“Aunty who’s Mom are you?”
After a long pause the little boy, in his firm little voice, replied, “Oh! Then you must be somebody’s aunty!” His inference caught me off-balance. Very decisively he conferred the title of “Aunty” on me, “Is it okay?” he didn’t wait for a confirmation and scooted off.
Over the next couple of weeks Arjun introduced himself, his parents, his likes and his dislikes. He asked me a lot of questions. Strangely, whenever I got uncomfortable by his “very personal” queries, he sensed it and effortlessly directed the conversation elsewhere.
I had always tried to escape the dreadful silence of emotions and the empty life that followed that silence. However a casual conversation everyday about Arjun’s routine gradually became a part of my day. I always found him waiting for me next to the lift, even when I would come late from office. From day one, I knew we had a special connection. His enthusiasm overflowed through his elated voice as he talked at length about his friends, his paintings and what he wanted to do in life. But most importantly I was captivated by the expression of contentment that permanently decorated his smile.
That morning, I got up from the wrong side of the bed. I felt the irritation all around. Upon my return, not seeing Arjun, I realized the reason for my restlessness. I hadn’t seen him since Monday and it was affecting me. The security guard directed me to his flat.
I saw a grim looking lady in her late 20’s followed by even grimmer looking elderly couple. My apprehensions were gone and fear took hold of me. Expectantly and hesitantly I inquired about the 5 year old Arjun. But to my surprise, they greeted me as if they were waiting for me.
To the grandparents I was introduced as his friend, who seemed to be well aware of our little evening chit-chats. Both of them were happy that Arjun was still alive to introduce us personally.
In his final few days of fighting cancer, when he could not attend school or play in the park, our little conversations helped him momentarily forget the pain, even instilling the spirit to fight the oncoming death.
Somewhere I read “Age doesn’t protect you from love, but love to some extent protects you from aging.” He loved me, a 40 year old Civil servant, as his favourite “Aunty” and found a place in my fondest deepest ageless memoirs.
Written by Kiran Edited by ‘bhliash Photography by Arpan ganguli