Leaving Home

by Ayush Saxena

500 Rupee I was asleep. But now was awake. I did not open my eyes for fear of the loving and warm touch, to be lifted away. I could still feel her caring hand brushing my hair softly. Her gentle touch was something, I always felt lost in.

Slowly, I opened my eyes and looked into hers. They contained deep and distant knowledge, but still contained the sparkle of life one usually sees in the eyes of a baby. Her hand did not stop the tender brushing. She did not say anything, and I too, remained silent for the time. I did not want the moment to break.

Finally, my Grandmother broke her silence by asking me, in her sweet and old voice, “You must be hungry. Would you like some milk child?” Milk. The enemy of all children. It is such an enemy which cannot be destroyed or defeated by any of our superhero’s gadgets or laser beams.

My reply was predictable and quick. “NO!”

My Grandmother’s intelligent eyes sparkled at mine own. She was smiling with a queer smile. A smile which could almost be described as the smile of a card player, who still had his strongest card hidden away.

She said in her unruffled tone, “Really? Oh! Then what am I ever going to do with the chocolate bar I was going to give you after you drank your milk!?”

Bull’s-eye. She had cornered me now. I, like all other children, could go nuts over chocolates. My Grandmother was smiling back at me, her hand stretched out towards me, an extremely large glass of milk in hand. I had to conquer this to get my treasure.

Quickly I jumped with all the reflexes which I had acquired as a pirate. My wooden leg banged on the wooden planks of the ship, only to create a fearful sound.

Bravely, I walked over to the table where the six glasses or wine were. Five of them contained a deadly poison, fit enough to kill a whale. Only one was free from the poison.

I had to choose a glass and drink it completely. If I survived, I would get the treasure I desired.

Others would have stood in fear or would have put off the idea of taking on this daring task. But I was not one of those cowards. I walked over to the table, my chest puffed up in courage and bravery. I took a sniff of every glass. I knew my wine well.

I picked up one of the glasses and emptied the glass into my mouth in a single breath. It was done. I had finally attained the treasure I had desired so very much.

I sat in my Grandmothers lap now, biting onto my large chocolate bar. My Grandmother was telling me stories of her young age. I listened to them with a 100% concentration, even though I had heard them all before. Her lifestyle, of the days when she was a youngster, seemed really farfetched and mind-boggling. She lived such a backward life of water from wells, and no cars, and of sarees and traditions. They all were very interesting and gave me a peep into the olden ways.

She finally pulled me up and was planning to give me a bath when I protested. I said, “Grandmum! I’m a big boy now! I can take a bath on my own now.”

Back in her peaceful tone, she said, “I know child. You are a big seven year old boy. But, to me you will always remain my baby.” Even after all my protests, my grandmother managed to get me in the tub, where she gave me a good scrubbing that made me extremely exhausted.

I was to leave my Grandmother that day. My summer holidays had come to an abrupt end. I would have to leave my Grandmother and go back home to my parents in Bombay. I had decided not to cry while making the sad departing, the way older people usually did.

I was in the garden now. My head in my Grandmothers lap. Munching on apples, in the shade of the apple tree. I was really exhausted after my bath and was feeling lulled to sleep in the warmth of my Grandmothers arms. But I did want to sleep. I wanted to spend whatever time I had left with my Grandmother.

We sat and talked about the flowers, the birds, the sky, the clouds; and the world seemed like a warmer place. My Grandmother was the only grown-up who was ever able to look at things from my point of view. She was like a grown up kid. She, to me, was like an angel, watching over me, guiding me and protecting me with a firm yet gentle hand. She was more to me, than a mother. Maybe that’s the reason for calling them – “Grand-Mother.”

I put on the tap and turned the pipe in my Grandmothers direction. She jumped up in excitement and ran towards me to try and pull the pipe away, but before that could happen, she was completely drenched, from head to toe.

She pulled away the pipe from me, with a large smile on her face, and I let it slip away from my little hands. She took the pipe and turned them towards me.

We played in the water for quiet some time. The pure form of the joy which we attained in those simple moments was something only connected souls could achieve.

I dared not think of the time as it passed. I feared those moments which meant our separation. Time flew by, with the pace of a fast moving hawk. I was getting worried of leaving, but my Grandmothers carefree expression reassured me.

I found myself at the main door after sometime, dressed in a smart set of clothes, with my hair neatly combed. A big bag lay on the floor next to me. I could see a shadowy figure walking towards me, in the dark corridor. Before she stepped into the light, I knew it was my grandmother.

She held a thali in her hand, with a lamp lit in it, some rice and a bit of red powder for putting the tilakh. She performed the traditional necessities and gave me some money for good luck.

After tucking the 500 rupee note safely into my pocket, my grandmother bent over and hugged me.

I could feel her warmth and love, and then I realized that I would not be able to feel her touch for a long time to come. I could feel her gentle breath on my neck. I could hear her cry. I could feel her warn tears roll down my skin.

And then, as though come by surprise, I felt a tear roll down my cheek. I was crying. I did not want to let go of my Grandmother. But then I felt the firm hand of my uncle on my shoulder, as though shaking me back into existence.

My uncle picked up my bag and walked towards the car. He was to drop me at the station. I still stood in front of my Grandmother looking at her as she smiled and tried to suppress her sobs.

My uncle called out to me from the car. He said it was time to leave. Hastily, I walked towards the gate. Then, I turned back, to look at my Grandmother, one last time. She waved to me, and I waved back. My heart pained. I could not leave my Grandmother.

I sat at the backseat of the car, looking out through the window, watching the house get smaller and smaller, and finally, vanish out of sight. I sat on the leather seat, wiping off the tears and trying to keep them off my cheek. But every time I wiped one, it was replaced by another. I made a promise to myself, to return when I got older. I’d bring my Grandmum the golden ring I promised to get her from my salary. Ill return.

Letting go would be so tough, I did not know. Truly, departing is sweet sorrow. This was my true home, and leaving it was painful. “Home is not where you live but where they understand you.” – This is what I was leaving behind.

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