Part – I
“What does that mean?” I asked my 9 year old daughter, Riddhi.
“That is the name of the pigeon – birdie. It is going to grow up to peck”. She tried to reason out.
I have seen Riddhi watching the pigeon couple build their nest in our balcony with straw and dry leaves. Then an egg was laid and the birds took turn to hatch it for almost a month. Her heart skipped a beat every time our maid said that she was going to clean up all that mess.
All the while Riddhi waited patiently till one day she woke up to the excited chirpings of the birds. An ugly birdie, smeared with muck all over making it uglier, was being welcomed by its parents.
Riddhi’s joy knew no bounds as she watched the little bird grow and make constant noise. At times she scolded it also. After returning from school she would straight go to the balcony and speak with the avian family for some time. She kept some grains of rice and water for them before having her lunch.
For the next fortnight when the parents took turns to give training sessions on flying, the birdie made the loudest cry out of fear. It was then that the crows took note of the young one.
It was difficult to say whether it was previous night’s storm or the crow, next morning the birds were found to guard the listless body of their young one.
Speechless, and with tears welled up, Riddhi touched her Chooglee for the only time to certify that it was dead. All the mess was cleaned up but not before leaving a scar in a young heart.
Sofia was a young lady when she joined as my grandma’s maid. With the passage of time, she got trained in the household work and commanded respect from all due to her simplicity.
As my grandma’s family expanded, so did Sofia’s responsibilities. She saw grandma’s children growing up, getting married and bearing children. My grandma nurtured a special relation with Sofia and both the ladies used to chat at length on topics they knew the best.
Even when grandma became old and her health failed, Sofia continued to serve her with the same earnestness. Despite my grandma’s daughters in law being always on the toe, Sofia would herself attend to grandma’s personal needs.
The evening grandma passed away, Sofia gave her a bath in the noon, washed her clothes and went home, only to return next morning as usual.
Early morning when we were about to take the bier out, my mom asked us to wait for Sofia. In the meanwhile Sofia came, and ignoring the gathering at the front gate, entered through the side gate and went upstairs to grandma’s room, only to be welcomed by her empty cot.
In a flash she understood everything. Giving a heart-wrenching wail she ran downstairs and flung herself on grandma’s listless body. “Amma , where did you go, leaving me behind ?”
Grandma had gone away leaving her nest albeit cot, empty.