The next morning, Kaisha got up to the sound of chirping sparrows in Beeji’s room. She rubbed her eyes to drive away the laziness and saw Beeji feeding those grains of rice. “They are my best friends ever since I came to this house. Simmi loves them too.” she said. Beeji had been living in the kothi since fifteen years after she and her husband separated from her son and daughter in law who lived near Sadhupul, a tiny village half way between Kandaghat and Chail and had continued to live here after her husband passed away. “Where does Simmi live Beeji?” asked Kaisha.
“She lives in London. She went there after her marriage last year. She studied at Shimla and came here every weekend. I miss her a lot. She always reminded me of my college days when I wanted to be a rebel. I fought with my parents to go to high school. I was so fond of studies and I loved music a lot. You will be surprised to know that I succeeded to become a science teacher at a primary school here, which has manifested into Swami Vivekananda School, a popular school here. The then principal, Mr. Shyam Shail allowed me to change the school uniform for the first time and it has been the same ever since”, Beeji exclaimed coming out of her reminiscence.
At the breakfast table Kaisha asked Beeji, “When should I get the tickets booked for Delhi? Mumma was asking me if this Saturday would be fine.” “You will have to go to the station for that. It’s quite far. I will ask Nandu to do that,” said Beeji without looking at Kaisha. “I have my laptop Beeji and I have a USB modem. So…” stopped Kaisha midway in her speech seeing Beeji’s astonished and reluctant face. “I mean I can book the tickets at home Beeji”, she said. “If that is the case we can do it anytime. Right?” asked Beeji. Kaisha nodded her head in agreement. “Let’s go to the Sidh Baba Ka Mandir then. We will book the tickets later. Get ready”, beamed Beeji.
Nandu blew the horn to indicate the car was ready. Kaisha went to get Beeji from her room and she saw her walking with a stick which had four small legs at its end. She wore a soothing yellow chicken worked salwar-kameez and the same grey cardigan underneath a brick red Pashmina shawl. She wore pure white pearls around her neck and in her ears. Beeji looked as pretty as her picture that was taken on the day of her marriage which Kaisha had seen the previous night.
As they walked towards the car Beeji said, “I used to go to the mandir every Saturday with Kailash, my best friend. We had promised to meet every month at the same place after we got married. She never led me down.” “Isn’t Kailash supposed to be a guy’s name?” humored Kaisha. “Yes. Punjabi names are a little strange. What do you think about Satinder?” asked Beeji. Before Kaisha could respond to that she answered, “We were not even allowed to talk to cousin brothers. Forget guys being friends. Satinder Kaur was a close friend”, laughed Beeji.
All the way up to the temple Beeji narrated stories of her marriage and that the attraction of her wedding was Mohammad Rafi. Rafi Saab was a friend to her husband’s brother and his presence in her wedding was a grand highpoint. She also told unusual incidents that happened on her trip to Vaishno Devi. Her tales were full of magic and Kaisha had started enjoying as well relating to them. On their way back Beeji asked Kaisha if she liked golgappas.
Kaisha immediately affirmed and Beeji asked Nandu to stop at the supermarket. She got all the ingredients for the golgappa preparation and on being back home Beeji showed the most authentic way of preparing golgappas. They merrily gulped the golgappas and Kaisha was again lost in Beeji’s maze of stories.