HELLO! Poppa, how are you today? I could hear mom say into the handheld phone from where I stood, checking out a not-so-familiar bird. I thought she sounded a bit too excited and loud, but then, I remembered that you had to raise your voice a notch higher for grandpa to hear. Very well, as good as an old man can be on a warm summer evening. How are the boys? Grandpa replied. This opening line was typically grandpa. He would only change the season as applicable. Every time was evening to him and every evening was warm, even in the cold winter.
You should send those boys over to spend the summer holidays out here in the country with their old man. You can’t raise boys all by yourself Mona, you try it and what you will get for your troubles is a bunch of sissy’s. That, also, was grandpa’s constant reprimand to mom.
Dad had passed on when we were just two years old, my twin brother and I. Mom mourned him for a very long time and refused to remarry. Now, at twelve years old, ten years after dad passed on, she still held on to us like babies. We were the very air she breathed and she could not bear being separated from us. It was only her dad, our grandpa, who could whisk us away from her occasionally.
Poppa, when will you ever cease to trouble me about the boys? They are doing very fine. They get involved in everything good boys their age are engaged in. I overheard mom say into the telephone handset. If you say so my dear, I Will not bug you. Can I speak with my grandson’s please; if you don’t mind? Aaaaarrrhhggggh! Mom groaned through clenched teeth and handed over the handset to me. I had inched closer when I realized she was speaking with grandpa. It was always a delight speaking with him.
Hi! Gramps! I almost screamed into the phone. How do you do grandpa? It’s been a while, old man. How are you? I blurted out with excitement. There was a short pause, then a gasp. Grandpa, are you okay? I asked. Yes-yes, He replied. Is this Jeff or Jax? Its Jax gramps, why the surprised question? Why are you sounding lost? It’s ok son, he said. How are you, my boy? How is the other half of the bean? That was my grandfather’s way of asking after us twins. He is fine grandpa, out cycling with his pals I said. The weather is really cool and exciting for outdoor games. When are you coming over? I asked expectantly. Not this time, grandpa answered, a little more firm than usual. I need to talk to your mom; can you pass on the phone to her?
I passed the phone to mom, completely perplexed. Why is grandpa acting strange? I asked myself. It’s really unlike him not to want to chit-chat about everything under the sun. Could there be something bothering him? Was he about to die? Did I offend him in any way? Maybe Jeff would know, I consoled myself and waited patiently for mom to get off the phone and face my inquest.
After what seemed like eternity, with loads of frowns and clenched teeth responses, mom got off the phone. She kept a face so straight I could not ask her all the barrage of questions I had prepared for her. But I had to know so I asked; mom, how did it go with grandpa? You don’t seem happy. Its ok son, she replied. I will talk to you two later at dinner. She replied with an air of finality.
I couldn’t wait for Jeff to come in through the door before I blurted out what transpired between grandpa and I that evening. The intriguing part of the whole thing is that I have a funny feeling something is not right. Grandpa literally froze on hearing me speak. You can’t be serious! Jeff responded. He furrowed his brows in deep thought. This always made him appear older and wiser. We have to wait for the meeting with mom then. He said.