Vamana Returns to Vamanapuri…(Finale)

Oh hello, “agathekyu varu”, do come inside. Dinner is ready. We were waiting for you. Rice, tomato rasam, beans palya. You will love it. And carrot halwa for dessert… I made it myself. Do have how much ever you want. No, I’ll not sit with you now; I’ll eat with the priest later.

Did you like it? It’s a bit late. I will drop you back to the guest house myself, and stay the night there. We’ll talk while we walk. It’s not a nice night. We should be walking fast. I can hear the thunder rumbling in the distance. There is a storm tonight I think. Come on. I’ll continue now…

As soon as we reached home, the auntie threw her handbag on the sofa in the living room, and dashed straight upstairs. I knew she was very anxious about her father’s health because she kept asking me how he was on the car ride back. Though I had assured her that he was fine and getting better each day, I think she wanted to make sure of it herself. Her daughter however, still held on to my hand and I was happy. I did not have any brothers or sisters of my own, so I felt like a chettan(elder brother) when she was holding my arm. I took her up to the old man’s room. The man was awake, and smiling because his daughter was by his side. Auntie was smiling too, having made sure that her father was fine. When the man saw his granddaughter, he opened his arms wide and the little girl ran swiftly and gave him a big hug. I came to know later that auntie’s name was Nisha and her daughter’s name was Priya.

The next two days were quiet and peaceful. Auntie wanted to be with her father most of the time. She now occupied my couch most of the day. I was left to play with Priya and spent most of the day playing hide and go seek with her. She also had many stuffed dolls. Though I did not enjoy it much, I had to give her company when she played some silly game called Tea Party, pretending to drink tea from a little cup. On my tenth day there, Auntie decided that we should go on a trip to the amusement park. I had never been to one before, so I was more scared than curious, but Priya seemed very happy at the prospect. The old man told me to go and have some fun rather than sitting all day at home with him. The cook and driver would be there to take care of him. At 9am we left for the park. When we got there, I was very surprised. It was huge. Nothing like the things we had in Vamanapuri on special festival days. There was a huge ferris wheel, water slides, and many other rides. So many people were there too. We went on every ride, and had a lot of fun. Auntie bought me a bright yellow cap and popcorn. She took us to some big hotel for lunch and we ate some chapattis. Or at least, I tried to eat them. They were too thick and stretchy for me. Auntie called them naans. Maybe they were some new kind of chapatti. We reached back to home at 10 or 11 at night. I was too tired by then, and had slept off in the car itself. I think driver uncle must have carried me upstairs, because when I woke up the next morning, I was on the sofa in the old man’s room.

That day, Auntie removed the bandages on his foot, and he gingerly walked downstairs. He said he was feeling fine. To be on the safer side, Auntie decided to take him to the hospital and get a scan done. They left at around 10 in the morning, leaving me to take care of Priya. They told they will have lunch in the city itself and come back later in the evening only. Priya was tearful at leaving her mother’s side but she took my hand and did not make a big fuss. After they left, we went upstairs to Priya’s playroom. Since I was getting bored of playing Tea Party, we decided to play a board game, called Chinese checkers. I had played it with the old man before so I knew how to play and was getting quite good at it. But Priya was even better than me, because she kept beating me. She told she played it with Nisha auntie most of the time at her home. I wanted to win, so we played that all morning. I could not beat her even once. She told me I played well, and would soon beat her. Since we did not feel that hungry, we only had some bread and cheese for lunch and went back to play again. She took the carom board this time, and we played pauper. She was good at this too, but we played the game for a long time and stopped only when we saw that neither one of us was going to lose that easily. It was 6 in the evening by then and when we went downstairs, they still had not come back. Soon, they did come back. They had bought dinner from outside, and we ate chicken curry with fried rice. It was very nice. When I went upstairs to sleep, the man told me to call him mutasshan(grandfather). I had been calling him “sir” till now. I was very happy and I felt like I had a relative in the city now.

Since the man was able to walk again properly, to celebrate we went to the cinema the next day. There was some animated movie for kids in the big theatre in the city, so Auntie and Priya went to that. I could not understand English that well, so Mutasshan and I went to some Malayalam movie in another theatre, which was in the same building as the other theatre. We had a lot of fun, laughing at the jokes, crying when the heroine died at the end, and screaming when some action took place. Both movies ended at the same time. In the afternoon, Auntie took me and Priya to the children’s park in the neighborhood and watched us play happily. We both played on the merry-go-round, the slides, the see-saw and also played catch with a ball we had brought from home. Even Auntie joined us and we had a nice time. That night, Auntie cooked dinner herself and made some very nice dishes. I thought she was some cook in a big restaurant in Australia, rather than a doctor. I was tired after the big day, and fell asleep almost immediately after dinner.

The next morning, Auntie told me all of them would be taking me back to Vamanapuri that day. Auntie had packed a bag for me with the new clothes I had been given during my stay in Kochi. I wanted to go back, but also felt sad that I would be leaving. Even Priya also was a bit tearful, having had me for company to play in the last few days. After breakfast, we got into the car, and started for Vamanapuri. It took us nearly the entire day to get there. We had packed lunch, which we ate in the car itself. At 6 in the evening, we reached Vamanapuri. My friends, who had never seen such a car in the village before, flocked around it to see whose it was. They were very surprised to see me smiling from the window of the back seat. The priest was happy to see me, and told me that he was proud of what I had done. Since it was very late and difficult to drive in the dark, they decided to spend the night in Vamanapuri itself. They took a room in the guest house, and I played with Priya till late that night. Before they left the next morning, they asked the priest something. When I heard it, even I was very happy. They had asked if he would let me come to the city for the month of August every year, when both Auntie and Priya would come for vacation. The priest was only too happy to agree, when he saw the big smile on my face. They left after having breakfast in my house.

Well, my friend… that was my adventure in the big city. Did you like it? I have had another adventure also, but that is for another day. If you come back some other time, I will tell you then. No, it’s no use extending your stay here, because I am going to Kochi tomorrow, for a whole month. The driver uncle will be coming to pick me up. So you have a nice night, and I hope you have a nice journey back also. I enjoyed telling my story to you. Bye, I have to go pack my clothes. See you next time.

Poetry & writing to me are to me, a breath of fresh air in a life that is sometimes covered by the smoke of sorrow or self doubt. They also become the sweets I share to celebrate when life offers me a reason to. But most of all, they are to me, my life. For each word I write is a piece of my heart, a thought that just had to find its way into the world.

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