The balcony looked graceful with breezes moving about racing and playing, brushing past my face freezing my cheeks and eyes. I sat over the small seat which had a back rest like how my grandpa had, a tiny one as I was smaller than him.
December always brought this fascination, happiness and above all freedom from school and homeworks. Mom won't force me to sleep and wake up early and we would enjoy our vaccations here beside my grandpa, aunt, uncle and my cousins. Green fields and hills make me feel like staying here forever. Mom says, that's an excuse to escape school—may be yes, but also I love playing and enjoying the greenary along with grandpa, so it's not an escape.
My grandpa is best among all! He buys me candies, lollies, and my favourite *Kadalai mittai*. Umm! I don't know how to translate that, a sweet made with peanut and jaggery, something that makes my unhappiness evaporate in the air. Grandpa keeps a whole bundle of them for me. I know why—because he has no teeth! Don't tell him that; he will get grumpy.
Every evening, I walk along with grandpa through the narrow paths between the tea gardens, workers pick the fragrant tea plants before dusk until extreme chillness spreads the enitre place. Mom makes me wear warm clothes and a monkey-cap just like grandpa. I don't like it, but it becomes too cold that I feel the chill air pricking my ears and nose, it becomes pink.
Along the way, grandpa tells me a numerous stories; that of Nilgiris, great leaders of India, the panchatantras and also that of his childhood. When mom scolds me, he secretly tells me about how mischeivious mom was, and I would giggle at what all my mom did. In fact when ever mom scolds me, I would chuckle thinking about her mischeives in my mind.
Then later, we would make our way to Krishna uncle's tea shop where he would serve us with hot cup of tea and biscuit. Another thing I like about my vacations is the tea and biscuit. Mom makes tea for my anna (elder brother) and my dad, but not for me—I am a complan girl, yucky! Complan doesn't stay along with the milk all the time, there is Juniour Horlicks, Boost, Ivana, Bournvita and also Oat meal alternatively. I don't like them, anna calls me a weird kiddo. I am not a kid, I am eight years old! I only like bournvita of them all, but not as much as uncle Krishna and grandma's tea and also biscuit. I dip it in hot cup of tea and eat the soaked biscuit, the taste is really a heaven to me.
Then I play with my cousins, but I spend my time with grandpa the most. The reason behind it is, all of my cousins turn up to our city during their holidays, but grandpa and grandma won't. Even though they love me and anna a lot, they don't come to the city, they don't like the atmosphere. Grandpa says, the winds and breezes never bind with nature, they switch off his poetic mind, his lovely laughter and his young enthusiasm. I still don't get why! He says a lot of wonderful poems, many wonderful quotes, he was a language teacher and he loved what he taught but doesn't love the way people are grooming and decorating the nature with tins, trashes and smokes.
The windbell chimes made delightful sounds, pleasing the ears, breaking my thoughts. I looked up to the sky, orange colour merged with blue scattered all so wide inviting the moon and stars to lead the night. The sun hiding behind the hills, the wide Nilgiris, bidding a bye for the time being and promising that he will come back the next day in the same way. How much I will miss this!
“The rose bloomed, little girl,” my grandpa said, his voice shallow, old, filled with pure affection and care. Grandpa's balcony had a small garden filled with flowers and plants. Each plant had a name; one was my anna, then me and my cousins and other names. He loves plants, nature, animals, hills, so do I.
“He bloomed in the morning,” I replied, looking at the rose, he was yellow in colour, his petals looking very happy, there were white shades inside him. It looked really pretty. Grandpa said, yellow roses denote friendship, joy, optismism (meaning thinking good—that's what grandpa says) and warmness. They always bring the brighter side of you and make you feel energetic and happy.
“Our friendship also,” I said, moving to pluck him.
“Don't,” grandpa stopped me. Why did he stop me? I turned and looked at him questioningly.
“He is not grown yet, let him stay here for another day, enjoy the breeze and our talks little girl.” My grandpa told me, calm and composed, giving me a warm smile. I nodded and went back to my seat. My monkey cap was irritating my head and my ears, making me feel itchy. But it was too cold out and I had no other option.
“You know little girl, these flowers and plants are gifts of nature, that's why they refresh us and make us joyful” I looked at him smilingly as he said. I felt sad, I really didn't want to leave him. When I will move back to city, I`ll miss his cheers, his stories, walking and laughing, playing chess, his riddles. I will only do homeworks, go to school and write tests. Anna will be watching T.V. and I will have to watch what he does sitting beside him. No looney tunes, no SpongeBob, no Tom and Jerry, No pink panther— Grandpa watches all of them with me and we laugh and enjoy it. My friends would play with mobiles and computer, I like playing outside. And I hate studying, they always force me to do, sometimes I like the chapters about stars and numbers, but still I will miss grandpa!
Grandpa says; whatever we do, we must always find joy in it, only then we can do it to the fullest. Other wise it is like eating dosa without any side dish, yucky! But how do I find joy when there is no fresh tea gardens and hills to admire on? I wish I had my school here and I walked everyday till there and came back to grandpa talking about what all we did and him teaching me to do homework.
I feel like crying, but grandpa says tears are precious and we can waste them only when we are in extreme tough conditions. Strong children won't waste them. So I will not waste it.
“You know the best way to admire them?” he continued to say. I looked at him, what was he saying? I forgot what he was talking.
Oh! The yellow rose, he was talking about nature.
“What?” I asked him.
“By carrying all these as a memory and enjoying them...” he said with a grin on his face.
“I remember my childhood that way.”
I smiled, I didn't really know what he meant. But he told to enjoy them, I`ll do that to the fullest. I got up from my chair and went towards him taking tiny steps and sat on his lap. Hugging him tightly, I felt his warm hands holding me.
“Would you like to hear a poem?” he asked. Most of the times I didn't understand them, but I listened to him largely because what he said two years before made sense to me today. Like that of never telling a lie, and the story related to that. So I would try to remember these too.
“Yes” I said closing my eyes.
“Just a little smile, like a magic;
Just a little love, never tragic;
Just a little warmth, reach the glory;
Just a little calmness, be the untold story;
For life is a feel, life is a dream;
What to gain and what to loose,
when this world is big to live in?”