She saw through the dark, clearing all the colourless smoke that obscured the view. Her feet were cold as she walked past the sick. Her expression was calm, but she was terrified. She continued walking until she came to the white door. All of the strength she had gathered seemed to be in vain. She was alone, and she had no idea why her mother was not present. She wanted to run away and hide under her blanket. However, Leela noticed herself moving forward to open the door for some reason. She grabbed the handle and pushed, finally seeing what she had been hoping to see for a long time. She didn’t move or shudder, but she cried. She cried because she couldn’t remember when it happened. She had spent her entire life in a bubble of deception.
Why would she turn her back on the object of her happiness today, when it was right in front of her?
Leela was five years old at the time. She’d never seen death before. She had no idea what it meant. But she never saw her grandmother again after that. Someone had told her that granny had been transported to a land of chocolate and happiness. Leela was overjoyed. Not that she didn’t want to listen to the bedtime stories of her grandmother, but the thought of chocolate kept her quiet.
It was only after 7 years that Leela finally realized where her grandmother was and that she would never return. All she wanted to do after that was meet her grandmother. She knew it was impossible; prayers couldn’t bring her grandmother back, but science, she reasoned, could.
What if I told you that you’re going to be the next person to die? You may go to Paris and die there because death is unavoidable. No! Not even science could bring her grandmother back.
How else was she supposed to meet her granny, thought Leela every night before going to sleep? But today was different.
“My dear, why are you crying?” inquired the elderly lady. Leela couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Was it truly her? Was she really on that bed? Had the prayers worked their enchantment? She knelt forward only to touch her grandmother’s pale skin. She quickly grabbed her fist. It was warm. Leela felt a shiver run through her body. It wasn’t fear, but rather a shock- The shock of her grandmother returning to life. And science told her it was impossible!
Leela hugged her grandmother affectionately and gently, holding her hand the entire time, just like old times. “I’ll never leave it, granny, I’ll never let you go.”
Leela took granny into her room, away from the claustrophobic environment of the hospital, and they both looked through Leela’s childhood photos. She had a lot to show her, a lot to talk about, and a lot of questions for her. The old lady felt bad for not being there for her sweet Leela every time. A tear ran down her cheek. Leela reminded her that strong women don’t cry. “Grandmother is not as strong as you believe, Leela. She has grown old and is unable to walk. “She can’t eat and she can’t speak, Leela,” the elderly lady explained. Leela had no idea what her grandmother was saying. Everything was back to normal now that grandmother was back and speaking, having walked from that white door to Leelas’ room.
Nonetheless, Leela showed her grandmother all of her dresses. She took out all of the drawings she had made while her grandmother was away. Grandmother’s heart was filled with joy with each object Leela displayed. She didn’t want to go back now, but she soon realized she’d never come. She had met Leela for a reason.
“Grandmother is deep in thought; perhaps she is considering what to give me for my birthday. Maybe I should tell her that she is a birthday present for me and that all I want from her is a promise that she will never leave me alone in this world. And in exchange, I’d promise her that I’d never cry and that I’d be a good girl,” Leela reasoned.
Leela shook her grandmother’s hand and told her about the deal. The old woman laughed and cried at Leelas’ innocence.
“Is Granny laughing or crying?”
Leela was perplexed. She bought a bar of chocolate for Granny. She, however, refused. The old lady slowly moved Leela’s hands away and asked, “Leela, do you know the secret of life?”
Leela gave her a blank look, confirming that this was the right time. And for the next hour, she told Leela everything that had served her purpose in coming. She went on to describe the birth of babies, the transformation of a young girl into a responsible woman, the transformation into an old woman, and her final destination. She discussed the cycle of life and why people must die. She went on to explain why pain occurs and what remains after death so that when Leelas’ turn came, she wouldn’t be surprised by the pain. As a 12-year-old, she couldn’t understand much of what Granny said, but she got it in bits. She realized that people die and go to another world, just like this is one world she is living in. And she realized that we’d all end up in the second world at some point. But how had grandmother returned, Leela, wondered? She was about to ask her grandmother this question when she heard, “Leelaaaaa, I need you to get up quickly because I need to meet your father.”
Leela became aware that she had returned home and that she had yet to inform her mother that her grandmother had returned. What a pleasure it would be for her to hear that. She stood up and said, “Granny, please wait; I’ll inform Mother that you have returned.” Then you two can make laddoos for me,” Leela said as she ran as fast as she could. Today, her joy knew no bounds. It appeared as if she held the entire world in her hands.
Leela exclaimed, “Ouch! Mother, what are you doing here? I came to tell you that your grandmother has returned and that you should meet her. Let’s go,” Leela said. “Is Granny back? Leela, what are you saying? How long have you been asleep? Don’t you realize it’s visiting hours and I need to go to the hospital? Your father is probably waiting for you. I’m already late because you didn’t get up. Get ready, we’re leaving soon.” And, surprised, Leela jumped out of bed. “How, how is this even possible?” And then it all came back to Leela. Grandmother had been here, in her room, looking at Leelas’ childhood pictures, and just few minutes back, Leela was running like the wind, like the wild clouds.
But, alas! It had all been a dream. She finally understood what granny was saying. Granny had never arrived; it had been her soul. She recalled what Granny meant when she said, “What remains after the bodies die?” It is the soul, the soul that survives death.” She now understood why Granny had appeared in her dream, and she still held her hand, not breaking her promise. Her soul would not leave Leela alone.
“If it’s the connection of heart and love, the grandmother is still present, somewhere. If not in front of my eyes, but at least in the place where my eyes can’t see. I can feel her, her soft hands,” Leela told herself, and that was enough for her to live her life with content.
But imagine, what if the world above had visiting hours too? (: