-By Brave Flower-
It was 4:30 pm. Aloke was standing at the bus stop to catch a town bus to reach the railway station. The tea shop from his childhood days was still there with a few people discussing hot news having hot tea n snacks. The present owner looked just like his father but a bit more sophisticated than him. The theatre stands painted in a different colour but there were no changes in the building otherwise. The people here still lived their simple life in their small neighbourhood.
His mind rewound to fifty years ago. Aloke could visualise the green farmlands, coconut trees, mango trees surrounding his grandma’s home which was in the centre. Her ghee dosas with chicken kurma’s taste were still in his memories. He recollected how he along with all of his 13 cousins enjoyed their stay during vacations.
He remembered several outdoor activities and games they played there like tree swing, swimming in the big well, playing in the dam water, catching the brown hen, climbing the mango tree and plucking the ripe fruit, drinking tender coconut water and playing hide n seek in the garden. They used to run inside the theatre anytime they wanted as it was owned by their family and it had a special box room reserved for them.
They enjoyed travelling in the horse coach and going to the Tuesday Market. All small scale village vendors came to sell the vegetables, garments, makeup items, utensils, tools etc. at this market. Every village had a market day once a week. His village always had it on Tuesday. That’s the only day they cooked mutton, having bought it fresh from the butcher.
Their daily activities included collecting freshly laid chicken eggs, feeding the chickens and then going to the farm. They liked watching bulls watering the farm with the traditional method of irrigation where the bulls brought up water from the well. They would then give water to the bulls after they return from fields after ploughing.
Today, Aloke stood in the same village after attending the funeral of his aunt who was his last surviving contact from the village. He was to go back to the city which he calls his home now.
All along, Aloke was busy building his future by studying hard to get admission in the best university so that he can get into his favourite profession. Life had become busy after his marriage. After his grandparents’ demise, he never was drawn towards the village.
Aloke was surprised that the original tea shop owner (the father of the present one) gave him a smile of recognition. He was so pleased to see Aloke and enquired about his family. He knew about Aloke’s aunt’s demise and invited Aloke to visit his home next time.
Aloke had a debate in his mind. He wondered if he missed all these people in his life. He thought back if he missed his grandparents anytime. He hadn’t even tried to narrate the small happy times he had at this village to his son.
He thought about how he could have made things different. He could have visited the village often and kept in touch with everyone who had a cordial relationship with his grandparents. He could have shared his knowledge with these villagers to develop their business. He could have visited and helped them in such a way that it would have given him a feeling of connecting with his grandparents in some way.
He wondered whether he was longing for his childhood days or feeling that he lost his good time over here. He realised he
could have visited this village once in a while and kept a part of himself happy and lively till today.
He thought it is better to be late than never. Aloke decided to visit his village every vacation and create a grandparent’s home for his grandchildren, help and share his knowledge with these villagers. He vowed to do whatever the best he can from now on for the rest of his life.
Just then, the town bus arrived to take Aloke to the station. A part of him which was frozen in time came alive and he could feel the child inside him jumping with joy and happiness as he started planning his next trip to his grandma’s village.
-By Brave Flower-