My family means the world to me. Because my school is so far away from my home, I spend most of the year at my hostel, coming home only on extended weekends and vacations. I miss them a lot when I’m at school, and I look forward to seeing them every moment I’m away from them.
Three letters a week I get from them, telling me how much they miss me, what sports my mischievous little brother had qualified for in his school, how much chubbier mom had become, how many deals my dad had managed to get, and most importantly, what plans they have for when I come home soon for the week long break for Diwali. They said they had booked tickets for spending the week in Manali. I started dreaming of the week when I read it. Manali, with its beauty, and places to visit and enjoy the week with my family, not thinking of studies at all and just relaxing. I had read about the famous Hidimba Devi temple there, the Beas River flowing on the outskirts of the town, its shopping streets and the fort of Naggar. I was waiting for the trip, to capture its beauty in the film of my heart forever.
At last the day arrived. The bus dropped me, complete with two bags, half a mile from my house gate. I was so excited that I jogged with the heavy bags to my home, threw the gate open and ran inside. My mom was waiting, and I gave her the biggest hug. Dad was there too. He lifted me into the air, and said I hadn’t changed one bit. My brother was yet to return from his last day at school. I looked around for the last two members of my family, but they were nowhere to be seen.
“Where are Dada and Dadi?” I inquired of my parents, sad not to see my grandparents welcoming me as well.
“They’re not here now Janu. We’ll take you to meet them don’t worry. Come eat first.” said my mother, not going into details, stopping further questions, a grimace on her face. I looked at my dad, but he gave a non committal shrug. I ate in silence, not understanding what had happened to them.
In the evening, my brother and I played badminton together, while my mom was packing clothes for the trip. We would be going to Manali the next evening, after visiting my grandparents. My brother was also in the dark as their whereabouts, my parents telling him the same thing they told me. Early next morning, my dad took me and my brother to meet them, my mom staying back on the pretext of more packing. As we entered the building, I read the sign through the car window. It said, “St. Matthew’s Home for the Elderly”. I was shocked. I turned to ask my dad, but his face was expressionless. I saw my dada and dadi in the garden, threw open the car door and ran to their side. They were so happy to see my brother and me. We gave them some roses we had brought just for them, and spent a lot of time talking to them. They also didn’t answer my query as to why they were there and not at home. They told me they were happy there, but their voice told me they were not. I looked around and saw my dad near ther car. He wouldn’t come near us at all. A couple of hours later, my dad told we had to go. Silently, I walked to the car and got inside. I looked up to say bye to my grandparents, and I saw tears in their eyes as they walked away. I began to cry too, waving goodbye to their backs as we moved away.
When we got home, I turned to my dad and demanded the reason why my grandparents were in that home, and not here with their family. My dad just shook his head, and went and sat on the couch. My mom was there, and she told me that they were there because they were stopping my dad’s progress in his work. He had lost some good offers because of their orthodox ideals. They were a jinx, she told. I was hurt when I heard that, and I went to my room without arguing. We did go on the trip to Manali, but I didn’t have much fun. All I could think about was my dada and dadi, in that home, far away from their family, alone. When we got back from the trip, I went to see them again. Just to tell them bye, and that I would be returning to the hostel that day.
My parents took me to the bus station. I had not talked to them much in the week, and when the bus came to take me back to the hostel, my mom and dad were sad to see me go back. I kept my bags inside and came out to talk to them. They were a bit happier then. As I stepped into the bus, I turned to my dad and said, “Well, now you know how dada dadi feel when they see you go back without them from that home. At least you have Anil to look after you and care for you. What about them? Who do they have in that home?”
My dad looked stunned, and I left him thinking in silence. Two days later, I got a letter from my parents. As I read it, a warm glow entered my heart. My grandparents were at home. My dad had realized his mistake, and gone that very day to bring them back home. They told that the next time I would be home, all of us would go to Manali again, even my grandparents. Now I’m happy, and I can look forward to having fun in Manali.
One big, happy family…