THAT SUNDAY OF MY GRANDFATHER
My grandfather was ailing. One Sunday morning he felt a little better, and wanted to visit the Calcutta Botanical Gardens. Now, we lived in the suburbs of Calcutta, and this was not an easy visit. But with me going along, the family agreed. The Botanical Gardens were close to the famed Bengal Engineering College, from which Grandfather had graduated a very long time ago. So this would have been the familiar haunts of his youth.
We arrived in the Gardens, and I noticed a strange transformation in him. He became silent, and fortunately I got the sense to respect that. I fell back some and let him be by himself. He was going from place to place, stopping, staring, turning his head as though looking for someone. Sometimes he sat down, and stared, and turned his head. We came to the spreading old Banyan tree, and he stood among the trunk roots, leaning on his walking stick. We came near the river, and he sat down on the grass. He was lost in himself. Dating was not a prevalent custom in Grandfather’s youth. Otherwise I could imagine perhaps here is where he once sat with his first love – the one love that never goes anywhere except deeper and deeper in the recesses of memory.
Shortly after that, Grandfather died. Looking back, I think he needed to make this visit as a part of settling his affairs. He knew this was his last ailment. He wanted to have a tryst with his youth.