From loving Simla of the Sixties to Impersonal Shimla of 2009
It was the year 2009. The institute had handed me a paper saying that I was “compulsorily retired” as I was not fit to be retained as a teacher!!!!
I looked at the paper in my hands, incredulously, shaken to my core but maintaing a poise outwardly. I could not let myself break down…. Taking the paper inside the home and hiding it swiftly under the folds of my pillow, I walked to my daughter who had given birth to a small bundle of joy, our grandson, just 11 days ago. Amma had come to take care of her great grandson and was singing a lullaby to soothe him. I forgot about all my worries while listening to her voice and thought whether she had sung the same songs to me when she held me in her hands in that small house in the lanes of Lower Bazaar? But how did it matter…she was singing those “Ran Jhunanes” the songs specifically sung on the birth of a baby boy in the house. Looking at me she said, “Have you ordered laddoos to be distributed in the neighbourhood?” And finding a blank expression on my face she said in a stern and mocking voice, “What a miser you are…. can’t you spend a little amount to celebrate being a Nani?” I could not say anything as I was thinking if the paper that I had hidden under the pillow….the paper called “Office Order”! How could I distribute laddoos in the colony when by now everyone must have known that I was shunted out of the job! How would people pretend to sympathise with me, the same people who had colluded to implicate me.
Amma said finally, “Order Ladoos…I would pay for them…Kanjoos Nani”! And immersed herself in singing another geet, in her soulful voice, with a smile on her wrinkled face!
I tried hard to supress my emotions, hide my unshed tears, thinking of the “office order” lying comfortably tucked under the folds of my bed.
Amma shouted from the other room, “Soak black grams in lukewarm water so that they sprout properly” and added disdainfully, “How careless have you grown!”
Amma was planning for a ceremony of “punjaap” for my grandson and I was thinking of going to Shimla to consult a lawyer….and my journey to ” impersonal Shimla”….