Enya and Sangeeta, 20 and 16 years old respectively, surrounded Baljit, the 80 year old grandfather, and pestered him to tell a story. Baljit had wrinkled skin, white superfluous beard that comfortably reached his chest, a perfect small nose and drooping ear pinnate. It was somewhere in his 60’s that he decided to stop shaving his beard; today his white beard flowed like silk emanating from his face. Baljit loved to tell tales, and telling them to his granddaughters had always made him happy. His tales had a novelty and changed with time. When Enya and Sangeeta were kids he used to tell tales of fairies, when they turned into teenagers his stories were of princes and how to deal with impostors pretending as prince. The stories had the right amount of suspense, right amount of caution, right amount of patience and right amount of hope.
He closed his eyes for a while and immersed himself in thoughts, scouring through the vast years of experience a suitable story to humor his granddaughters. When he opened his eyes his granddaughters were sitting at the feet of his rocking chair with pillows for support. His daughter-in-law Trisha kept a cup of tea on a small stool beside his rocking chair, took a pillow and sat with her daughters. Trisha used to marvel at what type of man Baljit was. He was a perfect fatherly figure, with wisdom beyond anyone she had ever come across. Her husband, Rahul, took after his father and his wits were the prime reason Trisha found Rahul so inexhaustibly irresistible. She used to wonder did he have the same irresistible effect on every girl of the college or was she the only one. The thought brought an involuntary smile on her face. Baljit as if reading the thoughts of Trisha winked at her and Trisha found herself flushing red.
“Both, the father and the son, behave as if they are reading your mind.” She thought to herself and made a mental note to test the theory on Rahul.
Baljit began. “Your grandmother and I were both BA final year students. We used to take history and politics classes together.”
Enya and Sangeeta opened their mouths in surprise and looked at each other accusingly, expecting the other of knowing secret and not revealing to the other.
Baljit enjoying the subtle movement went ahead, “I went head over heels for her in the first class. However she required a good amount of ground work and cajoling to get her around to my views. She ultimately did though but after I got drunk and dared her to either marry me or stop talking to me. For reasons better known to her she chose to stop talking to me.”
“She did not talk to me for a complete month. After a month, as I was dredging myself out of the history class, she came to me and said, “Fine, I will marry you, but I snore at night!”
Enya and Sangeeta went into hysterical laughter. Neither was the granddad's proposal romantic nor was the grandmom's reply. Yet the eyes of the sisters sparked with admiration for their grandparents surely had style.
Trisha started imagining her initial days with Rahul. Even she had missed his sharp talks and wit when Rahul did not talk to her for a day or two. It was fortunate that Rahul came forward and proposed her, or else she’d have proposed him otherwise. Is it a genes thing in this family? Surely it was. Enya had her grandfather traits. Enya at the age of twenty had a long line of charmers swooning over her sharp wit. Look how deep the charm flows!
“We got married, by the time our course ended. I took up a job in Pune’s army engineering college before the marriage and the next day to our marriage we shifted to Pune. ”
“Now the real story starts. I already told you your grandmother snored at night, and believe me she snored pretty badly. For the first one week she was successful in hiding the magnitude of her snores from me. She used to feint sleeping and wait for me to go to sleep, and survive with minimal sleep in the night. She used to make it up by sleeping in the day time.”
The kids understood the double entendre in the statement and tried really hard to hide their blush.
Grandpa continued unhesitatingly, “I realized her snores when we were into the second week of our marriage. She was indeed loud; I did not mention it to her and did not make her feel uncomfortable. By our second month of our marriage she used to fall asleep before me. Here is when the main trouble started.”
“I tried sleeping amidst her snores for the first few nights but found myself helpless. So I used to pick up my pillow and sheets and used to settle on the guest bed in the dining hall. I used to keep an alarm of morning 4 o clock and return to bed before she used to wake up. I had no wish to make her feel bad that her snores caused me inconvenience.”
Trisha seemed a bit taken by the sensitive nature of his father-in-law. She knew he was witty, she knew he was funny; however she never knew he was such a romantic. She knew that he was bound to be romantic however his story was raising the standards she had set for him.
Enya and Sangeeta looked at each other with surprise.
Baljit went on, “Your grandmother never woke up until it was 5. She slept soundly and most of the nights she had the ability to sleep through earthquakes. She even died in her sleep. Anyways, I continued doing this till 6 months of our marriage got over. On one particular night I found myself asleep before her. I woke up in the middle of night, somewhat around 2 o clocks feeling thirsty, to find Savitri missing. Her pillow and blanket were missing too. I went up to the hall to find Savitri sleeping on the guest bed. She looked adorable. Few wafts of her jet black hair fell upon her eyes, they kissed her cheek and traversed the sides of her neck to hide underneath the neck among the majority. She was lightly snoring and her perfect nose, yeah she had a perfect nose not the bulgy north Indian commonplace nose, was rhythmically beating during the expiration and inspiration. ”
“She looked lovely, and beautiful. I went ahead, removed the hair tuft that fell on her nose and pecked it. Mildly surprised at my own reaction, I was taken by further surprise when she involuntarily in her sleep took hold of my hand and kept it on her chest close to the heart. Her snores stopped, and her breathing returned to normal. I waited for a few seconds frozen in the moment, gauging the moment what to do and what not to do. My face was close to her face; my hand was in her hand on her heart. I could feel the warmth of her breath on my cold face. I waited for a few patient seconds and then got into the same blanket to sleep in peace.”
Enya, Sangeeta and Trisha were all in smiles. Sangeeta was curious to hear more, “what happened on the next day?”
Baljit went on with a whole big smile that reached up to his eyes and made him look a few decades younger. “Next day when she woke up she was hurt. She complained that I should have let her known that her snores cause me inconvenience, and before I could come up with a reply she was in tears. Now your father will agree to me and corroborate my statement that your grandma was a strong lady, nevertheless sweet, and seeing her cry melted hearts. Never had her father let her cry, and never did I make her cry. Seeing her cry was a torment on my soul, yet she used to flash her tears at occasions. She cried out of joy when your dad was born and she cried when Enya was born; though she loved Sangeeta more than you beta (referring to Enya). ”
“Sangeeta had jaundice when she was two years old; your Grandma cried for nights and nights sitting by your bedside and changing the water cloth on your forehead. You bear resemblance to her and as a small matter of fact you snore like her too; and to add something to the similarity you stop snoring just as your grandma used to stop when I keep my hand on your heart when you sleep.” Trisha pointed out to Sangeeta with a smile on her lips.
(In loving memory of my grand-parents. The names of my grandparents have not been altered, the rest all characters are fictitious. Sangeeta is my cousin, and only her name in the story is the only connection to any living person.)