Friday, May 30, 2008

The Return

She entered the house which she had left more than three years ago. It had been empty for a week; the family was on a trip to the hillside for the summers.

Pallid sunlight percolated through the curtained windows, accentuating, rather than dispersing, the darkness and melancholy inside. She had never approved of curtains. Unnecessary frills. She had had no secrets to keep.

The windows, themselves, were altered. She had insisted on grilled ones; a prudent defence against her toddling grandson’s ever increasing reach. The grills were now gone, making way for fashionable sliding panes.

The floor had been redone; the stone slabs of her time replaced by marble. She knew they had wanted it even whilst she was there but had had to wait. It would have been too slippery for her with the rheumatic arthritis she had carried since she was sixty.

The grandfather clock stood, covered in a coat of dust but resolute as ever, against the freshly repainted wall. It appeared to have long since stopped ticking. Quite considerate of him to let it stay there, she thought. Her rocking chair, which had occupied the centre of the drawing room and from where she could and did watch over all the other rooms, had disappeared. It made the room look more spacious, she conceded.

The kitchen was almost entirely reoriented. The platform was longer, the utensils stacked away inside a cabinet, since built, on the wall. An electric apparatus guarded over the oven instead of the creaky, oil coated exhaust fan she had. A larger refrigerator for a smaller family, she mused, running her hands over the sleek, glossy surface of it.

The room that had been hers now seemed to belong to her grandson. Her bed and her almirah were in their rightful places. The contents of each were, of course, changed. A section of the almirah, locked, contained some of her saris, a photo album and the Bhagwad Gita, preserved with mothballs. The saris were starting to fray at the edges. A wooden shelf had been added on one of the walls and supported a couple of her grandson’s books. The rest were strewn on the bed. Her temple, by the bedside, had been removed. Its position had perhaps been too precarious in the child’s continued presence. Nevertheless, it annoyed her a little.

Her son’s and daughter in law’s room had remained largely untouched except for the temple, shifted there from the other room.

The Gods were as she had left them. The only additions were two framed pictures of her husband and herself. The flowers, hung on and around them, were withered.

1 comment:

Shrinath said...

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