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The Prejudice that Didn't Last (4).jpg

Vaidika was quite hyper for a Monday afternoon; in fact, she was quite hyper for her usual self too. An otherwise composed woman of 23, she was visibly excited as she fidgeted with her phone every 5 to minutes and glanced at the door at the slightest movement. The entire household was trying to solve the mystery that Vaidika had become. No one had been successful in cracking it - not even Ba, the person to whom Vaidika was the closest.

Ba was no ordinary person - the world saw her as Vaidika’s grandmother, but for Vaidika, and others close to her, Ba was her best friend, confidante, teacher, gossip partner, and go-to for life advice. This was all the more reason for the rest of the house to raise an eyebrow at her behaviour that afternoon.

Vaidika was least bothered by the suspicion of others. She had other pressing matters to think about, like the anticipation of a parcel from Amazon which was supposed to arrive anytime that day. Even more pressing was ensuring that SHE received it.

What made the parcel special was not its contents, but whom it was for. Vaidika had received her first salary a week ago and the first thing she did with it was not buy something for her parents or herself. She had gone and ordered a Kindle for Ba. One might wonder what use a Kindle might be for an old lady of 80 years. But those who knew Ba would have immediately realised that it was the perfect gift for her.

Ba had been an avid reader all her life and had encouraged Vaidika to become one too. Together, the two would devour every book they could lay their hands on - be it sitting under Ruskin Bond’s cherry tree with a blue umbrella, or exploring the world of science through Nehru’s enlightening letters to his daughter, or understanding Gandhi’s experiments with truth.

It was Ba who’d gifted Vaidika her first book, taken her to a library and a bookstore for the first time, introduced her to writing, encouraged her to become a writer, and supported her when the rest were in opposition to her choosing an “insecure” career path. Vaidika owed everything she had achieved to Ba. And now, it was time for her to try to repay the little she could for what Ba had done for her.

Though she was a voracious reader, with old age, the distance between Ba and her books had started increasing. Neither her eyes nor her strength was on her side. And even though she got up every day and fought against them resolutely, it was taking its toll on her, more on some days than others. Seeing Ba struggling with the one thing she loved the most had left Vaidika distraught. She was determined to do something about it. And today was the day when she was going to end Ba’s struggle.

Precisely at 2:14 PM, the doorbell rang. Vaidika dashed out of her room to open the door before anybody else could. Everybody’s eyes followed her from their respective places as she answered the door. As quickly as she’d answered it, Vaidika sprinted back to her room and shut the door.

After 7 odd minutes, she came out, smiling ear to ear, with a neatly wrapped package tucked away behind her, and headed straight for Ba’s room. She entered the room, sat beside the footrest (her favourite place to sit) and excitedly handed Ba the package saying, “for you”. Flummoxed, she took the package and started unwrapping it, glancing every now and then at a psyched Vaidika. Upon discovering the contents of the package, Ba shot a flabbergasted look at Vaidika, who beamed at her and said, “now you can read as much as you can, Ba. You have the biggest library in the world in your hands.”

“Who got this?!”, asked Ba, still astounded. “I bought it for you from my first salary”, responded Vaidika proudly. With eyes brimming with tears of joy, Ba hugged Vaidika tight and then kissed her on her forehead, thanking her for the most precious gift she’d received to date.

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