We can’t keep our promise as we planned.
Instead we didn’t meet for a fortnight. Something happened in our family changed the routine life of me.
As I was reaching home on that day I saw Emily walking fast to my direction. I ran to her. Her eyes looked as she was crying.
“What happened?” I asked.
“We are going to Pondicherry. Grandpa had an attack.”
I stop as she speaking. “Hurry, dad called a taxi to collect us to railway station” she urged me.
My dad’s family is there. Grandpa is my dad’s father. Dad’s younger brother is residing with Grandpa and Grandma.
As we entered home packing is complete and our parents waiting for the taxi.
“Go and change” father said to me. I go to my room and filled my knapsack with some cloths. I didn’t change the cloths I am wearing. It had the smell of Chris on them.
We locked the house. Mom said, “I am going to tell Jess and back before the taxi arriving”.
“I’m coming too…” I ran with mom. Aunt opened the door and mom said, “We are going to Pondicherry. Father had an attack and is in hospital. We will back in one week and keep an eye on the house.”
“Don’t worry Maggie…. Nothing will happen to him.” Aunt said.
Chris also came to the door give my mom a hug. “Give us a ring” and patted my head “go well and be back soon.”
“Of course...” As we parted my eyes filled with tears and rolled down. Why I am crying? I don’t know. Is it for grandpa became ill or leaving Chris? My mind was empty. All happiness is gone.
Taxi came and driver loaded all luggages to the dickey. Dad sitting front with driver and Emily is on back seat. Mom and I climbed to the back seat and we started for the railway station.
As we passed, Chris, aunt and grandma is standing near the gate waving hands to us.
On the way, I remembered suddenly and touched dad, “my school…”
“I called your teacher and told her about grandpa. And asked leave for one week”. Dad told me,
One week! My heart sank. I kept my eyes forward. Emily nudged me, “what’s the smell coming from you?”
I looked her blankly. Then I smelt my hands. Yes, it had a light smell. Chris’s smell. I inhaled it deeply. I will never wash these clothes.
Why did he takes today for have his attack? I was angry. I cursed silently grandpa, dad, mom, Emily and all. Every one is trying to kill my happiness. As thinking I feel guilty. I cried loudly…
‘Oh... my little baby...” mom put her hand around me and kept me close to him. Her eyes were filled too. But Emily looks me and something in her eyes which I don’t like.
It was raining hard as we reached the railway station. Dad got our tickets and we moved to the platform. Some people are scattering here and there. Rain kept everyone in home.
Our train arrived half an hour late. Inside the compartment is not full. More seats are empty. I was sitting near the side window with Emily beside us. Mom and dad were sitting opposite of us. It is a fourteen hours journey to grandpa if the train running on right time.
Another family got in from the next station and took the empty seats beside us. Mom and dad were speaking to them. I was leaning on the seat looking out side. Emily whispered my ear, “Why are you so silent, Josh?”
“Thinking about grandpa,” I know she didn’t believe me. She patted my hair. I placed my hand on the windowsill and rested my head on them. A faint smell is coming from my hands. I inhaled deeply that smell and silently mouthed, “I love you Chris.”
We arrived after eleven ‘o clock at morning. Took a taxi and go directly to hospital.
Dad’s brother uncle William and his wife aunt lily, my two Aunts Sarah and dolly with their husbands Laurence and Edward were there. Grandma is in the room with grandpa. Our cousins are not here. We learned from them as they covering us. Everyone is speaking loudly. One of the nurses coming out from the room hushed us and informed us this is a hospital and not a market. Everyone is silent after that.
Grandpa was in I.C.U. Some tubes are going through his nostrils and mouth and some are attached his body to some fearsome looking instruments. I looked at him. Mom pushed me forward. I slowly approached him and knelt beside the bed. I kissed his cheeks. Tears rolled down to the pillow from his eyes. His lips trembled as he tried to speak.
“It’s okay dad”. Dad said as knelt beside the bed. He took grandpa’s hand and kissed. Grandma was sitting on a chair near the bed and was silently crying. Mom and Emily were standing with her. I felt I am going to cry but controlled. Not in front of everyone.
Spending an hour in the hospital, mom, Emily and me went to dad’s house. It is about two miles from the hospital. Dad stayed in the hospital with Uncle William. My aunts and grandma came with us.
Uncle William has two children, one boy and a girl. Cousin Frank is one year elder than me and Sophie is same age as Emily. I and my cousin Frank didn’t like each other. He began to grow moustache and beard. He starts shaving when he was my age. He told me earlier that he hates me and I said its okay to me because I hate him too.
It is a huge two storey old type English style house and recently had renovated by Uncle William. They had two servants; one for doing outside work and one for house work. Both were natives. The house is sitting in beside a street having same style houses both side of it. People are from the same community of us lived here.
I was sharing the same room with Frank because we are about same age. I can see he didn’t like it from the expression of his face. He told the servant to bring a cot and place it other side of wall. He told me he didn’t like to share his bed with me because he doesn’t want to sleep with a child. He rubbed his shaved beard as telling this.
Uncle came from hospital around eight at evening. And take food with him for dad and mom and one of my aunts goes with him. We ate our supper after nine. Frank was out for seeing his friend. Emily said me to wait for her out side in the garden. So, I went to the garden and sit on a bench.
“You look so sad, Josh.” She said as coming and sitting beside me on the bench. “And I know it is not for grandpa.”
I was astonished and look her with my staring eyes. “Don’t look me like that.” She said.
“I am you elder sister. I know you when you are a little baby. We grew together and never had a quarrel. We understand each other” I nodded to her as she saying. “I want you be happy in life, Josh.”
She looked straight to eyes, “I know what you are thinking.”
I started to say something, but she stopped me. “Don’t speak. Listen. I don’t know what happened when you were at Chris’. But I saw your face when you are coming home. You look like as all the happiness of world coming to you. You are booming to the world. And your eyes were filled with love. You are like a baby having his most wanted gift. You are in love.”
“I don’t understand what you are saying.” I was stuttering.
“You are not that innocent” she winked at me. “It’s right falling love with someone.”
I was afraid. She knows about me. She will tell others.
“I am not going to tell others”. She smiled. “Love happen Josh. Nobody can change that. You know…... whenever I met Chris, almost the time he is speaking about you. Any subject would end with you. He is doing that unknowingly. Jo is an angel, his eyes are like ocean, and he never met such a beautifully boy, blah blah…. Josh, he told me he liked you at first sight.”
I blushed deeply. My sister is saying this. She pulled me close to her. I hugged her and didn’t say anything.
“Whatever happened, I am with you Josh”. I hugged her tightly.
“Don’t tell Chris I know about this” she said as we parted. I nodded.
My sister is the best.
Bedroom was empty when I go to sleep. Frank was not there. I closed the window and turned off the light. Somewhere in the house a clock struck ten.
I lied on the cot and wait for sleep to come. Sleep doesn’t come to me early in strange place. About fifteen minutes later someone opened the door turned on the light.
I opened the eyes and saw frank and an another boy about my age coming in. They saw me I was looking them. I was up and sitting on the cot.
“Who is this Frank?” the other boy asked.
“My cousin Josh” Frank told him. “They came because of grandpa. He is sleeping here because he is afraid to sleep alone”. Both laughed.
“I am Freddy.” He said, “I and frank in the same class. My parents go to my sister’s. So, I am sleeping here. They will come day after tomorrow.”
We shook hands. “Glad to meet you,” I said, “sorry, but I am going to sleep. I’m tired of the journey. Good night.”
“Good knight” they both said.
I lied on my back and pulled the blanket over my head. They are speaking slowly to each other. Someone opened the window. Rain here is not as heavy as our place. The sky was clear and moon is shining through window. Some light from the street is coming too.
I heard the sound of someone opening the door to bathroom. Someone is pissing and flushing water. The door closed.
“Come on,” it was Frank from bed.
“Is Josh is sleeping?” Freddy asked.
“Like a baby”. I heard Freddy climbed beside him and opened my eyes. The room is dimly visible from the moon shining through the window and the light coming from the window. I turned to my side and look out side through the window.