Parrots, Sweaters, and Rain
400-word story about the loneliness of old age
Note: “Dadi” means “paternal grandmother” in Hindi
In her last few days, Dadi bought a pet parrot. She would continuously try to teach it to talk, saying that this way, she would never feel lonely. Despite her weak knees and creaking body, she tended to it sedulously; her only complaint was that it shat too much.
When I think of her now, I remember her beautiful brown skin, the melanin dripping from her wrinkles and knuckly fingers. I remember her husky voice asking me to eat a biscuit with tea at exactly 5 p.m. every day. I remember the puff pastry that she would bring for me every time she went to the dairy to get the extra milk Mom needed to make cottage cheese.
But mostly, I remember how she would knit sweaters for us.
In autumn, you would find her sitting in the veranda with her yarn and knitting needle. This made it tough work for her — but the fact that her hands would indirectly protect us from the winter gave her happiness. For her, the sweaters were a warm hug she gave everyone. I’ll admit it — they would itch a bit. But we still wore them.
She also had a strange affinity towards the rain. With her biscuits and tea, she would listen to ghazals in the monsoon; she often talked about the rains with a passion that is hard to describe. It was a melancholic passion. Sweetly sad, yet brimming with love.
Nostalgia always feels heaviest in spring. The season we no longer needed Dadi’s sweaters. So, it’s ironic how it is the time when I remember her the most; maybe I associate flowers with her.
One day, she refused to wake up. Between Mom’s desperate attempts to revive her with splashes of water and dad’s lowered gaze, we all knew. The parrot cawed sadly. It knew, too.
The funeral felt weird. I never knew how to associate death and sadness. All throughout, I didn’t know what to do with my hands. My only thought was that I would have to take care of the parrot. Or should I set it free?
It’s now that her death pains me. I’m old now. Her memory comes back to me between relatability and reminiscence. Right now, I’m sitting beside the window with a cup of tea in my hands. As if on cue, it has started raining. This made me smile…
I think I might get a parrot.