The building contractor counted out- “8..9..10” and pushed the money into Charan’s hands. Charan bowed to him with exceeding happiness and utmost pleasure for having just received his first ever salary. His eyes caught the bruise on his left hand, which chanced sometime while lifting bricks all day. But for now no pain was a pain that would engulf his happiness. The clock struck 6 and the sun sank down the west which all meant that it was time to head back to his small home. He washed, tidied himself, hung his lunch carrier onto his shoulder and began walking home. He felt it heavier than usual on his shoulders and that’s when it struck to him that he had not had his lunch this afternoon. He never enjoyed his grandmother’s scolding for bringing back the lunch box untouched. He spotted a small, empty parkland to his right hand side and entered it & found himself a bench to have his 'sunset' lunch. He spread a cloth across the dusty bench, placed the lunch box on it and began eating. As he ate, he wondered what all he could do with his first earning. The first thing, he thought would be to tell grandmother that she need not work anymore. Then he thought he should save some money and buy a bicycle for himself. Meanwhile, he noticed a middle aged person with a stolid look on his face arrive and sit on the bench situated opposite to him. The weather was cold and the man was well covered with a woolen sweater and a muffler. It struck to him that he should also buy a sweater for his grandmother. He felt elated.
The old lady Lakshmi just arrived at her small home. She was tired of cleaning houses and washing vessels the whole day. She looked out for her grandson Charan if he had come back from work, but he hadn’t. She thought she should save some money and buy him a bicycle. She spread out a floor mat, and sat on it exhausted. Her weak body couldn’t handle this stress as it used to all these days, she thought. She almost fell asleep but then she got up and headed into the kitchen recollecting that Charan would return home hungry any time now.
Charan continued eating, with his mind wandering all over the place. He hardly realized that he had emptied the box and there was nothing left in the box now. That’s when he closed the box, wiped his mouth and hands, neatly folded the cloth, clinged the carrier back onto his shoulder and stood up to leave. He literally lurched out of shock when he saw the man who was sitting opposite to him, fallen down unconsciously. He hurried towards him, shook him, sprinkled some water from his bottle on him, but the man dint respond. He checked for breath and he was relieved learning that the man was breathing. He looked out if anyone were around, but no one. He ran to the gate to see if he could find help but to his bad luck, again no one in the street. The sun had departed and the road was pitch dark without the street-lights. He scanned through the left and right sides of the street. His eyes discovered a ‘Nursing-Home’ at the right end of the street. He ran back to the man and contemplated how he could carry the man to the nursing home. He could see no other option but to carry him on his shoulders. After being accustomed to carrying loads of cement bags at his work, he had it in him to carry the man over his shoulders. Doing so, he hurried along the dark street towards the nursing home.
Lakshmi had prepared a dish with whatever little she had at home. She transferred it into two plates, covered them and kept it aside waiting for Charan to arrive. She went upto the main door and sat at the entrance gazing at the sky feeling helpless about her impecunious state of living. Her home was situated in such an isolated place that mosquitoes and stray dogs were their only neighbours. A cold breeze blew and she wrapped herself tightly with her hands. She thought she should buy a woolen sweater for her grandson who would have to travel daily in this cold weather. She looked into the night sky and got immersed into thoughts.
The stretcher was brought and Charan transferred the man onto it and they rushed him inside the nursing home. Charan found a seat for himself and sat there worried. The hospital staff informed the man’s family, through the cell phone they had found in his pocket. Charan wanted to leave, but decided to wait until he heard from the doctor. Meanwhile, the man’s family arrived with worried looks on their faces. And then, the doctor came out of the room and informed the family members that he was out of danger. Charan felt relieved and then felt ambivalent if he should talk to the family members or just walk away. For a fact, he was never avaricious and dint expect favours. Since the family members were in a state of shock, Charan decided to leave. He walked hurriedly towards home as his grandmother would be worried of his late coming.
Lakshmi still sat at the door now feeling a bit tensed about Charan not yet arriving home. A small pain in her chest began but it went unnoticed, as she was worrying about her grandson. But the pain loomed larger. She felt a prick in her heart. Her breathing became harder, faster and shorter. She felt her heart contracting. With one hand on her chest she tried to stand up to fetch some water for herself. As she stood, she felt an intense pull from her heart and felt air being almost pumped out of her and within no time she collapsed and fell. She reposed with her head resting on the door frame and the rest of the body extending outside of her home.
Charan, who was walking briskly, now as he came closer to the house began sprinting excitedly. He wanted to say to her that he had saved a life today. His running stopped abruptly at the entrance of his home. His grandmother was lying there. He moved forward silently, fell to his knees, checked her breath but there was nothing. He looked around but he could find no one. He looked up at the sky, he looked left, he looked right, he stood & fluttered to and fro around her body with his legs trembling. He called out to his grandmother hoping he could get a reply. He felt numb. He let 2 minutes pass by and then walked to the door, sat next to her, lifted and rested her head on his lap and sat staring at her face. His tears dripped onto her forehead, he wiped it and said as if he was talking to her- “ I saved a life today… but ……” tears hurried through his cheeks.
First Salary. Grandmother's final journey.
( Tried something different. Let me know.)
(I had written this for Writer's Lounge. The challenge here is a 400 word limit and the theme being 'Rain'....)
On a lovely wet evening with my car’s wipers dancing in unison, I along with Anjali were speeding along a deserted road. I wondered if God had lost patience with me and had gifted me this free car wash. Anyway, as I steered along I managed a few glances towards her sitting next to me. As usually, she was lost. It was on one such rainy evening that we had hugged each other an ‘I-Love-You’. Since then, every spell of rain made me nostalgic and it gave me goosebumps. I loved rain.
It was only a while ago that she had called me and said- “ Can you pick me n take me home now?” As always, here I was, by her side. Anyway, I thought I should remind her of my existence and so said- “Hello madam! Lost into wonderland?” No reply. It wasn’t her birthday nor were we married to remember the anniversary date and all that. Anyway, she would tell me if there was something.
Also I had my own problems. Me and nature shared close associations, in the sense that every time it rains, I get a ‘Nature Call’. I spotted a public rest room, parked the car, informed her- “ I need to visit the White-House” and ran to finish my duties. I came back, pulled out my blazer from the rear seat, put it on, hit the accelerator and said- “From the White-House to Your House” and left. I felt like James Bond, with a sulky Bond girl on board.
After the ride of about an hour, which included few more of my featherbrained jokes greeted with ‘no reactions’, we reached the end of her street where I usually drop her off. In an attempt to cheer her up, I pretended to call up someone on my phone and announced- “ Hello. See, in 5 seconds Anjali is going to laugh….. 5,4,3,2,1” and I looked at her in anticipation. She pulled me over by my blazer, rested her forehead on my chest and started crying. She said - “Please drop me off at the gate.”
Something was seriously wrong. As we approached I saw people and an ambulance outside the gate. She held my hand tight with her forehead still resting on my chest- “ My mom. 2 hours ago. Heart Attack.”
Now, every time it rains, memories kill me.
“I love rain” I screamed and looked up at the rain and the sky, releasing my hands from the brake.
10 seconds later…..
I saw myself sleeping on the road as if using the pavement as a pillow. A few metres away, the motorbike was sleeping with oil leaking out. Behind it was my friend Roshan, the poor soul who was seated behind me. He too laid flat on his tummy with his hands stretched. It looked as if he was taking blessings from the road divider. We discovered that we were lucky enough to be spared with just minor bruises here and there.
Maintaining my posture, I shouted loudly- “ I love rain.”
He greeted me with stones and said- “ You and your stupid rain.”
“Sorry, the bike slipped and I couldn’t control.”
“Did you bribe to get your driving license?”
“Who said I have one?” I replied with a smile.
Anyway, before any trucks could run over us, we got up, lifted, started the bike and left. On his orders, I slipped to the back seat. It was me who had insisted on this ‘outing-when-it’s-raining’ concept. Hence I was the abuse receiver. Anyway, we continued. The ride was silent for a while.
I was loosing patience, so asked- “ Where are we heading to? Coffee Day right?”
“We would have been traveling to hell if a truck or something was behind us when we fell.” He corrected “sorry, when you made us fall.” He looked restless and said- “ We are heading straight to home where you will order for pizzas.”
“ Anything if you are paying.”
“I’m not paying. Who the hell needed this ride when it’s raining? It’s such a pain in the ass to ride on wet roads. You are paying. I hate rain.”
“Are you from Mars?”
I never get replies for such queries. Anyway, we rode along with silence. I felt like I was dancing. I mean, the way he rides the bike is above atrocious. If this guy had a driving license, what else could be more insulting for mother India?
Anyway,I was getting bored. To my left I saw a temple and asked him – “ Shall we go meet the god?”
“Shut up. One more word, and you will be on your journey to meet god in person.”
I found that line funny- Meet god in person..!! In a weird way, I actually feel much closer to god when he’s riding than when I go to a temple. I basically resemble Gandhi-ji and I follow - "No violence. Only Silence.”, so dint tell him about my feelings.
After 15 minutes, we almost reached home, and he was turning the bike into the street in Rajnikanth style.
And I shouted- “Hey.. Hey...Look out you, ass....”
10 seconds later………….
I found myself sleeping on the road with the pavement as my pillow. A few metres away, the bike was sleeping with the remaining oil leaking out. And Roshan was again taking blessings from the road divider.
Over the phone-
Me – “ Why are you following me like the ‘Hutch’ dog?”
Roshan- “ Give me an ‘Idea’ which can change my life.”
Me- “Dude, ‘Think Hatke’.”
Roshan- “I’m just Expressing Myself with my Airtel.”
Me- “I lost my ‘Virgin’ last week. Now I’ve started to wonder if I should ‘Express Myself’ or get followed by the ‘Hutch’ dog.”
Roshan- “Haha... Macha, you haven’t changed one bit. Not one bit.”
Me- “Haha. Same to you.”
This is the problem with school friends. Even, years after passing out of school within no time we end up acting like school kids.
Roshan- “ It’s been four years since we met. You comin’ tomorrow right?”
Me- “ No. I’ve got to meet this guy who cried after his senior in school, Pooja rejected his love letter.” (It was himself of course.)
Roshan- “ Haha. Fuck You. See you tomorrow.” We had fitted ourselves into the ‘spoilt kids’ category where ‘fuck you’ just means ‘Please be quiet’.
Me- “Sure. Cya.” We hung up.
The next day, a Sunday, I reached my old school gates. I was amazed to see the same watchman who was there during my time. My time doesn’t mean like a hundred years, just 6 years but even then I got that weird feeling. Today, I was in fact late by half an hour to the fixed-up time. Roshan wasn’t here yet. In our group of school friends, it was kind of an unwritten rule that the guy who came first for a meeting was the dumb guy. The number of different words with which I used to be addressed, the word ‘dumb guy’ sounded something like calling me ‘Gandhiji’(with due respect). I mean, such were the other words.
So, anyway I waited restlessly looking out for my ‘chaddi dosth’. Meanwhile, an old man asked me for directions to the shopping complex, and me- ‘Mr. Responsible Citizen’, held his hand and took him to the place. He gifted me a pen in return. I thought I should fall to his feet and take blessings, but me, ‘Mr. Shy’ just said thanks and went back to do the thing I’m so used to doing with my girl friend- Waiting. Just as I was about to get irritated I got a hard punch on my back bone and I almost fell forward coughing away. It was that damn Roshan. He said with his knuckles in pain- “Ouchh..!! My knuckles. What do you eat, you idiot?”
I was pissed off with that much pain and replied with difficulty – “ Cow dung. Aahhh…..! How hard you hit me, you asshole… Mr. Pooja.” ( As you know Pooja was his ex-senior girl friend, and Mr.Pooja was his nick name)
He hit me again, twisted my arm and said- “ What?? What?? “
I growled- “ Aaahhh..!! sorry. Mr. Roshan… Roshan.” He released my arm.
I stared at him and laughed and he stared at me and laughed. Then we shook hands and decided to take a walk. We were basically gentlemen. We did some formal enquiries, then talked about this & that and that & this. He asked me if I’m still using my cousin sister’s bicycle. I silenced him with a life threat. Through the walk, we generally talked about our school days, our teachers, life in general ( it was weird though), future, my new neighbour and so on.
We stopped at the bakery, which was our lunch time destination during school. Roshan used to preach and make us follow- “ An Apple Cake a day keeps the Doctor away.” Anyway, we bought and ate two cakes along with 300ml of insecticides, I mean Coke. We continued our walk-the-talk to our school playground and there we did sat-the-talk, what ever that is.
Though this sounds all funny and silly, we were having a great time. We were rekindling the fun of school life, which was the best part of our lives. I tell you, meeting an old friend can be the best rejuvenating experience one can have. We never know why we separate after school. Some never call, some call once a week, and then as time passes by it’ll reduce to a call per year. In a few years we ’d feel there is something missing in the jigsaw and when we meet up with those oldies (wink) it feels we’ve just found the missing block. I certainly felt it that way that day. I felt like I was 13 all over again, though my silly friends keep telling me to ‘grow up’ every now & then.
We then had lunch and left for a game of ‘Bowling’. Then roamed around, discussed matters of national importance such as – Who-is-Miss-India, he blabbered about bikes, we decided to keep meeting often followed by all such routine dialogues. We finally shook hands and decided to leave. As we were about to leave-
Roshan- “ U a ‘Virgin’?”
Me- “No. ‘Hutch’ dog.”
Roshan- “ You haven’t changed one bit. Not one bit.”
Me- “Haha. Same to you.”
On May, some date, 1999, there was a 'Tennis Ball' cricket match played between 16th main street and 18th main street. I was the Dhoni( I mean Captain) of street 16. We decided to play the match with a betting of Rs. 500. The winning team gets the 500 bucks and the man of the match ( or the child of the match) gets a trophy. The trophy was such that if I blew hard at it, it would break into pieces. But anyway, it was supposed to be a trophy. My team bowled first. We gave it the best shot using all the tricks of the trade. Thanks to me of course. I took 3 wickets, and with every wicket I jumped like I had ants inside my pants. For one second, a thought passed through my mind that I could be the captain of India some day. That can now qualify as the joke of the millenium. Anyway, then came our batting. Batting was like butter and cheese for me. I spanked them all over the place and took my team to an easy win. And I was awarded the Child Of The Match. They gave me the trophy inside which I saw it's bill which read Rs.110. Irresponsible organisers.
Anyway, I was the proudest guy that day. I went home and told mom and dad the cricket story with some masala added of course.
The reason why I pestered you with this story is to tell you that, that was the only occasion I ever got an award. Now people are giving me awards over awards. So, I check out my name twice if it was meant to be given to me or was it a typo error.
Anyway, on a serious note, I thank you Stephen & "Pretty Me" (ya again- 'Pretty You' not me) for giving me those awards. I know they are not awards, but just a token of affection, which is very kind on you people's part to pass it on to me. Thank you..!!
Well, now it's my turn to pass it on to some of my fellow, affectionate, supportive, patient[;)]bloggers. Enjoy..!!
Sunny Raju - I've known him since the time I started my blog. It was with his help that I have a blog for myself. Thanks Sunil. And not to forget his blog where he writes about various aspects of the society. Check it out..!!
Tejesh - The funny dude. His blog's full of rib tickling posts. Rock On..!!
Tara - I came across her blog recently. Lots of relatable stuff which I love to read. Keep It Going..!!
Akansha - The alrounder. She's writes almost everything from reviews to well woven stories. Check Out. Good going..!!
Neha ( Misty Rhythm) - It's always been nice reading her blog. You would be reading it and suddenly you feel you've realised something. Go on, please.!!
Chintan - He writes topics varying from social issues to Girl issues. lol. It's a fun read out there. On and on, keep it comin..!!
Stephen - I am amazed at this guy's energy towards blogging. His ( and our "_") Writer's Lounge is a wonderful place. All kinds of people and all kinds of posts is it s speciality. He's got a load of such awards already, nevertheless it's for u.
Priyanka - My new blog dosth. Sweet poems are her trademark. More and more we would like to see, so keep posting..!!
Pretty Me - Man, she writes wonderful small poems. The depth in them is truly amazing. Dil maange more !!..Keep Posting..!!
Teena - She writes poems on various social awareness topics. She's been a good mate and hope we continue to be. Post often is my order..!!
Manorath - Man, this guy can do magic with words. The way he writes & the usage of words gets me awe struck. He says he's busy and has almost stopped blogging. I really do hope he gets back to blogging.
I know, I would have forgotten a few names. After all, I'm the king of the kingdom called 'Laziness'. Please never mind. Thanks to all.