Arunima and Arnav both were lying on their respective side of the bed pretending to be asleep but actually lost in their own thoughts. Both were re-living their past and planning how to tell the other about it. These were such old bittersweet memories buried so deep inside their hearts that they had not shared it with their spouses also. Bringing them up had caused a huge upheaval in their minds. Arnav wanted to settle his mind first before being in a position to talk to Arunima and face the argument which he was sure was going to follow.
Arunima on the other hand was also thinking with those similar thoughts in her mind. She wanted to tell Arnav all about how her life changed when she was just 4 years old. But now she was a bit wary of Arnav, from last couple of days she was seeing a totally different side of Arnav, one she did not even know existed. It seemed that he was filled up with hatred on the sight of Binoy. There was a certain look on Arnav’s face when he was around Binoy which she did not understand. She felt that she did not know her husband as thoroughly as she thought she did.
“Anyways it was time to go to sleep, the way things are tomorrow also would be a long weary day” thought Arnav.
In the adjacent guest bedroom there was another person who was having difficulty sleeping. Binoy was standing at the window looking at the stars. During his life on the street also watching the stars was very soothing for him. He used to lie on the footpath and gaze at the stars. He knew it was a silly kiddish thought but he always felt his mother was there somewhere in the stars watching him. He felt connected with her under the star lit sky.
Today again he wanted to reach out to his mother. Just a couple of days back when Aru Di had brought him to this house he was ecstatic. This house was such a heavenly place. The bed he was sleeping in was so comfortable. This room was full of books which he always wanted to read. The almirah had so many clothes in it for him. He had never in his life owned so many pairs of trousers. Aru Di had made sure he had everything he required and more. He had a full meal after ages. He had actually forgotten what the feeling of a full stomach was. He had so much to be thankful for.
“But still I can never call this place my own.” thought Binoy. He remembered the conversation between that man Arnav and his sweet Aru Di. “He doesn’t like me. He won’t let me stay here. Why is it that such a sweet Aru Di has such a hard hearted husband” thought Binoy, “Why does he hate me? I have not done anything wrong to him.” All these thoughts were racing in his mind. But so many years on the street had taught him that people did not need a reason to hate street children. “They just did. People always believed the worst about us. Just because we are living on the street and begging or selling things at the traffic signal doesn’t mean we are thieves or cheats. We are also children we too need love!”
All three went to sleep fighting the demons within them. Next day was Sunday morning. A lazy morning. But Binoy was up early and he went out for a walk he wanted to clear his head. He had to make some tough decisions. He did not want the only person on this earth who had shown unconditional love to him to suffer. Aru Di should not suffer because of him.
While walking he didn’t realise how he reached the same streets where he used to sell flowers. It was quiet early in the morning the street was deserted. Suddenly a big grubby hand hit him on his back. “Oh! Look who is here! Our Binoy has become a total gentleman.” This was Bablu he knew even before he turned around. The two boys hugged each other. One in a smart jeans and T shirt and the other in dirty grubby clothes. But it didn’t matter to them.
Bablu was his buddy. They had slept on the streets together and talked about their dreams, they had shared their meals and on many days went to sleep empty stomachs. Bablu was the street smart guy. He behaved like a big brother to the naïve Binoy and kept him out of trouble on the street. But Bablu himself was always involved in some or the other street brawl.
They sat down near the lamp post and talked for a long time. After hearing Binoy’s story Bablu suddenly said something that took Binoy by surprise.
“They are all the same. Don’t ever trust them. They take us away from the street trying to show how noble they are and how they will love us and make us a part of their family.” Spat out Bablu. “But you know what the truth is? They can never accept us as their own. Look at that guy Arnav. He will convince his wife. Your Aru Di. She will listen to him. After all he is her husband, and throw you out one day” “No this is not true” cried out Binoy. But Bablu kept on speaking “Even if they keep you then you will be a glorified servant in their house. You will end up doing all the house work and they will not even pay you for it.” “Believe me it’s true I have been on the streets for more years than you. I have seen it happen.”
“If I were you I would go back to the house and at night pick up all the valuables and run away. Make a life for myself. Why shouldn’t we think like this if they are going to treat us like servants anyway?”
Binoy was aghast. He got up and started running away from there. Didn’t stop even when Bablu called out to him. “No this wasn’t true. Bablu is mad. He doesn’t know.”
And suddenly he stopped in his tracks “What if Bablu is right??”