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.    

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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.

FRAGILE – HANDLE WITH CARE – V

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It was a fine sunny morning. Sanika was dressed in her favourite blue dress with a tapered waist. The moment she turned to her left, she saw Pranay was standing. Without further delay, Sanika ran towards him. “Prrraannnnyyyyyyy,….!” Sanika’s piercing cry caught Pranay’s attention, he immediately turned towards her. “Prrraaannnnyyyyy, I’m here…” the piercing cry, pierced the air and it was followed by a loud thud! Which was followed by a louder, “oooouuuccchhhhh!!”. “Sa…ni….kaa…“, muttered Pranay, while trying to open his sleepy eyes and rubbing his right shoulder. Pranay started looking here and there; he realized he was not on his bed rather on floor. “Oh man! It was a dream!! Thank God!”, said Pranay in a relieved tone. He immediately got up and freshened up. But he was not at peace. 

Pranay still couldn’t forget the moment he first saw Sanika in Switzerland. The entire picture filmed before his eyes. “Is she the same Sanika, whom I had rejected some few years back?,” Pranay thought aloud. He could still visualize himself staring at Sanika in  the marketplace, who wore a pale yellow oriental printed dress, delicate and lacy with deep pleats. He also visualized how he controlled himself as he was shell shocked seeing Sanika in a grey skirted suit. She was so elegantly and formally dressed. “What an amazing transformation!! Back then, she used to dress like an unmade bed! But now her career, her accent, her fashion sense, her elegance, her persona, I..I.. mean, how on earth did she manage such a brilliant make-over! ” 

Did I make a mistake choosing Tanu over Sanika? Tanu keeps bossing over me! This marriage is nothing but,… How I hate bending before anyone! But this was not the case with Sanika. Two sugar coated words of love and there she was, in my arms. For outsiders we were power couple, but they knew very little about our actual relationship.” Pranay got up from his couch and started moving back and forth.“Has she forgotten me? Or do I still hold the same place in her heart?? If she is happily married, what is the reason of her drunken state?” Pranay asked himself in an inquiring tone. 

After nearly ten hours of sleep, Sanika woke up and was greeted by the worst hangover she ever had. She could barely manage to get herself up to a sitting position. She looked around the room but could hardly make out where she was through her semi-blurred vision. Somehow she managed to notice a note and some medicine and water kept near her bed. When she felt a bit better she reached for her phone. Sanika gasped when she saw hundred and twenty missed calls and loads of texts from Atul. “My Goodness!! Soo many missed calls! I hope Atul is fine… Did something happen to Anika and Anshul?” She got worried and was about to call Atul, when few texts caught her attention. She soon realized Pranay had got her to that room and even replied Atul’s texts and calls. 

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She buried her head in between her knees. “What will I do now? Atul and Pranay spoke to each other? How will I face Atul? What would he have deduced by now?? Ohhh noooo!!! This is gross!” Sanika was lost in thoughts and innumerable questions bombarded her mind. Just then her phone rang.  Sanika was startled by the sound of the ringtone. It was Atul!

Sanika couldn’t muster the courage to receive the phone. But somehow she managed with much difficulty. “Hello, Sanika?? How are you? Are you alright?”, Atul asked urgently in one breath. Sanika opened her mouth to answer, but she couldn’t find her voice. “Sanika?? Hello?? Are you listening to me?? Am I audible?? Sanika, will you please answer??” Atul was nearly talking at the top of his voice.

Yeah, I…I’m fi,..fine.” Sanika answered in a feeble tone.  “Aa..are you alright Atul?” Sarika nearly fumbled. “Yes!”, Atul replied in a reserved tone. 

It was followed by an eerie silence from both sides. 

RAISED FROM THE PIT – XIV

An infuriated Arunima hastily banged the door and went in search for Binoy. After sometime, Arnab rushed out for work. But he was in no mood for office. The fact that Binoy had left empty-handed urged him to get to the bottom of the entire matter. Arnab turned towards the traffic post where Binoy used to sell roses. However, except for an old man with few roses in his hand, there was no sight of Binoy! Arnab shoved his steering wheel in disappointment. He was about to turn and leave for office anyway but a café across the street caught his eye. “Great now I can sit there and keep a close watch on this traffic post. The moment I see Binoy, I’ll confront him”, Arnab thought aloud and entered the café.

After sometime, Arunima too arrived at the traffic post and was desperately looking for Binoy. But to her dismay, he was nowhere to be found. After waiting there for sometime, she left. “I think he must have returned there by now,” Arunima muttered. Straight from home Arunima had been to the place where Binoy resided earlier, and since she couldn’t find him, she headed towards the traffic post. Now again she turned towards that place. Arnab on the other hand had already notice Arunima. “Hmmm, so madam is on Mission Binoy, she may end up get a good shock in the end, serves her right,” Arnab chuckled.

Arunima again arrived at the same traffic post for the third time in two hours. This time she literally parked her car and was frantically on a hunting spree! Arnab saw her from the café window. He wanted to smile, but was disturbed seeing the pensive state of Arunima. “I think I should talk to her. Arunima is going crazy. I can’t see her like this. This is simply going nowhere.”  Arnab thought aloud and rushed towards Arunima.

Arunima was in a pathetic condition. It was first time in her life that she was not able to arrive at any decision.  As she turned to leave, she bumped into someone. “Oops I’m sorry,” murtured Arunima as she walked away. “Its okay,” replied Arnab politely. Arunima found the voice familiar and was shocked to see Arnab infront of her.

“Wh..what are you doing here?” Arunima asked in a sharp tone. “Aru please, don’t create a scene here, let’s go home and we can discuss,” Arnab said in a convincing tone. “There is nothing left to discuss,” Arunima replied angrily. She turned to leave but was startled to find an old man staring at her. Arunima turned her face, she was in no mood for charity.

Young lady are you searching for someone?” , the old man asked her politely. “Please mind your business,” Arunima replied rudely. Immediately Arnab interrupted, “Have you seen any 14-15 year old boy who used to sell roses here??”  With folded hands and trembling lips, that old man went near Arnab and asked , “so you are Arnab bhaiya and she is Aru Didi, and you are searching for Bi..Binoy???”  Arnab and Arunima froze in astonishment!! “Ye..yess, yess we are searching for Binoy,” Arunima suddenly felt energized.

“I knew, I knew you will definitely come looking for him. Binoy is such a gem of a person!”, that old man exclaimed! “Wait a sec! Who are you? How do you know us? And how are you related to Binoy?”, Arnab asked in one breath. “I’m his Kaka,”  Kaka replied delightedly wiping away his tears. “Binoy has told me everything that happened last night. So before you ask me anything further, I want to show you something. Please come, all your doubts will be cleared once you witness it. Please I request you to come and see,” Kaka requested Arnab and Arunima with folded hands.

Arnab and Arunima exchanged glances, not sure how to react. But they clearly couldn’t deny such a humble request. Kaka took him to the place where Binoy, Bablu and other boys resided. They parked their car at a distance as per Kaka’s request. Kaka pointed towards a water tank and signaled them to follow silently. As they neared the water tank, they could clearly hear a person screaming at the top of his voice, “That Binoy how dare he? What does he think of himself? We could have stolen so many articles from that house and he could have helped us, but no! He turned out to be a loyal dog.”  Arnab felt as if lightning struck him! Even Arunima was stunned to hear all that. Both of them stood there motionless.

Kaka smiled to himself on seeing their reaction. He knew that he had done his part. “Don’t worry Bablu, let’s go find Binoy and we will smack him good. Then, he only will take us to that place,” another voice buzzed in. “No, no first let that stupid kaka come, he will lead us to Binoy, no need to waste our energy, let’s have lunch, come on,” replied the dominating voice.

Arnab was about to confront Bablu and his group when Kaka grabbed him by his arm and stopped him. “No don’t go there, please come, I have something to tell you guys.”  Kaka, Arnab and Arunima tip – toed towards the car. “What you heard is the truth. Please don’t doubt Binoy. He can’t think of hurting his Aru Didi, even in his dream. These boys had left him with no option – either he allowed a robbery to take place or he had to leave that house forever and come back to his initial state. Binoy listened to his heart. He prevented the robbery at the cost of his dreams,” Kaka narrated with a heavy tone. “Don’t you think Binoy deserves a good future? He is innocent, please accept him again, take him and give him a better future that he deserves. I had asked your address, but he denied sharing it with me. He purposely didn’t go to the traffic post. He knew for sure that you both will come looking for him. He showed us what loyalty means. He…”  

“Where, is Binoy?”  asked Arnab. Arunima could sense the urgency in his tone. “I knew you will accept him, he..,he is on the other side of the street, the road which you never take”, replied Kaka, smiling amidst his tears.     

Arunima looked at Arnab questioningly. It was as if she was asking him “so, got your answer?”  Arnab didn’t stare back at Arunima. In fact he couldn’t. He felt guilty and ashamed too. He didn’t want to meet Binoy. “Arnab lets go, we can deal with these boys later,” chipped in Arunima. Arnab stood still, he didn’t utter a word. “Arnab please, before Binoy takes any drastic step, lets meet him,” Arunima urged Arnab. “I, I’m not sure if I can meet him. Here take the keys and you go meet him,” replied Arnab hesitantly. “Arnab please don’t create a scene here, we can discuss stuffs at home,” Arunima taunted sarcastically. They both thanked Kaka and reached the location.  They easily spotted Binoy. He was still wearing the blue striped shirt and was sitting with his face buried in his knees. A bunch of roses was lying next to him.

Arnab and Arunima went near him. “Hey, Binoy,” Arunima called out in a sweet tone. Instantly Binoy looked up and was surprised to see both of them. He got up and hugged both of them and wept bitterly. Arnab and Arunima exchanged glances. Suddenly Binoy recollected last night’s episode and immediately turned away from them wiping his eyes. “Aru Didi, bhaiya how can I help you?” asked Binoy politely.  “Come home, with us,” Arnab butted in. Which surprised Arunima and Binoy. “But bhaiya, I,..” “Ohh! common Binoy, now don’t create a scene here, we can discuss stuffs at home,”  replied Arnab in a hilarious tone. Arunima couldn’t control her laughter. Seeing Arunima smile, Binoy smiled, and seeing both of them smile, Arnab too smiled. He didn’t want a weeping fiasco, so he intentionally lightened the mood. “So Mission Binoy is finally accomplished,” he muttered to himself.  

Later that evening, Arnab met Bablu and the two other boys and talked them into starting a life of dignity. He promised them help from an NGO. They agreed after some initial hesitation.

Four precious lives were restored, all for the compassion of one woman who realised that she had been raised up from the pit and she needs to do that for someone as well!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

RAISED FROM THE PIT – V

Later that night, Arnab was pretty grave! He didn’t come out from his study even though it was past eleven. Arunima on the other hand was tossing and turning in bed.  She was not at peace. Arnab’s behavior was very disturbing. “How is my darling honey bun? Come on see what I have got for you”, this was repeatedly ringing in  Arunima’s ears. She recalled how lovingly Arnab calls out to Pihu, his best friend’s daughter. “Arnab has always loved children”, she thought aloud. “But then why this behavior?? Binoy doesn’t seem to be the kind to pester him. What, then is so disturbing for him?? He is not even discussing stuff with me. . . we have always sorted our differences. But..!!”  “I don’t think that I can blame Arnab. After all, he doesn’t know what it feels like when a homeless gets a home! He had had the luxury of residing with his parents and siblings, but not many are that fortunate.”  

Arunima was almost in tears as she recalled the first time she was brought home by Dr. Raman Kumar. Dr. Raman was a renowned English professor of IND University. Twenty-years back, a super cyclone had left Arunima homeless. She was only four then! Life seemed dark and cruel to her. One day she had wandered off from the relief camp and landed up in a nearby tea stall where Dr. Raman was happily sipping his tea. Arunima went beside him and pulled his kurta. Dr. Raman was about to ignore but the innocent look on Arunima’s face entangled him and he could not help but start interacting with her.

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Arunima was in deep trauma as she had lost everything – her parents, her house, her toys, everything was swept off!! She was unable to verbally interact with the professor. All she could do was point out towards the relief camp with a teary face. Dr. Raman followed her direction and he learned that she had wandered from the relief camp. He immediately went to the officers-in-charge and handed over little Arunima to them. Then he turned to leave. But he could not leave, he kept staring at Arunima who stared back with teary eyes.

Dr. Raman didn’t know till then that Arunima had lost her parents. He met those officers again and enquired of her parents with the intent of offering some financial help. But he was dumbfounded to learn that the little girl was now an orphan. Without a second thought he proposed that he wanted to take Arunima with him. But the officers were reluctant. After some discussion, it was agreed that Dr. Raman needed to complete  certain legal formalities for adopting the little girl. Only then could he have her.

The next morning, Dr. Raman along with his wife and lawyer arrived at the camp with the required documents and brought Arunima to his home! It was Professor Raman who had named the little girl as Arunima. The Professor and his wife had no children. When Arunima entered their lives, their joy knew no bounds. They gave her their very best in every way. Arunima was equally grateful and thanked God for blessing her with such  a wonderful family. “Whatever I am today is because of Papa and Mumma. But Arnab doesn’t even know this. I think I should tell him. I don’t know how he will react. But yes I will tell Arnab, maybe he will have a change of heart. Maybe he wont be hostile towards Binoy.”  With much anticipation, Arunima decided to discuss the matter with Arnab. 

Arnab was fuming in his study! “How will I make her understand?? What sort of a dumb woman is she?? There are many homeless children in the world. Does that mean we will bring them home?? There are orphanages, NGOs, many schemes of the Government – let them handle!! But no! She wants to be a savior for everyone! But, its not her fault actually!! How will she know how dangerous they are?? She has such a wonderful family, its beyond her understanding. She has no idea about their cruel and evil intentions.”

Arnab took a walk down the memory lane with a heavy heart. Those days when Arnab was studying in boarding school, his dad Lt. Col. Abhijeet Singh Retired from the Army. Arnab was the only child. Without him, house was completely empty. So his father had brought home Vicky, his martyred friend’s son.  When Arnab finally finished his 12th, he returned home and was greeted by Vicky. Although he didn’t like him initially, but later he liked to have a friend and a partner in every fun and crime. But who knew the evil intentions of Vicky!

Soon after Arnab returned home, Vicky began his tantrums, which was a huge surprise for Arnab’s parents. But no one objected and thought that may be it was normal for his age. One day they had been to play cricket and on the way to the playground Vicky pushed Arnab and he fell rolling down the cliff. Few friends saw this and immediately called their coach. When they went down, Arnab was nowhere to be found. They immediately called his parents. Arnab’s parents arrived and were shocked to learn the truth. They didn’t know how to react. With much difficulty Arnab was retrieved from a nearby bush, lying in a pool of blood and was rushed to a hospital.

Meanwhile Vicky, was nowhere to be found. They searched for him but he was not to be found. Doctors hesitated to take up Arnab’s case as it was a case of accident and they wanted police intervention. Arnab’s dad contacted police and also some army officers to get hold of Vicky. Meanwhile the doctor announced that Arnab was in coma!! Arnab’s parents were shocked!! They were traumatized. How could Vicky do this? He was only seventeen. “We gave so much love but this is what he gave in return”, thought Arnab’s father. 

In a while, Arnab’s dad got the message that Vicky was found and he had told in his statement that he wanted the entire property of Arnab’s parents and since Arnab was an obstruction in his way, he wanted to remove him!! His own statement landed him in trouble and he was sent to juvenile home!! Arnab recovered from coma after forty-eight days. It took quite some time for him to recover completely as he was severely injured.

  

Arnab recalled these, while staring at his scar on the right knee. He balled his hands into  his fists, in anger. He never really wanted to recall all this, but the very sight of Binoy reminded him of Vicky. He wanted to convey his feelings to Arunima. Without a second thought he threw his pen and rushed towards their bedroom.

Arunima was also on her way towards Arnab’s study.  Both were moving hastily with a sense of urgency. “Ooouucchhh, my head!!!” shrieked Arnab. It  was followed by a thud sound which startled Arnab to the core!! “My goodness, is it a thief??”, muttered Arnab in a mysterious tone. He quietly switched on the torch and flashed the light on the other person’s face to get hold of him/her. “Aaaahhhhhh!!!”, screamed Arunima and shoved off his hand, “get off my feet” she groaned!!

Arnab was even more startled to find it was Arunima and not a thief. Arunima was equally taken aback to find Arnab flashing the torch at her. Both realized that they had awkwardly dashed into each other. They were trying hard to control their smiles and focus on their bruised head and feet. Arnab settled himself and switched on the lights. “What were you doing here??”, he asked Arunima in a sharp tone. “I…I wanted to speak to you”, fumbled Arunima, still caressing her feet. Without replying anything, he helped Arunima get on feet and turned to leave. Arunima grabbed his hands and asked, “and what were you doing here??” Arnab didn’t make any eye contact. But before he could reply, Arunima said, “finish up your work and get some sleep. Remember you have an important meeting tomorrow.”  

Arunima retired to bed thinking how to approach Arnab and Arnab was on the other hand was also thinking the same.

                                         

COMING OF AGE – VI

Tanya was perplexed and she wanted to return home as soon as possible. She felt entangled in an invisible unending vicious trap and the worst part is, she had no clue how to rescue herself or who to seek help from! As if this was not enough, impassable dense traffic greeted her, only to worsen her pensive state. She felt doomed! No matter how hard she tried to focus on her steering wheel, she was all at sea. Finally after an hour’s wait, Tanya managed to reach home.  Without wasting any time, Tanya shook off her sandal and hastily entered her room, and shut the door behind her. Tanya didn’t realize instead of removing her shoes, she was dragging it inside and a paper was clumsily stuck beneath the heel of the sandal.

Maya was watching the whole episode with the patience of a saint from behind the kitchen wall. But the sight of the paper stuck to the heel, excited her and she had moved closer to take a close look at the paper before the door was shut. But all she could see was a gorgeous bride’s hand neatly placed over the safe hands of the handsome groom!! The very sight galvanized Maya and gave wings to her colorful imaginations. Unable to control her excitement, Maya zoomed towards Tanya’s room and knocked it. Maya worked as a maid at Tanya’s place. “Who’s it? I’m busy!” came a sharp reply. “Didi, its me, Maya. Please open the door. I know what you are going through. This has happened to me once. Please open the door I can help you.” Maya’s words rang in her ears. “Did she just say, something of this sort has happened to her! This means Maya has a solution for getting rid of that paan-stained man! But how on earth does Maya know what’s troubling me?  Are my eardrums playing drums?” Tanya was thinking aloud. On the other side Maya was eagerly waiting for a reply but there was no answer. “Maybe Tanya is feeling shy”, thought Maya. So she knocked the door again and said, “didi please let me in”. Convinced by her voice Tanya opened the door with a big question mark on her face. “Come inside”, snorted Tanya and gave a quick detective glance round the corner and shut the door. “Yes tell,” Tanya said in an optimistic tone. “Didi don’t feel shy, in my time it was different, but my son was telling these days it’s done differently , even in pen and paper your work can be done”.  “Pen and paper!!”  Repeated Tanya with a surprised look on her face. “Not bad! How wrong I was! Maya is not brainless, she too has a brain!  By the way she must have been quite famous in her young days. Anyways why should I bother, my work is almost done,” Tanya smirked to herself.  “Didi,” Maya startled Tanya, “whatever documents you have show it to me.” A chill ran down Tanya’s spine when she heard the word “documents”. “Has she seen those envelopes? My goodness what will I reply now! Has she read everything?” Tanya blew a gasket on Maya thinking she has messed up with her stuffs while cleaning the room.  “Who told you to touch my things without my permission? What else do you know about the envelope?” asked Tanya in a rude tone. “Didi which envelop are you talking about?” replied a bewildered Maya, already sensing she had landed up in trouble as always. “What? Have you gone insane? You only asked me to show you the document. But listen carefully, I..I’m not going to show you that envelop, get that straight! Now go from here foolish woman”, thundered Tanya. “Bu…but I’m not talking about any envelop and I don’t even know what is it”, replied Maya in a perturbed tone. “What! Then what were you talking about all this while?” asked Tanya in a surprisingly sharp tone. “Actually didi, I saw it while you entered the house, and I,.” “Saw what Maya?”, Tanya butted in! Maya abruptly pointed towards Tanya’s sandal. When Tanya looked down, she saw the delicate strap of her sandal was caught in the midst of her toes and she was flummoxed to see a Jeevan Saathi.com advertisement pamphlet stuck to her heels!! Tanya was left wide-eyed and open-mouthed as she understood the entire situation. She was at a loss of words! She immediately shook off the sandal and signaled Maya to leave the room , thus calming herself from another outburst! “But didi what did you mean by envelope? And I never touch your things while cleaning. I..” Tanya didn’t let her complete and politely asked her to leave. Maya turned to leave to leave but Tanya threatened her “don’t you dare tell mom and dad about anything that happened today!” After Maya left, Tanya wanted to laugh out loud, as the situation was so amusingly funny. But she was so exhausted she dozed off.

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Next day morning when Tanya entered college, she saw Priya and her group were giving her nasty looks. She tried her best not to focus and was frantically searching for Aditi. Finally she met Aditi and they headed for the girls common room. Since the room was full they sat in the corridor and Aditi said, “I overheard Rishi, he was talking about some weapon.” “What did you exactly hear? What weapon?” asked Tanya.  “Whoa! Now this will be a great weapon against Tanya. Tanya you are finished!!”, this is what I heard said Aditi, a sense of urgency in her tone. “What are you saying?” shrieked a scared Tanya. “I also saw bits of that envelope and letter in his hand”, said Aditi. Tanya stood up shell-shocked!! She knew Priya, Rishi and their group envied her as she was one of the best scholars. Tanya knew how revengeful they were.  Exam was round the corner and what if they play foul. She felt the ground slip beneath her feet.  Disturbing thoughts nestled her mind, because everyone knows the scar of college rivalry. “What if they tell my parents? What if they team up with that paan-stained-teeth man and harass me?”

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.

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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.