Siya, an innocent girl, who is too pampered and loved, was dragged by her friends to go to mess to have dinner. Siya didn’t like food served in her hostel’s mess as it contained garlic while she was from a Brahmin Family thus was not used to it. Mess food also made her to long for her mother more. Hence, she preferred to eat from outside or to cook magi herself but that day Shristi, one of her fast friend in hostel, told her that today Ice cream will be served too. So, she reluctantly agreed to have dinner there.
As she entered the mess, she looked at everyone’s tables around decorated with their ice cream bowl. Some were filled with white ice cream while some had pink one. She noticed the White ice Cream more delicately and said to herself, “Vanilla Ice-Cream”. Those Words to herself took her somewhere else far from this “mess”.
“She is enjoying the small night lamp with lid in train as she curiously wants to know if that lamp lit just after she opens its lid or it remains enlightened always. While doing such a crazy stuff, she checks if curtains of her berth have been drawn properly or not so that no one catches her doing so. Her mother sitting just below her berth asked her if she has stopped reading her novel or not as according to her mother reading in a moving train is not good for her eyes. Siya knows it too as she is a science student but she feels helpless as she considers herself to be a “Book-Addict”. But as a matter of luck she is not reading that time as that lamp successfully distracts her so without any guilt she replies,” No mommy, I am about to sleep so you too sleep now, Good night”.
This is her tour to Varanasi, her mother’s maternal home. She is both excited and frightened. She is excited as she is going to meet her grand-mother, Nanii, after almost three years. But she is frightened as her mother has acknowledged her in advance that her mamiis, her mother’s sister-in-law, are very arrogant and cruel. Her mother said so because they are extremely rude to her mother i.e., Siya’s sweet and loving Nanii. And as a normal human being Siya believed her mother. She had been instructed by her mother to still behave properly with everyone there as her misbehaving may adds to her nanii’s problem.
With a smiling face she enters her mom’s blooming place, it made her feel happy. Besides, there is a “live river” i.e. Ganga flowing just outside house which made her excitement to reach cloud nine as she loves water immensely. She greets everyone there happily with her “family-renowned beautiful” smile and a bizarre bond got into the picture. She meets everyone there with a warm feeling. Seriously, She doesn’t have any hard feeling for anyone in her that “family”. As Siya never considers anyone bad for her, all are equally good, atleast in the starting, for her i.e., she never makes any preconceptions for anyone. This tour is no exception so everyone there made her to feel good. But the truth is yet to be revealed.
She meets her Nani whom she calls Nonii. On looking her at first, she feels stuck to her place where she is standing. She has always watched her “Nonii” to be self-dependent, self-efficient and a lady with strong will power as firm as pillar of temple standing on the bank of Ganga which she has seen while entering this house. She feels crying inside as she notices her “red-faced” Nonii to be as pale as corpse. She feels an urge to go to her Nonii and give her support. This thought made her guilty as she knows her “Nonii” never demands external support and always refuses ruthlessly if someone offers her help. But at very next second, she understands it very well, “She needs help even if she refuses for that”.
Her mother hugs her “mother”. And one of her Mami tells her mother in a taunting way that Nonii has been waiting for her since a week before her arriving date and she had today enchanted for thousands of time that her daughter can arrive today at any moment. On listening to this, Siya notices her mother “wet eyes” and she realises the same wetness in her eyes too but she controls it. Siya happily accepts everyone’s complements for her looks as well as for her accomplishments in studies while deep inside she wants to reply them, “above all this materialistic thing, I am a better human than “you” but she buries this thought immediately, as she knows it is extremely wrong to compare and more importantly they are her elders.
But her Nonii seems lost now. She even fails to recognise which one of her three daughters has come to meet her. They have breakfast together then, her Nonii demands her hands to be washed now ,so her mother stands up immediately for her own mother. Siya gets a little surprise to see her mother standing so quickly as if today she has got some “super power”, inspite of the fact that Siya’s mother suffers from knee problem. After some time, her Nonii gets her hands washed but after a minute she demands her hands to be washed again as she forgets that her hands has been washed earlier. Siya now gets more uncomfortable that her “Nonii” ,who has narrated so many her own childhood stories to Siya, now fails to remember something happened just few minutes before. Siya’s mother tries to tell her what has happened to her “beloved” Nonii but she stops her mother as she cannot imagine her Nonii with some disease as dreadful as its name which can’t even be pronounced properly.
Next day, she goes with her mother to visit different temples there but her heart asked her everytime she entered a different temple, “ if God is here, too close to my Nonii, Can’t they take care of her like he does for her?” But she hides this question from her mother as she doesn’t want to add to her afflictions. While they are coming home, Siya notices an Ice-cream parlour and insists her mother to take Ice- cream for everyone there. Her mother agrees as she has never refused to Siya demanding something from her. In the parlour, she buys a brick of ice- cream, strawberry flavoured, as it is Siya’s favourite but her mother takes two Vanilla Ice-Cream cups too. Siya with a bizarre expression asks her mother why she is buying this flavour. Her mother replies, “it is for your Nanii”. Siya gets surprise again as she knows her Nanii, a true Brahmin with simple “pure vegetarian” taste i.e. her nonii doesn’t even touch onion and considers ice cream like thing to be wastage of money. But Siya doesn’t want to advise her mother not to buy it as she knows “Her mother is never wrong”.
After the dinner, her Mami directs Siya to give that “Vanilla” ice-cream to her Nonii. She reaches her Nonii doubting if she will even agree to eat it but today her Nonii proves her wrong. She takes away the cup from her, happily. Siya sits beside her to watch her eat “ice-cream” while a reel of her childhood rolls in her mind where her Nonii had crinkled her face on seeing such things. Her Nonii keeps telling her problems and sometimes stories too while eating her ice cream. She feels touched by the joy her Nonii is experiencing while eating her ice-cream as if she has never hated it. Siya is lost in her thoughts when her Nonii demanded one more cup and tells her, “ice-cream bhut tasty hai” (“ice-cream is too good”). On hearing such words her hindi teacher’s words comes to her mind where he has told the class, “human lives in a cycle, first he is born like a child then grows and finally become old but when he grows old his childhood starts returning i.e. once again in his life he demands care and love”. Today she realises yes her teacher was right as she could easily see a child whom she has never seen before in her “Nonii”. She stands to get another cup for her. While walking towards the kitchen for cup, her innocent immature heart learns that “human Desire and joy doesn’t depend on his age as it never grows old”. Thus, it is wrong to deprive old people from joy, that you feel, that can make you happy. As every age enjoys a joy with same cherishment, although the way of enjoying can vary. She realises her Nonii doesn’t want a company to be with her all the time but yes she craves for a company just to spend few hours with her. She promises herself that the helplessness her mother is feeling to help her own mother will never come to her. She decides to devote her mother time, may be of an hour, always, despite of the fact how busy she would be with her life.”
“Siya, which flavour do you want, Strawberry or Vanilla?” her friend, Shristi, asked her almost shouting as she has been asking the same question from last few minutes. “Oh! Sorry, I was thinking something else, Bhaiya, give me one Vanilla cup, please!” She said coming back to her mess again but with a hidden tear in her eyes. She enjoyed the ice-cream truly while her heart was remembering her Nanii who has demised soon after her return from Varanasi though the promise she has made to herself that day remained alive.