Mythili always got up before dawn. That’s the way it has always been. Even when she was small child she got up when her mother did and carried a pot just like her mother and went to the River bed to bathe, fetch water and wash clothes. Dawn would be breaking when the ladies walked back and she entered the kitchen along with her mother too. All those years had helped her in her married life with Srinivasan. He was a very quiet person, mostly kept to himself and to a few friends. He had immense respect for his wife and even though he never asked her before making a decision he always never made one that his wife would disapprove. After retiring, Mythili noticed her husband keeping more to himself and to his routine of reading newspapers, going to the temple, prayers at home and hours in the backyard with his plants and vegetables. In fact Mythili started cooking only after he brought in vegetables each morning. In a way she wanted him to decide what they would eat that day. So Mythili was quite glad when her son asked them to come and stay with them for a few days. He had sent an email and Mythili was the only one who checked the emails and used the computer to also blog on to a famous womens’ website!. She was planning to tell her husband about this when she served him his morning coffee. Mythili soon got the hot and steaming decoction coffee ready and carried it in a tumbler and davara to the thinnai where Srinivasan was sitting on the reclining chair. The newspaper had just come in and he was opening it up. It was his most favorite thing to do, to sit in the Thinnai in the easy chair and open the newspaper and wait for the steaming cup of coffee from his Mythili. They actually paid a little extra for the newspaper to be delivered that early so he could read and then go to the garden to get the vegetables after which his bath and then prayers and then temple visit would take most of the morning. After a short break following lunch, he would meet some friends to play bridge in the afternoon and then play tennis in the local club in the evening. Coming back home, he would take bath and spend some time in prayers and then he and his wife would have dinner and retire to the Thinnai to talk over the days events. Most of the talking was done by Mythili and Srinivasan would nod his head and mutter hmmm and hanh’s were appropriate. Mythili brought the steaming cup of coffee and handed it to Srinivasan and sat beside him. Srinivasan set aside the paper and took the coffee from her hand and started to pour some into the davara. It was hot and steaming and Mythili had to carry it there with the folds of her sari pallu holding the tumbler. “Why don’t you also join me?” he asked probably for the umpteenth time. Mythili said she will have it soon enough in the kitchen and started her talk about their son Ramu. “Ramu has sent an email asking both of us to come and stay with them for a few days.” Srinivasan looked at her and said nothing. They had two children Ramu and Shanthi , both of them married and well settled with children. Srinivasan and Mythili did not go and stay as much with their children until it was really necessary. That was Srinivasan’s preference and Mythili went along with it. But somehow recently she had this longing to go and see her grandchildren hence this talk. Srinivasan listened to her talk about visiting their grandchildren and children and asked her when she wanted for them to leave and shortly thereafter made arrangements for their trip with no trace of the reluctance he felt showing on his face. Mythili was very excited. She started making murukku and made mysorepak and ribbon pakoda for their trip. They were going to go to Shanti’s place first and then to Ramu’s place. Just for 6 days with 3 days in each place. Did not seem like much, but both Mythili and Srinivasan did not want to leave their home for long and had to make arrangements for a house sitter to take care of everything. Reaching Shanthi’s house went smoothly. Since both Shanthi and her husband Ramesh worked, Shanthi had made arrangements for the servant maid to be present when they came and had cooked their lunch too. As soon as they had lunch, both of them felt little at unease not knowing what else to do. Srinivasan sat down in the balcony and started reading the newspaper and Mythili started folding clothes and cleaning the kitchen and checked out the fridge which was overflowing with grocery bags and assorted stuff. The children came around 3 in the afternoon by which time Mythili had made a good snack ready for them. Just hearing their loud yells of “Thatha and Patti” took the grandparents to heaven and back. The evening went very fast and before they knew it Shanthi was home. Mythili had dinner ready so Shanthi could take a break and the family relaxed together at their dining table. No mention was made of the absent Ramesh, Shanthi’s better half. He got home closer to 9p.m when the children were getting ready to go to bed. Mythili expected him to spend some time with the kids and talk to Shanthi but he headed straight to the computer and continued some work and started talking on skpe to an agent in China and scrolled through his black berry at the same time. Mythili helped Shanthi get the children to bed, clean up the kitchen and joined Srinivasan in the Hall who was waiting for Ramesh to join them. Shanthi gave Ramesh an excuse saying it had been very hectic at work so Ramesh was very very busy. Shanthi was very happy to eat the mysore pak and murukku and ribbon pakado her mother had lovingly made for them. The children only liked the ribbon pakoda and Ramesh had no time for any of the snacks. The three days they stayed there had the same pattern. Mornings busy with everyone getting ready to school and work. Mythili helped take care of everything which was a big break for Shanthi. Ramesh woke up to his cell phone ringing and then it seemed to be stuck to his ears maybe even in his shower. Shanthi said it was an emergency in the U.S offices and so Ramesh was busy. Srinivasan kept himself busy reading the paper and went out for long walks. He also managed to visit some of his old friends and passed his time that way. Soon it was time to leave for Ramu’s house. The children kept begging them to stay for a few more days even forever but Shanthi explained to the children that their grandparents had to visit Ramu uncle before going back.
Ramu picked them up from Shanthi’s house and they entered his much bigger bungalow in time for dinner. Ramu’s children were very well mannered and behaved very formally too. They came up to their grandparents and gave them a formal hug as did their daughter inlaw Sukanya. They all had dinner seated in their dining room which housed an expensive dining table. In fact the whole house seemed to reflect a collector’s dream with all kinds of artefacts from around the world. Ramu’s wife Sukanya had cooked a big feast or rather had catered a big feast just for them. Mythili remembered just in time to thank Sukanya for the grand dinner after which she gave them a tour of the house showing all the expensive items she had purchased from all over the world. She worked as an interior designer and had done everything in exquisite taste. Mythili gave them the Mysorepak and Murukku and Ribbon pakoda. Only Ramesh relished them. Sukanya excused herself saying she was on a diet. Looking at her very slim body anyone would have doubted that statement but Mythili took it in with a smile. The rest of their days went smoothly too. Ramesh left in the morning with the children who attended a expensive private school. Sukanya spent some time giving instructions to the servants and cook. She also took extra care of her in-laws repeatedly asking if they wanted anything. As Mythili had nothing to do all day, she and Srinivasan took the time to go to all the nearby temples for which Sukanya arranged a car. They also visited some relatives too. Soon it was time to pack up and go. Back home, Mythili woke up early as usual. She made 2 steaming tumblers of decoction coffee and took both tumblers to the Thinnai were Srinivasan was sitting with the unopened newspaper. He looked more shocked than surprised at Mythili’s bringing 2 coffee tumblers. She sat down on the other easy chair after giving one tumber and davara of coffee to her husband. Srinivasan now kept the paper down and sat back with a smile. “So atlast you join me in drinking coffee here” he said with a smile and a twinkle in his eyes. Mythili felt herself blush at her husband’s light teasing. For both of them the trip had been an eye opener. They loved their children and families and they knew they were loved back too. But everyone was busy living their lives. They obviously did not have time for the two aged parents. Both Mythili and Srinivasan found nothing wrong with that. That is the way it should be they felt. They knew what it was to bring up children and they also knew how difficult these days were and how much harder some needed to work. Now after coming back Mythili cherished her time with her husband more. And so did he. Now mornings were spent drinking coffee in quiet and pleasant companionship. Srinivasan knew that the newspaper and its news could wait while he relished his wife’s company. Together they went to the garden to check on all the plants and decided which vegetable was ready to be plucked. When they came in Mythili, after taking her bath , started getting the pooja room ready. By then her husband joined her and together they did pooja. After which Mythili went into the kitchen to start cooking and Srinivasan joined her there and helped her with cleanup and other handy things. They had a leisurely lunch. After cleaning up , Mythili sat at the computer to blog on her ladies website and to check emails and to send emails to her kids and load the photos she had taken on her trip. Srinivasan pulled another easy chair beside the computer table and opened his newspaper. Mythili had the same look and smile he had when she had joined him for coffee. Some afternoons both went and played bridge with friends. Evenings were spent going for long walks or meeting friends. Some evenings they played shuttlecock at the club. After dinner they relaxed in the Thinnai , easy chairs placed near to one another as they felt grateful for all these moments of memories they could share and cherish.