Together forever – Short Story (4)

It was a day’s journey and finally they reached their destination. Grandpa was already there at the station. In these years after his son’s death, he had trailed down health wise. Ewan and Rhea were meeting him after such a long time.

His eyes were filled with tears when they fell on the children of his beloved son. They reminded him of his son, both had his brown eyes and that pointed nose of his wife. His love for them was limitless but he didn’t have the heart to go against his wife’s wishes. He had silently allowed his wife, their grandma, to break ties with them. She felt it was because of her daughter-in-law that her son never preferred to stay in the city with them, and ended up living in a small hamlet. And soon was dead.
She never wanted to forgive her son’s wife for this! She never would!

Ewan felt strange when he saw grandpa. He didn’t know how to meet and behave as though nothing had happened in these years. Ewan slowly carried their bags down the train and they waited at a spot. Unsure if they should walk towards him or stay where they were.
When mother saw him coming, she held Ewan and Rhea’s hands in hers and walked towards him.

Hello Cathy, how are you? Grandpa spoke with a soft voice.
I’m fine dad, mother replied calmly. Ewan was surprised that she still would call him Dad.

Look at you two, grandpa exclaimed with joy, how big you two have grown!!
How are you, young man? he said, patting Ewan on his back with care and pride.
I’m very well, sir! Ewan replied politely.
Call me grandpa, son! Been dying to hear someone call me that! Grandpa said with a sadness in his voice.
Grandpa, I’m Rhea, the little girl extended her right hand ahead for a handshake.
Oh my lovely Rhea! What a lovely girl you’ve become! He hugged her with so much love, that Mother’s eyes moistened.

Mother and Grandpa had a silent bonding. Like a father and daughter’s. She was very uncomfortable yet she seemed to be glad to have come. She was happy seeing Grandpa meet Ewan and Rhea. Mother always wanted to see her children connected to the family. If grandma hadn’t really pushed them away, there was no way, she would have lived away from any of them. Before Ewan’s father died, the women didn’t really share a great bond, but after he died, it seemed as though grandma couldn’t stand her very existence.

When they went home, they saw that all preparations had been made for making their stay a comfortable one. The guest room was given to them. It was hard to fit up into a room, while they had always a house at their disposal. Ewan thought just a couple of days, and then we’ll return. The thought of returning brought a smile to his face.

Ewan had vague memories of his grandparents, while Rhea didn’t remember a thing. She had been too young when their world had come falling. He rememebered how grandma had shouted and screamed at his mother after his father’s death. He remembered how she had held his mother’s arm and ordered her to leave the house and go back to the little stupid village she had come from.

Ewan’s father was an engineer and on some project was assigned to the village. He met mother there and then love happened. He was too much in love to bother about their differences and didn’t hear a word when grandma tried to make him budge from his decision. So, inspite of the problems he married mother. Slowly things cooled down and their relationships began to thaw. But after his father’s death, the cold war had never ended.

They went to see grandma at the hospital, she was very sick. It was strange to see the most powerful woman of the family, lying on a bed, pale and helpless. Ewan was shocked to see her like that and his fears came up again. There was a lesser chance of her health improving.

In the evening, he made a call to Sam’s house and informed her that they had reached. Sam sounded gloomy, but so was he. There was no way, he could lighten up her mood. Quickly he ended up the call, promising her that he would be back soon.

Two days later, grandma breathed her last. Teary eyed and depressed by the sudden loss, Ewan rang up at Sam’s place. He spoke to her father and informed about the funeral. They passed on their condolences.

Ewan couldn’t speak to Sam, she was out, with the children at some fair/carnival. He wasn’t aware of this new carnival coming to their village. He was told that it was all quickly decided as they were passing to the next town. He knew Sam must have gone only because of the children’s insistence.

All of them got busy in the funeral proceedings. The whole day they were engrossed in the rites and arrangements. All were surprised to see Mother there, they couldn’t believe that even after being literally thrown out of the house, she had agreed to come. And as though she was waiting for them, grandma left after she had seen them. Probably she asked for forgiveness, or it could be the desire to see the children of her son. Whatever it was, mother had forgiven her. Mother was like that.

The funeral morning came and passed. Grandma was laid to rest. Grandpa was the one left with the biggest loss. He was silent though all could see how shattered he was from the inside. And he kept Ewan close by, the whole time.

Night fell. All had dispersed and the family returned to the house. It was gloomy and sad. It was not just the outside for Ewan, it was something creeping inside him too. Ever since he had spoken to Sam’s father, he was quite uneasy. A strange pain was throbbing in his heart. What was the pain? Why this fear and haunting of Sam’s face in his mind and heart? Why was he feeling that something bad had happened? Earlier he thought it was because of Grandma, but still the pain didn’t subside. Why?

He was too tired but unaware of the reasons, he turned the television of the guest room on. He took the remote and muted it. He started surfing the channels. Music.
Movie.
Advertisement.
More music.
Another movie channel.
News.
News.
News.

His fingers stopped. His blood froze in his body. The heart stopped beating. The mind went numb. His throat and eyes seemed to get dry, as though the scenes on the television had dried them up.

There was blood, bodies, men screaming, women shouting and crying, people running with blood on their hands and clothes, fire and smoke everywhere.

The camera was showing people, rather body parts lying here and there, the land as though sprayed with blood, and he could see them screaming but not hear.

All those scenes were similar. All those people similar. That land and lanes were known to him. He moved a little closer and touched the screen. He ran his fingers over the headline…

Carnival turns into carnage, Live from……….

The village name blurred in his vision, Sam’s beautiful face came up in his mindscreen and a loud scream escaped from his lips.

Terror had struck his village. His home. His love!

(Author’s note: I regret the inconvenience, just that I am unable to bring it to an end soon! Let’s see how far this one goes. Kindly bear my torture! :oops:)

S.F.R.

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