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U3A Writing: Chocolate Drop Gran

Dharini Parameshwaran tells the heart-warming story of the chocolate drop gran.

Humming a tuneless ditty, Bessie moved about her spotless kitchen as fast as her arthritic knees enabled her, putting the finishing touches to the cake she had just baked. She was happy as she was seeing her four young friends this afternoon. Today was Anna's sixth birthday and she had baked her favourite chocolate cake for her. Bessie iced "Happy Sixth Birthday Anna" in white icing and decorated it with cream and plenty of colourful hundreds and thousands, then stuck in six pink candles - Anna's favourite colour. She put out loads of chocolate drops into a dish and lit the oven to warm up the pastries she had baked in the morning.

Bessie was a widow and had a caring daughter who was a solicitor and looked after her financially, but didn't have the time to give Bessie the tender loving care which she so sorely missed as she yearned for family life.

She had first met Anna some time ago when she found her seated forlornly on the grass verge of the sidewalk, waiting for her parents to return. Bessie took her into her home after slipping a note into Anna's home indicating that their child was with her till they got back. She then made sandwiches for Anna who had returned from school tired and hungry, gave her a glass of ice cold milk and lastly produced a dish of chocolate drops which made Anna's eyes open wide with delight. "I love chocolate, but mum says they are too expensive, and besides they are bad for the teeth and I should eat fresh fruit which are better for me."

When Anna's mum came to collect her Bessie offered to have Anna whenever she was delayed at work, for which mum Lydia was very grateful.

Anna turned up next day with three of her friends - Clare, Erin and Fred. Bessie welcomed them all. They were refreshed with cold milk and plenty of chocolate drops and then regaled with anecdotes of her youth. She said in her youth women didn't go out to work, but stayed home to rear their children, do the household chores, and prepare meals while the menfolk prided themselves for being the bread winner of their family. The present generation live a far more interesting and challenging life, Bessie informed her young charges, but she said her generation were happy and content to be provided for and to be cherished by their men.

With each visit the kids looked forward to the never ending liberal supply of Bessie's chocolate drops which earned her the name "Chocolate Drop Gran" and that's how she is now known in the neighbourhood.

And for Bessie she had gained a family - four small children she could care for, even for a short while each day. She took great pleasure in cooking up something different to surprise them and looked forward to hearing their small feet running up her front steps and to feel thin arms winding round her neck, and to hear "I love you Chocolate Drop Gran" whispered in her ear.

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