Thandavan mama was in a grumpy mood. You see, his siblings were dying. Five were gone, and only four were left. Sure, he felt sad. Even fearful of his own certain, and perhaps nearing end. But what really annoyed him was that they chose to die almost a year apart each time. Which meant that he couldn’t enjoy his favourite festival. Deepawali.
It started eight years back with the death of his wife. It was advised that he not engage in celebrations of any kind for two years after that. While he did love Gajalakshmi with all his heart and missed her even more than he missed his real teeth, not celebrating the festival of lights made him equally sad. Right after that, his grandchild was born a day before Deepawali, and it was determined that they shouldn’t celebrate. And then, his siblings began to die one after the other. The one year mourning period for siblings began to cast shadows on his soul. What he wanted to do was play with crackers, and see his house transform into a well lit home.
A few siblings were still left, and in various stages of dying. Given his parents’ fertility and his luck, there was a good chance of never being able to celebrate again. Then, it struck him that perhaps going to the US to be with his son Ashok was a good idea. Ashok had a six year old child, and around children, one celebrates all festivals. Perhaps he could burst a few crackers, and put it down to his duty as a grandfather. Death or no death, his duty as a grandfather would come first. There would be no watchful relatives in the US to tell him that celebrating festivals during the mourning period was inauspicious.
He calls Ashok. Using that cheap phone card that on some occassions worked rather well. Ashok screams on the phone, sounding strangely jubiliant. Thandavan mama tries to tell him that he wants to come and live with him. Not now, but around September next year. Ashok says “Appa, change, change.” So he says, “Yes, yes. Amma is dead. For eight years now. It is time for change.”.
Ashok keeps talking about change. The bad phone line doesn’t help. Thandavan mama tells him – “I don’t have any change. These days, nobody carries change. Only debit card.”. His son says something more about change. Thandavan mama is concerned. Does his son know that he is wearing the same shirt from yesterday, and hasn’t changed.
Ashok tries again, “Appa, Obama, change. Change.”
Change Upma? Never. Thandavan mama hangs up.
PS – I don’t like the ending too much. Prefer the first few paras. But how could this blog not mention Obama? And.. err.. change.