Soumya and her folks had gathered at her grandparents’ place in
“What’s up kid? You alright baby?” , asked nani.
“Hmm..” Soumya replied, noncommittally.
“Care to share?”
“And may I ask why?”
“Because you’re my nani.”
Nani laughs “ That’s unfair! Kyunki nani bhi kabhi cool thi…”
“ Ya.. But nani had just one boyfriend all her life.. Poor old nana, that is.”
Nani had a twinkle in her eye “And what makes you so sure of that?”
Soumya whirled around “ Whoa, whoa!! You’re not telling me…Sheesh! Why am I even asking? Of course you didn’t.. I mean you couldn’t..”
Nani was smiling a really mischievous smile now.
“No way nani… Really? Like really, really? You had a
you know what??”
“ A boyfriend Soumya.. the you know what was called a boyfriend back in our times too, you know. Jesus! You’re way too prude for your times, girl!” Nani said banteringly.
“Oh freak! This is crazy. I mean it is hard to imagine nani young, let alone her having a boyfriend.” Saumya thought in what was almost dismay. Then when she could find voice in her throat she hesitatingly said, “What was that like?”
“ Well.. very heady. He was a student of my father’s. He used to come to our place for some ‘extra classes’”, nani winked.
“Oh nani, don’t, for God’s sake, use insinuations. I’m scandalized enough!”
“Oh silly girl! Don’t jump to conclusions! He was a gentleman. A very well-read one at that. Said all the right things. And he knew it. Knew which book to recommend to which girl so she’s completely in love with his choice. He’d talk of life, meaning, ideals, beauty, aesthetics in a way that’d make you believe it all ran through his blood vessels. You know, not in a dry, intellectual manner, but in earnest. Every girl I knew him to have met found in him a soul mate.” Nani was looking at the flower-pot in the veranda as if she could see through it, smiling a half-smile.
“ Ah! A case of unrequited love, you mean?”, Saumya said almost with relief.
“ You jump to conclusions too fast, girl. Well , yes, women did swoon over him but your nani here was quite a head-turner in her days”, Nani said smugly.
“Aha! So you got him all floored, huh?”
Wait a minute! Did Saumya just see her nani blush??
“Oh my God! You’re blushing! Even after like a thousand years from then! Oh freak! You did get over him, right?”
Nani replied after a moment’s pause. A moment that could easily have gone unnoticed. “You get over everything, honey.”
“ Hmm.. so what happened? How did you end up with nana?”
“ Well.. my mother was opposed to the match. She thought he was too much of an intellectual to make a stable husband.”
“ And nana was not?”
Nani laughed out so loud that made Bozo, their lazy Alsatian, raise his sleepy head and cock his head. “ You impertinent brat! Well, let’s just say your nana was more of a family man than the other guy was.”
“ Hmm… does nana know?”
“ Wow! You told me what even nana doesn’t know! Am I honoured! By the way, if I were you, I wouldn’t have trusted a rash kid like me with my secrets. I mean, what if I accidentally blurted it out. Not to say that I would.”
“ Well sweetheart, it won’t matter even if you did. Your nana and I are past that stage in our relationship where these things matter. With as many years as we have spent together you become almost the same person in different bodies, meant not necessarily in a romantic way, so much so that you almost forget that you’re husband and wife- in the manner in which you think of it when younger”
“ Did you ever feel a sense of loss, nani? Like, did you ever regret it?”
“ Sweetie, always remember, in imperfect moments it is the easiest to think in terms of ‘what-ifs’. Let me put it this way. Has it ever happened to you that you were sitting in your school bus and a guy gets on board and for some reason you want him to sit next to you? And it’s not even as if he resembled Brad Pitt.”
"Yeah... has happened a few times."
“ Well life’s like that at times. You meet people you are inexplicably drawn towards. Perhaps it has something to do with some greater connection or maybe it’s their aura and vibes that yours mesh in with. Whatever it is, sometimes you just have to get down at your bus stop and move on.”
“ You know what, Nani? What you just said, I think, may have the answer to my boyfriend crisis.”
“I’m glad about that. Although let me warn you that you’ve got to find your truth on your own. What I experienced in my life is only one of the ways of living life. And you should know it as one of the possibilities and not as a certainty. Sometimes, you got to make your own mistakes. Just remember to be true to yourself and that life never stops.”
“Hmm…” Soumya went over to nani and hugged her.
“And there’s another thing I want you to know, baby.”, Nani’s eyes glistened, with, perhaps, tears of affection. “When I see you, my beautiful, darling grandchild, who brings so much of joy to my life and that of everyone around her, I realize with all the certainty in the world that every decision I made in my life was right because it lead to you…”