"The Abode of Love" was a home for old parents abandoned by their children. Some were ruthlessly abandoned, some were left there because the children worked outside the state or country,and , some for no reason at all. It was a small home and almost nearly 20 couples. Nalini the founder, was a middle- aged woman, widowed at a very young age. She did not have children. She took very good care of these couples. Everybody addressed her as their own child, a God sent angel for them. Why did she start a home?
The story dates back like this...Nalini used to go the Ganesh temple everyday without fail. Exactly one year back, on a bright Sunday morning, she was getting back home after her prayers, when..
"Amma! Amma! take pity on us! Its been three days since we ate..." cried Ragini, an old woman, Her husband Ramani was sitting under a tree, unable to get up. Nalini, first went to the Prasada stall, and bought some Prasada. They ate it in a rush, Hunger was killing them. Once satisfied, they thanked Nalini.
"Why are you here? Where is your home?" Nalini asked."My son brought us to this temple. He gave us a 50 rupee note and asked us to sit here. We have been waiting for for the past whole week. I know, he has left us for good .""Why? That's terrible! Will you come with me?" Nalini asked.This is how she started the home. She was all alone, and thought that this would be a right way to fight her loneliness. She advertised in the local news papers . Some couples came in at their will , while some were forced to come here. She took care of these people, their food, medicines and everything for a minor amount that was paid on an annual basis, and this she did only from those who could afford. The rest , she took care. She had a couple of sponsors , who were ready to help ,when needed.
Today , " Abode of Love " seemed to be very busy. Yes, a few young college girls were coming to entertain them. Nalini, used to organise such entertainments once in a month so that these old people felt good. Everybody woke up early. They finished their daily chores. Every couple was given a task to complete. If one would cut vegetables, the other would start to cook. One would go to pay the bills and another to the market. All the chores were performed in turns, so that, they enjoyed what they did. Everyday, they had a reason to live. National Events, Birthdays and Anniversaries was celebrated. Nalini would find a simple reason, but a beautiful one, daily, to keep them happy. And today, it was a group of 15 young girls from the near by girl's college .The young girls came in. They introduced themselves to everybody. There was singing, games and loads of fun.
Once the first set of entertainment was done, Vishaka, one of the college girls , said that the girls would love to cook for everybody.
"Do you girls know to cook?" Ramana , an old man chukled.
"Oh keep quiet. Young girls need to learn to cook.Their classes start today!" Kamini ,another old lady said."All right the girls screamed!"They took turns. 5 girls and one paty would go and cook sambhar, then another group would cook some rasam, then curries.. and so on. It had taken almost 3 solid hours for them to come up with the food. All the grandpas, had become restless and hungry. Nalini tried to keep them calm. Food was served. The girls also looked hungry. They sat in a huge big cirlce and Nalini and Vishaka first served.
"Not bad, girls!!! The food is nice.. It is better than the food that the old ladies cook here!" Ramana screamed.Everybody laughed loudly. The old patties showed faces to Ramana, and asked him to be careful because, he had to eat their food everyday. They joked, chatted and ate. It was time for a nap. The girls helped everybody with their beds. Some spoke to the girls about their children. The girls gave them words of comfort. Vishaka sat next to Sumathy and Rangan. Sumathy was very very happy. Rangan too. It was Sumathy's birthday.
"Vishaka, will my son come today evening? I want to talk to him. I feel like seeing him"
"Yes, he will. I will call him , and ask him to come. Now you take your nap." Vishaka said.
"Thats what he said last year too. But he did not come on that day, and not after that. He does not want me anymore.' she weeped.
"Ssshh Sumathy paty, I will see that he comes today. Okay? He loves you."
"Hmm if he loves, he would have not let us here child. You will not understand, child,.. you are too young. Everyday, we live, thinking that he would come, his wife would accompany him. It has been three years since we saw our grandchildren. The joys of playing with them, telling them stories in the moonlight, putting them to sleep,are somethings that we think of, to keep us alive." Sumathy said.
"I will talk to your son. I promise you to bring him here by dusk Okay?"
"Vishaka, do you know to dance?""Oh yes, of course.""I want to see your dance in the evening. I was a dancer , when I was young."
Every old couple had a sad story behind them. May be, a handful were happy. Their children came often, spent time with them, got them all they needed . There was an yearning for love, to be be cared for, in the eyes of others. The girls felt happy to be there today. They told Nalini that they would come often. They enjoyed the company of these old people, loved to see their happy faces.Vishaka asked Nalini for Sumathy's son's number. She spoke to him. He was a curt fellow, dancing to the tunes of his senseless wife. He said he would try to come. Vishaka begged him to come that day, because Sumathy was very emotional."
"That lady is always like that. You need not tell me."saying so he hung up.
The girls and Nalini, got things ready for the evening. Vishaka organised a surprise party for Sumathy. There was more entertainment in the evening. Vishaka was also ready with her dance show. Everybody sat together.Vishaka performed her best in the show. She was a good Bharathnatyam dancer and had performed at many shows. But today, she danced happily for Sumathy, and she enjoyed doing so. Sumathy was thrilled to see this girl dance so gracefully.
"I loved it dear.I could see myself dancing in those days." Sumathy kissed Vishaka's forehead.Then there was this surprise party for Sumathy! Everybody wished her many more years to come...
"Vishaka, see, I told you, he did not come."
"He will come paty... he will come I spoke to him. He is kind of busy."
It was already night. The girls got ready to leave. Their bus arrived. The old blessed every child. They had a lovely day. Tomorrow was movie day. Nalini had brought the latest Tamil movie for them. Every one spoke about it enthusiastically. The bus came, the girls left. Sumathy was already asleep. Rangan was also asleep.
Her son Suresh , came, the next morning, but what a pity, he came to see his parents travelling their next journey - Death. Sumathy and Rangan, had breathed their last , the night before. They lived together, fought life's battles together, were sent out of to their home together, and died together...Suresh was shaken.
His four year old son asked, "Appa, do I have to leave you and amma here when you are old? No I will miss you, and you will miss me ,he said tearfully"
Guilt panged Suresh's and his wife's heart.The old couple had a reason to live everyday, but was not fulfilled until their last....Sumathy had a letter for Vishaka... maybe Sumathy knew it was her last day...?"