“Wake up already. The sun is bright in the sky and the world has started working. You are still asleep” yelled my mother at me.
I was sleeping in the room on the roof of our house. I woke up after my mother threatened me to call my father if I didn’t get up from my bed immediately. When I woke up I saw that it was around eight thirty and the sun was on its way to the adventurous journey of the day. A cold breeze was flowing and the sky was still reddish from the glow of the sun.
I came to the roof and sat on the round chair with the cup of tea in my hand. My mother was still murmuring about my bad routine, lack of life goals and what not. The thing which was bothering my mother the most was that by sleeping in the sunlight I was inviting bad spirits to the home which will make us poor.
Shweta was sitting on the cot on her roof in the sun and studying for her board exams. Shweta was the elder daughter of our neighbor. Their house was opposite to ours. They had moved to the town a few months back. Mr. Shankar, Shweta’s father was a bank manager. Shweta was o year or so younger than me. She was beautiful and I liked her. I think she knew it. I believed that she liked me too but my friends disagreed.
Shweta was smiling with her heads down as I was been scolded. I felt bad and insulted. Then I quickly moved my chair towards the chair of my grandma. She was sitting with her hairs spread out in the sun. I tried to crack a joke or two both to calm my mother and impress Shweta. But I failed miserably because it failed to make my mother stop scolding and Shweta still had that sarcastic full of pity smile on her.
After a while, I complained to my grandma about my mother. My grandma smiled and said, “She is all alone and has to do all the work by herself. She overreacts sometimes. But it is true that sleeping after sunrise brings bad spirits and the goddess of wealth goes away.”
I asked Grandma, “Then what can we do to please the goddess?” with a smile.
She replied, “Well for starters you could rise early in the morning preferably before sunrise.” Then she handed me over a fistful of wheat and said, “And you should feed the sparrows.”
I took the wheat and asked her, “What good it that going to do?”
She asked me to first fill the bowl on the parapet with fresh water. I went to do so. When I returned she said, “Do you know what sparrows are? They are the harbinger of health and wealth and happiness in the family. They should always be welcomed and fed upon. They are the purest of all the creatures. They dance and sing for all and don’t harm anyone.”
I smiled at the answer of my grandma and started scattering the grains of wheat on the roof to the sparrows. There was a number of them bouncing and dancing and singing. They were all tweeting and chirping and singing in bliss. I sat there with my grandma simply looking at them for a long time until my mother called me for the breakfast.
Summer went and winter came. Grandma was having some problem breathing. First, we all thought that it was due to the sudden change in weather and will eventually go away. But after a week or so my Papa decided to consult the doctors against the will of grandma. The doctors asked Papa to take her to a bigger hospital. Papa and Mother accompanied Grandma to the city. I said goodbye to them when they were leaving. My mother told me to ensure the safety of the house and myself when they were gone. I ensured her that everything will be fine. I kissed my grandma and she kissed me back. She asked me to look after the sparrows till she comes back. I promised that I will look after them while she was gone. My father called me in the evening and said that doctors have admitted Grandma in the hospital for an operation the next morning. I was very scared, but he said that it will be alright and it’s a minor operation. I couldn’t sleep the whole night. I was waiting near the phone for Papa’s call. He promised that he would call after the operation.
After it was the day I went to the kitchen to fetch water for the bowl and grains of wheat for the sparrows. I went to the roof and filled the bowl with fresh water and scattered the grains on the roof. I sat there on the chair and waited for the sparrows. The sun was getting higher every moment. Shweta was studying on her roof. Everything was same but two things were missing Grandma and the Sparrows.
The phone rang and I ran down the stairs. It was my father on the other end. I put the phone down and came to the roof. I sat on the same chair waiting for the sparrows with tears rolling down my cheeks. But the sparrows never came.