Priyanka, 45, lived in the city along with her husband, in laws, and kids, but her parents were living separately in another town – 3 hours away. She visited them, as she did every month, spent some time with them, gave some money for their expenses, and was returning to the city in her car.
She wanted her parents to be along with her in the city, but their house was not big enough for all of them. She wished they could have at least stayed somewhere nearby, but her parents told her that the cost of living/rentals in the city was very high. Besides, they had some friends in the small town where they grew up.
She fought many times with her husband on this issue, she pointed out how unjust it was for them to take care of his parents but not her parents, but he would always turn a deaf ear. The fact that her in laws were staying with her, in spite of her husband being the younger son, irritated her all the more.
She felt guilty every time she visited her parents. Their small house, dull clothes, somber mood, solitary living – all this made her sad. There were times when she had advised her colleagues and friends that parents should not be left alone in their old age, but she never thought she will one day have to do it herself.
Such were the hard facts of life and now she had come to accept them.
She was driving on the highway when she noticed some kids selling ice apple (palm fruit – nungu) on the side. She immediately stopped the car to buy some. She remembered how much her parents liked this fruit and decided to buy some for them too. She would have to drive back 30 minutes to give it to them. So what? A smile on their faces was worth more than that.
She reached her parents’ house and parked the car in front. While opening the gate, she saw some lights and music coming from the house. Someone was standing in front of the house wearing some strange & fancy costume. She had seen that dress somewhere, but couldn’t remember where. That person stopped her as she was about to get into the house.
“Password? What password?” She was taken aback.
“Why didn’t you come in bat-costume?”
Bat-man. Yes, she remembered seeing this dress in that movie. She didn’t reply, and tried to cross the door. But she was stopped once again.
“We generally don’t invite youngsters. But if you know the password, I can allow you,” he said and placed his hand on her way.
“Can you please let me see my parents?” she raised her voice. The loud music also necessitated that.
“Oh, you’re their daughter? OK . . .” he removed his hand from the way and she went inside. There were a group of people, maybe about ten of them, standing in a circle and egging on a couple who were dancing in the middle.
The speakers were blaring, “We like to party, weliketoparty, we like to party . . .” The living room was dark but the focus lights ensured the couple was visible. Focus lights? She guessed they were dressed as – bat-man and bat-woman. And they were dancing. She looked around and saw bat-props on the wall, on the floor, and all over the place. People, all of them in their old-age, were gathered around them. Some of them were sipping their fanta and eating samosas.
The person who blocked her on the way moved ahead of her and told the couple something. The bat-man and bat-woman looked in her direction and came up to her. They removed their mask.
“Oh Priyanka, you’re back so soon?”
She stared at her parents, and then looked around.
“You’re wondering about this? Today’s is one of our friend’s birthday, so we decided to have a small batman-themed party.”
She kept staring at them.
“We didn’t buy these dresses – there’s a shop that gives costumes on a rental basis. We just rented it for a day,” they said. And added, “even the props.”
She nodded her head.
“What’s in your hands? Oh, you bought ice apples for us? How thoughtful of you.” They took it from her hand. “Thank you so much.”
She took one last look at the place, and at them, and turned to go back.
“Don’t forget next month’s cheque.”
She nodded and went out. While going, she heard a giggle. The music which was paused for a brief while was restarted.
We like to party, weliketoparty, we like to party.
She once again nodded her head, got into the car, and slammed the door.