A reason to smile on 01/07/2015
Today was a hot day and to my grandfather, for some reason, it meant bank day. I had the job of driving him around because otherwise he’d rather walk than shell out money for over-charging auto-wallahs.
So, there I was sitting in the car outside the bank, while grandpa made his slow way up the 8 stairs leading inside, holding the railing tightly with one hand, the other holding up his white dhoti and placing each step with utmost care. A few minutes passed by until my attention was captured by a young man I could see walking in the rear view mirror, a passbook clutched in his left hand.
He had a gait that was knock-kneed and off-balance. His arms were in flexed position at the elbow and the wrist and his body was flailing wildly as he energetically made his way towards the bank. He reached my car and grasped its body for support while he flailed past it. He held on to a parked auto next and then, a couple of parked scooters before he reached the 8-step staircase. He stopped here for a while and got some of his breath back. His body language screamed triumph at making it so close to his goal. Eventually, he grabbed on to the railing with both his hands, the passbook crumpled between them. He took a step up with one leg; then, lifted the other next to it. He paused. Then, repeated the process with the next step. It was a slow progress and every time he lifted a foot, I would hold my breath, afraid that it would fall short of his intended distance. It didn’t. He was halfway up the stairs now.
My grandfather came out of the door. He stood at the threshold checking his belongings while the young man paused at the 4th step. Then, at the exact same moment both of them reached the railing with their hands and their eyes met. Grandpa made to take a step back. But, before he could so much as move, the young man was down one step and then another and soon, he was back to the zero-step. He smiled up at my grandfather and waved at him to come down the stairs first. My grandfather’s face was full of gratitude and my face had a smile big enough to rip it open.
It was a simple gesture. But, suddenly, the day didn’t seem so hot anymore.