Thatha, Virat’s grandfather, a sprightly octogenarian, was rapidly going deaf. However, he refused to admit it. Mundane breakfast table conversation took on the overtones of Judgement Day!
“Looks like its going to rain today” Virat’s father, might say.
“What?” Thatha would shout.
“It’s going to rain today”. Virat’s father would’ve to holler.
To make matters worse, Thatha loved watching the TV. As his deafness advanced, unfortunately so did the volume.
Virat fed up with this audio onslaught, marched into the kitchen. His mom was seasoning the avial they would have for dinner.
“Is it possible to hear anything in this house?!” Virat demanded. “I’m not able to even think properly, let alone study! He is an environmental hazard!”
“Don’t be rude” his mom said, searching for a ladle in the rack.
“Do Something” Virat begged.
His mom kept the ladle down, turned off the gas & went into the hall with the light of battle in her eyes. “Appa” she screamed. Without much ado, she switched of the TV.
“Face, it, you are hard of hearing” she shouted, “Am not!!I heard you!” Thatha complained.
Virat returned an hour later, with revision complete to see the grim, determined faces of his parents & the glowering one of his grandfather.
“Ask him” Thatha burst out. “My grandson will tell you that I’m not deaf! Just because I am eighty, you think you can force me to wear a hearing aid. Next, you’ll make me wear dentures. Then you’ll pack me off to an Old Age home. It’s a conspiracy to get rid of me. There is nothing wrong with my ears.”
Amma spoke up “You can’t hear unless with shout our lungs out, you have to get a hearing aid, dot.”
The next morning, Amma took leave from office & took Thatha to the E.N.T. specialist at the local Polyclinic. Virat looked forward to the return of a noiseless, peaceful atmosphere. He had underestimated his grandfather. Thatha’s hearing aid was a compact simple device. When Virat queried why he had turned it off, he winked “Your mother insists that I wear a hearing aid. Well, Now I’m wearing one. dot.”
Virat’s mother had almost made up her mind to cancel Thatha’s much awaited birthday party on Sunday (which Thatha loved more than anything else, even more than his TV) Then Virat had a brainwave.
Sunday dawned. No one wished Thatha. No cards or presents. Every time the phone rang, he looked expectantly, but was never for him. Just before noon, Virat & his parents dropped Thatha at his club where he sulked all the way to the game room. He entered the game room, expecting it to be empty, but instead he got the shock of his life.
It was beautifully decorated with balloons & stringers, with a huge cake in the middle, surrounding which stood his friends & family, grinning from ear to ear. As if in a dream, Thatha blew out the candles. Everyone clapped. That was when Thatha got an even bigger shock.
He saw them clapping & singing but not a single decibel reached him. Judging by Thatha’s expression, it looked like he was watching a horror film. He turned on his hearing aid & increased the volume. Still no sound, just that nightmarish silence. How could sixty voices be singing & yet not a word be heard? He turned up the volume to its highest setting.
The gathering took a deep breath & shouted “Happy Birthday to you”.
The sound hit Thatha like a tsunami. He reeled back. It took him only a few moments to grasp that he had been deceived.
“Got a taste of your own medicine, eh?” Thatha’s friends shouted loud enough to raise the roof.
Thatha immediately reduced the volume of his hearing aid,” Don’t shout” he said, calmly reaching for a slice of cake.” I’m not deaf”