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That House That Age – Chapter 9
Sun light was still there though evening was not far off as two persons peeped through the door whom Sarbani allowed to come in and shift some furniture from the room. Balaram’s siesta was never a sleep.
“Why, what’s this? Where do you want to shift me again?” Asked Balaram.
“To the terrace side room where you can enjoy more light and air,” said Sarbani.
“But that’s in a corner and I won’t be able to see my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, you and many others!” he said and added “I won’t be able to narrate my stories; there’s no end to my stories, a real family saga.”
“That age had many stories to tell, not of your father only, but people don’t have time to hear them. Time, burdened with al problems, is pushing them ahead. How long would you continue Baba?” Sarbani asked
But her father-in-law was insistent, “Still my stories are my stories and they haven’t been concluded yet!”
“Enough of that Baba, we have heard enough of that. You may surely continue to tell them to yourself if you aren’t really tired. But it’s your full leisure to enjoy and relax!”
At this Sarbani could not check her laughter. Forgetting her usual etiquette she laughed frankly for some time realising that the man before her had been relaxing almost the whole of his life. Sometimes she made some jokes with her father-in- law. Reminding or pinching him she said, “You don’t have any work now. Not even cutting a piece of gold from the bar you inherited from your mother by some sharp instrument for sale, to manage expenses for few more days. Not even for going to the watch maker for repairing your watch for you don’t require any longer to look at it.
“Time!” Balaram was visibly annoyed. After sometime he said, “Who told you about the gold bar? I myself have forgotten them. Did you ever see me cutting it?”
Sarbani said nothing but kept smiling.
“Does Rano know of this arrangement?” Balaram enquired.
“Yes, Baba, your son has made all arrangements for your comfortable stay.”
Having placed his things in the new place the two men came back to take him there by pushing his wheelchair as he was smoking his bidi. “Wait,” Balaram shouted. The two stopped and looked at Sarbani. After a few puffs he threw the butt of the bidi in the waste bucket placed at the corner of the room where he usually smoked. While throwing it in the small waste bucket Balaram said, “Every bit of my activity is now controlled by you! I am wondering since when you have made this arrangement! It was all along our wont to throw the
bidi after smoking it at the corner of the room to be swept away in due course by the maid servant.”
There was a grudge in his voice.
Sarbani avoided looking at him but nodded to the actions of the two who went back to the wheelchair of Balaram Roy Chowdhury. As they touched his chair Balaram released a sigh of grief as someone helpless does in dire circumstances.
“Wasn’t I helpless in the face of all circumstances so far throughout my life though I always posed differently?” He ruminated but still could not agree to the arrangement. “Wasn’t it due long back with the setting in of the new age? But where’s the new age! When did it begin?”
As they pushed him out of the room and moved him through the labyrinthine veranda towards the destination, his senior citizen daughter-in-law looked at his getting moved away intently. Every change brings in another change, sure, she thought. Every action has its reaction, sure, she thought. But move we must. This is a move her husband had planned and she approved. It is activated now. As they lifted his body finally at the narrow turn of the verandah and his chair too was lifted by the other hands, the whole scene changed. They vanished at the turn on their way.
There wasn’t anybody. She sighed, “He’s nearing a century now. He lives but with what reduced stature! Where have gone the food he ingested from his childhood! It’s time!” She stopped for few minutes. Maybe that she went back in memory to her youth when she stepped into this house shyly but carefully, very silently while there was a festive mood around; and then up to this she has come. Maybe that it is
time to leave the house. Most have left already. Only they are staying yet. She went back to her area of the house. The same house divided by multiple partitions, as if endlessly.
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