Today Is My Day

Written in response to: Start your story with the line ‘Back in my day…’... view prompt

2 comments

Funny Kids Coming of Age

“Back in my day, we had grain the size of an egg.”

“And egg the size of a watermelon?” I ask with an innocent grin. A snigger by my 10-year-old elder sister turns my question into a dare.

Granny replies unfazed, “And the watermelon the size of an elephant” and continues with her inspection of the kitchen.

My parents have gone out of town for the weekend and Granny is here to set our home straight.

“Your ma, the poor busy woman has a kitchen the size of an elephant but provisions the size of an egg!”

“Eh?”

“Nothing, we need to go to the supermarket and get some supplies if I have to feed you a decent meal.”

“But Granny, we have packets of instant noodles. And Saturday nights are noodle nights.”

“Not under my watch. Put on your shoes. We are going!”

**

“Back in my day, we could snap the tip of the lady’s finger to check if they were any good.”

“Oh Granny, we will be shoed away from the store if we do it!”

“Of course, I know, kiddo,” she says as she picks up the greens, fills them in plastic and weighs them on the scale before placing them in the cart.

“Can we go to the confectionery aisle and look?” my sister asks pulling me by my sleeve.

“Why not! Just stick together,” she says as she continues to check the labels on the cans.

“Back in my day we made the sauce from the scratch,” she mutters to herself. I run off with my sister.

**

“Rise and shine Simba!” Granny tugs at my toes and tickles my sole.

I giggle but don’t get up.

She draws the curtains letting the sunlight flood the room. I cover my face.

“Oh, Granny! It’s a Sunday!!”

“Yes, Babydoll, so we are going to shake up do something fun.”

I peep out from my duvet.

“What?”

“You tell me!”

“Build the fort of Raja Ravi Singh?” I ask with my eyes wide open.

“And expand his kingdom till the tomato patch!” Granny booms in her best baritone.

**

“Granny…Granny…”

I shake the limp form fallen next to the hibiscus bush.

The form jumps up and says menacingly, “Drop your sword…you are my captive now Raja Ravi Singh!” and points the drumstick to my chest.

I protest, “Granny… this is not fair! I thought you had fainted.”

“Ha…ha… ha…everything is fair in war and Granny land,” she says theatrically as she draws up the drumstick to my chin.

I rebuke, “Was there no code of honour back in your day?”

“What back in my day? Today is my day!”

**

“Can you tell me a Grandpa story?”

A tender smile lights up her face, a couple of dimples add to the wrinkles.

“Okay… Once upon a time, there lived a man named Dinesh. He was strong, kind and brave. His parents were poor. So, he started working at 12. He was a bright student. He attended night school and graduated from high school. At 18, he joined Survey of India and was out in jungles with his equipment and men for days on end.”

“Like a Raja?”

“Yes, but with a rifle. They measured the length and breadth of the land from sunrise to sunset and rested in the pitched tents at night.”

“Tell the python chair story,” I clap my hands.

“Oh yes, one evening after a particularly tiresome day Grandpa made a cup of tea for himself and sat outside on a pile of wood. The winter sun was setting early. As he sipped his hot tea and warmed his hands his chair began moving slowly.”

I cup my mouth with my hands as she pushes back a strand of my hair from my forehead.

“He put his hand down and felt something soft and cold. His heart stopped for a moment. He stood up slowly and moved away to his tent with light footsteps. When he came out with his rifle and saw his chair slithering away, he realised he was sitting on a python!”

“What if it had swallowed him?”

“Then, I wouldn’t have been your grandma and you wouldn’t even be here!” she continues in a subdued tone, “He was a good man. He made sure I lived a good life even when he was not around.”

I clasp her hand and say “I am here for you Granny!”

She blinks and tucks me in saying, “Tomorrow is a school day. Goodnight, Babydoll.” 

**

Years roll by.

I take the first train back home from the university after I hear Ma sobbing over the phone.

“Grandma has suffered a stroke, again. Doctors are not too sure whether she will make it.”

I gaze at the passing clouds, green fields and distant hills but see no beauty in them.

When I reach home, I find the home more disorganised and deserted than usual.

I take the cab and reach the hospital.

I wade through the people, desks and doors.

Then I see her, lying motionless with blue sheets and robes enveloping her and tubes sticking out of her.

I rush to her on tiptoes and press my lips on her forehead.

She opens her eyes and smiles. Ma sitting next to her weeps.

**

“Back in my day just a soup would have revived people,” Granny says as I fuss over her and try to feed the stew.

“And a stew would have made them stand up and walk!” I wink.

“And a roast would have made them run,” she laughs and then coughs.

I run my hand on her back up and down. She stops coughing.

“How are you getting on in the college?”

“Sometimes good sometimes not so good. I like it though.”

“That’s nice, Babydoll. Just two more years, isn’t it?”

“Yup. And you are going to bake my favourite strawberry cake when I graduate.”

“And throw a party and dance till I drop,” she giggles and I give her a bearhug.

**

“Just another 10 steps and then we sit,” I cajole her frail form that is exhausted from taking 10 steps with the walker.

“No… just kill me already!”

“A true soldier never gives up. He fights till his last breath,” My voice rings in the corridor. A passing nurse gives me a look.

“My knees hurt,” she pleads.

“Okay let me give you a little lift,” I push the walker away. I hold her by the crook of her arms and let her body fall on my chest as I slowly walk her back to her bed.

“Back in my day, young people could lift a boulder with their bare hands,” she mumbles.

“And made a crater in the earth when they farted because of the load!” I say with a straight face.

Granny rolls on her bed and laughs.

**        

I put my backpack down. I see Grandma near the balcony window. The same window from where the pirates used to attack our ship. Soft light outlines the silhouette of Granny on a wheelchair. She has moved in with my parents for a short while, till she gets better. I walk up to her, sit down on the floor and put my head in her lap. Her hand brushes my hair.

“So, all set sailor?”

“Yes, Granny. I’m taking the afternoon train.”

“Did you take the laddoos I asked your Ma to make?”

“Yes.”

“And the savouries from the corner store?”

“The university has an excellent shopping plaza, Grandma. Don’t worry about me. You take care of yourself, okay?”

“Back in my day college students used to carry a box full of homemade goodies,” Grandma grumbles.

“And their roommates used to rob all of it!” I stand up and kiss her goodbye.

“Set your sails high and reach the new shores sailor, bon voyage!”

“Aye Aye captain!”

November 17, 2021 15:35

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2 comments

Keya Jadav
17:19 Dec 04, 2021

Aww this is such a beautiful story mixed with love and honey. The relation between the protagonist and her grandmother is shown so beautifully. The way the plot has been built is awesome and the repetition of the granny's phrase highlights this story even more. My personal remarks- “Was there no code of honour back in your day?” “What back in my day? Today is my day!” ---- Hah! good one. “Set your sails high and reach the new shores sailor, bon voyage!” --- Love this line. I think it was a great story and I absolutely loved it. Looking...

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Suma Jayachandar
17:30 Dec 04, 2021

Thanks for the appreciation Keya. I had great fun writing this story. I wanted to experiment with a predominantly dialogue based structure. Glad you liked it 😊

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