The corridor is one of the longest in the palace, and it would always take me a little more time to reach the second last door. As I made my way to it, I passed a doctor and two nurses. The doctor looked sombre and one of the nurses was crying. I entered the room, and there she was, lying on the bed. This was the prettiest room in the palace, but now almost replicated that in a hospital, with all the medical equipment.
It pained me to see my youngest grandchild, who was just eight-year-old, suffer so much. Chidiya (little bird) as all close family members lovingly called her at home, was losing her battle with death. Born with a congenital heart disease, every birthday she celebrated was a miracle. Two major surgeries had just given her a few more years, but there was no more hope.
I could see my son standing by the window – the scion of an erstwhile royal family, he was now a well established politician and new age entrepreneur, but no amount of money and influence could save his daughter. His beautiful wife was sitting by the bedside holding Chidiya’s hand, looking intently at the little face, expecting the girl to open her eyes and speak to her. But that would never happen, I know it. Silently I step out of the room.
As I make my way towards the grand staircase, my eyes fall on the imposing painting of Rajmata (Queen Mother) Ahalya, that dominated all the other paintings of our illustrious royal ancestors. Sometimes I forget that the woman in the green and gold sari, whose indomitable spirit has been captured so well on the canvas, is me.
I go out and wait at the farthest end of the expansive garden, bordering the forest. I know that any moment now she would step in through the golden sphere that shimmered ahead. I didn’t have to wait for long, there she was, so joyful and happy, coming towards me … my favourite grandchild.
The life she lost will continue here, among those who love her – her ancestors of several generations, including me, her grandmother, who passed away 15 years before she was born but always guided, protected and watched out for her.
Chidiya will never feel the absence of her parents and two elder brothers, the great love of a much larger family will be her home.