Something bizarre happened five months later. Biju went out one afternoon, saying he would meet a friend near the railway station. He did not return. We called his friends and acquaintances; then we checked with the local hospitals. When nothing turned up, we called the police. Since I knew him best, I took the lead in the fruitless search, and it fell to me to inform his mother. Aunt Tara listened to me gravely, without a single interruption, then softly pleaded, “Please get Biju back to me.”
Disheartened but dutiful, I undertook a trip to visit aunt Tara and explained in detail the effort that had been made and the scant result it had produced. There was now no alternative but to abandon the search and simply hope for a lucky break. Aunt Tara did not say a word till the end, “Please get Biju back to me.”
No lucky break ever came. I could not face aunt Tara and tried to avoid her at family gatherings. At a wedding I could not help encountering her and politely asked how she was. She in turn asked about my family, and then, with a pause, quietly asked, “Any news?” I shook my head ruefully and passed on.
Aunt Tara died of cardiac problems at 89, in the house of her daughter, who had brought her to town to see a specialist. I drove over to see her and happened to be with her in the last hour. As I sat next to her bed, holding her hand and answering her questions about my children, there was a pause, and she looked earnestly at me and murmured, “Please get Biju back.”