Her New Friend

Today was her father’s 40th death anniversary. Devika ran a wrinkled hand over the faded yellow photograph.

“Babuji?” she whispered achingly, hoping against hope to hear him answer, “Haan beta?” in that deep baritone voice of his.

Though time and domestic responsibilities had buried the pain, there were times when she longed for his warmth and presence.

Bade bhaiya always called her on this day. However, post his bypass surgery, those calls had also stopped. She wondered if he even remembered today’s date.

“Dadiiii? Dadi!”

Her seven year old grandson broke into her thoughts, barging into the room like a tornado. “You left your phone on the sofa. It has been beeping continuously. Here. “

Thrusting the phone unceremoniously into her hands, the lad ran off.

Devika looked at the device with distaste. Her son had gifted it last month on her 70th birthday. Though he had shown her how to operate it, she felt wary of using a hi-fi gadget.

Beep! Beep!

A light flickered and her mobile started vibrating. Determined to shut the wretched thing off, she mistakenly tapped her finger on the screen.

Instantly, it filled with the image of her father!

Devika’s eyes widened with surprise. Adjusting the rim of her spectacles, she peered down at the message written underneath.

May you rest in peace, babuji!
– Bade bhaiya

So bhaiya hadn’t forgotten! He had posted his condolences in their mutual watsapp group. A wave of relief swept through her.

Devika scrolled down further.

Remember that day when Chachaji played cricket with us?
– Lakshman

Oh, how could she forget? She had hit a sixer that day!

Mamaji always bought sweets for us whenever he went to town.
– Chutki

And saved the best for Devi!
– Chote bhaiya

Devika chuckled to herself. Being the only daughter amongst his five sons, Babuji positively doted on her.

Amidst the swarm of messages, she even discovered few photographs of Babuji which she never knew existed. Devika leaned over the phone to have a closer look.

Babuji blessing a newly wed Majhle bhaiya and bhabhi!

Rajni, her niece and now an IAS officer, sitting on Babuji’s lap during her annaprashan ceremony.

A young Babuji standing on the seashore of Puri, his hair blowing in the wind.

Ah, so many memories! How did she stumble upon this treasure trove? Moreover, it was so easy to operate.

For a long time, Devika sat staring at the black and shiny object in her hand. Thanks to the smartphone, her entire family had come together to share their grief. They also paid homage to dear Babuji by reminiscing the wonderful moments spent in his presence. 

Sighing contently, Devika proceeded to wipe the screen of her ‘new friend’. She realised how much she needed it now, in her dotage years.

To reach out to her loved ones who stayed afar and reconnect with those whom she had left behind in running the race called ‘life’!

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