Usha is happily married with her children well settled in life.A loving husband,a life without financial wants, a cozy home with enough domestic help, she had ample time during the day.Given to compassionate nature she visited almost daily for a few hours a near by senior citizen’s home and spent time with the ones who are very sick, attending to their needs, writing letters for them,giving them weekly magazines ,getting medicines,conveying information to relatives and odd little things that made them happy.She spent considerable amout of hers each month in carrying fruits,candies and sweets and any small things they wished for..She patiently listened to their woes knowing well that she can do little to remove them.Yet it lightened their hearts when they shared their travails with her.
The old man in the corner bed was very sick with some acute ailment.He had become very weak and his condition revealed he may not have many days to live.She spent daily considerable time with him always holding his hand with affection with him remaining mostly silent.She could see that he was sinking and the doctor had mentioned even a week earlier he would die any time.But though the life was ebbing, it did not leave him as though there was some unfinished task remained..He was often found crying with tears..
She took pity on him and talked to him consolingly though he was not in a position to comprehend her fully.One day he signalled to her to come closer to him..When she took her ear close to his mouth, he expressed a desire to see his grand daughter.He spoke with much effort panting for breath frequently.”I had one daughter.I was harsh on her when she married someone she loved without my approval.The pity was she fell in love with a good-for-nothing loafer who had decived her about his qualifications and job.In my false ego instead of helping her out of the predicament, I shut the door on her.I heard she gave birth to a girl child.I prevented my wife from meeting her.All attempts by my daughter to visit us were thwarted. She stopped contacting us. The last I heard was she died of some ailment without proper medicare after the loafer deserted her.I am not aware of what happened to the girl child and who took care of her.I heard she was taken to a village. That was about ten years back.As I am on my deathbed I would feel fulfilled and happy if I can see my grand daughter just once and give away all that belongs to me to her.Can you please help?”
Except for the names of hos daughter and her wastrel husband,he could not tell much.He had no clear idea of the name of the village and where it is situated.It was an impossible mission.He was alternating between drowsiness and some consciouness.But he was repeatedly expressing his wish.
Usha knew that unless he had the satisfaction of having seen his grand daughter, his end would not come about.. She visited two small villages with similar name but drew a blank with practically no details. His condition was becoming serious.She hit upon an idea.Her cook had a eleven year old daughter, a very smart girl and bubbly by nature.With her cook’s permission, she coached the girl what to speak to the old man, gave her the names of her supposed parents, how she died and the name of the village she was taken to. .She asked the child different plausible questions and satisfied herself about the child’s answers.
She took her next day morning to the home.”I have been luckily able to locate the village and your grand daughter though with much difficulty.It took two days of endless running around.Here is the girl.Hold her hand” she said loudly to the old man
The child took the old man’s hand and put it on her cheek and said “Thatha,I am Soundari.I never knew you were here.Luckily aunty brought me here. Hereafter I will always be with you.Can you see me clearly?”
“Can you repeat your name a little loudly, my little girl? What is your mom’s name?” he asked
“I told you thatha..Soundari is my name.Selvi is my mom’s name and dad is Anand.I don’t remember my dad.He left us when I was very young..After amma died I was with my aunt.Had I known you were there, I would have been with you.Never mind thatha, we can atleast be together from now on.”
The old man hugged the little girl with tears flowing from his eyes.”Soundari,I am very happy.I can now die in peace. I was holding my life all these days for me to see you..I was cruel to your mom.I am a wretch.You don’t have to suffer any more.This aunty will take care of you. Please give me a kiss.My heart is brimming with joy and may break any moment. Please hurry, ”he said feebly
As the girl kissed the old man, his hand that was holding her fell down and the happy spirit flew away..