by Celin Jay
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‘My mother always made it a point to be present on Grandpa’s birthdays with small gifts and surprises. The celebration would be a simple affair at home. Mother would bring home a stack of photographs explaining the how’s, when’s and where’s of the situation in the snaps, veering off now and then to narrate her unusual but interesting experiences in the foreign land. Both of us would grill her with a barrage of questions and she would happily oblige. This would go on till late in the night till we dropped off one by one.’
‘Ever since that fateful day, Grandfather has been in a state of denial, firmly believing that his daughter is well and truly alive in South Africa and every year he works himself up into a frenzy before the arrival of his special day believing she will turn up. The day comes and goes like any other, with Grandfather falling off asleep by the window. He is going to be eighty three the day after and he has been desperately looking for the missing cufflink, so he can wear them on his birthday.’
He collected the empty bowls and went out of the room and I glanced at my watch. It was ten minutes to ten and I collected my bag to rush out. When he came out he had something in his hand. He opened his palm to reveal two tiny clover gold links which shone under the light.
‘The truth is, he never lost it. He simply chooses to ignore one of them, I suppose, in the hope that it will draw some response from his daughter who he believes will turn up one day.’
I was back at the deserted bus stop in time to swing myself up the rear steps of the departing bus. It had become unbearably cold and the chill seeped in through the rusted crevices in the shuttered windows. I shut my eyes but my mind kept playing the image of an old man snoring softly as he slept. ***