I rushed down in my pajamas, with Prachi close at my heels.
We both reached, a little out of breath and a little excited.
“Did you find something?” I panted.
Om nodded, “Yes, that address you gave me, nobody stays there anymore.” He thrust the piece of paper that I had given him yesterday into my hand and turned around to leave.
“Wait!” I was a little taken aback by the abruptness of the conversation. “What do you mean, nobody stays there anymore.”
Om shot me a impatient glance. “I mean its abandoned. Whatever you’re looking for, its not there.” Then on seeing my face drop, he said gently, “Go home. ”
“No..” I whispered half to myself.
“Since when has it been abandoned?” Prachi placed a reassuring arm on my shoulder.
He shrugged, “Ten years, twenty years maybe, no one knows for sure. I think the old tenants died.”
I covered my mouth as a gasp escaped me.
“Do you have their names?” I didn’t know what Prachi was thinking, but her hand on my shoulder was extremely comforting.
Om thought for a while. “It was hmmm.. ” he paused, “Sinha, I think. Old man, stayed there with his daughter I think.”
“How old was the daughter?” Prachi asked quickly. I suddenly looked up at her, I knew what she was getting at! I looked expectantly at Om.
He scratched his head, “Well.. She was young, maybe your age or slightly older when her father died. She left soon after his death and I think the house has been abandoned since.”
We both did the math. It was quite possible that this daughter was my mum!
“Any idea what happened to the daughter?” Prachi asked.
“Why?” he asked suspiciously. “What does this family mean to you? Why are you asking so many questions about them?”
Uhhhh… I wasn’t ready to share my lineage with him. I struggled to come up with a plausible excuse instead.
“We might be related.” Prachi answered carefully. That seemed to satisfy him.
He shook his head slightly. “No, maybe the people in the neighborhood will know.”
“How did you find out? I mean. How can we be so sure, that your information is accurate?”
He almost laughed at us. “twenty years back, people used to communicate via letters. Postmen knew everything. The postman who used to deliver to that area, I know him.”
“Could we?” I looked at Prachi, she nodded. “Could we meet him? Please,” I said, as I realized he was going to say no. “Its very important.”
“No, he’s very old. He doesn’t meet anyone.” He said gruffly.
“Please..” Prachi pleaded.
“Please!” I joined in.
He looked at me and then at Prachi, probably wondering about the cause of our desperation.
“I’ll see what I can do, but no promises.” He said finally.
“Thank you!” We both chimed. By now, we knew how to get the gruff man do things for us. He couldn’t say no, when asked nicely.
We had a name now, Sinha. After all how many Sinha’s could stay on one street. As Prachi and I readied ourselves, we thought of questions that we had to ask the neighbors and the excuses to explain why we were interested.