As the sun’s golden fingers tickled her eyes open, she stretched awake. As usual, she lingered on in bed, hesitant to start the day. After all, she had all the time in the world. There was no one waiting, expecting her services or attention. Her life was the same every day, without the pressures and pleasure of change. It usually started in the mornings with coffee and tasteless breakfast. She had stopped complaining about the hard idlis long ago when she realised that it fell on deaf ears. If only she had the energy and youthfulness to cook her own breakfast, she could have shown them how soft idlis were made. Now, however, she was totally dependent on the meals they provided and aged care homes were not famous for catering to the gourmet.
This morning she was surprised to find a piece of sweet semolina halwa with her idlis and she received greetings and a smile from the woman who served it. It was then that she realised the speciality of the day. After a warm shower, she got dressed in a silk sari that she had reserved for special occasions. Her fingers played with the folds as she fondly remembered the day some long time ago, when her husband had bought it for her on an occasion like this. He had said she looked very beautiful in it with her long, shiny hair braided and her eyes blackened with kaajal. Maybe he is watching her now, waiting anxiously for her to join him. “I haven’t got my passport yet, my dear. I am hoping it will be soon. Please be patient my dear” she muttered to herself. She smiled as she remembered how he used to laugh at her tongue-in-cheek comments.
Pulling open the drawer of her bedside table, the only other furniture in the room, she lifted out her hand mirror and the kaajal from her little treasure box. With her unsteady hand, she adorned her eyes with the kaajal. She was not very happy with the way the black colour spread unevenly around her eyes but she knew she could not achieve anything better because of her frail, shaky hands. She shrugged and brought out the tiny bottle of perfume from the treasure box and dabbed it on her wrists, and dress. She wanted to look and smell really nice when they kissed and hugged her. Suddenly, the world looked brighter. The sun-speckled leaves on the hibiscus tree outside her window danced in the breeze and rays of hope added glint to her tired eyes.
Those eyes kept looking at the telephone, expecting it to ring any time. Those eyes kept looking out through the window into the drive way expecting the cars to come driving in any time. As the day wore on, she still kept her hope alive, finding reasons for the delay. May be the car broke down….. May be they had to stop over somewhere urgently…. May be they got delayed trying to choose the right presents….
That night she went to bed wearily, still clad in her sari. She was worried. She prayed that they had not met with any accidents or anything untoward had happened. She prayed that none of them were sick and that they were all healthy. It did not matter that they forgot her eightieth birthday… as long as her children and their families were happy and safe… That was all what she really hoped for…