“Hurry up!” chirped the little girl, as she prodded her brother all of 4 years, 5 months, and 11 days. They were on a secret mission. They had a meeting with a very important person.

“Come on Slowcoach,” she tried to urge him ahead.                                                   “Didi, wait!” he pleaded a little out of breath.  

“Remember, if we are not on time we might miss our chance!” admonished the elder and wiser sister.

 

Just that morning as they had been playing around the house, Shaina had scolded Sunny for having dropped water in the living room, just like their mother did.

“Can’t you see where you are walking? Why can’t you be careful with that water?” But Sunny just carried on. 

Shaina chased him to teach him a lesson.

“What’s going on?” roared their father as he stepped out of his office.

“Why can’t you two let this house be in peace?” The shock of seeing their father annoyed had a catastrophic effect. Braking their run mid-way, found Sunny slipping in the puddle made by him and Shaina tripped over the poor fellow. Sunny’s cry of pain and his sister’s whimpers added fuel to the fire.

“Get to your room and stay there till I call you! Is that understood?” 

 Quietly the siblings got up and limping, made it to their room.

 

 

“Why are you getting annoyed Baldev?” Grandmother asked. “They are small children, if they don’t run around, who will?”

“Mataji, please don’t encourage their misbehaviour. Let them be. If they don’t eat for one day they won’t die, but they will learn to behave.” 

It seemed he would have banished Grandma to her room too if he could get away with it.

“He has become so cold and stony-hearted ever since he lost his wife. Wahe Guruji please bring love back into his heart. He has the two children to bring up and his own life to live.” murmured Grandma in her perpetual conversation with God, as she walked to the kid’s room.

 

Knock! Knock! 

“May I come in, my darlings?” she asked in her soft sing-song voice.

Shaina came hopping to the door, held it wide open, and fell into her arms sobbing, “Dadi! Dadi!” Little Sunny also joined in the group hug, “Dadi! Oh Dadi!” he moaned. The cascading streams of tears broke the heart of Manpreet Kaur. Wiping the tears from the faces of her precious grandchildren, she cooed, kissed, and comforted them. They all finally settled onto the cozy bed in the middle of the cheerfully decorated room.

“Hush my Darlings! You are brave and grown up now. So what if Daddy scolded you… he is your Daddy and loves you a lot,” she consoled.

“But he never punished us earlier!” Shaina wailed, burying deep into her grandmother’s loving bosom.

She let them shed their tears and allowed herself a few too. Nothing comforts a person or decreases grief as a few tears shed from one’s heart and mind. 

Once the storm had passed, the lull set in, bringing in some much-needed quiet and reflection.

“Dadi why has Mother gone away?” asked Sunny.

“She is dead, silly!” answered the wise elder sister all of 6 years and 5 days.

“What happens when one is dead, Didi?” he turned to the fountain of knowledge.

“Dead people go to God’s house! Isn’t it Dadi? That’s what you told me.”

“And where is God’s house?” he asked, his dark limpid eyes as big as saucers now. The curly mop of his hair tousled over his forehead.

Hugging him close, she answered, “It’s in Heaven, isn’t it Dadi?” she waited for Grandmother to vet her claims.

“Ohhhhh!” he muttered enlightened.

Manpreet Kaur was too emotional to answer, she just nodded in agreement with Shaina. 

The tears flowed afresh. “Wahe Guru, give me the strength to go on… take care of these little children!”

 

She slowly eased the kids off her lap, rising to shuffle back to the kitchen. She supervised the cooking herself daily, not trusting the cook.

 

That afternoon, she brought the lunch to the room. Paratha, aloo ki sabzi, dal makhani, halwa made in desi ghee and thick curds. The aroma pervaded the entire room, tingling the taste buds and stomachs of the young penitents. 

“Yummy,” shouted Sunny rubbing his abdomen with glee!

“You are the best Dadi in the world!” declared Shaina.

Manpreet Kaur smiled as she handed over their lunch feeding them in turns. The joy of putting tenderly prepared bites of paratha dipped in the thick creamy dal, with spoonfuls of braised cubes of soft potatoes, slightly spiced with aromatic green coriander worked magic. The children forgot the morning and Manpreet felt comforted, she could do her bit for the motherless babies.

 

As the trio lay in the king-sized bed, post lunch, the little ones started pestering Grandmother for a story. 

Finally, she relented and narrated their favourite story about the girls Sukhi and Dukhi, who go to the moon to fetch their drying cotton blown away by the Wind.

“Dadi how can we go to Heaven?” asked little Sunny.

“I know,” piped Shaina… “You have to walk far ahead to the end of the road, from there take a right turn, and walk to the pond. Then wait there, when the moonbeam shines on the lotus, angels come to take you to Heaven!”

“Who told you this?” It was Manpreet’s turn to have saucer eyes.

“Mother!” she said softly looking into her grandmother’s eyes.

 

That evening the children were finally allowed to go out and play. They could not be heard but could be seen in deep conversation. An animated discussion was on and the elder sibling seemed to have won.

Manpreet Kaur was worried as she kept calling out to the two. When she came into their room she saw a note clumsily written in a child’s handwriting. The message made everything clear:

 

“Dear Dadi, 

We are going to Heaven, to meet Mummy!

Love

Shaina and Sunny”

 

 

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