I sat on the fold back chair and hunched forward, looking at him working with a hundred tattered yellow pages and a huge file that seemed like a habitat for many teeny tiny bugs. Adjusting his eyeglasses halfway on his nose, he grabbed a metal chair from the corner of the room and climbed on it, rummaging around the shelf.
“Pillai, I’ll see you later,” I said, clutching the hook of the walking stick. He glared at me and extended his hands, seeking help to get down.
“Since when did you start using a third leg?” he asked, dusting off his hands on the dhoti.
“Stop doing that. Your hair is as grey as mine,” I blurted out, gritting my teeth.
He tilted his head sideways and belly laughed. Last week, when I visited him with my grandson, the little kid had covered his face with his hands, as and when he heard Pillai’s laughter–or, that’s what I think. I definitely cannot imagine my six-year-old grandson face palming to my excellent humour sense.
“Where is the naughty kid?” he asked as he walked me to the hall.
“I was on my way to buy him a chocolate. He scraped his knees, while climbing that tree in our backyard. Poor kid had to hear some bitter scoldings,” I said.
“Ah! I’m sure that he is fine, I just don’t get why his grandfather sounds so cranky,” he said.
“You should have seen that look on his face! It reminded me of my childhood days. Pillai, all my life, I have been a pushover. I preferred to taste the bitterness of other’s commands than spitting out a no. I was obsessed with the ease of apologizing for my very being and never bothered to own up with pride,” I said.
“You’re thinking too much and exaggerating a mother’s refusal to go along with her kid’s naughty acts. Stop picturing yourself as a loser and put an end to your thoughts convolving around him; you are definitely the person who you wanted to be and he will grow up to be someone better than you,” he said.
“I’m definitely not the person who I wanted to be. It’s funny to perceive closure as something you have been looking for in your life. We spend days, linking together the bits that make sense to our lives; Just like joining together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. You lose pieces and replace them with whatever that fits in. And when you’re done with it, you believe that it has taken the exact shape, because, you haven’t seen it as a whole before,” I said, heaving a sigh.
“Each one of us has a myriad of untold stories about lost pieces, but the ones that we choose to replace them make us who we are,” he said and sat with a serene expression and a plastered smile– the ones that we see in the portraits of God.
“Come, let’s get some fresh air,” he told me, knocking over my walking stick.
“How do you know?” I raised a brow.
“Because you walk perfectly all right,” he muttered.