She sat on the floor molding the clay for her project at school. Looking up, she asked her grandpa what a zoo meant. Placing aside his newspaper he explained to her that a zoological park is a place where different types of animals and birds are kept in a limited space and people could go and visit them there. Rasya just gave a plain nod and asked, ‘Do animals like to be in a zoo?’, before he could answer the question, she ran outside to play. Grandpa just smiled behind her.
Helping-hand, an old age wellness care. It was a mammoth building erected during colonial times in a small town near Pondicherry. Tall Oaks stood handsomely and provided all the serenity. The backyard echoed of crickets, birds and water flowing down the stream. The rich afforded this place, sending away those old parents who yearned for warmth of the family and the have-nots preferred this to streets.
Walking out, he reached the stream and saw Rasya making paper boats and letting them free in the water. Grandpa was the happiest this time of every weekend when he got to spend time with his only grandchild. His son visited only on his birthday or when grandpa wrote to him for a discussion. Rasya was sent every Sunday evening for a few hours and the little child looked forward for these visits.
Grandpa said, ‘No, the animals are not happy but they don’t have a choice. But they are looked after well and kept healthy in a zoo.’ She turned back and replied that she would like it if they were all sent back home to where they belonged. ‘So do I’, said grandpa.
She, a girl of five learned life’s most valuable lessons from him. She liked it that he considered her wise and never failed to answer any question she asked. He gave her books instead of chocolates every week. He taught her to speak in different languages and always kept her busy. There was never a moment wasted. He let her understand things in a simple way and she never disappointed him.
Grandpa asked her to write a happy line on each of the boat. She asked him why and for which he said if it reaches to an unknown person, would he not be thrilled to get a surprise note? She thought it was a great idea. Few boats were filled with hellos and few of them got drawings of smiles and flowers. She showed them to him and when he approved, they both sailed the newly built boats. She thanked him for this great idea. Grandpa told her that she was an endearing child herself. She did not fail to ask what that meant as well.
A while later, the driver hailed to pick up Rasya. It was time to go. She would meet her beloved grandpa next Sunday. Grandpa patted her and kissed her head. Waving out, she left with a smile.
In silence, he thought to himself. Was he happy? Was this old-age care center his zoo? Did it mean anything to his son? If it had to be called a selfish recreation to get him to meet him, then so be it. The worth of a human being reaching its lowest and unknown superficial expressions rising each day, where would it all lead to? Being a child, the innocence still intact, blaming the world to its depletion, was that correct?
But then, he had something which those caged up animals did not. Rasya was his answer to all the questions. With that, leaving behind those floating thoughts, he walked back to his abode. It would be another week, but it would be worth the wait.