Post dinner as Kaisha was about to tuck herself in bed the room suddenly turned pitch dark. She could hardly see a thing. “Beeji! Beeji!” cried Kaisha but there was no answer. She stepped out of the bed and started discovering her route to Beeji’s room.
She saw a shimmering candle light in the corridor and heard Bindiya calling out to her, “Kashu didi stay where you are. You would bump into something.” Kaisha kept walking and called out, “Give me the candle. I want to go to Beeji’s room.” She took the candle from Bindiya and walked towards Beeji’s bedroom.
She could sense a strong whiff of coconut oil from a distance. “Beeji! Can I come in?” asked Kaisha sheepishly. “Oh Kashu! You are not asleep yet? Come on in.” asked Beeji. “The power failure scared me a little. The house seems so mystic in the dark. You too aren’t asleep? ”, said Kaisha as she approached Beeji and the smell of the oil became apparent. “I wanted to apply some oil in my hair but it seems I can’t” said Beeji. Kaisha saw Beeji’s fingers and palms wrapped with cereals and pulses of various kinds and held on tightly with tape. Beeji looked at Kaisha’s perplexed face and explained, “This is Sujok therapy. A therapy where in seeds are used to cure illness by using acupressure on various points on the hands and feet.
I have been using this therapy since seven years. It deals with all my ailments in heart, stomach, legs and back.” Seeing Kaisha’s concerned face Beeji solaced her, “I am in good spirits Kashu beta. I have a deal with the almighty Krishna that as long as I live I want to walk with my legs and cook and eat with my own hands. So you need not worry.”
“Can I apply oil to your hair? My mother says that I massage well”, said Kaisha. “Oh, sure! I am delighted”, elated Beeji. As Kaisha ran her oiled fingers through the silky strands of Beeji’s hair she proposed, “Beeji, don’t you think it’s high time you thought of moving to Delhi. You will be taken better care of there. The medical facilities in Delhi are far superior to Chail.” Beeji smiled and said nostalgically, “Chail has been my home ever since we left our house in Karachi during partition. I was a little girl back then, a meager five year old. I can still recall our house in Karachi- the charpoy, the verandah, the street that led to our house, everything. I remember coming to India via the seas and the ship being docked at Bombay. We stayed in the refugee camp for months and then moved to Chail to my uncle’s place. I grew up here at the foothills of Shivalik midst the rolling meadows and watching the seasons change on the mountains. I can’t imagine leaving Chail.” “But Beeji you are alone here” reasoned Kaisha. “I was. Now I am not” said Beeji with ease. Kaisha and Beeji spent the rest of the night talking about Beeji’s childhood.
Kaisha gazed into Beeji’s eyes as she recounted stories from the past and took her to the mystical land where Beeji played hide and seek, climbed trees, sailed paper boats in the Ashwani stream, went on excursions to Kandaghat hills which she believed to be the abode of Gods, sneaked out with friends to Rajgarh hill to see the Chail palace and the cricket ground, made rotis at the gurudwara, dreamt of lord Krishna, sang and performed Punjabi gidda.