The curtains were drawn in, the hot afternoon had transitioned into a pleasant windy summer evening. 

The grandfather clock that hung in the small bedroom was ticking away. Squirrels and cuckoos and sparrows were chirping in the garden. Grandpa sat on a chair by the table in the small room. A bunch of bills were laid out over the table while grandpa wrote neatly into the notebook that he kept for keeping track of all his expenses. 

Two little girls were sitting in their grandpa’s reclining easy chair right under the fan. 

The elder of the two girls was sound asleep while the younger one, Krithika was reading an abridged version of Heidi by Johanna Spyri. Their elder brothers barged into the room rather noisily, waking Krithika’s sister. Krithika shut her book close and watched them grab the red bat and the yellow smiley ball from under the cupboard.

“Let’s go play ” the younger of the two brothers said. “We’ll come later” said Krithika’s elder sister wanting to sleep for just a while more. “We won’t play with you if you come later” said the eldest brother of the four, helping Krithika out of the easy chair. 

Seeing that she had no choice, Krithika’s sister followed them out of the room.

“Drink the milk and then go out to play” grandma called out to them from the balcony, where she stood plaiting her hair.

On the dining table were four steel tumblers with small steel plates over them. 

All of them quickly identified their drinks and drank them as quickly as they could, all except Krithika, who had taken advantage of grandma’s absence and had rushed upstairs before grandma could head out the balcony.

The three elder siblings dropped their tumblers in the sink. “Did Krithika not drink  milk again ? ” asked grandma just a little exasperated.

The three of them then ran upstairs out into the terrace. Krithika stood by the wall, watching the cows and goats in their neighbour’s piece of land. The other three siblings joined their younger sibling for a while, watching the cows and goats before the four of them split into two teams of sister and brother for the evening.

Krithika’s brother chose to bowl first.

“Stand behind me” he said to Krithika. He  signalled with his hands, making sure Krithika stood where he wanted her to stand. 

“Don’t let the ball cross you and touch the wall and don’t miss a catch” he said to Krithika. He turned away and threw the ball at his brother who was batting. 

They played into the summer evening unaware of anything beyond the world of their terrace.

Meanwhile downstairs grandpa continued to write for a while, before getting up and  folding the easy chair and putting it in a corner of the room and placing Krithika’s book carefully on the table. Grandma headed out from the kitchen to the door. “Krithika ! Come down and drink the milk” she called out. Krithika came out from the terrace, sweaty and breathless, ” I’ll come in just a while , grandma ” she said looking down at grandma and quickly going back into the terrace. 

Grandma grabbed the steel tumbler from the table and slowly climbed the stairs to the terrace. The door opened with a creak. The kids all came to the door to see who it was.

“Drink the milk and then play” she said handing the tumbler to Krithika.

Krithika drank it quickly and gave the tumbler back to her grandma. 

“There is still some milk left, drink that too” said grandma. “But it’s all sugary at the end” complained Krithika. Grandma wouldn’t give in, so Krithika drank it all, making a face.

14 years later Krithika sat in a lecture hall with a blue flask in one hand, frantically taking notes and gulping the last of the milk from her flask, wincing at the sweetness with exact same expression on her face, remembering her grandma and those summer vacations for just a fleeting moment.

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One thought on “Summertime

  1. Good writing. Made me think about my childhood too