It was Sunday. Dadu was sitting on his arm chair. His breakfast, a banana and a bowl of porridge was kept on the table,untouched, next to the chair. He was inhaling the enticing aroma of the breakfast being cooked for the rest of the house. It was the usual Sunday special: aloo kachauri . His wife used to make such delicious aloo kachauris every Sunday morning and the whole house would eat to their fill. His wife had left him for her heavenly abode some five years back, but this tradition was carried on by his daughter-in-law Sumati. Dadu was now 93 years of age, so his family members gave him only food that was light to his stomach. Aloo kachauri did not fall in this category. But Dadu’s olfactory senses were all fine and active. How could he gulp down that bland porridge, when he could smell kachauris? No! Never!
Just then his son Rahul entered the room.
“What is this Papaji, you have not had your breakfast yet? You think I have all the time in the world to come and check on you ? Don’t you know, I have to give your medicines?” he shouted.
Dadu, with trembling hands, held the bowl and gulped down the porridge.
“Beta, have you all had your breakfast?” he asked in a trembling voice.
Rahul could not miss the faint hope lurking in those old pair of eyes.
“Oh so waiting for the aloo kachauris, eh? Have you not had enough in all these years? You still want to eat? Papaji, I have never seen such greed.” Rahul stormed out of the room after giving a few tablets in Papaji’s hand.
Tears threatened to roll down the old eyes. Visuals of Dadu so persuasively feeding the kachauris to a young Rahul, danced in front of him. Rahul eating these would give so much of happiness to Dadu then, than to Rahul himself. Dadu got lost in the happy memories when suddenly he froze. What did he see on the canvas in front of him? He saw an old couple sitting in a room. They were his old parents. Dadu clearly remembered about looking after them well by providing them with food and shelter. Ironically though, Dadu’s father owned several tea estates, all of which were running very successfully. Dadu had inherited all of them, but had failed to inherit the qualities that had established such a big tea empire. Probably that frustration had made him very foul mouthed and insensitive to feelings to some extent.
“Babuji, I don’t understand how greedy can you be at this age? All you can think of, is food? Shame on you, you are never satisfied.” Dadu would throw such harsh words at his father and his mother sniffing and sobbing, next to Babuji at the dining table would earn a few more hurting comments for her too. All that came rushing back to Dadu now and he could do nothing to wipe his tears.
“God, I am sorry for what I did to Amma- Babuji. I can’t amend them. But at least I can pray for death. I do not want to live anymore,” Dadu started to lament.
“Dadu, Dadu,” a sweet voice fell into Dadu’s ears.
It was Suparna; Dadu’s ten year old grand daughter. She was hiding something in her hand. Dadu cast a loving and enquiring look at her. She took up her hand. It had one aloo kachauri in them. She took it to Dadu’s mouth; Dadu ate half and fed the other half with all the love in his heart, to Suparna. Suparna and Dadu finished that one kachauri in no time. Contentment was writ large on Dadu’s face as he shut his eyes for a small nap. His wrinkled hand clung on to Suparna’s tiny hand. Rahul was watching the whole thing, by chance, from the window. The scene touched his heart. Suddenly it struck him that his harsh behavior towards his aged father stemmed out of fear. He feared his father may fall ill and at this age may have to suffer more. The fear over ruled all other sensitivities and so he was, most of the time over reacting. Seeing his daughter and his father so happy at such a small thing, opened his eyes. Any love that was hurting, could surely not be desirable, he realized. A ten year old had shown him true love.