The Currency And The Candy

He stood in front of the picture.

A wrinkled face with bright black eyes sharply contrasted itself with silver hair. Venerable but equally bright.

His Granny.

He stood there looking at the picture hanging on the wall. Back home for a quick break from college, he relived the days he used to prance around like a happy pony before his nonchalant granny. She used to be a quiet little nana, but she was an extremely beautiful woman. Long tresses, an aquiline nose and chubby cheeks marked her out from a distance. That’s what he heard his mom say. For him, she was his unusually quiet Granny who usually sat outside in the balcony and looked at the nothingness.

He had heard her talk rarely. Very inquisitive about her, he would run around in front of her to get her attention, and then tuck in tiny candies in her hands. She would pop them into her mouth and look at him standing in front of her, a happy smile dazzling from his eyes. She would put her hand on his face and drag it down slowly. He could felt the softness of her fingers run down from his forehead to his chin. She stared out at the blank again. He would usually do a number of stunts to get her attention, but she never looked back at him again.

He continued to stand before the photo and look at her eyes.

**

The almost-seven year old opened the door. It creaked. Granny was sleeping on the floor. Lying on her back, she slept soundly. She loved sleeping on the floor. He peered at her closely. Her eyes were closed. He sat at her head watching her sleep. Bored, he poked at her right eyelid. She opened her eyes and looked at him from her sleeping position. She could see the tiny bright eyes looking at her curiously, and his tiny round nostrils. His lips curled into a smile the instant she opened her eyes.

‘What?’ she asked feebly.

He pointed at the open window. ‘It is morning. Wake up.’

‘Ok,’ she said slowly, and her eyes drooped off again. He heard her snore.

He sat there for a while before rushing off to his room.

The little one jumped around in his room for a while before the morning took over his day. He was rushed off to school.

A few days later, on his seventh birthday, Granny opened her chest of drawers. Her chest of drawers was less of drawers but more like a huge box. It was magical for him because he had never seen what treasures it had despite repeated requests to his parents. He would sit on huge metal chest with folded legs, and his mom would warn him not to jump on it. Nobody understood the silent curiosity of a six year old. Often he would enter her room and hold the heavy lock that closed the huge box.

Finally, the day dawned, when he heard a rusty key turn in the rusty lock, and a terrible creaky sound come from his grand mom’s room. He dashed in to see what happened. His granny was sitting right in front of the box. Her silver hair cascaded down her feeble back. He jumped inside and saw the box open for the first time, but it got closed even before he could take a good look inside. His heart cried out because he lost the opportunity to peep in. He started wailing.

His granny looked up at him.

‘I want to see what is inside,’ he wailed.

She laughed. The only laugh he had ever heard from her. It was more of a snort and laugh mixed that enhanced the dimples in her cheeks.

She put her index finger on her lips telling him to quieten down. Opening the lid of the huge chest, she pointed him to see inside. He peeped in from the corner to see brown everywhere in the darkness of the box. It was extremely dark inside, but he could see a few books, a few small boxes and some clothes.

She pulled him back and closed the chest. He looked at her with childlike anger but was pleasantly surprised.

Granny was holding a small brown box from somewhere magical in her hand. The tiny box was as rusty as the huge chest but with a hint of color on its lid. Turquoise. Aged turquoise. Aged and fragile, peeling at the corners, just like granny.

She signaled him to sit. She exerted herself to pull out the turquoise lid. He moved ahead to see what was inside. She brought out a bunch of carefully rolled currency notes.

He sat and watched her wrinkled and slow fingers work on the notes. She took out one currency note from the bunch and lay it on the floor. While the note rolled back to its fetal position, she tucked back all the other notes carefully into the brown tin box and press its lid hard. Then she picked up the secluded currency, rolled it up in her fingers and asked him for his hand. She put it in his palm and covered it with his fingers. Smiling at him, she said ‘Happy Birthday.’

He took out a yellow candy from his tiny pocket and put it in her palm.

That night the ambulance came and stopped at his home.

The next morning, Granny was brought home from the hospital. He sat in the corner of his room and watched his parents console each other.

Granny had died early morning. He had gone to her room and found the candy on the floor.

**

Still standing in front of the photo, he took out his wallet and looked at the rolled up currency note at the corner. Along with it came out a grizzled yellow candy wrapper.

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