It was a hot sunny afternoon when I reached home for lunch after having a long chat with Patil at his office. "Why Late?" I had expected this question from Savitri. "I had been to Patil’s office. We were chatting about all the beautiful features in the world" I smiled. "That Patil doesn’t have any work. He just sits there in the office. His nephew Prasad takes care of all his business. So this fellow does not allow me to leave whenever I go there. He just needs someone to chat" I continued but I was not sure if she heard it completely. "You said we need to leave by six to catch the train. It is already 1’o clock. Come have lunch. I have lots to pack" she was tensed as she served my lunch. "Don’t worry, we will be there on time" I assured her.
We were late and we had to run and rush to catch the train. I could hear my heart pounding when I sat in my seat. Savitri was waving her saree pallu like a hand fan. She was sweating and so was I. Train started moving slowly and cool breeze was all over me. I got up to put the luggages in an order. "I had told you" Savitri started, "that we would be late. You do not have time sense. Remember we need to leave early to Kudli. So don’t keep talking like a chatterbox at your brother’s place" she frowned. "Come on. It happens once or twice. Otherwise it is always because of you we were late" I said sitting opposite to her. "You get ready soon and don’t spend too much time is dressing up. You grandson is a new born and he won’t be able to admire you" I grinned and saw her control her laugh. "Let’s see" she said and started looking out of the window.
I wanted to make sure I get ready before she does. I got up early, took bath and was ready by seven in the morning. But she was already waiting for me at the breakfast table. My brother was reading newspaper in the varandah who joined us for breakfast. "You are always in hurry" he said. "Couldn’t you have caught some more sleep?" he grumbled. "You don’t understand Shivu.." I said, "Your attige (sister in law) is eager to see her grandson and I cannot afford to be late" and winked. "Bus is at 7:30. We need to rush again anyway" Savitri reminded me seeing me relish every bit of the breakfast. We again ended running up to the bus stand.
It was 4 pm when I got up after a quick afternoon nap. Holding my grandson, making strange voices to make him smile and a heavy sea food lunch made me doze off on a bed. I could hear Savitri still playing with the baby boy from the other room. I saw Mohan, my daughter in law's younger brother watching TV. I asked him to take me for an evening stroll and we left the home assuring Savitri to be back on time to catch the bus back to Mangalore.
Mohan took me to a temple. We left our chappals near the guard and asked him to keep a watch. The temple was very beautiful. It was very big yet peace and serene. We starting talking for eternity, and it was already late when we realized the time. We grabbed our chappals and ran towards home. Savitri was ready and waiting for me. She looked worried for me not being able to reach on time. We had no time to talk and we rushed to bus stand. I avoided talking anything to Savitri and she too did the same.
Next day we had no plans and so we did not get up early. Our train was at 8pm and we had plenty of time. I got up late, had breakfast and decided to have a walk in the market. I went to the corner to wear my chappals and I was shocked to see my chappal being exchanged. I called Mohan to check if he had mine, but he dint. "May be it got exchanged at temple" Savitri said. I was very sad. I bought this chappal just for the sake of Savitri. "You bought this chappal for our daughter's marriage" she had said when she had seen me wear my worn out chappals. "After that you did not buy any for rest of our children's marriage. Now it is high time for you to buy a new one. At least buy one when you are visiting grandson" she had insisted. I was very disappointed for losing my new pair of chappals. I told Savitri it is all because of her. If I had my old chappal, no one would have dared to take it. I washed the exchanged chappal in well water and decided to wear it for the time being. We were on time at the station. Savitri slept peacefully but I could not. I was still thinking about the guard at the temple. "May be he might have exchanged it" I thought.
We reached home in the morning and I went to Patil’s office that afternoon. Patil and I get along very well and we meet almost every day. I sat and spoke to Patil for few minutes when Patil’s nephew Prasad brought two cup of coffee. "Uncle, is your pair of chappal exchanged anywhere?" he asked me. Where on earth did he come to know about this. "Err.. Yes.. How do you know?" I asked. "Oh uncle, I think you are wearing my chappal. I guess it got exchanged when you left our office few days back."