He is really well-dressed and graceful,’ she thought as he knocked at
the door. She was so engrossed in watching him that she didn’t realise
it had been five minutes since he had been standing there.

‘Mother, Uncle Sikander still hasn’t opened the door,’ she shouted.

Maybe a bit too loud because the young man turned around and looked
straight at her. She whipped away from the window and blushed when she
realised that he most probably thought she had been ogling him. She
was startled by the ring of the doorbell. She peeped out of the window
and the young man had vanished. Incredulously, she opened the door and
saw the young man with a worried look on his face.

‘ Um, I was wondering if you could help me?’ he hesitated.

‘Who is it?’ asked her mother from the kitchen.

Shamim looked at the young man and he said ‘ My name is Taimoor and I am
the grandson of Mr. Sikander. Can you tell me if he is at home?’

‘Well, he was when Shamim went there a few minutes ago,’ said her mother
appearing behind her. ‘Wait, I have the spare keys to his house. We
should check if he is O.K.’ she said walking to the key hook next to
the door.

Shamim looked at the ground and sensed Taimoor’s eyes scrutinising her

‘Here they are,’ said her mother holding up the keys. ‘Now lets see what
he’s up to.’

All three walked to Sid’s house and Shamim’s mother unlocked the door.
There was a gasp from Taimoor and a scream from Shamim as they entered
the small room and saw the small old man lying huddled on the floor.
The always practical lady, Shamim’s mother, hurried towards him and
pronounced ‘ He’s dead!’

Shamim stifled her scream and stared wide-eyed at the kind old man who
always volunteered to help her with her homework.

‘ How is it possible? I just left him a few minutes ago and he was fine
moving about arranging things and all. He was so excited about his
grandson coming to meet him,’ whispered Shamim.

Taimoor moved towards the old man he vaguely remembered as his
grandfather. He stroked the wrinkles on the old, loved face and closed
his eyes.

‘He was too happy! Too happy! Just couldn’t handle all the happiness!’
he whispered as he held up an old photograph that had been clutched in
Sid’s hand. Shamim saw it was the photograph of a young boy sitting on
Sid’s shoulders. Below the picture she saw a scrawled word: Aly!