“Chocolate?” asked Pihu offering a bar of Silk Cadbury.
“No. Thanks! Pihu you know I don’t eat chocolates, don’t you?” snapped Samar.
“Chill…chill, I just tried Ok? Just like I have been trying for last 6 years. But you don’t seem to be willing to move on.” Pihu stormed out of the room leaving Samar alone. She knew well that today Samar would want to be secluded. It has always been like that. Every year, 25th July would be a dark day. Samar would often spend the whole day without talking much and would be in a somber mood. Pihu knew what the reason was and she felt as much pain, but Samar never saw her pain bigger than his. Samar was in his own cocoon of grief and guilt. Not that he never tried to accept what had happened, but he failed every time. Life may not always give a second chance and that is exactly what Samar was regretting.
Samar was carrying immense guilt for last six years. He blamed himself for Sagar’s death. Sagar regretted not having returned home earlier than he did. He could never reason to himself why it took ten long years to muster the courage and approach his own family. So what if Amish was not his biological father, it never made Amish love him less. So what if Sagar was a step brother? Samar could never love him any less, not even today when he was dead. And what about Ruma? How could he abandon her? She had given him birth, raised him loved him so much and had saved him from his (so called) real father. What had happened if Ruma had decided to dump him in a garbage bin because she was too young to care of such a small baby all alone? What had happened if Ruma had left him to grow up with his smuggler dad? Samar couldn’t count his blessings in the form of his family and even then he estranged himself from them for ten years. He never thought about what they must be going through after he just walked away from home one night. Samar could never forgive himself for causing so much pain to the most important people in his life.
Samar continued to drown deeper in the cyclone of guilt. He regretted that the box of chocolates his mother had packed for him and that note Sagar had left inside could never reach him that day. Sagar wanted to tell him something that he couldn’t on that day when he walked away from his family. But alas, Samar would never know what it was. That secret died with Sagar. Only if he had kept his hurt aside and returned home earlier, perhaps he could have known about Sagar’s ailment earlier and could have taken him to the best of the doctors. May be, Sagar’s condition would have never deteriorated. May be Sagar could have lived more? Only if he had handled that evening when Sagar blamed him to be unfit in the family more maturely, all four of them would have never wasted 10 years of their life. Only if…. Only if… and more Only ifs! But regrets have no value. It was too late. Sagar succumbed to kidney failure on 25th July, six years ago. It was exactly one day after Samar had decided to take the Road To Home, but Sagar was gone, gone forever! His little brother had travelled to heavens and the family was incomplete once again! Samar did not get enough time to say the final goodbye! Samar wanted to apologize to Sagar for leaving him alone for 10 years, he wanted to tell him how much he had missed him all these years, he wanted to tell him how much he loved him even then, but Sagar didn’t give him a chance. Or was it destiny?
“No Ma, Samar has not had food.” Pihu was talking to Ruma on phone. Ruma would call every night to check on her son and daughter-in-law.
“Hmm… as expected. But beta, you have the dinner.” Ruma advised with a concern for Pihu.
“Yes Ma, don’t worry. I have had dinner already. Ma, it’s been 6 years and none of us have been able to do anything about Samar’s behavior. I am worried about him. I just fail to understand how to take care of him on this very day every year. I understand that it was a very big loss to the family, but how this behavior is going to help? It pains me to see him carry that guilt because it is slowly killing him Ma. He doesn’t understand that neither you nor daddy holds him responsible for Sagar’s death. He fails to understand that Sagar went away untimely not because of him but because of destiny” Pihu was pouring out her helplessness to Ruma
“I understand how tough it must be for you beta. But you are the only one who can do something really. Amish and I have attempted several times. But he never opens up in front of us. Never mind, don’t feel pressurized. Let’s hope that Samar overcomes his guilt some day!” Ruma gave up, like always!
“Hmm… Let’s hope so! I will talk to you tomorrow Ma. Don’t forget to have your medicines before going to sleep. Bye!” Unwilling to discuss further, Pihu cut short the conversation.
She went to the kitchen to make one last attempt to make Samar have dinner. She took his plate to the place she expected him to be at – right in front of Sagar’s portrait in the drawing room. Samar had switched off the lights, probably to hide the tears streaming down his cheeks. He had clasped his hands together and bowed his head down as if he was apologizing to Sagar for not being able to save him.
Pihu placed his dinner plate on a side table and hugged him tight. She couldn’t see Samar like this. Both of them couldn’t stop crying. Samar was crying for having lost his brother to the hands of destiny and Pihu was crying because she was losing her husband to the hands of guilt. They stood still for, god knows, how many minutes like that and then suddenly something struck Pihu.
She set Samar free from her embrace, turned him around wildly and said,
“Samar, Sagar is going to come back home. He is going to be with us soon. We all are going to live like one happy family again!”
“What???” shrieked Samar. “Have you gone mad? Does the dead ever rise from the grave?”
“Believe me Samar; we are going to have Sagar back. You are going to be able to jump into puddles with him when it rains – just like you did in the childhood. You are going to be able to do everything again Samar– right from waking him up to bathing him, getting him dressed and taking him to school, bringing him home, giving him lunch, making him sleep, helping him do his homework and then playing with him. You are going to have your Sagar back Samar!” Pihu spoke in one breath. She felt as if it was a Eureka moment!
Samar looked at her in disbelief and questioned, “How is it possible Pihu?”
“I am pregnant Samar. The reports say that the expected date of delivery is 15th January. Isn’t that Sagar’s birthday? Life is going to give us a second chance Samar! Sagar wants to come back home.”
And the news seemed like unburdening all of Samar’s heaviness in minutes letting Pihu know that the healing process has finally started after so long.