My Grandfather’s Third Key Of Happiness

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My eighty-five years old grandfather is very fond of going on rides on his scooter. For the twenty years that I have known him, there hasn’t been a single day when he has not been on his daily morning and evening rides. He would wake up at the crack of dawn, sit on his recliner on the porch for a while, watch the sunrise and then before anyone in the house has woken up, he would take his scooter out and leave. He would stay outside for at least two hours. In these two hours, he would finish all kinds of chores – go on a round of the whole town, visit his friends and brothers, get his things and finally return home at around ten o clock that is during the time of breakfast. He would always bring milk, some fruits and something else, that would become a part of the day’s lunch menu, usually some vegetable or some non-veg item. If any of his grandchildren are there on the visit, he will make sure to get a favourite piece of theirs as well.

Old habits die hard, and old habits of older adults never die. When the lockdown was declared all over the nation, it brought about many problems and discomforts to people everywhere, but none so much as to my old grandfather. He did not understand the concept of the lockdown or the threat posed by the deadly virus. According to him, it was all a by-product of shrewd political agendas, and it had nothing to do with him or his daily rides. Thus, they continued as always. Never a day in his life had he cared about other people’s opinions, nor did he care now. When his son and daughter in law asked him to stop going out, explaining the danger and how he was more prone to it because of his age, he never argued with them. He just nodded his head and said he would stop this immediately. But the next morning, they found him gone, just like every other day. That day when he came back, he had brought everyone’s favourite items with him, as peace offerings of a kind. For a few days, the passive-aggressive atmosphere intensified in the house.

Finally, one day he was stopped by the authorities and given a formal warning. This put an end to his evening rides, but the morning rides continued as usual under the pretext of getting milk and groceries for the house. My uncle, though unhappy with this, kept turning a blind eye to it, out of respect for his old father, who mistook this as him giving up. As a result, my grandfather became bolder in his actions day by day. He would disregard all rules, disrespect the authorities and be plain insolent. None of us was happy with it, but we knew none of us could ever change his mind either. He was on the edge of decline, and he was a proud and arrogant man. On top of that, he was a retired ex-cop. According to him, he knew the best and nothing anyone else said mattered.

One day, however, my grandfather took it too far. By this time, the whole country was categorised into red, orange and green zones. Wearing masks while going out had become mandatory, and it was a strict order that anyone above the age of sixty-five must stay home irrespective of what zone they reside in, until and unless it is an emergency of the gravest kind and it requires them to go out. The district we were in, even though it was a green zone at that time, was on the edge of becoming an orange zone. There was terror everywhere, and the authorities were on high alert.

My grandfather, while returning from his “important” morning rides, decided to pay a visit to his son, who was a policeman on duty. It was the day of an important event in the town, and all of the highest authorities had gathered there. My grandfather went there, without a mask, without a proper important reason for his visit and demanded to see my uncle. He started talking and behaving in his usual boastful manner. Whether it was out of his senile condition or his pure arrogance, he began belittling the government and the authorities in charge, right then and there, with all of them present. My uncle somehow managed to send him home right then before the situation got to its worst. But that was the final blow. That day, when he came back, he was seething with anger and after a loud argument with his father; he decided to put a stop to these daily morning rides. He took the keys to his father’s scooter away and locked them up in his cupboard, forbidding him from going on any more trips. My grandfather was like a wounded lion the whole day – angry yet helpless.

The rides stopped, but that made his condition the worst. He remained sad and secluded the whole day, withdrawing from everything that he once enjoyed doing, and that was his daily routine. It was disheartening to see him so defeated and depressed. It was as if, when his son took away his keys, he took away the older man’s will to live. Then, a few days later, one morning, the house woke up to find him missing. Everyone was beside themselves with worry. Someone checked and found the scooter missing as well. It was shocking because both the keys were still there, locked away safely in the cupboard. Finally, at ten o clock, he showed up at the door on his scooter. There was a broad smile on his face and a spring in his step. His hands were full of bags, filled with everyone’s favourite items. When he saw everyone’s confused and questioning faces, he laughed and pulled out the third key to his scooter from his pocket. As it turned out, he had just remembered that morning he had gotten a third spare key made a while ago and had taken his first shot at his freedom.

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