“May I know why you are very quiet today, dear?” asked Sundari’s dad.
Every evening after coming back from school Sundari would rush to her dad and tell him about all the happenings. But she seemed unusually quiet that day.
“Sundari, is it because I did not buy ice cream as promised?” asked her dad.
Sundari shook her head. Tears trickled down from her round almond eyes and she hugged him.
” Appa, Gopi’s… Gopi’s…” Sundari tried to tell something in between her sobs.
” It’s ok, dear. Drink this glass of water and tell me what happened.”
Sundari drank and wiped her face with her dad’s handkerchief. She then sat on his lap.
“Appa! Today Gopi did not come to school because his thatha passed away. Selvi, my classmate, told me that we all will die someday. Does that mean Thatha, Paatti, you, Amma… everyone will die someday? Isn’t it a lie?” asked Sundari, feeling anxious.
“Hmm, actually it is the truth,” said her dad hesitantly.
“What? Appa…” Sundari started sobbing again.
Sundari’s dad was quiet. It was one of the toughest questions he was faced with. He paused before he could explain it in a way that she could comprehend.
“Sundari, tell me what would happen if plants never grew?”
“We wouldn’t get flowers or fruits,” said Sundari, after blowing her nose.
“Right! And what if seasons never changed?”
“Hmm! That wouldn’t be fun at all. I enjoy all seasons, Appa.”
“And what if you never changed, I mean, did not grow up?”
“Oh, that’s scary! I want to grow up and become a doctor like Amma one day.”
By then Sundari stopped crying.
“Very good! Change and growing up is part of life and so is death, my dear.”
“Hmm! And what happens to people after they die?”
“Well, to be honest, I can’t be sure though I have heard people say so many things. All I can say is that the ones we love always remain in our hearts long after they are gone. Our experiences with them remain as stories that will never fade.”
“So, we have to make sure people we love are always happy?”
“Exactly, my dear. Create colorful memories with all the people we love.”
“Ok, Appa. I will try not to think too hard. When people grow old they die and it’s normal. We have to work towards creating happy memories with everyone throughout our life.”
“Yes, you are a smart girl,” said Sundari’s dad, giving her a hug and a kiss.
“Appa, now here’s the list. Two banana split ice creams, three choco bars, chips, orange juice, three-tiered butterscotch cake …”
“Hey, hold on! What is the list for? It’s not even your birthday.”
“Oh! I have to start creating colourful memories with everyone. Aren’t parties a great way to make people happy?” asked Sundari with a wide grin.
Sundari’s dad nodded hesitantly, wondering how long the party was going to last.
Thatha – Grandpa
Paatti – Grandma
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