The Postcard: A Story by Manisha Amol

Kamla, a retired old lady living alone in a big house was not keeping well for quite sometime now. With great difficulty she would manage her daily routine with the help of her housekeeper who used to stay with her for the day. She could afford the basic necessities being a pensioner, as a retired government school teacher.

A religious person by nature, post her retirement she had developed a habit of writing her bhajans on a postcard, as it was easy to file them with the help of a tag. She used to sing those bhajans regularly looking at the postcards as it was not easy to remember the lines. She would dutifully get that bundle and sing a bhajan sitting in the courtyard in front of the tulsi plant planted in one of the corners. This was a regular routine followed by her after lighting a diya under the tulsi plant.

Her only son was happily married, settled abroad and she was very clear that he would never return to stay with her. She had learnt to live in this situation and managed herself accordingly.

A big banyan tree adjacent to one of the boundary walls of the courtyard housed a number of birds. As she sang bhajans they would also make a lot of noise as if adding to the choir. This had become a daily routine. It seemed that the chirping birds would patiently wait for her bhajans to join her in their own unique way. This sight was so pleasing that even the housekeeper would also sit there watching them.

One day the housekeeper got late for work, hurriedly rang the bell, hearing no response from inside got a bit worried. She ran to the backyard to try to listen to her bhajans. There was an eerie silence. She climbed the tree to reach the top of the wall and made an effort to jump inside.

She was aghast to see the sad dreadful sight. Kamla lay there motionless with the postcards strewn all over. Even the birds were not chirping on the trees but silently sitting around her in the courtyard as if mourning her demise.