“Sneha, I am not sure whether bauji (father) will accede to this. However, this Diwali I’ll to talk to him on the topic yet again. He never listens to anyone, not even to Ma. He has always been so. Besides, Ma is too old to tend to household chores all alone,”Deepak snapped.
“Have you finished the packing? The flight will reach Delhi tomorrow by 12:30 noon. From the airport, I have already booked a taxi to Rishikesh, he added.” “Yes, all done. I have also put Muskan’s pre-winter cloth, as Rishikesh will be colder than Mumbai,” Sneha smiled.
Muskan enters the room. The six-year-old cherubic girl widens her eyes innocently, seeing her mother doing the packing. She gushes. “Wow! Tomorrow we all will be in Rishikesh with bade papa and badi mummy. And my friends, Riddi, Sukriti, Aanvi, will be awaiting me. They all know, for sure, I will be coming to meet them,” she twittered. Her voice resounds as sweet as a rich, mellifluous song from an angel sent from heavens above. We both smiled, looking at our little ‘angel’, trotting with mirth.
“Jee aayan nu, mere bacchon (welcome, my children),”Ma greeted us in her usual effervescent Punjabi tone. “I was longing to see my children home,” she added with her misty eyes. Her happiness knew no bounds as she saw Muskan. Tears welled up in her eyes. Happiness doesn’t know any boundaries of reasons and it needs no explanation. I always believed that true happiness lies in smiling at simplest joys of life. “Where’s bauji,” I intentionally interrupted to do away with that teary moment. “He has gone to the market to get something for Muskan. He is overjoyed at this thought that Muskan is coming home,” her eyes twinkled with a tear sitting at the corner of her eye.
“Bade papa.” Suddenly, Muskan squealed with excitement. “Arrey! Mera nona baccha (Oh! My little child)”, bauji greeted Muskan with his open arms. There were crinkles at the corner of his eyes as he smiled. A pair of shimmering bright brown eyes glittered from his joyous face.
“Aap kaise hai, bauji (How are you, father)? Sneha enquired. He nodded and flashed his smile. “Theek hu, beta (I am fine, my child)”.
His warm smile, at that time, was a striking contrast from the usual aloofness he wears when he is alone. His cool aloofness was seen as arrogance by some people. However, I knew the things were otherwise. It had been five years since he retired as a branch manager in the bank. From within, he missed his family. However, he was skeptical of moving to Mumbai. Ma kept on trying to coax him to move to Mumbai, but he always used to turn a deaf ear to her words. “I don’t want to disturb their lives”, his only answer to her queries. “I wish we can live together, Sudha. But at this age, we oldies won’t be able to keep pace with the pseudo-civilized society. One step wrong; castigated forever.”
At night, we dined together. We were delighted to see Ma and bauji with Muskan. It felt as if they still got that same sense of childish excitement when happiness beckoned them from all corners.
“Bade papa, ab aap hamare saath Mumbai chalo. Hum sab saath mein rahenge (grandpa, you should come with us to Mumbai. We will live together).
Ji, bauji. Aap hamare saath chaliye. Hume aap se yeh Diwali ka uphar chaiye (Yes, father. Please come with us. We want this as a Diwali gift from you), Sneha remarked. I jumped for joy and joined her. “Please bauji.”
Bauji eyes brimmed. He looked at Muskan and asked, “is Diwali meri pari ko kya chahiye (What does my angel need for Diwali)? Muskan rejoined, “bade papa”.
Bauji smiled back. Accha theek hai” (okay, fine).
Happiness is never a mile away. It’s always there, waiting for us just to open the door the right way!