Every day Kalyan chacha would wake up at the crack of a dawn. He was over 70 years of age, so he had no apparent reason to wake up. But wake up he would. Chacha lived on the very outskirts of a bustling mining town. His little cottage was swept away in a mist of green, surrounded by large neem and banyan trees, many of which were planted by himself and his wife Latatai at a younger age. And if you were lucky, you would hear the soft swooshing of the waters from a nearby stream.
Yes, his house was what many of us dream of when we think of a retirement home or a life after all the chaos. But for Kalyan chacha, it was just his home, something he took for granted.
So he would wake up at 5, do his daily rituals, and pick up his newspaper as he boiled his lemongrass tea. And that would start, what was his second routine. That of complaining about everything around him, and in the world at large. Kalyan Chacha was retired, alone and had no family. But he had no financial worries or any physical ailments of large proportions. His legs walked him fine, his brain made him think a lot, and his eyes could still read without glasses. Yes, he didn’t really have much to complain about, if you look at it that way.
But complain he did. He would complain to the milk walah if the milk was delivered 2 minutes later. He would complain to the hired help if he caught him dozing off after his work was done for the day. He would complain to the sabzi walah if the vegetables he wanted, were missing from his cart. He would complain to the tailor, the washerwoman, the electrician, the carpenter, the gardener and even a stranger if he lingered around ‘his’ trees a second longer than chacha was comfortable.
Chacha didn’t like birds because they made his porch dirty by pooping all over it. He didn’t quite like animals because they made a lot of noise and shed hair and dirtied up his finely manicured lawn, although he wasn’t much bothered about the cows that grazed away at the weeds. He didn’t like insects or reptiles or any living thing. He detested other human beings because they were either too loud, or too arrogant or too greedy or too clever or too dumb or too shabby or too smart.
He hated sitting out in the fresh air because he was troubled by mosquitoes and flies and the noise made by the rustling leaves in the wind. He hated travel and walking around because it made him tired. So when chacha would wake up, he would boil his tea, sit down in his living room, and start complaining about the news. Most of his helpers dreaded this and remained outside of his line of vision but some would eventually be caught and bludgeoned by a barrage of complaints and whines. Every day, for the past 7 years after Latatai died, this was chacha’s routine, only intercepted by his sleep, or lunch, or dinner. Yes, it was a very dull, cold, winter inside of chacha’s heart.
As he moved about prepping up for his tea boiling ritual, a movement by the window caught his eye. He swerved around quite daftly for his age and saw a little raggedy boy sitting outside, under his porch. A little rattled by a stranger outside, chacha stepped out in the cold winter chill to investigate.
What on earth are you doing here boy? Hey you, I am talking to you. Get off my land right now!
The boy looked at him with nondescript moony eyes. You have such a beautiful garden chacha, I was just enjoying the fresh air. My hut in the city is right by the road and my lungs get choked by the pollution and bad air. My amma said I could go in the forest for some fresh air today.
This is not the garden you wretch. Get out. This is my house, my property, you understand?! Came chacha’s words, thundering down.
Scared now, the boy got up and ran out. Chacha looked at his garden and a little twinkle defrosted a sliver or two of the icy snowflakes inside of his heart. The marigold does look beautiful today! And chacha went about his daily routine.
But the next day, the boy came back. This time, he came to watch the herons fly in and out of the stream as they caught a wild fish or two. And when chacha shooed him away again, he left behind a butterfly twinkle in chacha’s heart again. The stream has a really soothing sound doesn’t it now?
But the raggedy brave boy kept coming back. And finally, one day, chacha , tired of shooing him away, finally sat down beside him.
Why do you keep coming here, boy? Don’t you feel bad because I shout at you?
Chacha, you have such a wonderful home, it is so quiet here. And yet you are always angry. Don’t you feel tired of being angry all the time? I am choti amma’s son. You remember her? She used to cook for chachi and you. She used to tell me stories about your house and ever since I wanted to come and look at it. But amma always warned me saying you will beat me or lock me up in the dungeons. Ten days back, I finally decided to come here anyway.
Hmm. Said Kalyan chacha , his face, for the first time, showing a streak of peace where a frown had resided earlier. Maybe the boy is right. Maybe I have been seeing my life all wrong, all this time!
Do you want a biscuit boy?
As the boy nodded, chacha got up from the porch and hobbled into the kitchen…but as he did, he looked back one more time, at his trees, and the flowers in the garden, and for the first time in 7 years, the winter on his face melted into a gorgeous summer smile.
Eccentric, eclectic and headstrong. I am a writer, author and editor and I write content for a reputed IT firm, for a living. When I am not doing that, I write for myself and my Facebook audience. I am also a Tarot reader, a mystic, a crystal healing enthusiast an indoor gardener and a mother of a feisty 8-year old.