DEEP WITHIN – II

Punit turned back to face none other than Aman. Wearing his serene smile as always, Aman said, “Punit, please don’t feel bad about Coach’s decision. Cricket is a team game, after all. Let’s join hands to ensure that our team wins this time. Its not about ‘you’ or ‘me’; its about ‘us’.”

Punit shoved off Aman’s hand with a jerk and stomped away fuming. He was determined to get the Coach to reverse his decision. No way was he going to play under somebody else!

He got into the car and banged the door shut behind him. The driver understood that Punit was in one of his fierce tempers and so silently drove him homewards.

As usual, Punit did not find his parents at home on reaching. The housemaid opened the door and took the cricket kit from his hand. Punit flung the kit towards her and tromped up the stairs to his room.

“Leave him alone. Another of his mad days . . . wooofff . . .”, whispered the driver to the maid shaking his head.

Vikram Shah, the perfectionist business tycoon had worked hard to set up his business empire in the position that it was. A workaholic, he seldom had time for his family. Though his business was in expert hands, his dreams of spreading the business to other countries and experimenting with new ventures kept him away from home on most days. He had married Shobhna, his college sweetheart when they were twenty three. The initial years were those of financial struggles, but their love for each other kept them well-bonded.

As the business flourished, there was no dearth of luxury at home. However, there were frequent squabbles often turning into bitter exchange of words between the couple.

“When do you have time for me and the children these days?”, Shobhna had screamed just a few days before.

“Quit your job and stay at home. You will get to spend time with the children. Let a man do a man’s job. Your earnings are peanuts compared to what flows in from the business. Who needs that money anyway”, retorted Vikram as he walked away leaving Shobhna in tears.

Shobhna sat on their circular bed, tears streaming down her cheeks as she recalled a conversation of twenty five years before.

Vikram: “We need a lot of capital, darling. Where will I get that much money from? Who will trust me to loan the money? I’m a new entrant into the world of business with absolutely no experience. I don’t know what to do. I work hard, but without capital investment there is no way I can succeed”, Vikram had told her one evening dejectedly.

Shobhna: “Don’t worry. I’ll take up a job and be a security for the loan you take.”

Vikram: “Are you sure? I had made so many promises to you. I don’t know whether I will ever be able to keep them.”

Shobhna: “Don’t think too much. Two is strength. I am with you.”

And so, Shobhna started writing a few exams and was selected for a banking job which made it even easier for Vikram to get a loan for his business.

As Vikram’s business prospered, Shobhna’s career graph progressed too. She was the General Manager of the bank now, where she had joined as a Probationary Officer one day. She loved her job and had never thought to quit when Vikram’s business started flourishing. It gave her an exclusive identity and earned her respect.

Today, Vikram seemed to have forgotten everything. Yes, he was a man of principles – but his principles applied more to his work than his personal life.

Shobhna had begun to feel lonely most of the time. Trisha, their 22-year old daughter and 17-year old Punit were witnesses to the frequent arguments at home that only worsened over the years. It was impacting them. Even the driver, watchman and housemaids were aware of the constant conflicts between the couple.