The Window Spree

It’s 4 PM already, Aaba a bit exasperated asked Ganesh, why he hasn’t kept the chair near the window yet? And Ganesh hurries up and set the chair knowing it is the most awaited time of the day for Aaba, it is this time which keeps Aaba going and make it easy to spend rest of the day and the night.
Aaba walked slowly towards the window, peeked out a little and set in the chair with a relief that he is in time. The boys are yet to start the game. He asks Ganesh to bring his glasses. Ganesh comes with two cups of tea and Aaba’s glasses. Aaba sips tea and kept talking to Ganesh. He said, boys are late today, Ganya. May be their mothers don’t want them to play in this peak summer. Mothers are like that always, they do not understand the boys.
Ganya said, may be some of them gone out, it’s vacation time after all. Why then, other boys should come at least, Aaba said. Ganya to tease Aaba a bit more said, other boys might be playing indoor, you need a bunch of players for a game of cricket Aaba and he laughs a little. This makes Aaba little furious, but before he could say anything the boys appeared in the playground just outside Aaba’s window and forgeting Ganesh’s remark, Aaba smiled and waved at the boys. The boys too waved and shouted to greet him.
The game begins and for next three hours, Aaba forgets everything and indulges in the game constantly shouting, sometimes to applaud a good shot, sometimes to teach them and sometimes he just gets furious for a bad game. Boys too enjoy the lone spectator to their game otherwise seen as a mere summer time pass.
The ball sometimes comes near the window and Aaba would not let the opportunity go and would teach the boy a thing or two about the game. Boys now have started to come to the window to ask Aaba for strategies. Aaba now all the more love this time playing the coach.
Until 7 PM this goes on when the boys wrap up and say good night. Aaba asked them, come tomorrow on time.
Ganesh also stand in the window sometimes, in between his chores. Once the game is over he would say, now at least close the window, mosquitoes would trouble you at night.
He would forget what he told Ganya to cook for dinner and then scold him for not cooking the daliya he wanted to eat. Ganesh ignores him and serves him dinner asking about the game. Aaba would then happily finish the meal what ever it is, talking about how the boys played, who is a good player, who saved the most runs and who got the wickets.
He would ask Ganya to switch on TV for some news before he leaves. There’s some news going on about a racial assault on a Sikh man in Chicago area which caught Aaba’s attention.
Aaba’s son lives in Naperville, Chicago. Daughter is settled in Glasgow, Scotland. Aaba visited them couple of times with Sarada, his wife but refused to go with any of them after her death two years ago. He was adamant to live in their suburban house where he spent 52 years with Sarada but on this visit, his son persisted that he should move to an old age friendly apartment complex near the city and there he hired Ganesh to look after him, Ganesh takes care of few elderly people in those apartments.
Aaba is almost 80 now, does not go out much. His entire life he preferred a limited social existence contrary to Sarada. He even stopped routine walking after Sarada’s death, said he is too weak to walk now. This weakness is more emotional than physical, Ganesh always says with his experiences.
As a boy, Aaba was passionate about cricket and a very good batsman but stopped playing as he left collage without graduating when on his father’s insistence he applied for a government clerical job and got selected for it.
Aaba moved here at the start of summer. He looked around in the apartment, all necessary stuff was arranged. He neither felt bad nor good about anything until he opened that window to the playground. A playground enough for a good game of cricket. He was delighted for a moment and emotionless again the next moment.
Aaba started his routine of compulsory medicines, reading newspapers, watching news and cricket and calls from his son and daughter, grand children too talk sometimes but they are growing up in different countries and at 80 Aaba can not much comprehend them. He used to feel sad about not spending much time with them but now this is also a routine, to not feel anything about it.
He would sometimes try to read a book, Pu. La. Deshpande or Va. Pu. Kale, would receive a call from or make a call to relatives.
It was time for summer vacations and one afternoon he noticed noises and peeked out of the window. To his delight few boys were playing cricket. He asked Ganesh to bring a chair and sat their watching the game till the evening. First few days he was watching quietly, enjoying by himself but slowly he got involved applauding and shouting.
It’s almost a month now and he has taken over as a coach, no more a mere spectator. Aaba thought the window to the playground is the perfect place, he is too weak to go out and he cannot bear the sun outside. Another month passed by and the boys declared, Aaba we wouldn’t come at 4 PM now. School starting from tomorrow, we would play only from 5 PM. This disappointed Aaba a little but nevertheless game would be there. He would wait for an hour.
One day it started to rain, ground was all wet. Aaba was heart broken, boys gathered at the ground but couldnot play. Few of them returned, few lingered around for sometime talking to Aaba about the game. Aaba told them stories from old times when Gavaskar used to play.
Two days went before the sunshine broke and Aaba was again set in the window but few boys came. They played little, talked to Aaba and returned. Between the school and the rains, boys played intermittently.
Aaba’s son talk to Ganesh once in a week and this time Ganesh told him that Aaba now eats less, sometimes do not touch the dinner at all.
Its’ been raining for last three days, Aaba still set himself in the window for sometime looking at the ground for no reason.
Boys have stopped lingering and Aaba has retired as a coach.
Today Aaba didn’t get up from bed, he does not want to eat or watch TV. Ganesh picks up the call from Aaba’s son and explains the situation before handing it over to Aaba. when his son insisted to come and take Aaba with him, he asked, “do you have a room with a window, and does boys play cricket there?”.

Day 4: A story in a single image



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