“So, Tatha, what have you planned to gift me on my 8th birthday? Little Ramya squeaked while sucking the last bit of pulp from her mango seed. Her sticky palms exuded the ambrosial flavour. She was at her paternal grandparents’ house to spend her summer vacation. Located in a serene place in the outskirts of Trivandrum, it was a perfect holiday home.
Mr. Mani, a tall well-built septuagenarian kept his newspaper and reading glasses down and beckoned her to come near him. Ramya hopped towards him with exuberance. “I have something special for you.Wash your hands and the mango seed. Ask tathi to keep my gardening tools ready.” Ramya obediently strided towards the kitchen.
Mr. Manikanthan Iyer was a retired Scientist from a reputed Pharmaceutical company. Post-retirement, he bid adieu to the busy urban lifestyle and nestled down with his beloved wife Radhika in their ancestral house. He took up gardening as a hobby and was proud of his orchard, that embellished their backyard. His son Ravi and daughter-in-law, Malti were settled in Mumbai. Ramya was their only daughter and enjoyed spending her vacations with her grandparents.
” Tatha, the tools are ready.” Radhika called out her husband. Mani took charge of the tools and instructed Ramya to follow him to the backyard. His orchard had a good mix of trees. One for every season. He dug a pit with a spade and sowed the mango seed deep inside the soil. ” What are we doing tatha”? Inquired Ramya “Well!you wanted a gift? Am gifting you a memory”. She gave him an amused look. Gauging her confusion he replied back,” Tatha won’t be always around, my child. But this seed will grow into a tree, bearing sweet mangoes. So, when you will grow older and miss my presence, you just have to come and meet me here.The tree will make you remember the time we spent together.” Ramya smiled back listening intently. Little did she know that it would be one of her last visits at her grandparents home.
Ramya grew up and got busy with studies and exams. Her grandparents understood and took this aloofness as a part and parcel of growing up.
Mr. Mani’s memory weakened with age. His wife Radhika continued taking care of him. One fine morning, she gave her son a call informing him about his father’s debilitating health. The entire family decided to visit him. Grandpa welcomed them with a blank look. “Just intermittent flashes of memories.” Tathi explained in dismay.
Ramya’s eyes welled up and she ran towards the backyard. Her heart sank seeing his pale and weak frame. Clinging to a tree she cried inconsolably. A while after, she felt a warm frail hand over her shoulders. “Kondein you are home. The seed is now a tree, Look!” Exclaimed grandpa pointing towards the trunk she was leaning on to. The tree witnessed their reunion that day.
- Tatha : Grandpa (Tamil)
- Tathi: Grandma(Tamil)
- Kondein: Sweet child(Tamil)
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