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It was evident from his sad face that something wasn't well. I haven't seen him like this before. But since last couple of days he was looking as if he had lost everything.
"What's wrong grandpa?" I used to call him grandpa because he was of that age and more because I haven't seen my grandpa ever. He didn't reply and walked away. I picked up the paper he forgot on the bench. It was acceptance letter from the famous old age home 'Home Like Home'.
I followed him and brought him back. How could I let him leave like this? He started with a low tone, "Yesterday my son gave me a wonderful gift on my 73rd birthday. A new home, 'Home Like Home'. He says his four bedroom home don't have a single corner for me," he continued, "He says both he and his wife go to work so they can't take care of me. They say they don't want me to suffer in their absence so they have arranged a place in an old age home for me".
I was quietly listening to him. "I said I can take care of myself, you don't need to suffer your work for me but I didn't know my son is smart enough to tackle these questions. So he promptly replied that I'm not safe at home alone when they both are out all day. The incidents of attacking aged people and then robbing are rising day by day. My son had a point", he put his heart out.
Silence took place between us for quite some time. "When is Nitin coming?" Nitin is his grandson gone somewhere outside India to complete his studies.
"I don't know. I don't even know his whereabouts. We rarely talk to each other. He don't call me. He talk to his parents.", there was a considerable pause after every full stop and his tone got slower after every sentence.
"Can I ask you something grandpa?", I hesitantly questioned. I myself was surprised because I never felt a need to get his prior permission to ask anything. He was surprised too, I guessed, though he granted it immediately.
"Can I take you to my home?" was my next hesitant question.
He smiled. "My dear son, thank you so much but I can't. He might be making excuses but I, a father, will always be one", he continued, "Life is an echo and he has a son too". In these lines I learnt a lesson for life.
We bid adieu and he promised to meet me right here in this park where we used to meet everyday. I kept my promise and came everyday. He never returned. Maybe he was aware of it from then on.
I'm here again, knowing that he won't come. The other day, when we met last, is the one I never want to remind nor do I want to forget altogether.