Dickey's School Show by T Kraghunathan - HTML preview
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Old Shanta was relaxing on her ancient easy chair, catching the evening sun .She was on the terrace of her single storey house. A tall fruit bearing mango tree growing in the compound formed a nice green leafy back drop. A gentle breeze was blowing across her face. The slanting rays of the setting sun caught the diamonds in her ears, made them shine brilliantly. Her head was thrown back, with her long grey hair falling behind in a graceful drop. She was proud of her long hair. Years of use of ammonia based dyes had bleached the hair and the silver in them glowed in the sun. Her broad fair forehead was bare, slightly lined on account of age..Lines around her eyes indicated how gracefully she had aged. A long cushioned couch was set in front of her chair and she stretched her legs to touch the edge of the couch with her toes. The stretch of muscles seemed to calm her disturbed nerves. Most evenings she had somebody to keep company sitting on the comfortable couch , sipping coffee and munching hot pakoras. Today she was all alone. There was no friend at her side, there was no tea and of course no pakoras. A wry smile danced in her face and vanished.
She was alone in the house. Her son sharad and daughter in law with two grand children had gone out to see a film. They will have their dinner and return home late. They had left no food for her. The fruit bowl on the dining table had two bananas and an orange. There was some cold milk in the fridge. She had to manage on her own for any food. Her family was angry with her and they showed their displeasure this way. There was still some time for her to worry about her supper.
She looked around her. She could see the neat line up of flower pots. The jasmine creeper had worked her way right up to the tallest part of her house. A green bushy thulasi was glistening in the sun. It was her favourite plant. She never failed to water that plant every morning after chanting Sri Krishna’s slokas.
She remembered the hot words uttered by her son in the course of heated arguments between mother and son. It was not the first time. It was becoming more frequent in recent days. It was always about money. According to her son, he was always short of it while she had pots and pots of it stashed away some where and she was so miserly that she would not help her only son fund his daughters education through medical school and high school. He was blind to the fact that his wife had expensive tastes and blew a great deal of their savings gambling away at the card table at the club.
Yes, it is true that Shanta had seen very affluent days. After all that is said and done, her husband was a supreme court Judge and she herself held a position of professor of Religious Philosophy at the university. They had lived well, travelled far and wide, built this house and seen a son and daughter graduate and settle down well in life. The husband wife Duo had a spiritual streak in them and they supported so many worthy causes that they could save so little of what they earned.. It never mattered to them that they were throwing away money .They thought they had sufficient money to tide over the retirement phase. The son never believed a word of such explanations.
But today’s argument was not about money.. In fact, for any one else, it was over a trivial matter. To any one but Shanta.. She should not have reacted the way she did. It was her fault this time. Yet she could not forgive her son and family for what they did. How could they take out an item from her cupboard and hand it over with out her consent , to be put out for auction.. An item which she had treasured and preserved over thirty long years. It did not appear to be improper at all forher son and hiswife.. She could not take it at all and she threw words left and right. Sharad and family felt the same and they left in a huff to clear the air and she was left behind alone, crying.
She decided that she would visit her grand daughter’s school and meet with the Principal and take back the item deposited by her grand Daughter Aarti for display in the Art and Craft exhibition and subsequent auction to raise money for the school. The item was an exquisite carpet of wool and silk garnished with gold threads and embedded with pearls and semi precious stones. It was completely done by hand by Shanta over twelve months, spending a fortune. In fact she made two like that .One was gifted away to the shrine at Ajmer. She had hoped to present the second one to the most extra ordinary friend, who had saved her husband. She was not sure that the friend would appreciate the gift because he was too rough to like any thing so delicate and beautiful like her carpet.. But she kept the carpet and maintained the friendship.
Only recently ,her grand daughter Aarti had taken a sudden interest in knitting and shanta had helped her to learn the basics of knitting and how to make intricate designs using wool and silk threads. During one training session, shanta had taken out the carpet made by her to show Aarti a sample of her own work. The girl was so excited that she wanted the whole world to know what her dear Granny had created.With out telling her, Aarti removed the carpet and submitted it to the school, for display in an Art and Craft exhibition to be held at the time of school annual day celebrations. Aarti did not inform her grand mother about it . It did not strike her at all that what she was doing was not proper. When shanta came to know about it she blew her top. Sharad took his daughter to task for her action and tried to assure his mother that item would not be auctioned and would be brought back immediately after the exhibition. Shanta would not hear a word of this explanation and she insisted that they should get back her carpet right away. Sharad lost his patience and told her simply to go to hell. He decided to go out for the evening with his family leaving his mother alone to fend for herself. Shanta was now ruing over the matter and planning her moves to retrieve her treasure.
Shanta had her own standing in the society and had friends who would help her with out reservation. It was a school originally promoted by her husband and presently run by ex service men organisation promoted by her friends. So it should not be such a difficult job to get her item back. She decided that she would show her son how she could take care of her own assets.
With such thoughts crowding her mind , she called up her friend Kaddu( short for Kadambari), a leading supreme court lawyer and , a long time friend. When the soft voice of kaddu came on the line, she felt encouraged to open her heart out .She poured every thing over. Kaddu listened to all that patiently .shanta finally said, ’that is it Kaddu. I have to visit the school to morrow, first thing. Will you please tell Dickey to pick me up from my house and drive me over to school. After all, it is his school, you know”
Kaddu laughed out aloud and shouted at Dickey who was nearby, conveying what Shanta wanted. She said to shanta, ’it is okay dear. You heard me shout at Dickey. He will be there to run you over to his school. Only request is go easy on him. He is not at all like your sharad. He does not like being shouted at especially by old ladies like you and me.’
They all laughed together. Shanta put the phone back in its place .
She closed her eyes and tried to relax. Her mind was doing a flash back of time she spent knitting the carpet. The smiling face of her long dead husband danced in front of her eyes. She murmered softly ’do not worry Vikram. I will get our treasure back. Dickey is there to help” .Five kilo meters away , at Friend’s nest Dickey was asking kaddu ’what has she done now?