There he was, waiting for her at the bus stop, with a reassuring smile on his face, wearing his white Nike sneakers and wielding the polished black walking stick. For Anwesha, her grandfather or Ajoba as she called him, was the only one who could answer all her questions eagerly. The others never understood or did not share the same enthusiasm as her Ajoba.
Anwesha had grown up fast, almost a feet taller within a year and also much wiser owing to her conversations with her Ajoba. Her questions never ceased and so Ajoba always had to scout deep within his years of experience to pull out all the answers. This was the best part of the day for both of them.
As she, walking slowly towards their home, narrated her daily school stories, that of her teacher scolding, of the games on the playground, of her best mates Gunjan and Sonakshi, Ajoba quietly absorbed everything with an occasional hum and a nod.
Looking at the scaffolding around the new house on their lane, she paused. The pillars on the top floor were being painted white. The yellow lights inside reflected off the lovely stained glass windows. It looked nothing less than a palace to her wide, kohl smeared eyes.
I shall build a big beautiful house like this
Why do you need a palace? ,Ajoba asked with a wide smile, anticipating the conversation that was to follow.
So that I would have many rooms to stay and I’ll be happy.
Ajoba sighed as he wondered how even twelve-year olds were beginning to attribute the pursuit of happiness to having more money or, especially in a city like Mumbai, having a big house.
Pakhru, nothing is as wonderful as a small house where everyone stays together, eats together. What do you need a hundred rooms for?
Anwesha pondered hard and waited for her grandfather to solve the confusion in her head.
I always thought more rooms meant more fun.
Ajoba appreciated her innocence with a generous laugh.
More rooms means more cleaning. How will you maintain your whole house neatly each day? Like your mother says, if you do not keep your things clean and proper, you won’t be happy for long. It may look beautiful for the others viewing it from outside, but what matters is the beauty inside.
Anwesha acknowledged Ajobas lesson for the day by holding his hand and sharing a rather content smile.
As their small house at the end of the lane came into view, Ajoba lamented
Pakhru, always remember, like how you love your house, your house must love you too.