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Visiting Hour

Visiting Hour

A tragic story of compassion. How an old lady was made feel about her son and grand-son in the adverse situation. It more important to keep people around you happy at any cost.

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It was 8 O’clock already, and I was late. There was just enough time to grab a quick breakfast and then I headed towards college. It wasn’t as though I would have been late for my classes, as my first class was scheduled for 10 am. But I didn’t want to compromise a single minute of the Visiting Hour.

Asha Biswas, ‘Asha aunty’ to me, is already in her late fifties, but to me, she looks just the same, ever since our first meeting. She has always been especially fond of me, and even as a child, I loved visiting my favorite aunt.

On this particular day, Asha aunty looked more cheerful than usual, and there was a special sparkle in her grey old eyes. When I teased her about it, she just laughed and said, “you naughty girl, who will look at me, at this age?”

--“Oh aunty, you never know…I think Sinha uncle likes you a lot…”

--“Why, you have become very naughty indeed, I must complain to your mother,” she smiled her loveliest smile.

--“Oh, Cm'on, you know you won’t, so don’t tease me.” I tried to sound annoyed but of course, I failed. With Asha aunty, you can never be angry. This is one of the many things I like about her, she would threaten to tell on you to your parents, and yet you can confess to her about your first crush as well as your present affair. The jolly old dear that she is, she can never really carry out her threat.

--“So, Aunty, what’s up?”

By then I could sense that she was anxious to tell me something. I could even guess what it might be: I was right.

--“Sneha called me this morning. It seems Adi is going to get a raise.”

--“Really?... About time too!”

--“Yes, she said Adi has been working really hard these days, that’s why he doesn’t call me as often as before.”

I could not help feel a little sad, but I was aware that I could not show it. The doctors had given us strict warning. So instead I said as breezily as I could, “How is little Bony doing?”

--“Oh, she is doing well in school. Sneha tells me she talks a lot. She’ll be five this winter.”

--“Oh lovely, but it feels like she was born just yesterday!”

--“Yes,” she smiled, “seems just like yesterday. You know dear, I was so surprised and glad when Adi told me Sneha was going to have a baby,… yes I remember that day, it was just after they left for Amsterdam…Adi sounded so happy, so proud, but I, I was more proud than any of them. My first grandchild….after Adi’s father passed away, he was all I had…the only one I had…”

A fond look came over aunty’s face as she traveled back in time. She looked so beautiful, calm and peaceful. I love to hear aunty talk about Adityada (Adi). He was about ten years older to me, and exceptionally good looking. At least, I thought so. Even Sneha was very pretty. I had never seen little Bonny though. 

“Adi has always been a good son, even when he settled abroad; he regularly called me…but then, his job tires him out. Sneha says he is always away on business trips, always working so hard…but then he always was hardworking, even at school, his teachers always praised him, praised my Adi…”

I could sit and listen to aunty all day, but the stupid watch told me it was time to go. I left Asha aunty recapitulating the days of her past, a solemn smile on her face.

I met the nurse at the door. “She looks happy today,” Jyoti said to me.

“Yes,” I replied as I glanced back at the contented look on her face, my favorite aunty looked happy indeed. “Her daughter-in-law called this morning.” I turned back. Jyoti smiled at me, a very kind and sad smile. I smiled back at her.

I just hope no one ever reminds aunty that her son died in a car accident three years ago, and that his wife and child were killed with him.


Abhramita Sen

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