ENGULFED IN DARKNESS – FANI AFTERMATH

Cyclone Fani is one of the rarest of rare summer cyclones to hit Odisha in 43 years. The devastation is unfathomable and unprecedented”, tweeted Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, a day after the cyclone ripped through the Odisha coast. The powerful cyclone may be gone but its impact hangs heavy. Cyclone Fani has wreaked havoc on the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people in Odisha. It has left in its wake a trail of destruction in Odisha. 

Speaking from my personal experience, the aftermath of Cyclone Fani was unbearable and terrifying!  Shattered windowpanes, sturdy trees lying flat on the roads, and downed power lines are the prominent markers of Cyclone Fani. I don’t mind stating the fact that, Puri, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack are now bald without tree cover that they once boasted of!

The heat and humidity are more palpable than before. There is no power, to add to the woes, so the city after dusk is both dark and uncomfortable. As Odisha struggles to rise to its feet, I witnessed that water and power scarcity levelled the rich-poor divide. After six consecutive nights without electricity and tortured by mosquitoes, people were reeling in the aftermath of Cyclone Fani.

Although I’m born in summer, I cannot tolerate heat. I get those small red bumps all over my body. From morning to evening, it wasn’t that painful. I listened to FM Radio throughout the day. They gave useful cyclone updates and in between played Bollywood songs. Apart from this I played card games – UNO and Bold and Chinese Checkers with my sister and aunt and sometimes alone, when no one came to my rescue!  

But at night, right after dinner, the moment I entered my room, it was terrible! My bed is right in front of the A.C. but it wouldn’t work without electricity. Mosquitoes were incessantly kissing me, adding to my woes at night! I couldn’t sleep at night. The moment I rested in bed, I was drenched in sweat. Last month, I had purchased two hand fans made out of bamboo. Those were the only saving grace at night. My mother used to fan me for nearly 3 or 4 hours so that I could sleep, but I couldn’t. I mostly slept after 4:30am and woke up at 7:30 am. It was a nightmare! I missed hopping into kitchen and preparing something delicious and getting applauded! My mother and sister handled the kitchen, so the foodie in me had to eat whatever was served, without a grumble!

Amidst all these, there was another thought at the back of my mind! It is my Birthday month, and I was apprehensive regarding the electricity being restored! Not to have a grand celebration, but to be under comfortable circumstances on my birthday was my wish! Because we were already in the grip of a cruel summer, and the lack of power had worsened the situation. But by God’s grace, electricity in my area was restored on the evening of 8th May. I was really very happy that day and we all slept peacefully that night!

I am reminded of a passage in the Bible, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” It is only the grace of Almighty Lord, that we have survived the devastating cyclone.

Putting everything back on track is the hardest thing after any natural calamity, and the recent cyclone in Odisha has been no different. Nearly eleven days after cyclone Fani battered Odisha, normal life in interior coastal towns of the state is still crippled with no electricity during most hours of the day, little water and barely any connectivity.  While the connectivity of towns with the national highways and state highways has been partially restored, the roads in Puri and Bhubaneswar are still littered with the rubble of toppled trees and razed electric poles. The unattended debris is causing inconvenience to the people in their day-to-day commute. The price of basic commodities is soaring sky high throughout the state.

I pray, our state gets timely help and normalcy is restored soon. My sincere respect to the state government for boldly administering the evacuation and restoration process. Kudos to the helping hands who are leaving no stone unturned in the restoration process even in this scorching heat!

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A ROOM IS WHERE THE HEART IS!

“My room” is my favourite place in our house. As you just read, I didn’t specify whether its bedroom or study room or any other specific room. That’s because it’s an all-in-one room for me. It’s my bedroom, my study room, and my secret activities’ room. And I lovingly call it “My Room”. This is the place I feel most comfortable and this is the place I come home to.

My room has some basic characteristics. It has a very simple decor and the only luxury item in my room is an AC, actually, it has become a necessity nowadays. My room is not loaded with pictures, but there is a wall calendar which has my photo. It was gifted by my sister a few years back. So it’s kind of a seal which signifies that the place belongs to me.

My room is white in colour, but let me tell you, I secretly wish to paint it red or any neon colour. Never mind if not now, in future I will paint it red or neon. Are you guys, smiling to yourself after reading this? Well, I get similar reactions from my mother and sister when they hear my ideas!!

The bed in my room is older than me. It is a very simple wooden bed with my two pillows. I study on my bed. From 10th Board exams to the present LLB exams, it’s been the same bed! Now, some must be wondering whether I use study tables or not or how do I manage to study on the bed. Well, it’s very simple. I do use a study table. I just drag it near my bed and it’s done. So, basically, I use the bed instead of a chair. Another reason for doing so is, I can take a nap whenever I want in between studies. At present, the study table is loaded with law books, so I bought myself a laptop table. Now its a  laptop-cum-study table. I have prepared for all sorts of exams, made different art and crafts, wrote stories, played my favourite video games and also play the guitar on my bed. It is very dear to me! Now some must be thinking, if I do all these stuffs on my bed then where do I sleep? Well, I sleep on my bed too. But these days I seldom get up from it, because since my sister is home she pulls and drags and does whatever it takes to get me out of bed! Yeah, maybe it sounds funny, but for me, it’s nothing but bullying. Poor me, Right to sleep is not mentioned in the Indian Constitution!

My room also has a blackboard. It is a 30 cm blackboard sheet that I had purchased online. I note down all important stuffs there, starting from exam dates, to-do lists, any important days or celebrating quotes after exams are over. No matter how hard I try to hide the chalks, my sister manages to scribble something funny on the blackboard.

My room is the most visited of all places in our house. It is often crowded by my uncles or aunts or cousins. All stationery items, medicines, secret snacks are found in my room. So my family members happily hop into my room to pick up the things that they require. They keep telling me I have a shop full of stationery stuffs and other goodies!

My room has seen my best and my worst moods, and in return, it gives me the space I need. I never shut myself or cut off from the outside world after entering my room. It’s just that me-time in my room re-energizes me.

There are times when the study table or shelf is in a mess. But still, I can close my eyes and pick out the stuffs I need from the so-called mess. Actually, it’s not a mess for me.

So that’s all about my room. It’s very special and very dear to me. I can never trade my room for anything else in this world because it means the world to me. For me “Room is where heart is!”

Last but not the least Thank you, Bhai for coming up with this topic.

A SNOWFLAKE’S TALE – PART XI

After returning home, Kamya rushed towards their garden. Samar and Kamya had a beautiful garden adjacent to their courtyard. “Kamya, let’s go out for dinner tonight!” Samar called out loud. Kamya didn’t reply. She simply started watering the plants. “Ohh No! I shouldn’t have discussed all those stuff in front of Kamya. I hope she gets rid of this horrific mood as soon as possible,” Samar murmured to himself, in a dejected tone.

Samar went to his room and freshened up. He knew whenever Kamya was hurt or frustrated, she spent the whole time in the garden, and sometimes she ended up overwatering her favorite white rose plant! Samar was distraught seeing Kamya upset. “What if she denies adopting Muskan?,” Sameer thought aloud. He stopped pacing to and fro in his room and hurried towards the balcony. He saw Kamya staring at her favourite white rose plant and had created nearly a pool of water. “Kamya!” Samar screamed from the balcony, but it was in vain. Samar galloped towards the garden. He shook Kamya and took the sprinkler from her hand. “Kamya, what are you doing?,” shrieked Samar. “Ohh I…I’m soorryy,..” Kamya replied faintly and briskly entered the house. Samar hurriedly cleaned the garden and sprinted into his room.

Kamya was standing near the balcony lost in thoughts. “Kamya, what is troubling you? You know we don’t hide anything from each other. So why this silence? You know I can tolerate anything except this silence of yours!,” Samar said in one breath. His eyes glinted as he spoke and there were prominent lines between his eyebrows. “I’m fine. It’s just that I am a bit tired,” Kamya replied. Samar could clearly feel the pain in her tone. Samar was about to speak but Kamya said, “It’s not about Muskan, Samar. I have given you my word, and I will keep my word. You needn’t worry.” Her voice sounded like a whispering meadow. It was Samar’s turn to remain silent. But he whispered in his heart “I have also given you my word to give you all happiness and I will definitely keep my word”.

Later that evening, after dinner Kamya retired to bed early. But Samar kept thinking about Sia. Her innocent eyes haunted Samar. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t divert his thoughts. Sia’s drawings itself proved that she was not an orphan, her mother was alive. But then why Mr. and Mrs. Shaw were defending the fact that it was her imagination. Samar was flooded with thoughts. He couldn’t sleep, he kept tossing and turning in his bed the whole night.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Shaw showed Sia’s drawings to Mr. Shaw. “Now you are showing this to me?” Mr. Shaw asked in a startling tone. “Please take a look at the drawings. Wha…What do you think? Is her mother really alive? These are casual drawings isn’t it?,” inquired Mrs. Shaw in a pensive tone. Mr. Shaw glanced at the drawings and then glanced back at Mrs. Shaw. “Keep them inside”, he said feebly. “What if Mr. Mehta again insists on taking Sia with him?,” Mrs. Shaw asked in a brittle tone. “We’ll do something about it. Please go and take rest, it’s getting late,” Mr. Shaw murmured as he retired to bed. Mrs. Shaw couldn’t sleep, she kept thinking about Sia. She didn’t want to lose her.

Early the next morning, Samar and Kamya arrived at the orphanage to take Muskan and complete the paperwork. Mr. Shaw greeted them with a beaming smile. After the paper works were over, Mrs. Shaw handed over Muskan to Kamya. Her face gleamed as she held Muskan in her arms. Samar and Mr. Shaw shook hands and they got up to leave. But instead of leaving, Samar proceeded towards the playroom calling out ‘Sia’. Mr. and Mrs. Shaw exchanged nervous glances. Mr. Shaw hurried towards the playroom. “Mr. Mehta please talk softly, children are sleeping”, said Mr. Shaw in a convincing tone.

Samar briskly walked back to the office room. “I want to take Sia with me, till her mother comes,” Samar said sharply. “Listen, Mister! We cannot hand over Sia. We have no such rules. You may leave. We have other important works,” snorted Mrs. Shaw. She somewhat sounded like a dentist’s drill. “I don’t understand why you both are trying to suppress the facts that are speaking for themselves! Can’t you see her drawings are trying to convey some message? She deserves a better home, till her mother returns. I don’t understand why you both are hesitating?,” Samar retorted. “And we don’t understand why you are showing so much interest in Sia, even after learning that we can’t just let her stay with you!,” Mrs. Shaw said in a raspy tone. Samar was about to reply but was abruptly interrupted by a sobbing sound. They stopped talking to hear distinctly.

“Mamaaa, maammmaaa,….!!” They heard soft sobbing sound followed by feeble coughs. It was Sia! Mrs. Shaw froze with alien stiffness.

A SNOWFLAKE’S TALE – PART VI

Liiiizzzaaarrddd……, rruuunnnnn, rrruuunnnnn,” shrieked and yelled Rohan, when he saw a lizard on the wall next to him. His sudden outburst had caused all the children of the Trinity Orphanage Home, to run here and there. Within few seconds, the calm and disciplined environment, turned into a chaotic one. On hearing the commotion, Mr. Shaw rushed downstairs and was greeted by a terrific topsy – turvy room. He didn’t know what to do or whom to call. Wherever he turned, he saw children shrieking and staffs running after them to ensure they do not hurt themselves. Finally he spotted that it was Rohan who was yelling at the top of his voice. He somehow managed to squeeze himself and reached Rohan. “Rohan, Rohan! Listen to me, that lizard is not even coming your way, please stop shouting. Look at me Rohan, the lizard itself got scared by the commotion and see its nowhere in sight. Please stop screaming dear, see what a mess this has become!” Rohan stopped screaming only after seeing an empty wall. It took Mr. Shaw pretty long time to settle stuffs and bring back normalcy. When he saw all the kids were engaged in some or the other activities, he quietly sneaked upstairs. “And people say kids are innocent! I think they are not kids but little monsters!!” Mr. Shaw murmured to himself as he entered his room. He was waiting to narrate the whole episode to Mrs. Shaw.

Mrs. Shaw and Mrs. Eliza had been to the local markets across the streets to fetch few stuffs for the orphanage. After about an hour, Mrs. Shaw returned. She found Mr. Shaw near the front door, lost in thoughts. Mrs. Shaw patted on his shoulder and he was startled. “Is everything okay?” asked Mrs. Shaw in a casual tone. “I really wonder how on earth do you handle these little mons….I..I… mean how you manage these kids”, Mr. Shaw said in a muffled tone pointing towards the kids. “These what??” asked Mrs. Shaw in an inquiring tone. Mr. Shaw walked away shaking his head. After handing over the stuffs to a staff, Mrs. Shaw followed Mr. Shaw to his room. And before she could ask, Mr. Shaw narrated the whole incident.

Mrs. Shaw had a hearty laugh. She imagined Mr. Shaw actually handling kids and a roar of loud hearty laughter escaped her mouth. “Ridiculous!” exclaimed Mr. Shaw in a disgusted and gravel – sprinkled tone. They were abruptly interrupted when Sushant called Mrs. Shaw. “Madam, please come down, someone is asking for you”.

Mrs. Shaw was greeted by an old man with a small packet of sweets. “Can I meet, my granddaughter?” He asked with a feeble smile. “Sure, come in. Shilpa, come dear, look who has come to meet you.” Mrs. Shaw was delighted seeing Shilpa overjoyed. She left them alone for some candid moments and moved on to check Sia. Mrs. Shaw found little Sia, in the corner of the playroom. She called out her name, but she didn’t answer. As Mrs. Shaw approached Sia, she noticed Sia had dozed off in a half kneeling position. But what caught her attention was few sheets tightly tucked under her feeble knees and some crayons scattered nearby.

Mrs. Shaw quietly signaled a staff and gently handed over Sia and she was taken to the girls’ bedroom. But Mrs. Shaw kept the papers to herself. She then went to the office room to have a look at the sheets.

There were total of three sheets of paper. It contained some sort of scribbled art by Sia. Mrs. Shaw smiled to herself when she saw the drawings. It was a sort of circular head with arms and legs jutting out of it with no torso. That’s how normally 5 year old draw. Mrs. Shaw found it to be a hilarious piece of art – pictures of people nearly start without any body at all – so the arms and legs spring straight out of the head. She was about to put them away in the cupboard. But she felt, maybe she should have a better look at those art pieces.

Mrs. Shaw arranged the sheets of paper in the order of which she had collected. In the first image there are three persons, a child and two adults. And from the figure which has stick like rays coming out from the head, Mrs. Shaw concluded it to be a male person and the other adult with longer sticks facing downwards, to be a female.

In the next image, she found there were two persons, a female and a child. But some horizontal lines on two sides and something which appeared to her like a light post. In the last image, the child was present and in front of her, was what Mrs. Shaw concluded to be some sort of door, because in the image there was only an outline drawn in front of the child.

Am I over thinking? Are these casual drawings? Or are these images conveying some sort of message?” Mrs. Shaw thought aloud as she was staring at those sheets.

I AM IN THE SPOTLIGHT – Geetmalini

To begin with, kudos to Charlie Bhai for engaging us in such an interesting quest. The moment I read his text in WhatsApp, the first thing that I was reminded of was ‘slam books’ that we used to have during our schools days.

I thank Deepa Karthik for taking out her time and framing such thought-provoking set of questions. I will answer them as honestly as possible.

So here it goes,…

  • Have you felt stuck in life?

Ans. Yes, I have felt stuck. Last year while appearing for 1st-semester exams of LLB, I had a really tough time. Legal terminology and theories came raining down on me and I went bonkers. It took me quite some while and now I have a rather clear picture in front of me regarding the course.

  • If you were given a power for a day, what would you like to do with it?

Ans. I would love to possess any superpower given for a day. I will utilise it to the fullest, without exactly harming anyone.

  • How are you inside and out? Is your outer appearance the same that you are inside?

Ans. I am the same person both inside and out. My perceptions, emotions and thoughts get reflected easily while interacting with people and dealing with various situations around me.

  • Are you open to questions or do you hold back?

Ans. I am open to questions in general but I hold back while answering questions regarding private family matters.

  • Which emotion or character best describes you?

Ans. In my opinion, the fictional character of ‘Lucy Pevensie’, from The Chronicles of Narnia series best describes me. I am very fond of The Chronicles of Narnia series. Lucy is the youngest amongst her siblings and so am I. Each time I watch the movie or read the book, I visualise Susan Pevensie as my elder sister and myself as Lucy Pevensie.

  • Do you judge people? If yes, how?

Ans. Yes, sometimes I judge people. But I have my own explanation for it. There are certain situations where I tend to judge people: Many a time people comment on a road accident blaming ‘girls’ being incapable to ride or in news debates regarding some sensitive issues when people give biased comments or accuse the innocent for political interests.

  • Apart from being a writer, what other talents reside in you?

Ans. Well apart from being a writer, I love to cook, I make sketches, I love spending hours making art and crafts, I am an ardent music lover and I can sing too. I was in the school choir from std vi – x.

  • Do you have any regrets that you miss something in your life?

Ans. In my opinion, no matter how hard we try, something or the other happily slips away through our fingers. I have no regrets in my life. I believe God has blessed me more than I deserve. I am reminded of the famous hymn “more than I deserve” by Paul Baloche.

Oh what a gift You gave, oh what a price You paid
More than I deserve, more than I deserve
Your constant faithfulness, Your every promise is
More than I deserve, more than I deserve”

  • When life gives you lemon make lemonade.. Is there any situation you made the best of it in your life?

Ans. Life gives me lemon every now and then. I am no less why to make lemonade every time. I too make lemon fudge cake, lime tart, sweet lime soda, and refreshing summer mojito. Jokes apart, I handle every tough situation prayerfully. And by God’s grace, even worst situations have turned in my favour. Bible says, Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances”.

  • A six-word story about you…

Ans. I may not be the best, but I am certainly not like the rest!

SUNBEAMS AT SUNSET – XIV

Scene – I

Major Saraansh reporting Sir!” he said in a crisp voice. “Ah! There you are. Congratulations Major” replied Brigadier Varun with a radiant face. “You did it, my boy,” he patted Major Saraansh. “Thank you, sir. Credit goes to the boys, they fought very bravely,” replied Major Saraansh delightfully. “Well Major, why don’t you take a few days off?” asked Brigadier. There was an abrupt silence from Major Saraansh. He didn’t want to answer it. But he suddenly remembered his father’s phone call. “Sir you haven’t taken any leave over the years. Would you mind joining me? I’m sure my parents will be glad to see you.” Major Saraansh said in a casual tone. Brigadier Varun gave a pensive look, but he agreed eventually.

Scene – II

What are you looking at my dear?” asked Mohan lovingly. “You look so Wizened and shrunken like a fading rose,” Sudha replied in a muffled voice. “I’m fit as a fiddle my love,” Mohan said in a funny tone. Sudha didn’t reply but she quietly kept the photo aside. They had clicked it last summer. “Will they come? I still doubt it! What do you think?” Sudha asked in a peculiar tone. Mohan didn’t reply. He got up to leave. Sudha held back his hand. “Mohan! I have never seen you this reserved! Mohan please talk to me. I can’t handle this silence. Whom do I talk to? There is no one except for you.” Sudha broke down to loud sobs. Mohan sat down holding her hand. “What can I say? Now I don’t have to think of new stories for innocent curious souls. Now I don’t have run after chirpy little begins. Now I don’t have to cuddle a crying toddler. Now I don’t have to save awfully mischievous brats from your wrath! Now I,…I… have absolutely no work! I feel doomed. All that I can offer now is silence! What can I say Sudha?” His breath stuttered as he tried to take a deep breath.

Scene – III

Hello, can I speak to Mr. Prateek?

I’m sorry he is busy at the moment,” said the voice at the other end.

Hello,.. hello… please, it’s urgent I need to talk to him. It’s about his mother.


Okay let me try,” said a reluctant voice.


Excuse me, sir, “there is a call for you.

Not now!” Prateek replied rudely.

Sir he has some information about your mother.” Prateek snatched the receiver immediately. “Hello who is it?” he asked in a crisp voice.

Your mother just survived a heart attack. All your siblings are coming, you…”

Who are you and how come you know my mother? Why should I trust you?” Prateek thundered over the phone. “Well, all your siblings are coming. It’s her last wish to meet all her children. Instead of inquiring over phone come and see for yourself.” Raman hung up smiling to himself. He knew he has belled the cat. It was his endeavour and gift for the beloved old couple.

Prateek was resting in his vanity after the shoot was over. He was waiting for his car. “What if it is true? Heart-attack! My goodness! Should I go?” He sat there lost in thoughts.

Happy Birthday to you. Happyyyy Biirrtthhhddaayy ttoooo yooooouuuuu.

Yeeeee!! Cheers!

Thank you so much, guys!

Hey mom, thank you so much, I’ll talk to you later.

Hi bhaiya, thannkkk you, where is my gift?”

Heeyyyy, thank you, my little sis! Mmuuaahhh!!” The sweet birthday melody coming from somewhere outside his vanity was distinctly audible to Prateek. It was his co-actor Khushboo’s birthday. The mellifluous celebration quietly tiptoed into Prateek’s ears. “Lucky people!” He sighed. His eyes drip with tears. Salty drops fell from his chin, drenching his shirt. It was Prateek’s Birthday as well! He was startled by the sudden honking of his car and got up to leave. But he straight away headed towards the airport.

Scene – IV

Honey! You must be hungry let’s have lunch,” Mohan said in a casual tone.

Without us!” said a bubbly voice. They turned leisurely and standing before them was a beautiful young girl. She wore a peach coloured dress with a white belt. Her hair was long and wavy. They could easily make out it was Dhara! She ran towards the old couple and hugged them tightly. Mohan and Sudha hugged her back. But Dhara could make out Mohan’s eyes were frantically searching for someone else. “Yes Pallu didi is here,” said Dhara delightfully.

As Palak stepped in, Mohan hid behind a wall. “Pallluuuu…” Sudha called out loud. Palak handed the baby to Dhara and hugged her mother. She was shaken seeing her maa weak and fragile. “Where is Alex? I,… I want to see my grandchild,” Sudha said in a single breath. Palak handed over the baby to Sudha. “Maa she is Pari,” Palak said softly. “She looks like an angel, Pallu…” She paused and looked intently at Palak and enquired, “Is everything alright between you and Alex?” Sudha asked inquiringly. “Maa, everything is fine between us… It’s just that we have shifted to India recently and he is settling his business in the new set up so he could not… He is very excited to meet you both and will be joining us soon!” Palak replied in an assuring tone. “That’s alright beta…” Sudha was relieved. Mohan too gave a similar reaction at the other end but he looked away when Palak looked at him. “Papa… Are you still angry with me?” Palak walked towards him and hugged him from behind and wept. And it was not so easy for Mohan to be hard anymore. His heart for his favourite child melted. He turned back to look at her. “Paa I am extremely sorry…” Palak said again and rested her head on his shoulder and hugged him as they both wept bringing smiles to both Sudha and Dhara’s faces.

Paa and Maa, you know…” Palak said smiling… “There’s a story behind Pari... One evening while returning from office I found her in a garbage bin near my apartment. I couldn’t help myself and picked her up. And Alex also was happy and agreed. because I have problems with my pregnancy… we were in utter sadness thinking God has closed my womb for hurting you both… But He didn’t… Pari is a blessing in our lives… since then she is a part of our life” Palak replied and they all had a very pleasant feeling about all.

Scene – V 

Two days have gone by in the presence of the little Pari. On the third day morning, there was a sharp loud knock at the door. Palak opened the door and before her stood an army officer. She came closer and clearly saw “Major Saraansh Lal” written on the badge to his left. “Maaa, Paaaa…” Palak shrieked. Mohan rushed towards the main gate. He saw a confident soldier in his uniform and a handsome young lad in his arms. “Paaaa, he is Saraansh,” said Palak with trembling lips. Mohan and Saraansh greeted each other with teary eyes. “Who is he?” asked Palak curiously. “May I come in, please?” Saraansh asked in a sharp tone. “Yes please,” Palak made way for them.

Mohan helped Saraansh as they laid the young man on the sofa. “Who is he?” Mohan questioned. Saraansh handed him a paper. It was an airport gateway pass with the name “Prateek Lal” written in it. “Prateek bhaiya!” Dhara gasped. It was a jaw-dropping moment for all except Saraansh.

Who is it, Mohan?” Sudha inquired. Everyone stared at Saraansh and he went inside to meet Sudha. “Maa it’s me,” said Saraansh softly. Sudha instantly recognized from the tone that it was her Saraansh, although he was almost unrecognizable in army uniform. They both hugged each other and broke down to loud sobs. “Maa, Prateek has also come,” Saraansh managed to speak in a choking voice. Saraansh helped Sudha to the adjacent room. Sudha sat beside him and caressed him with trembling hands. “How did you meet him? What has happened to him?” Sudha asked in one breath. “Maa, Prateek dashed with me unmindfully and was hit by a car as he turned to leave. Nothing serious no severe injury he will come back to senses soon,” Saraansh reassured.

After an hour, Prateek regained his senses. As he opened his eyes, he was greeted by this whole family. Prateek gathered himself, he didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t make eye contact with anyone. “How are you feeling, my beta?” Sudha asked Prateek in a soft tone. He just nodded.

Mohan got up from his seat and walked towards Sudha. “Well now that you have seen all of them. We shouldn’t disturb them. They are very busy people. I think they will leave in some time, let’s go inside,” Mohan said in a sarcastic tone.

Mohan please, it’s not their fault, the situation was complicated, we were also at fault, I mean it was a mess, but now we ca,…

Fault!!” Mohan abruptly stopped Sudha. “Yes, Sudha! we are at fault for spending every single penny on them to fulfil their demands! We are at fault for spending sleepless nights when they were sick! We are at fault for holding their feeble tiny hands. We are at fault for giving them the best of all that we ever had! We are at fault for loving them more than anything else! And because of this, we were sentenced with tears and loneliness. True! we are only at fault. They think they are brave and capable enough to run away from home whenever they like. How dare they? Who gave them this right? If we can nurture for babies when either they could move or express themselves, we can very well take care of ourselves. Moreover, I’m blessed with a wonderful wife who never left my side. I don’t need anything else. I’ve had enough.

All the four children were speechless. They had never seen this side of Mohan. They were struggling with their tears. Mohan turned to leave. “Paa,..” All four children called out to him at the same time. “We are sorry!” “Please Mohan!,” Sudha urged him. “What please Sudha? They are forgetting today we are old; tomorrow they will also be old. The question that we are asking they will also ask one day. Maybe then they might understand what it feels to be deserted! What it feels to be greeted by old cold walls of the house every moment,” Mohan poured his heart out.

We should have been more conscious Mohan. They have also felt dejected by our words and actions sometimes. They were young and immature Mohan. Let bygones be bygones. We have got a second chance as a family. Why should we waste it? Please forgive them, Mohan, release that burden. In the autumn of our lives, we are once again surrounded by our children. Let’s not shy away from this fortunate moment Mohan,” before Sudha could finish, all the four children hugged her and wept bitterly. Each one was apologizing in his/her own way. Sudha kissed each one of them; she held them in one hand and stretched the other towards Mohan. Mohan didn’t deny, he too came and hugged all his children tight, they hugged him back.

Scene – VI

Young man,” a sharp tone startled Raman. He turned to see it was Brigadier Varun and his wife; his parents. “Dad, I,…I was jus,…” Raman fumbled.

We’ve missed you son. I have heard everything from Saraansh. Whatever had happened was not your mistake. Let’s go home!” Raman hugged his parents tight. They kissed him back.

Concluding Scene 

Later that day, Sudha and Mohan were having tea in their balcony. “Thank you for the loving family Mohan,” Sudha said resting her head on his shoulders. “Ah! There you are. That is what I call ‘sunbeams at sunset,’ my love.” They smiled at each other. Seeing them smile, all the four children smiled at each other as the old couple happily sipped their coffee.


THE BEGINNING

Moral of the Story:
The whole dramatisation of this story is absolutely fictional and quite filmy. But behind it, we, “The Candles Online Family” have a message to convey to the whole world and that is – as children we should never bring dark shadow in the lives of our old parents instead we should always be the Sunbeams at their Sunset periods.    

SUNBEAMS AT SUNSET – X

Hey guys, look what I got!” Palak, Prateek and Dhara were strolling in their backyard, and Sudha and Mohan were out of station. Dhara ran towards Saransh in excitement. “Saransh bhaiya what-is it? Show! Show!”, Squealed Dhara encircling Saransh. By that time, Palak had already noticed a big frown on Prateek’s face. Saransh rushed towards Palak. “Pallu Didi sees, I won the Student of the Year Award.” Prateek’s frown widened on hearing this. Palak tried to pacify things and said, “That’s great congratulations bro. Okay now, come-on in and freshen up.” “No! No! Where is Maa?? I want to show-her,” hooted Saransh. “Saransh, Maa and Paa are not at home”, said Palak casually.

Ohh nooo!!! Such a special day for me and Maa and Paa are not there,” Saransh said in a dejected tone.

Idea! Let’s capture this moment and preserve it for Maa and Paa, what say?,” chirped in Dhara. “Ohh that’s a fabulous idea!,” Saransh’s face lit up.

Before Palak could stop him, Saransh rushed towards Prateek. “Hey bro come-on let’s take a pic,” said Saransh in a casual tone. Prateek didn’t Respond. Neither did he turn towards Saransh. “Hey bro,” Saransh patted on Prateek’s shoulder.

How dare you touch me?,” Prateek thundered on top of his voice. His eyes were red in a fury. The other three were left shell-shocked. “Stop your drama and don’t try to come near me,” yelled Prateek. “Prateek stop it!” Palak said with a sense of urgency in her tone. “No, you stop it!! All of you!!” Prateek howled. “Prateek relax, what’s the matter? I just…” “I told you to stay away from me, you don’t understand.” Prateek gave a sudden push to Saransh, and his Trophy fell down. “Prateek! What’s wrong?,” Saransh shrieked.

You are wrong! What do you think of yourself? Who do you think you are?? You fool Maa and get extra love and attention. You are not a genius, you are trained for everything! If I am trained, I can win trophies too. What’s the big deal? What is this show-off for?,” roared Prateek his voice cold and crisp. “Prateek stop it, please. He is elder to you. Don’t create a mess,” Palak was on the verge of crying.  “Really didi, I create a mess? We already have a readymade mess standing before us!”Prateeeeek! Mind your tongue,” Saransh had raised his hand towards Prateek. “Yes beat me, kill me rather! It’s better to die than living this suffocating life,” shrieked Prateek. “Are you out of your mind Prateek? I was jus…” Saransh tried to talk.

Yes yes go runnn, start your Drama of falling sick and all will gather around you,” Prateek mimicked satirically. “Prateek I am warning you, stop it,” said Palak firmly. “No! Why will I keep shut? Why…” Palak slapped Prateek hard. “I said stop it.” She got hold of Dhara who was already crying and signalled Saransh to get inside. Palak gave Prateek a stern look and turned to leave. “Yes! You also, you also go didi.” Prateek wept badly. Saransh stopped and turned. See I got slapped for you, go celebrate”, said Prateek in a choking tone. “You are not my brother. Don’t come near me. I wish I had no brother, I wish you were,… ” Before he could complete, Palak dragged Saransh and Dhara inside. Prateek’s words were ringing in Saransh’s ears. He was not at peace. Except for Dhara, no one ate that night.

Next morning when Palak woke up, she saw Prateek was fast asleep on the old backyard bench. She looked for Saransh, but he was nowhere. Terror gripped Palak. She searched the entire house frantically.  But all in vain. There was no sight of Saransh. Palak was Extremely tensed. As she reached out for a glass of water, she saw a white paper folded and kept underneath. Palak impulsively opened the letter.

Hi Pallu Didi. I know only you will find this letter. I never knew I was the stumbling block. I am extremely sorry. You all are not trash as Prateek said. When he calms down do tell him that I love him. He is the best brother. I love you and Dhara too.

I am going to apply for NDA. I will join the Army. I will never come in any of your ways, rather will fight for your security until my last breath. I won’t come back on my feet. But I will definitely come back wrapped in the tricolour flag.

Bye. Love you all.

PS: Please do not tell Ma and Dad about my whereabouts. I don’t want them to look for me and bring me back.”

Yes, I won’t come back. I will never come back. I will nev,…”  Major saab! Major saab! Wake up! Subedar Manoj frantically Shook up Saransh. Saransh opened his eyes and saw a terrified face. “Major saab are you alright?” Manoj asked Saransh. Saransh gathered himself and nodded. “Major saab, here, have some water. Please don’t say you won’t come back. You are a brave soldier. Victory will be ours. We will definitely succeed in the surgical strike.” Saransh just patted him and nodded. He asked Manoj to leave.

Saransh got up and freshened. The dream was still afresh. Every time-he had to go on a tough mission, he had that same dream.

That incident danced before his eyes. He sat with his face buried in his hands. He got up and reached for the landline. “I don’t know whether I will see them ever again. How much I miss them!! He could feel he was on the verge of breaking down. He held his nerves and picked up the receiver, but he could see his fingers trembling. “I wish you were not my brother!,”  Prateek’s Words rang in his ears. He kept the receiver.

“I shouldn’t disturb them.  Moreover, they must have forgotten me. Or do they remember me? Do they,..

Suddenly the door opened, and Brigadier Varun walked in. “Major, you have to report at 16:00 hrs. Get the troops ready,” there was a sense of urgency in his tone. Without a second thought, Major Saransh marched towards his troops.

Mohan dialled the Number finally. “Hel . . . Hello, can I speak to Saransh Lal?” “There is no one named Saransh here,” said the voice on the other end. “Bu.. but he had joined NDA,” butted in Mohan. “Ohh! Then he must be an ex-cadet. By now he must have been posted in some regiment,” said the person at the other end and hung up. Disappointment loomed over Mohan.

I still wonder why Saransh joined the Army when he had always dreamt of becoming a bureaucrat!,” Mohan murmured to himself.