Talking to the Stars

Talking to the Stars

It had been three days in a row that Mama had to wake up a sleepy Naveen, get him ready somehow, and drag him almost sleep-walking, to the bus. Mama couldn't understand it. Naveen always woke up early and got himself ready without her help. In fact, he almost skipped to his bus stop ahead of her, with her running and struggling to keep up with him.

The house was of full of relations. Naveen's Thatha, had died the previous week after a long painful illness. And Mama, so busy with keeping the guestrooms clean and cooking for the steady stream of relations, had no time for Naveen. But she decided that today she would walk up to the bus stand instead of sending the ayah. And she would chat with him…she knew he too would be missing his Thatha dreadfully. And maybe, he would be able to talk to her about how he felt, if nobody else was around.

That evening, Mama's walk proved to be very useful. Holding hands, the two of them took the long way home, past the park and down the road with the Gul mohur trees. Naveen told Mama how every night he sat by the window and looked up at the night sky. Because he remembered Thatha telling him many years ago that after he died, he'd become a star. He was sure his Thatha would want to say something to him. Mama, heaved a sigh of relief…now she knew why he couldn't wake up in the mornings.
She was just wondering how to make sure he slept early tonight, when Naveen piped up, "But tonight Mama, I think I'm going to be tired, so I'll leave Teddy on the window sill to wave to Thatha, in case he looks down on us." Mama had tears in her eyes, thinking about her own dear departed father-in-law, and at how much her son was going to miss him. 'That's a very clever idea," she said, trying to keep her voice from shaking.
Naveen had other ideas too," And I'll tie a white handkerchief to Teddy's paws, so Thatha feels we are waving to him….and not that I left Teddy on the window sill by mistake."

And so it went on, from night to night. Every time Teddy was put on the window sill at night, he had on some new cap or jacket. Some nights Teddy carried a flag, some nights he had a message stuck on his front. Mama watched Naveen go through this new routine every night…helping him sometimes, leaving him to his plans most of the time.
Some nights her heart felt so heavy at how much Naveen missed his grandpa, that she felt almost tempted to sneak into the room after Naveen was asleep and put a note on Teddy, as if from Grandpa…so that when Naveen woke in the morning, it would be like Grandpa had seen Teddy and sent a reply to his grandson. But she knew that would be a mistake. Naveen was too old to believe that. And he had to get over his grief in his own way.

Months passed, and one night Mama noticed Teddy was not on the window sill but tucked into bed with Naveen. Her heart leapt, but she didn't say anything. It meant that Naveen was gradually getting over missing his Thatha. After a few days, as Mama read Naveen his favourite bed time story, Naveen rolled on his side, hugged Teddy and as he dozed off, said, "Teddy was getting a bit lonely on the window sill, and I somehow know that Thatha will be fine.

" When Mama was sure that he was well and truly asleep, she switched off the lights, with a sigh of relief. Her son had got over the pain of his Thatha's absence. She went over to the window and gazed out at the stars. It was nice to think that her father-in-law was somewhere out there, keeping an eye on his grandson.

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