It is full moon’s night, the night of Kojagiri Poornima, a traditional Maharashtrian festival. The entire society is gathered around the two giant margosa trees at the corner where the two streets merge into one. Everyone’s waiting for midnight, when the light from the moon overhead would fall in the large cauldron of milk, mixing in its special ‘health’ elements. Once the ‘potion’ gets ready, glassfuls of it will be distributed to everyone. Anyone who drinks the milk will be freed from all diseases and become completely healthy, as the legend suggests.
People are standing in clusters or sitting on plastic chairs in circles, murmuring and gossiping. I stand alone, a few feet away from my mother who’s busy in conversation with the other housewives. I look around and my eyes fall on an old lady sitting on a white plastic chair near one of the trees. She’s wearing an orange and black sari and her silver hair is tied in a loose bun. She’s my classmate and friend Sakshi’s grandmother, who, we learned when we moved here a few weeks ago, lived just opposite our house. Sakshi had danced like a child when I’d told her this. She frequently visits here – now they’re occasions for us to get together and go on walks and laugh.
I look at the old lady and smile. I know who she is and she knows who I am, but we’ve never been introduced to each other. She beckons me with her aging hand, and I walk the dozen steps toward her. With a beautiful smile that reflects all the warmth in this lady, who lost her young son two years ago, she takes my hand and kisses it. It’s a soft touch, and I immediately feel something growing very large in me. Something I doubt has a name. But it is overwhelming, and I feel loved.
“How are you dear?” she asks me. I nod and say I’m good, and we talk about my family and Sakshi for a couple of minutes. Then there’s nothing for us to talk about, so I look around for a while and join my mother again, resuming my wait for midnight. I look up at the sky, gazing at the dark, dark blue sky, and the gray clouds, and the moon. It is bright and smiling – it has seen my story.