THE ROAD TO HOME – XIV

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.

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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.

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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.

THE ROAD TO HOME – XIII

The surging of emotions were so much that Samar got choked. He wasn’t expecting that he will find Sagar in this condition. All three of them were in tears as they hugged each other in happiness as well as in deep sorrow. There was happiness of Samar coming back and at the same time there was the pain of Sagar’s sudden sickness.

Sagar was unconscious for quite sometime till he got back to his senses after he was given the emergency treatment. Samar and his parents were waiting outside… sitting and praying for their child to get back consciousness and recover quick so that they all can make merry and celebrate as a whole family together after 10 long years. Ruma and Amish were just thanking God for bringing Samar at the right moment when they needed someone very close to be there to take care of all the situation that came up so sudden. At this age when they were supposed to take rest they had to rush to the hospital with their well grown up son in an emergency condition. 

He got back his consciousness but the condition is very critical… we need to discuss about something very serious and emergency as soon as possible…” The doc came out of the emergency ward and declared with a very serious voice which was unbearable for Ruma. Samar clasped her hands in his and assured that nothing will happen to Sagar and he would never let anything happen to Sagar. 

Samar asked, “Doc, may I just meet my brother once and then we can discuss about the matter… I will be looking after everything…” He declared clearly looking at the doctor as well as to his parents making them feel proud as well as relieved. And when the doctor nodded and went his way they all walked towards the room to see Sagar.

Samar’s legs and hands were cold and there’s a chilling sensation in his spine that he was feeling as he walked slowly behind his parents. He felt as if he will fall down. His emotions were making his whole body to shake in excitement. There was an amazing joy that was bubbling out of his heart with a feeling of fear and apprehension about losing his brother again. Ruma could not control herself and started sobbing at the very sight of Sagar in a very pathetic condition. She had never seen him so vulnerable and helpless before and her motherly heart was broken to pieces. Amish went ahead of them and caressed Sagar’s forehead and called his name, “Sagar… Look, who has come to meet you…” 

Samar tried to appear as soon as possible in front of his eyes before he opens it so that he can have a look at his beloved baby brother for sometime as he was scared to meet eyes with his. Sagar didn’t open his eyes immediately as he was in deep pain. He made a painful grunting sound…

Saa… Sagg… Sagerr… Beta… it’s me… Bhai…” Samar’s feeble voice hit Sagar’s ears hard and he opened his eyes wide right away and could not believe whom he saw… He was astounded completely… He was unable to express his feelings… Samar held out his younger brother’s hand as he started weeping like a child looking at him… And the atmosphere was very pathetic… Sagar was dumbfounded and was unmoved with the storms of emotions were ready to burst out of him… His tears were rolling down his cheeks… Samar bent down on his brother and wiped his tears with his fingers whispered softly, “I am back my baby bro… And I will never ever leave you again…” Samar smiled and clasped Sagar’s palms with his. Samar leaned down further to hug his brother lying on the bed and they hugged… Samar kissed his cheeks and forehead as they both wept in joy of meeting together after a decade. Samar controlled himself and sensibly so, as it was not very safe for Sagar to be too excited or emotional at that critical time. He excused himself after sometime and went to meet the doctor. 

Samar had a very thorough discussion with the doctor understanding the condition of Sagar and he had never ever imagined that he will have to go through all these all of a sudden in his life. Sagar’s kidneys were damaged and he needed a transplant within two days to live further. Samar didn’t wait for a minute and paid all the amount that was needed for the kidney and the surgery was fixed right away the very next day. The family of four was not quite feeling steady with all kinds of emotions pressing them harder from all sides making them extremely unstable. 

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The very next morning all of them were in Sagar’s room as he was getting ready to be taken inside the operation theater… He was very happy seeing his brother, his father like brother with him and his parents at this difficult time yet he wondered, “how come this man forgot every hurts that I inflicted on him 10 years ago!” He called Samar near him and softly said, “Thanks Bhai… Thanks for forgiving this idiot and being with the whole family at this time…” Samar listened to him and warned him saying, “Now, shut up kiddo… Don’t you know, ‘a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity?’” Samar gave him and the parents the hope that Sagar will be alright soon, before the nurse rolled his stretcher in the corridor towards the OT. Sagar showed his thumb to his family cheering them as he entered the OT and the door was closed. 

Samar was hopeful yet was regretting for his step 10 years ago which literally make the whole family go through such pain like this. But Ruma and Amish were happy finding their broken family coming together at last. Ruma, let her heart poured out to Samar… letting him know the secret which was hidden for years as they were waiting outside for the dreadful surgery to get over.