It is twilight and the chirping of crickets is slowly replacing the bird songs. The room is bathed in a faint golden glow and the sound of laughter and merry chatting. I am content watching my two daughters and their children having a good time, though I yearn for my son and his family too. I know they have to be away for their work, but their absence distresses me. My eyes automatically move to the old fan that groans loudly as it rotates.
I cannot remember the names of my grandchildren; it has been like that for quite some time now. It has to be something to do with my age, it is becoming increasingly difficult to move and I am unable to do anything useful anymore. Sometimes I feel lost when people talk to me, unsure how I should respond, often forgetting to respond. Ah, my granddaughter offers me a piece of chocolate. I do like chocolate, though I have lost my taste for many other things. I am sure she likes it too, so I push it back into her hand, but she refuses to accept it. I should check if someone would like a second helping. My daughter cuts short my attempts. She tells me that the chocolate is for me, that I should eat it. Is she angry with me? My children always used to accept my share when they were kids. Why are things different now? Is she just trying to make sure that I get to eat something I like? I feel confused again.
They are getting ready to go to their homes. It is pitch black outside now, and this worries me. Someone complains that the fan makes too much noise and it should be replaced. I suddenly feel awake. “Do you know what the fan says?” I ask. Everyone turns to look at me; they are probably surprised that I am talking, at the strength in my voice. I cannot help smiling as I share my secret, “It says Kunje, Kunje”.
Kunju is my eldest son, of course. One day, I was alone in the room, and as is often my habit, I kept repeating my children’s names in my head. It makes me feel they are near to me. It was at this moment that I heard the fan above my head, that I realized it was actually calling out for my son.
I look at the faces around me. I am unable to understand their expression. My daughter squeezes my hand lightly before bidding good bye. I hope they reach home safely.