The gift

Life is all about twists and turns. My mom had four brothers and two sisters. All of them were poles apart from each other and landed up in very different situations.

One of my uncles lost his fortune and luck through bad decisions and a turn of fate. The last time I met him was a decade ago in Calcutta. No one could tell me what went wrong with him. It’s a conspiracy that families indulge in, not revealing to outsiders what’s wrong within the family but nevertheless whispering among themselves about it.

As a newly-minted adult who had just finished my education and was about to start work, I cockily told him to work hard and that life would get better. It made him laugh heartily. I couldn’t understand what was so funny about it. Today I realise better how things can turn against you, how much struggle it takes to get back on your feet after each blow.

When we left Calcutta, my uncle had little to give as a farewell gift. Instead he took a jute sack and filled it with a packet of puffed rice with fried snacks. Even as a naïve, sometimes indifferent girl, I felt the enormity of the gesture and it brought tears to my eyes.

After all these years, I sometimes fancy that I can still remember the taste of the snacks but it’s probably my mind playing tricks on me.

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