

Hmmm, I can’t argue with you, just take that damn card.”

He finally obliged and stood up on the plinth of the weighing machine, and she popped a coin into the slot and out came the weight card.

“See I’m 70kg, very healthy.”

“Read the quote.”

“Time and tide waits for none.” He read it aloud, and he went on, “That’s true. Time the seductress.
This thing all things devours;
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats mountain down,” said he quoting from the book he was reading, The Hobbit, presented to him by Anu.

“It’s my mistake to ask you to take that card. Only you can attribute such negativity to such a terse quote.”

“There is nothing negative in it, my dear lady. Time heals the wound which it gives. Time is a double-edged sword. Time neither betrays nor bestows, it just follows the nature and set’s appointment with death, to everything.”


With the help of Arun, they moved to a house near her college. He stayed in the college hostel. At night before sleeping, Anand kissed Aisha, “You’re the best thing that happened to my life. Agreed you nag a bit, but everything else has always been picture-perfect. Thanks for everything.”

She hugged her back and said, “Hmmm, you’re going maudlin old man. But yes, it has been picture-perfect, and you helped me fill a big emotional void, which I honestly never thought I’d be able to overcome, thanks to you too,” and she suddenly scrunched her nose. “What’s that smell? Did you take Hajmola Candy?” she hated the smell of Hajmola Candy.

“I’m sorry. I just drank Jal-jeera,” he said moving back.

“You sleep on the couch today, how many times I should tell you not to drink those at night. I don’t how you drink it; it smells horrible and later makes you pass gas in sleep. No, no, go to the couch.”

Little did she know she missed her opportunity to snuggle in his warmth one last time. In the morning, when Aisha brought coffee to him, he was still on the couch, sporting a happy smiley like expression. She tried to wake him up and he fell down from the couch promptly.

“Anand,” she screamed and froze onto the spot standing there as a statue.

Anu came in, fully dressed for college, seeing her grandpa on the floor, she tried pulling him onto the couch, which is when she realized he was no more.

Aisha did something weird. She let out a cruel hollow laugh, just like she did when she came to know of her father’s death. She clawed her cheeks, screaming all the time, and then she spun as if her head suddenly became heavy and finally collapsed onto the floor. Anu called Arun and together, both of them took Aisha and Anand’s body to the hospital. 

And she has been in the hospital ever since. She blamed herself for Anand’s death. She made him get the weight card. Why did Anand have to interpret in that way? And she was somehow convinced that the card was the cause of Anand's death. She shouted at every nurse and doctor, not to come near her, saying she was a murderess. Only Anu could go near her confidently and administer her medicines. And most of the times Aisha was kept on anesthesia.

The trauma of Anand’s death was too much for her to handle. She ripped many hanks of her hair, and hurt herself, sometimes calling Anand’s name wildly, groping around in the air around that collection book, which she demanded to be brought to the hospital the very next moment she came out of the comma. She sometimes threw away the book and she hated it so much now that she always wanted that book to be in her presence to look at it and glare it, and to beat it repeatedly.

Continued in part 10

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