Beautiful family pictures Sir” Raman complimented in an attempt to come back to present from his past which never ceases to instil guilt in him.

Pictures indeed, not sure of family though” sighed softly Dr.Lal looking at the walls. And an immediate gaze at his wife’s face interrupted him from ripping his heart and showing his agony. “Well young man something else is waiting for your compliments, let’s go and have dinner,” said Dr.Lal in a humorous tone drawing a beautiful curve on the faces of the hostess and the guest.

At the dinner table, during the dinner amidst rounds of admiration of sumptuous dinner, Raman asked Mrs.Lal about the beautiful family that adorned the walls.  Unlike Mr.Lal, Mrs.Lal showed enthusiasm in divulging the details, for mother she is always happy to talk about her children.  Pointing at one of the photographs she said: “this is Palak, eldest among all; Saransh, my eldest son; Prateek – youngest son and Dhara, youngest of all“.  One could easily see the twinkle in her eye as she was talking about them “all settled in different cities, doing really well in their careers.  You know Saransh used to work with a prestigious company in the U.S, now it’s been 10 years that he left us.  I must tell you that he was the most mischievous one among all and Palak the peacemaker, Prateek and Dhara always had a hand in glove in every mischief and trouble.  You won’t believe Raman that this house never experienced silence when they were here” and out of nowhere, a gloom hovered over her face.

At this point, Raman wanted to know what does she meant by ‘left us’ but at the very moment Mr.Lal chipped in “Sudha! When you start talking you give a tough competition to even an express train. Come on now finish your dinner, its time for your medicines“.  They all got busy with their dinner and then Mr.Lal took Sudha to her room.  As she was leaving she exchanged pleasantries with Raman and expressed her pleasure to have him at their place and also insisted that he should visit this old couple often to which Raman nodded affirmatively with a bright smile.

As Mr.Lal came back from Sudha’s room he asked Raman to wait for a minute and he went to the kitchen and brought with him two bowls of ice-cream, “hope you enjoyed the dinner and no dinner is complete without a dessert, hope you like this flavour too” and he handed over the bowl to Raman.

As they were scooping out bit by bit, Mr.Lal spoke “I tried to explain her innumerable times the Attachment and Detachment concept but she failed to understand that equal number of times.  We cannot keep the wings of birds clipped to the nest when they want to spread their wings and search new abode. But even birds get back to their homes at the end of their migration periods. But……” he suddenly realised that he is letting his emotions flow in front of just an acquaintance.

I am sorry young man, I told you no one stops by this old couple and when someone does they have to bear the torture of listening to our woes” and he burst into an artificial laughter.

Throughout his conversation with this elderly couple, Raman sensed an array of emotions in their words – pain, comfort, grief, pride, hopelessness, in short, he felt their hearts.  For him, it was a reflection of what his grandmother felt years ago.  He was speechless except for answering too obvious and straightforward questions in Yes or No.

It was 10:30PM, Raman took their leave “It was a pleasure meeting you, knowing you and I must say I never had such a delicious fish curry in about ages”  He stretched his hand and touched Mr.Lal’s feet as a token of respect. “Can I  take the liberty of asking you if we can meet this Sunday and treat would be mine Sir” he was more cheerful in his tone this time.

Yes, of course, Raman, we will be looking forward,” said Mr.Lal in an equally excited tone and patted on his shoulder.

Raman left with his head and heart full of his new neighbours…