a writing by Jacinta Ramayah

This was her home now and had been for the past three years. She was sent here, the year she turned eighty. She had no complaints, for the people who took care of her were kind and friendly.
She had a room to herself with a bed, a cupboard and a table for reading. Her window faced the main gate and she loved watching the visitors who would enter and leave every day. It was the festival season and she could see hundreds of cars stopping by. A few volunteers would usually come on weekends to keep her company. There was one with her now, Cindy, a girl of nineteen, who was eager to know about her past.
“Grandma,” she asked. “Where were you before this?”
Usually she would not speak of her past but Cindy reminded her so much of her grand-daughter and the girl looked so eager that she decided to tell Cindy her story.
“I used to work as a secretary,” she said slowly. “Then I married a businessman. He earned a five-figure salary. He was a kind man. Once I had my first son, he asked me to give up my job and stay home to care of my son. I didn’t mind. The money he gave me for housekeeping was ample. Then I had another son and last of all a daughter. We were a happy family. Their father saved enough for their education. During the holidays we would go sight-seeing or visit our parents. My children enjoyed being with their grandparents and cousins especially during the festivals. When they started studying overseas, my husband bought three houses for our children. We lived in eldest son’s house.”
She stopped for a while remembering the happy times she had.
“Where are your husband and children?” the girl queried.
The tears welled up in the old woman’s eyes.
“My husband died when he was fifty-five. We had planned to go on a cruise, just the two of us. Our children were working at that time. I paid up the mortgage for the three houses after his death. I kept some for myself to pay the bills and other daily expenses. Then both my sons got married. Each of them had two children and I would babysit my four grandchildren – two boys and two girls – when their parents were out at work. I loved taking care of them.” She smiled. “They must be about 16 to 19 years old now,” she continued.
Cindy was perplexed. “Why aren’t you with them?”
The old woman explained. “As I told you, I lived in eldest son’s house. There were four rooms. The children had a room each. Their parents took the master bedroom. I was given the room at the back. Now they have a maid. She needed a room for herself. The room was too small for both of us. Son number two had the same problem. My daughter married five years ago and is staying with her husband and his family. She sold the house her father bought for her to pay the down payment for her husband’s house.”
“Aren’t you lonely, grandmamma?’ Cindy asked quietly.
“I have my books, I read, I pray. In the evenings I watch television in the sitting room or play games with my friends. We don’t usually reminisce about the past because our stories are the same.” Then her eyes strayed towards the window. “What I love most is watching the people come to this home.”

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