Her father was in shock when they got off the car. The driver pulled over to the side, parked it near the compound wall of the tiny 100+ year old house
Prakash sat up almost stumbling as his arm slipped off the flat arm rest on the easy chair
He stood holding the smooth glossy red pillar and peered
Leela opened the creaky yellow wood double gate and walked in confidently, scaling the 5 steps to the front verandah
"hello Uncle" she said and bend down to touch his feet Punjabi style
He blessed her in inaudible Konkani and looked at his daughter quizzically
Ashvin was checking his phone and instructing the rental car driver
"aaanu" she mumbled hugging him
He teared up hugging her "How have you been?" he asked patting her head
"I missed you, did you miss me?"
He smiled sheepishly
"U live in the next town" he said
"I live in BANGALORE" Trisha insisted
"they boy came?" he asked as Ashvin scaled the porch steps
Trisha nodded awkwardly
"I am the baby sister" Leela informed
Prakash smiled at her fondly
"Is she the younger one?" he asked his daughter
"hello Mr Shanbag" Ashvin dragged his feet
Prakash nodded calmly
"why has he come?"
"Umm.. I wanted to come.. they both came with me"
"umm.. just like that I think" Trisha whispered
"umm... its a small town" he reminded his daughter as hawkers slowed down passing by, looking at the porch the white Toyota Corolla parked on the side
"Anna you have guest?" a blacksmith rang his bell loudly
"I got your bed fixed.."
"He is not the carpenter" Trisha reminded worried
"Yes yes... I know... his brother and him, welded sections back together"
Trisha smiled joyously
Leela was already INSIDE
Ashvin leaned on the lil triangle cavity on the wall where the brass saucer like lamp sat from last night
He took his shoes off
Trisha rushed after leela
"the house is sooo dark and cool" "does it have electricity?" Leela asked in shock
"LEEE" Ashvin scolded
"I am just askin... they have those lamps in the front porch on both sides of the doors like the old movies, Dadu watches
Trisha hit the old fashioned switch, black and bulging, the bulb in the center of the room hanging from a creamy/brown glass flower like shade came on
Shade that was once upon a time offwhite or white had absorbed the grief and happiness and morphed over time
"U have such nice floors" Leela said as she rubbed her bare feet on the cold floor
"No AC no... so everything is for keeping it cool" Trisha told her
The palm fronds on the coconut trees rustled in the backyard.. the jackfruit tree's shade dimming the whole yard in the process
"this is sooo like... from a movie"
"It even smells like a movie" Leela inhaled audibly
"Have u smelled a movie?" Ashvin chuckled
"U are not my friend anymore" Leela was still sulking
Prakash stood in the door way observing
"Every door from front door to back door is all in a straight line, going through the center of the house... like... I mean... how did they do that?" Leela was in awe
"Its very old house... 100 years?" she turned to her father
"112" he said softly
"U want coffee?
"I have to go its almost 4" Prakash said quietly reaching for a clean veshti from the high bamboo clothes line using a pole
"Aanu..." Trisha begged
"U can give them coffee"
"rao brought lunch items, its in the new frig"
"WE HAVE A NEW FRIG?" Trisha jumped running to the lil store room by the kitchen and looked everywhere
There was a different one... but didnt look new
"Rao knew someone that gave a used one... this one doesnt rattle" he said
Ashvin sat in one of the chairs lining the wall, under the windows
Leela looked at the 10s of pictures on the walls, old B&W prints of great grand parents, grandparents and Aaanu and Vijaya... of family events
"OH MY WORD... This house is like a movie set" she gasped
"U want to have lunch?" Trisha appeared in teh doorway between central hall and kitchen
"I want to have, I want to have" Leela raised her arm cutely like she was in class
"Its lunch special from restaurant... noodles and punjabi gravy" she said softly
"YUMMM" Leela smacked her lips
"You will have?" she walked up to Ashwin
"You?" he asked
I like restaurant food" she smiled shyly
"That good huh?" he whispered amused
"Means... I dont eat here everyday no"
"Trish... I am teasing" he whispered
"Now u will eat?" she asked softly
"sure" he shrugged
Her father reappeared from the store room went into his room which was between the two windows on one side of the square central hall
He reappeared carrying a umbrella and wearing the new dhoti traditional style
"Aanu... u also eat" Trisha requested
"It will be dinner time at my work in 2 hours... they have some english people playing music on beach so its very busy" he informed
Trisha understood it as some rock and roll concert
"Uncle can I come too?" Leela asked looking up from phone
"What purpose?" he asked
"Umm... I dont know... to see"
"Tomorrow" he smiled gently
He seemed to have taken a fondness for the girl
Not so much for her brother... whose behavior from 10 years ago still rattled him