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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My parents stay with me.  They are in their seventies.   To them , I am still the child  and they have to play the responsible ones.   Between themselves, they have taken over some chores in the house.  When I protest, they say it makes them feel useful and helps them keep active.

Then there are some things they don't trust me with.  They  feel . I am gullible.  They are convinced I am not good at keeping accounts. So some of the monthly bills - the milkman's , the newspaper vendor's, the istri-walla's  the 'haar-waala's - are all cross checked and tallied by them each month .  These bills are presented at the doorstep each month, and that is how the parents get to them.

They keep a hawk's eye on the gas burners.  Each time I am out of the kitchen I can see or hear my mother rush in  to stir the curry, or lower the flame to a simmer.  Similarly about the washing machine.  The moment they hear the whirring stop. they rush to put off the main switch.  I only have to step out of the room to answer the phone and the TV is turned off and the lights and fan in the room, switched off. 

My father locks the door and windows of the house, each night.  He first double locks the safety door.  Then comes the main door.  He bolts the  tower latch at the top of the door, and then double locks the door    and also turns the small lock by the side .  After that he shuts the floor length sliding glass windows of the balcony.  He  draws the grill shutters .  The grill shutters are then secured   with a padlock.  The curtains are drawn and the lights in the drawing room are switched off.

This is his  'before going to bed' ritual.

And I have mine.....just before I turn in for the night. It could be as late as 4.30 am, fully aware that  in another hour, at 5.30 am  dad will be up and he will undo this entire process with the same precision and in the same order. 

I cross check the doors and the padlcks , tugging at them.  I check each sliding window for gaps.  I am paranoid of rats entering the house through these gaps.  There have been instances.

So tonight I  was at the main door . I  felt a cold breeze hit my hand as I turned on the lights near the main door.  I  was surprised.  Dad had retired for the night.  The doors had been locked   and yet I could feel the light gust.  Where was the gap?

I tugged at the door knob of the main door and the door  opened. It hadn't been shut.  Had dad   forgotten? 

 I  checked the safety door. It had been secured.  Secured with double locks, bolts and all.  I shut the main door.   It didnt click shut.

So I shut it again and instinctively raised my hand to secure the tower bolt at the top of the door. I found it drawn open.

Then I checked the  safety lock on the door.  All  were drawn open.  Even the tiny lock had been locked in place. 

And I realised what had happened.  My father  had drawn all the locks, secured them.  He had simply  forgotten to shut the door before he did that.  So though all locks had been turned., the door had remained open.

My first reaction was of surprise.  Then it was  one of  scoring a point.

The next  reaction was of extreme sadness.....They were growing old.

I see them every day.  I  see the gait slowing, I see the wrinkles, I see the hair greying,  the bald pate  widening,  and yet in the mind they are the  parents.  And I am still the child.  Even at 44. 

They are ageing.

It is unpleasant truth to accept.

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