I return home from work and run to my thatha’s room, eager to surprise him by having come home early. I see his face light up with a big smile and his arms reach out for a hug. I put my bag away and climb onto the bed, lying down beside him. My cheek rests against his shoulder and he presses a kiss on my forehead, his arm idly patting my back. The rhythmic action makes me close my eyes and I almost drift off to sleep, enveloped in the quiet joy that even at the age of 23, I am still a little girl to him.
He suddenly says, ‘Khanna… I’m feeling uncomfortable. I’m suddenly feeling breathless and very tired.’ I get up instantly, my eyes scanning his face as I ask him if he’d like to go to the hospital immediately. After a moment’s hesitation, he nods his head and I call up the doctor to let him know we are on the way. My aunt pulls out the relevant medical records, my sister escorts him to the car as I back it out of the driveway. Within 20 minutes, we are waiting at the hospital…
We return home an hour later, with a prescription of ‘Complete Rest’ and a set of new medicines. Thatha makes his way to the bedroom and I peek in a little later to find him sleeping soundly. I sit at the edge of the bed watching him quietly – a tall and handsome man, one whom I love so dearly, and tears prick my eyes at the thought that old age is fast catching up to him.
My mind drifts back to the past couple of hours and I realise that life has this funny way of coming full circle – within the span of a few moments, the grandchild turns into a responsible adult and the grandfather into a young child who needs constant care.