THE ROAD TO HOME – IV

The following morning, Samar woke up before the alarm went off. He took a quick shower to help revive himself then dressed for another day at the office. On his way, he picked up a strong cup of coffee along with a sweet bread. He had left a note for Harsh, wishing him luck in an interview he was scheduled for to move up in the company.

Samar finally made it to work and went through the stack of files left in his box. He worked diligently until it was time for lunch. Looking at his phone to see if there were any messages from his friend on how the interview went, he shut down his computer and locked the files away. Taking the elevator to the ground floor, he stepped out.  Umbrella in hand, he headed to a nearby cafe.

He was shown a seat inside by the window and gazed out at the people walking past, all intent on their own errands. He pulled the photo of the family out of his inner pocket and stared at it. He could feel his eyes burning but didn’t shed a tear. He wondered how is parents were, wondered if Sagar had stayed to take care of his parents. He had made some inquiries and knew that his parents still lived in the neighborhood but had moved to a different home. Ten years…ten long years of no contact.

The waitress brought him his sandwich and cup of coffee, asking if there was anything else she could get him. With a shake of his head, he began to eat but again was lost in thought. Over and over again he saw the look on Sagar’s face. The looks on his parents faces. Maybe he should try contacting them, send them a card at least. Their wedding anniversary was coming up, maybe he could send them a gift of some kind…the moment the idea popped into his head it wouldn’t let go.

He would search for their address when he got back to the office. Finishing his lunch, he paid his bill and made his way back to the office. Just as he settled back down into his seat his phone vibrated. It was a text message from Harsh. :: Interview went well.  They will call when a decision is made.  Did you have lunch ? ::

He couldn’t help the smile that showed on his face.  Leave it to him to ask that question. Harsh was worse than a mother hen at times.

Setting his phone down, he looked at  the files stacked neatly on his desk and took a deep breath. First things first.  He did a quick search of his parents names and found their current address. Writing it down carefully he placed the paper into his inner pocket along with the photo.

That done, he turned his attention to the files on the desk, working until it was time to go home.

Quote of the day

A mere smile is not just an extension to one’s lips but a refreshment to one’s soul.

THE ROAD TO HOME – III

Samar found himself stuck in the massive traffic jam while looking up for a shortcut. But all that he could find were crawling cars, people on two-wheelers and bikes snaking their way to the front, vendors selling oddball but attractive merchandise and a few beggars walking across the busy roads adding to the hustle and bustle of the big city as loud honking made it perfectly chaotic. He felt like the emotional chaos within him was reflected outside too. He was being restless but he knew his impatience won’t help him anyway. Finally, after a torturous hour he arrived where Harsh has summoned him, ‘the over bridge square’. Without further delay, he got out of his car and made his way to the tea stall where he saw Harsh waiting for him as he constantly glanced at his wristwatch. His spotted Harsh’s car with a flat and punctured tyre car that had been pulled and parked on to a side.

Samar bobbed his head and greeted him with half a hug and half a handshake, apologizing for being late. “Chill Yaar, its fine. Allow yourself to breathe, you are human after all, not a machine. Cut yourself some slack”, chided in Harsh with a casual grin on his face. But before he could finish, Samar dialled Tushar’s auto garage number and asked the boy to have the car repaired for him.

Harsh smirked to himself and stuffed his hands in his pockets with his coat hanging on his arm. He knew Samar was overcritical and hard on himself. It was like he was chasing something or running away from something but Harsh could never figure out exactly what.

BOOOOMMMM!!! Rumbled the thunder followed by a branched flash of lightning. And just then, a cluster of dark and clouds spread over the sky, casting a grey shadow over the city. And then fat drops of  Rain pelted them drenching and soaking them to their bones. However, they hurriedly turned around and splashed through puddles of water as they hastened to get into the car after handing over Harsha’s car key to Tushar who just arrived.

“WOW!! What a feeling!” Said, Harsh, as shook his head to get the water out of his hair. Samar looked at Harsh, he enjoyed the small things in life like a good cup of coffee or the smell of the first rain and sometimes Samar felt jealous of his capacity to stay happy for no apparent reason. To Harsh it was joy, the silvery pearls pouring from the heavens above that brought with them soothing scent of Petrichor. To Samar, it was just one more nuance in many and he felt the movies have highly glamourized rains.

“What a vision, the smell of the rain, the sound of the water, different on road, different on trees. How captivating and delightful it is to be kissed by these bewitching drops of the very elixir of life. How amusing! Isn’t it, Samar? What do you say?”, asked Harsh with a profound enthusiasm.

To Samar, they seemed like skies were crying with him, that these were the unshed tears that have been welling up inside him for a decade now. Never once he cried, and that pain has turned to a sleeping volcano that was hidden under a snowy white peak of cold and indifference. He was lost in thoughts and was busy reminiscing about his childhood days when he and Sagar used to dance around out of glee and excitement in rain, making paper boats as they turned deaf ear to their parents calling them over and over to join them in high tea with hot Pakodas and extra sweet Jalebis. His eyes blank, staring into nothingness with the sound of music in his ears as he went down the memory lane of happy days, the times of innocence, ignorance and carelessness.

“Samar? Samar??…Samar????, yelled Harsh shaking Samar by his shoulder.

“Ye..Ye…Ye…Yessss! Yessss! Harsh, what happened? Have you just said anything to me?”, replied Samar who just jolted out of his reverie.

“Are you fine, Samar? I mean, is everything alright with you? You seemed to be lost somewhere.. You are feeling unwell mate?”, enquired Harsh with a concerned and sceptical look on his face.

“No, nothing like that. I was just……Just thinking about the meeting today. Nothing to worry”, replied Samar not meeting Harsh’s eyes. 

“Hmm okay.” Harsh said and then added  “Samar……I know that you will never hide anything from me so I am not at all worried but still assuring you that I will always be there with you irrespective of the situation”, said Harsh as he gave Samar a meaningful look. 

“Yeahh, I know you here for me, in this car. And to be honest I am really doubting if you are liking the rain enough to spend the whole night in the car itself?” Samar rebuked him with a fake smile as he looked into Harsh’s eyes with a naughty look.

“Oh!!! Look, people, Samar just made a joke.” Harsh said taking a dig at Samar and they both had a laugh over it.

(Image Source: Google Inc.)

And with that little bit of laughter, they pulled into the parking of their society’s parking and went up to the flat which they shared. Bidding a goodnight to each other they went in their respective rooms. Harsh was asleep before his head hit the pillow but sleep was proving to be elusive to Samar.

Quote of the day

A clear rejection is better than a fake promise.

THE ROAD TO HOME – II

Samar returned to his room with a heavy heart. He could not concentrate on his work. He had an important presentation for the next day. He was supposed to take up his father’s business. But after that not-so-pleasant revelation, a decade ago, Samar never turned back and eventually joined the Gupta Industries. At present he was the marketing head of Gupta Industries.  Finally, Samar somehow managed to complete preparing his presentation. He set the alarm and fell asleep as he was dead tired.

Ooouucchhhh!!!”, Samar woke up with a loud shriek, next morning. “Alarm has gone off twice, and I am tired of calling out your name since half an hour, so the idea of dipping your index finger in my steaming hot tea, graced me”, said Harsh in one breath with a mischievous grin, leaving no room for Samar to backfire. Samar got up from bed with a look of disgust on his face. He secretly thanked Harsh in his heart for saving him from being late.

Harsh was Samar’s closest friend. He had shared the hostel with him, they had done internship together and were now sharing the same apartment. Harsh had always been with Samar through his ups and downs. Samar finished his daily chores and galloped for office.

He was just in time. He had a wonderful day at work. His presentation was applauded and appreciated. Samar felt relaxed and happy for a change. He was famished by the end of it all. He hastily entered a nearby café and ordered his favourite hazelnut cappuccino and smoked chicken sandwich. To his delight, his favourite sports news popped up on the TV screen of that café. Samar was glued to the TV screen and was happily munching away the sandwiches. During the interval, he got up to pay the bill but had to wait for about five minutes at the counter as there was some technical issue. As he was looking out of those big crystal clear windows, an antique mirror placed neatly over a stand, beside the window caught his attention. He stood admiring the mirror and its carvings. He was about to brush his hair, but in the process, he dropped his wallet. He immediately bent down to pick it up. A handsome young man in dark blue suit caught his attention. He picked up his wallet in a fraction of second and gazed at the mirror with eyes wide open. He again took note of the young man; he was wearing a dark blue suit, had a well-trimmed goatee, walked very briskly and he wore a crooked tie. “Crooked tie!!”, exclaimed Samar. He immediately shifted his glance to the man’s shoes. The young man wore a pair of neat sneakers with messy laces. Now Samar went more close to the mirror to have a better look, not realizing that his nose was sticking to it and there was no breathable space between him and the mirror.

Samar’s sudden bizarre behaviour brought about hilarious whispers among the café staff and other people present there. “Excuse me, sir, is there any problem with the mirror?”, a sweet voice of a café staff interrupted Samar’s observations. “Uhh!! Ohh!! N… No! I…I’m sorry”, fumbled Samar, realizing he had already become center of attention. He immediately paid the bill and ran out.

He came out and looked left and right but to his utter dismay, he found out that young man was the son of a famous celebrity! Samar shoved his hand in grave agitation. He felt plagued! He could clearly see how some kids from the café were still staring at him in bewilderment. He could feel the stiff brim of embarrassment choking him. Without further delay, he stepped on the escalator. “How come I mistook someone else as Sssaa…!! How stupid of me to behave like that!”, Samar murmured to himself. But embarrassment apart, he felt shaken within. He just couldn’t peacefully settle with the thought of going home. There was something that kept bothering him deep down.  

He didn’t go home, instead took a u-turn and headed towards his bank locker. He arrived at the bank, took the locker keys for the first time and stood in front of that locker. He could not gather enough courage to open it. His hands and feet grew cold. He could hear his heart beating. He just stared at the locker, he was not in a state to decide whether he should open it or not. Somehow he managed to open the locker. When he was reaching out for its contents, his hands trembled and he felt nauseated.

The locker contained few photographs of Samar, his parents and Sagar and few gifts that they had given him. He had safely stored them in the locker and left it untouched for a decade. With trembling hands, Samar picked up one photograph. It was a photograph of summer vacation with his parents beside him and Sagar on his shoulders with his arms wide open. It was taken in their beautiful backyard. The photo revealed the ecstatic mood and a priceless smile beaming on their lovely faces. In short, it was picture perfect. Those people, those smiles, that place and that bond was something Samar missed terribly.

(Image Source: Google Inc.)

He gently moved his fingers over the photograph, his father, his mother and Sagar! He hugged the photograph and wept bitterly. Once that first tear broke free, the rest followed in an unbroken stream. The torrent of his tears soaked through his shirt. He could silently hear himself scream. He felt engulfed in an avalanche of thoughts, queries that had no answers and felt a raging war in his head.  He felt lost, as if in the middle of nowhere.

Just then his phone rang. It was Harsh. He felt a lump in his throat and his voice cracked, still he cleared his throat and answered the call. “Samar can you pick me up from the overbridge square? My car has got a punctured tyre”, said Harsh, with a hint of urgency in his tone. “Sure,” Samar managed to answer and immediately disconnected the call. He made sure he didn’t give Harsh any hint regarding his well-kept secret. Samar wiped his face, brushed his hair, settled his suit and headed towards Harsh.

Quote of the day

 I will never let the cloud of sin darken me but will wait for GOD to show the light as a sun to my path.

THE ROAD TO HOME – I

Samar stood on the balcony of his one-bedroom rented house and sipped on the aromatic Masala tea he just made himself as he gazed down at the two children playing Hopscotch. The two boys brought a soft smile to his lips as they played and fought and then made up then and there. How simple is childhood, how short-lived are the fights, how quick we are to patch up again, shake hands, hug and get back to playing together. He was engrossed in the two kids that he even forgot to dunk his biscuits in his tea. The boy’s mother came in the balcony from the opposite building and called them up ‘Daddy was home’. They both yelled and ran up inside the multi-floor building.

Samar looked at his empty teacup and the leftover biscuits. He thought about Sagar and his own childhood. Sagar was his younger brother, but Samar was more a father to him than their Dad. Samar was seven yrs elder to Sagar, and Sagar respected him and loved him like a son respects a father. Samar used to do all his little brother’s work as both their parents were working government employees. From waking him up for school to bathing him, getting him dressed and taking him to school, he did it all. Samar used to bring him home, give him lunch, make him sleep, help him do his homework and then play with him. And in between when Samar got some time for himself, he did his daily chores, but he never had enough time to make friends, Sagar was his everything, his brother, his friend. On the other hand, Sagar was quick and easy to be friends with and had a barrage of friends.

As Sagar touched 13, he became rebellious, like most kids his age do. The hormones kicked in, and he was confused just like any other kid. Trying to figure out his real self amongst all the chaos. Samar was in his college 3rd year, and his studies were taking a toll on him, he wasn’t able to spend much time with Sagar, but he was able to notice the subtle changes in his little brother’s behaviour. Sagar started to stay indoors or outdoors but never with family. Mostly he locked himself up in his room and played his guitar. He stopped sharing anything with Samar and became somewhat of a recluse. He started to have severe mood swings and was beginning to hang out with the wrong kind of groups. Samar noticed this and tried to talk to him, but he would escape the confrontation using sarcasm as his weapon.

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One Sunday when everyone was home and were sitting in the hall having family time when Samar asked his mother “Maa, where is Sagar ?”

His mother just shrugged her shoulders and sighed with a fond smile “It was always you who knew more about Sagar and his whereabouts. I and your Dad are home only on Sundays, and we hardly see him home nowadays, except at breakfast and at dinner.”

Samar nodded and his Dad looked at him with raised eyebrows. “Are you two having any problems Samar?” he asked smoking his pipe.

Samar looked at his palms with a deep breath and said: “I don’t know Dad, but he’s been acting very oddly of late.”

His Dad leaned forward as his mother got up and went in the kitchen to prepare the evening tea for everybody. “Look, Samar, every boy his age behaves a bit radically, don’t you worry. Just because you were pretty balanced in your teenage years, and I am thankful for that, it does not means that Sagar will be balanced too. He will come around, don’t you worry.” His dad said patting his knee reassuringly. 

Samar nodded and chit-chatted with his Dad about his future studies and career. Their Dad had big dreams for them, he knew Sagar will follow his heart but Samar was the one who would do exactly as he was told. Just then they both saw Sagar come in, a cricket bat in his hand, blood dripping down his face from his forehead and soaking his white shirt.

“What happened to you, Sagar???” Samar and his father asked in unison as they both stood up and Samar ran to Sagar and frisked him to see where all he was hurt.

To his horror, Sagar pushed him back and screeched at the top of his lungs “DO NOT TOUCH ME!!!”

Samar couldn’t believe his ears but he stepped back looking at Sagar whose face was an image of fury and pain.

“What has happened Samar, why are you all bloodied? Why are you speaking to your brother in that tone?”, their Dad asked him in a booming and clear voice as he stepped between them.

“HE IS NOT MY BROTHER…..”, he yelled with hot tears flowing from his eyes and added as he broke down on his knees “AND YOU ALL ARE LIARS!!!” Samar screamed as he dissolved into tears.

Sagar couldn’t understand what was happening; he looked form his Dad to Sagar and then back at his Dad. His father’s face went pale like chalk powder, and he looked with vacant eyes at Sagar.

Samar held Sagar by his shoulders “Sagar, my dearest, brother calm down. Tell us what has happened. We are here for you. Why are you in so much anger?”

Sagar looked at Samar as though seeing him for the very first time. Samar felt intimidated. And then Sagar spewed the truth that would rot their family ties like the venom of a poisonous snake.

“Ohhh!!!! So you too don’t know like me. You too have been kept in the dark.” he said looking at his father who seemed to have lost the power of speech. “Then let me tell you what has happened. You….” he paused and drew a deep breath as though gathering enough courage “You are not my brother, you are not Dad’s son. You are from Mom’s first marriage, and you and I have been lied to all our lives. This home, this happy family is all a lie, a myth. WE ARE STEP BROTHERS!!! he yelled. “YESSS!!! You are my stepbrother; I came to know this truth from my friends Dad, who knew your birth father. I have just opened my friend’s skull when I first heard it. And he gave it back to me” Sagar said heaving as he pointed towards his own forehead and went on “I don’t wanna live in this home now. I don’t wanna live with you anymore. I am leaving.” He declared and ran to his bedroom shutting the door.

Samar felt like he had been run over by a boulder and been smashed hard enough to turn to nothing but dust. He looked at his Dad’s fallen face and knew at once that this was indeed true. He stormed to his bedroom. On the way, he saw his mother standing at the kitchen doors as she cried with her saree’s corner pressed to her mouth. He paused and gazed into her mother’s eyes. Her eyes spoke volumes, but Samar wasn’t ready to hear more right now. Everything that had been already said was too much to swallow, too much to digest and comprehend.

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A million questions ran amok through his mind as he lay on his bed looking up at the ceiling. How is that possible? Why was this kept a secret from him all these yrs? Who was his biological father? Where was he? Why his mother remarried? What shall he do now? What will become of his future now? Can he still call the man he knew to be his father as ‘Dad’? He felt like he didn’t deserve to be lying in this bed, living under this roof anymore. The home that was his own hours ago seemed like favour thrust upon his head now. He didn’t come out to eat. Every morsel of food he ate seemed like a souvenir of his Dad’s courtesy and kindness. No, not his Dad anymore. He corrected himself.

He packed his stuff in two bags, taking only his clothes, books and few bare essentials with him. Then he wrote down to write a letter.

Dear Sagar,

I am very sorry for all the hurt you had to go through because of me. I never knew this truth. Thank You, brother, for making me aware of the things to which I was oblivious all these years. You can not live with me in this home anymore. That is fair. But you are leaving this home for my sake? That is very unfair. You belong here; I am the odd one out. I am going from your lives never to come back again. Take care of yourself and please take care of Mom and Dad. Be Good.

Your Brother
Samar

He folded the letter and switched off the lights to his room. Closing the door behind him, he slid the folded note under Sagar’s bedroom door and left the place he knew as his home for since forever.

That was 10 years ago, the hurt had healed but not the pain of separation. He missed Mom, he missed Dad, but most of all he missed his little brother and his only friend, Sagar.