Dadi sat in the living room with the others, awaiting the arrival of Abhi’s parents.
The kids would be home soon, she thought, and they hadn’t returned yet.
Ten minutes later, two policemen…one of them a close family friend… came and informed them of the accident and gave them the tragic news. All were horrified!
Dadi was in denial. “I’m sorry, but you must be mistaken. That can’t be my son and bahu you are speaking of. My children are fine.” Dadi said adamantly. “They have gone out to get a cake for their son and they will be back soon. You’ll see.” “I’m so sorry, Dadi.” The Officer said. “I wish this accident didn’t happen…but it did.”
He held out something to her. “We found this and some other belongings in the car.”
Dadi took the item, looked at it and tears immediately rolled down her cheeks.
“His wallet” she said softly “My son’s wallet.” and she broke down in tears.
Taiji and others rushed to comfort her. “How will I tell this to Abhi and Aliya? Dadi cried. “How will I make them understand?” And in that moment, Abhi, Aliya and Pragya came home and saw everyone in tears.
“Dadi, what’s going on?” Abhi asked.
Dadi wiped her tears and said to Pragya, “Pragya Beta, please take Aliya to her room.” “Yes Dadi” Pragya replied and left with Aliya.
Dadi then turned to the others and said, “Can you all give me a few minutes? I want to speak to Abhi alone.” Abhi was getting anxious.
“Come Beta, sit next to me.” Dadi requested.
And she broke the news to him as gently as she could…
Abhi heard the words coming out of Dadi’s mouth…yet somehow his mind had trouble processing it. Dadi was still talking…and then she stopped and hugged him tightly. Abhi felt numb….empty…hollow. One tear trickled out of the corner of his eye and yet he still felt nothing. Then slowly, her words started sinking in and his tears came down in full force. He hugged her even more tightly and cried.
“Let it all out, my child” she said, her own eyes filled with tears.
After a while, when his tears had subsided, Abhi said, “Dadi…Aliya…”
“Beta, Aliya is young and innocent…she has been sheltered from every bad thing in this world since the day she was born. It will be very hard to make her understand…”
“So how do we tell her?” asked Abhi.
“I don’t know,” Dadi said, “But we will figure it out.”
Later that night, Abhi was in his room, looking out the window. He was remembering all the good times with his parents, tears rolling silently down his cheeks.
Abhi was so lost in his thoughts, he didn’t hear someone come in.
He felt a soft hand on his shoulder.
Fuggi, he thought.
Abhi turned and hugged her and the tears continued to flow.
“Fuggi, they’re gone.” Abhi cried. “And they’re never coming back.”
Pragya was silent. She was trying hard to hold back her tears.
Abhi seemed to realize what he was doing and immediately let go of Pragya.
He wiped his tears and said, “Sorry, Fuggi.”
“No need for sorry. We’re friends, remember?” Pragya explained.
Abhi sat on his bed. Pragya sat next to him.
“I can’t believe they’re gone.” he said. “They were here just this morning…I talked to them…hugged them…How can they be gone just like that?” Pragya remained silent. She just let him talk…she let him unburden his grief.
He talked bout his younger childhood with his parents…before Pragya was with them. He talked about all the fun times they had…he even laughed a little while telling his story and for some of his best memories with his parents, she was there. She laughed with him and then she cried with him.
Then she said, “One minute” and left the room.
She came back and held out a book to him.
Abhi took it and asked “What’s this for?”
“When my mother died,” Pragya explained, “your mom gave a book exactly like this to me. She told me to write down all my feelings in it. Whether I was hurt, angry or sad, I should share my feelings with this book, it would make me feel better…and it did.” Abhi looked at the book. Pragya held out a pen to him.
“Maybe you should give it a try.” she said.
A few days later, Pragya came to Abhi’s room.
“I have something for you.” she said. “I asked Dadi and she said it was ok.”
“What is it?” asked Abhi.
It was one of her gifts to Abhi on his birthday…the other one she would give him at another time… but she thought he needed this gift now. “Open it.” she said.
“Fuggi, I really don’t feel like….”
“Open it” she repeated.
Abhi gave in to her stubborness and opened the gift.
“A video?” he asked.
“Yeah…you should have a look at it.” she said and left.
Abhi inserted the video into the player in his room.
As the video started, he saw pictures of him as a baby…a younger child…pictures of his parents and the rest of his family…and his friends. Then Fuggi came on….
“Hi Abhi, happy birthday!” she said. “How did you like the pictures?”
Abhi smiled, his eyes filled with tears. “Good?”
Abhi nodded at the television.
Pragya continued, “Well, right now I have alot of people here who love you and wanna wish you a happy birthday! Shall we start?” Abhi nodded again.
First up was the head of the Mehra family…Dadi.
She wished him a happy happy birthday and God’s choicest blessings. Up next came Tayaji and Taiji ,who wished him the same….followed by Raj Bhaiyya…Akash…Purab….Aliya and some of his other friends from school.
Then his parents came on…
Abhi’s heart raced…
“Hi Beta!” They said simultaneously. “Today is your thirteenth birthday, son.” said Abhi’s dad.
“My son is growing up so fast” added his mom.
“We just wanna wish you a happy birthday day. And even though we don’t say this you everyday…we love you…we’re proud of you and we couldn’t have asked for a better son.” his mom said. “We wish you only happiness and success…and remember not to dwell too much on the sad parts of life….it only takes away from your happiness.” his dad advised.
Then his Dad added, “Best wishes on your birthday! We love you, Beta…remain happy always!”
Abhi’s mom blew him a kiss and then they both waved goodbye.
Fuggi came up next and said. “Hope you liked the video…and once again happy birthday!” Then she signed off.
Abhi was in tears.
As if on cue…Pragya came back into the room and asked, “Did you like it?”
Abhi went over to her.
“Thank you for the video, Fuggi… I love it!” he said and hugged her.
Precap: A few years later…
Di, Rajesh, Sonika, Sugan, Anu, Durga, Abhigya, Somiya, Reshma,
Riyashri, Aishwarya, Riya, Monesha, Saranya, Sharaya, Nirmal & Naaz… for all your comments.
So what do you all think?