A couple past their prime inherit an old dilapidated house, which was once home to a farmer, an ayurvedic physician, a sanskrit scholar,his beautiful wife and their worthy children.
The home inherited by my mother was in dire need of repair. My father,a retired banker counts every penny and could have just sold the house and pocketed the change. Much to the disbelief of all his friends and relatives, the man and his wife spend days breathing life sustaining and nurturing the old home.
I am surprised at the effort that goes into all of this. The love and care that mom and dad are willing to invest into what looked like a lost case. Wouldn’t it be easier to sell it off? I wonder secretly. Many others raise the same concern and laugh at the eccentricity of the old couple.How long will you be around?. They ask indifferently. .
20 years ago when the house was set aside for his daughter, the fourth in the line,grandfather had extracted a promise from my father. He said,this house has been built with my sweat and labor. I have lifted stones, painted it and agonized over it. I want you to take care of it.
My father said,I could have sold it off but I wanted to build something of it to return to it, its former grandeur. I expect you to use this space for the betterment of the society. I am humbled and perplexed at this suggestion. It is a huge responsibility.
Before taking this responsibility,my parents had already tided over the worst calamity of their lives, the loss of their son,the youngest, their life, their cheer and everything else.When Balu, my brother was diagnosed with mitochondrial cytopathy, which the doctor at NIMHANS told him categorically was causing the degeneration of every organ of his body,the boy was devastated, so were his parents.
Yet through the years that he survived, my mother ensured that there was a smile on his face.My father nurtured him as if he were a small baby.His friends Babu,Mani and Koushik stood by him,visiting him every single day. Cheering him up with odd jokes and pranks,only they were capable of. Until , his death on 10th of July 2012, my brother knew for sure that he was loved and cared for.
Today as I watch the house limp back to life, awakening a new interest among the neighbors, friends and relatives, I am proud of what my parents are capable of. Of their never say die spirit.
Just the other day, my mother addressed a young audience at a government school in the locality.It was her first public address. The students loved the honesty of her words and cheered for her. The adulation is much deserved,earned by unwavering spirit,hard work and an optimism that does not allow tears to be shed at any cost.
When sometimes I am told of the smile that does not leave my face, I have to agree modestly. I cannot be otherwise, I come from a family of great strength of mind and the spirit.
I have heard my parents being taunted for not studying beyond 10th standard.How does it matter? I ask.
In the college of life they have earned their doctorate:-)