Sunday, April 25, 2010

The miraculous glow

Agnes was getting ready to leave for her office.She was near the door putting on the shoes when her mom came running to her from behind and tapped her shoulder.Her mom was a superstitious person.She never called from behind when one was about to leave.

‘Agnes, please say a prayer to Lord before you leave’she said

‘Why, what happened? Anything you are worried about?’ asked Agnes

‘No, nothing in particular.I had a bad dream early in the morning’ she said

Both of them stood before the huge picture of the Lord and said the following prayer
‘Our Father in Heaven, Holy be Thy Name
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done
On earth as it is in Heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our sins
As we forgive those who sinned against us
Do not bring us to the test, but deliver us from evil.
Her mom smiled at her and said ‘You are a sweet girl and you always please me’

The work in the office was very tight.She had no time even for a cup of tea.She looked out.from the third floor of the seven storey building.It was dark even at 3pm and there was a heavy drizzle. She did not like it and wanted to leave for home sharp at 5pm. It was then she heard some strange rumbling sound with thuds.Soon the furniture started moving and before she could run towards the exit, the buildng started to collapse and the floor leading to the entrance to office had given away.

With great presence of mind,she went under a strong table.She heard piercing screams ,deafening noise of the entire building collapsing and the shrills of the people hit by the falling debris.The power went out and it was all covered by darkness.There was a sepulchral silence except for the wails and distant voices in muffled tone.She could not move as some heavy object lay over her.She was cramped in a small space and could not extricate her legs and one hand. .It was paining but she was not seriously hurt..She could not locate her hand bag and the mobile to contact others..Luckily the watch with luminous hands was running.It showed 7pm and there was no sign of any rescue people near her.She could hear the cranes, the fire men and the rescue team working but trapped as she was in the centre of debris she remained invisible.Her screams for help were not heard.

It was then she remembered her mother’s dream and her request in the morning for prayer.That made her recite the prayer again with all devotion.She pleaded with tears in her eyes ‘Father, I lift my hands to you. Please pour down upon me your loving grace, light, peace, mercy, protection, help, and healing. Humbly, I praise and thank you, Lord. In Jesus' Holy Name I pray. Amen.

She was thirsty and hungry but tried to remain alert.She tried hard to fight the drowsiness that was enveloping her as she did not want to end her life in a concrete grave.After what seemed an interminable wait, she heard around 11pm some voices nearby lifting hopes in her heart. With a big piece of wood or concrete covering her mouth, her shouts were not audible even to her..As she repeated the prayer again and again, she found the place was filled with unusual light that was ethereal and comforting.It was as if the Lord Himself was present there to care for her.She mumbled ‘Lord ,in you I surrender.You are my only resort ‘ as certain calmness descended on her.It was then she heard faintly the bark of some dog closeby before she passed out.

The rescue workers, who were working from above and avoided horizontal rescue , heard the dog barking.They rushed to see that It was circling around a particular area. One of the workers managed to enter through a small opening to find a glow from inside a void where a victim could remain trapped.The glow appeared as if a torch light was burning inside.It was otherwise pitch dark around..With help from others he managed to reach the place to find an outsreched hand..There was no response to his calls.. He slid his hand through the opening and felt.the hand was warm.They worked carefully using props and removing the debris ensuring that nothing collapsed on the victim.

The source of the shimmering light from the area that attracted the attention of the dog and the rescue men was inexplicable as no torch was found there when she was removed in a stretcher to the waiting ambulance..What was strange was that the miraculous glow disappeared once the rescue was completed.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Gift of love

Sunil was steady with Pinky.They were in deep love and planned to get married after she finished her post graduation course in a few months.She was busy preparing for the final semester examinations.

“Pinky, you need a break.All work makes Jane a dull girl.Let us go to the lakes and row in the moon light.It will refresh you.I will be at your hostel in five minutes.Be waiting at the gate”Sunil said on her mobile.

She changed into a light woollen for it was chilly outside and hurried down.He was waiting in his tiny red Maruti with the engine purring.She hopped in only to find herself wrapped in his sinewy arms.

“Not here.The security is watching.Let us go to lakes” she demurred.

The sky was overcast and the wind a little strong.Sunil said “We will row a short distance.It is cool and the lake is beckoning.”

They took a small manual rowing boat and went to the middle .She was leaning on his broad shoulders listening to his soft singing of the latest love tune.She in turn sang and life seeemed all rosy and beautiful.They spoke of their plans for the future after she finished her education.

It was then the wind became very strong with the small boat swaying from one side to the other and uncontrollable.”Let us go back, Sunil.I am scary”Pinky said

Sunil asked her whether she knew swimming and when she answered in the negative, he gave her the single life jacket in the boat telling her “Wear it now.I will row close to shore.You can always swim to the shore safely if something happens”

“What about you?” she asked

“I will swim my way.Don’t worry.” replied Sunil

There was blinding lightning followed by deafening thunder accompanied a gust of strong wind.The small boat toppled when they were about hundred yards from the shore of the deep lake.

Pinky reached the shore after struggling in the darkness and rain.She waited for Sunil little knowing that he did not know to swim and that the only available life jacket he gave her was his gift of love.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The silver lining

My marriage also started as a huge celebration full of hopes and dreams about the future.But I learnt very soon that the road to happy marriage was far from smooth.I still remember my dad cautioning me against my hurried choice I made.But I fell for my husband’s looks and the dimple on his cheeks.I was 22 then, rash and immature and was swept off by his magnetic charm and great physique.Within a year, bitterness and resentment grew in our hearts.Basically he was not a family man and lacked commitment to nurture relationship and willingness to accept responsibilities.An easy going man,home for him was only for sleeping with wife when he chose to without any thought of the burden it carried.His wife and her sensibilities were never on his radar..

I had lost my mom at an young age and it was my dad who brought me up with all affection and care.He did not marry again lest his attention for me would be reduced.When he became sick nad was unable to manage on his own, my hubby stoutly refused to have him with us .I was compelled to put him in a senior citizen home.Not only he did not visit him even once, he tried his best to prevent me also from meeting him.

It was a listless marriage that lasted seven years mostly due to my effort to hold it and ended when he became physically abusive after his excessive drinking habits.An uncle of mine, a lawyer by profession , helped me in getting the divorce.Luckily I had no child from this failed marriage.

It was when I joined the Japanese classes I met Hari. In the same level three as mine.He was around 35 but looked much younger for his age.Dark,tall amd muscular he exuded masculine charm.One day I noticed that he was looking at me intently and when he saw me gazing at him,he gave me a warm smile.When I returned the smile, he collected his books and came to sit by my side.Our friendship that started abruptly like this grew over the days.He was employed well and took to learning Japanese as he travelled there much on business.

He said he was a divorcee.His wife left him a couple of years ago when he objected to her meeting her old flame regularly when he was away on tours.He had a son from her aged seven years living with his parents at another town.We were meeting regularly and found Hari vastly different from my former husband in the care, concern and affection he bestowed on me.

It was the last day of the Japanese classes and he suggested that we go for dinner.I felt inwardly that it is likely to be a memorable occasion.I dressed very well for the occasion.I liked him and felt he would make a good partner for life.But there was still a nagging doubt as he had not mentioned anything about his intention to get married again.He was probably hurt by the treachery of his former wife.I was also not sure whether he would be the same after the marriage as my earlier experience was bitter.My former husband was all sweetness before the wedding but turned out to be a totally different man afterwards.I wish I had consulted my dad.

The table was already reserved in a secluded corner hidden by large pillars.I saw a large vase with a bouquet of roses as we neared the table.I liked the ambience.As he drew the chair for me to sit,which has never been done by the former, I felt like hugging him then and there.

When the maître d’ came closer, Hari requested him to get a bottle of the best wine and then leave them alone for a few minutes.He poured in two small glasses and dramatically went on his kneels before me to my embarassment and said “ I love you.Will you marry me?” I never expected this to happen with such suddenness that I wa srenedered speechless.

“What Shriya, you seem tongue tied?” he asked

I woke up from the reverie and said”Yes, I deem it a great blessing.I love you,” Tears filled my eyes as he gently slipped a diamond ring on my finger.he hugged me tightly for a few seconds.

“We will have a simple registered marriage in two days.I will take you after the dinner to the large apartment I have fixed for us.We can move in there immediately after the marriage.Let us rush through the dinner now as I have another urgent work to do along with you.”

Hari did not tell me where he was going nor did I ask him. I was leaning on his broad shoulders as he drove and was lost in blissful thoughts about the sudden proposal.Soon the car stopped and when he asked me to come out, I saw it was the senior citizens home where my dad was staying .A thought quickly crossed my mind whether any of his parents were living there But .I remembered his having said that his son with his parents.

When I looked at him in askance, he said”Yes, Shriya.We are going to your dad to seek his blessings and to inform him that he would be moving in to our house in two days.”

I was choked with emotion as I heard him and had no words for this man who was so thoughtful and caring. I started crying even as he wrapped his arms around me. I said “ Honey, do remember that we would be going to your parents too for the same purpose.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The redemption

As Naresh took the car slowly out of the gate of his complex, a small boy signalled with his hand to stop the vehicle.Naresh lowered the window glass and looked at the boy with a surprise.The ten year old boy dressed in much worn dress came near the car and said softly.”Ma wants you to talk to her today.”Naresh replied hurriedly with certain impatience in his voice “OK,I will do.”

As the car drove towards the mall, his wife Nirmala who was sitting by his side bombarded him with a spate of questions “Who is that boy? He seems from poor back ground.Why does he want you to talk to his Ma? Do you know her?”

“Yes, they are known to my family even before marriage.Possibly she needs some help.Let me find out.” replied Naresh.

She was not satisfied but kept quiet.The evening lost its charm. Even when she reached home after a few hours the question, who she was, kept haunting in her mind.The next day she happened to see her husband’s passbook on his table by chance and was intrigued to notice that he had drawn without fail Rs. 5000 each month during the first week.Her mind was riddled with all sorts of doubts and imaginary fears.

After dinner when they were watching the TV, she casually asked him “Did you meet the woman, the boy’s mom?”

Startled Naresh turned towards her and nodded his head in affirmative.

“Don’t you feel the need to take me into confidence on these secretive meetings?” she asked.” I see you draw some money from your bank each month.I don’t know what for”she added

“I understand your concern. The monthly withdrawals are towards meeting a liability. Any amount of my explanation will not satisfy you easily.I will take you tomorrow to her house when things would become clear for you.Till such time, let us not discuss this.” Naresh replied

“Why should I meet your mistress and humiliate myself further.Either you make a clean breast of all your surreptitious dealings or be prepared for losing me” she exploded

“Don’t talk crap and indulge in unfair accusaations.I am not willing to talk any further.If you wish to know more, you can come with me tomorrow” he said with finality and left for bedroom. She stayed behind seething in anger and did not follow him.She fell asleep after a long time on the sofa.

The next day they walked down the dimly lit narrow lane with cheap tenements on both sides.The lane was dirty with garbage littered all round, children defecating and the dogs running around.The boy saw them and ran to his house to alert his mom.When they entered, a woman in her forties greeted them with a namasthe and said “Welcome, young brother, we are honoured by your visit along with your wife.”

She gave a big smile to Nirmala and said “Welcome.I have no proper chair to offer you..Please sit on this stool.I am so happy to see you.You are very beautiful and make an ideal match to my bhaiyya (younger brother)” Meawnwhile one little girl of around twelve brought cool water in stainless steel tumblers.The boy was standing at the door watching them with interest.

Nirmala turned around to see an old woman lying obviously very sick on the floor with her legs folded.The house showed signs of poverty every where except in the smiles of the woman and her children.

It was then Naresh broke the silence and said”Nirmala,This lady is like my elder sister.She was happily living with her husband and children till one day I shattered their lives by my reckless act.Her husband who was on his way home was killed on the spot when my car hit him.It was no fault of his.I decided then that I would adopt this lady as my elder sister and help her bring up her family.It was a penance for me and a duty that I owed her and her children.The monthly withdrawals you noticed are the payments made to her. She called me yesterday seeking advice whether to admit her motherinlaw in a hospital.I arranged for a doctor to see her and she is better now.”

Nirmala looked at him with some confusion still writ on her face.”You could have explained all this to me instead of keeping me in the dark about what seems a laudable work.Why the secrecy,I don’t follow?” she said

“I will explain on our way back home..Let us talk to them meanwhile.” he replied

After spending some time with them exchanging pleasantries they left for home.
“Nirmala,I should have told you on my own.I was ashamed of admitting to a grievous wrong done by me lest you think poor of me.It was before our marriage.I was returning from a late night party.This man was cycling after his shift at the edge away from the main road.I was careless and talking on my mobile till the accident occurred.My dad being a senior police official ensured that I was not held responsible.But my mind was restless when I came to know about his wife ,two young children and his aged mom.I could not sleep for days with the burden of guilt sitting heavily on me..It was a conscious decision to make amends and this help is a retribution and a duty.’ he said

“What is there to be ashamed about? I am actually proud of you.”she repliied

“No,I must confess that when I drove the car I was fully drunk and unfit to drive.It was a grievous wrong.I stopped drinking from that night.It was this fact that deterred me from taking you into confidence.The weight of burden on my heart has today been lifted.I feel lighter today.”

As he stopped the car in front of his gate,she moved closer to him and kissed him softly with pride in her eyes..

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Was it a miracle?

The Chief cardiologist sent for Sevanthi’s brother in the morning after her rounds.When he met her, she said “I am sorry.I have no heart to tell her husband Sharath.that Sevanthi is not making it.It is three days since she is on ventilator support.There has been no improvement.I intend to remove it tomorrow and she may in all probability collapse immediately.You can inform your close relatives.But be careful with Sharath.He is a doting husband ,I can see. You must break the news gently to him.”

Sharath was shattered when he was informed and became very quiet.After a long pause he told his brother-in-law “Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary. Would it not be possible to request her to allow Sevanthi be in ventilator for one more day.I am praying all Gods incessantly.I hope a miracle can happen in the intervening period through His grace.”
“OK.I will meet her immediately and make a request though I am not sure what she would do,” said his brother-in-law
The chief cardiologist said” I don’t know.I will have a word with Chief anaesthetist.Frankly I feel she has lost the will to survive this time.On the earlier two occasions she fought the disease with determination and survived the crisis.”

The next day morning Sharath entered the ICU.The nurses knew the couple and had taken kindly to them.He had a big bouquet of flowers in his hand besides some packet.He gave the bouquet to the nurse and said “Today is our wedding anniversary.Please place the bouquet in a prominent place where she can see.”

The nurses who knew the seriousness of her condition wiped their tears unknown to him and kept the flowers by her side after showing it to her.She was in no position to move her head with her mouth and nose attached to several tubes.They withdrew discreetly to the sides leaving the old couple alone.

Sharath waved a big greeting card one foot long in pink colour before her and smiled at her saying “Sevanthi, can you see this? Today is our thirtyeighth wedding day.” He signalled with his hands the tying of the nuptial knot around her neck.”There was a perceptible movement in her eyes and he saw her blinking her eyes twice as if in acknolwedgment with a trace of faint smile.He then unwrapped a packet showing her a gorgeous Mysore silk sari in blue color with a zari border.She had a fancy for blue colour and always wanted one in Mysore silk.He could see her smile a little more.He clasped both his palms tightly and said ”You will be fine very soon and wear this sari after you reach home.You are getting better and I expect you to come home very soon.” He could hardly suppress the tears flowing from his eyes.

The nurse came near him and told him softly”Enough for today. She should not get excited.You may please leave now.Doctors are expected any time”

The Chief anaesthetist also pleaded successfully with the Chief cardiologist independently unaware of the developments that she be allowed to remain in ventilator for a day more and that he would gradually withdraw the support the next day watching her ability to manage with reduced support.The doctors did not fail to notice the shining flowers by her side.

It was a great surprise to both the Chief cardiologist and Chief anaesthetist to see her come out of the crisis without any adverse effect as the ventilator support was withdrawn gradually. In a couple of days she had shown remarkable recovery and was soon discharged home.

Two instances stood out in her case though it could not be said with certainty what helped her overcome the crisis.One of the nurses had gifted aunty Sevanthi with a copy of Bible which the latter had requested be placed under her pillow for His grace.It is beyond our understanding whether the loving gesture of the husband in bringing flowers, a big greeting card and a sari in colour she liked , brought about a will to live in her which the doctor had earlier felt she had lost.

Be that as it may, there are many things that are beyond the ken of human understanding that can bring about a miracle like abiding faith in God, the prayers of the dear and the power of love expressed and demonstarted in apt time. .But suffice it to say that Sevanthi lived long after the incident and wore the blue sari she liked best.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The stalker

It was already 7pm.The sky was overcast and it was dark.Sarala had to finish the urgent work that came up at the end of the day and she was now ready to leave.As she came down the office building she saw that there was a very mild drizzle not big enough to seek shelter.The road was almost empty except for passing cars. Her home was just a little more than a kilometre away and she usually walked the distance.She was happy to leave the office and to look forward to her favourite late night movie on the tube.She wished to reach home fast, have a shower and a good meal before switching on her regular serial on the TV.

Though her apartment was not very far, she had to pass through several small and narrow lanes turning right and left and even a desolate patch of ground before she reached her home. As she started walking briskly on the dark road brightened only by the street lights few and far between, she regretted having sat late in office.It was a lonely road As she walked some distance she heard the sound of foot steps behind her.She turned her head to see a young man in his early twenties walking fifty yards behind her.She hurried her steps and as she came near a small way side shop, she turned again to see if he was behind her at the same distance.Her suspicion was confirmed. She waited at the shop on the pretext of buying some chewing gums and hoping he would walk past her.But he was not to be seen.She looked back at the road and found him silhouted under a lamp post.

She decided it was safe not to linger but to hurry before the rain came. She soon turned to a lane on the right that took her through a desolate patch with no houses around except for a school within a large ground.It was darker here with several trees in that area.She could distinctly hear the steps behind her . She increased her pace and found the man following her had also increased his speed.Her heart started pounding as she saw none in the vicinity.She started almost running.One turn to the left and a furlong away was her home.She prayed to all Gods and virtually ran.

Once she reached her building, she swiftly walked to her apartment, unlocked the door and slammed it back tight.She was perspiring heavily and sank on the sofa.Luckily for her the stalker did not pursue her to her home and must have left after possibly noting where she lived. She switched on all lights, the TV and the music system too.She decided to complain to the police if it happened again. It look long time for her to go into peaceful sleep

As Sarala was coming out of her building the next morning , she heard some one call her.When she turned it was her friend and neighbour Lakshmi who said “Sarala, thank you very much.I forgot to tell you.My brother has come from our village.He is new to the city and had taken up a job near the place where you work.I showed him yesterday when you were leaving for office and asked him to wait till you leave the office and follow you.You know finding way to our house through the labyrinth of lanes is a Herculean task for a new comer..I didn’t want him to get lost.Luckily he found you leaving just when he had finished his work and quietly followed you.He told me that you walked too fast for him to keep pace with you.I should have introduced him to you in the mornng itself..”


Monday, April 12, 2010

The gambit

It was very hot and the weather was oppresive.Gupta was reading the morning newspaper reclining on his easy chair in the drawing room.His wife Savitri was busy in the kitchen cooking lunch.When he heard the door bell, he went out to the verandah that was secured by steel grills and found two men in khaki uniform standing. There was a blue colored jeep out side.They appeared to be from police.

When Gupta asked them to wait telling them that he would bring the keys to open the gate, one of the men said”This is what you should not do.How do you know we are really from police department?You should not go by the uniiform.Luckily we are from the police department.You must be aware of a spate of complaints about plain thieves posing as income tax officials and entering the houses in the day time when old people are alone.They would say they have come to search based on some complaints..When gullible people open the gate without suspecting mischief, they mesmerise them into doing whatever they wanted.. They would ask for papers, keys for almirah and the cash kept in the house The old people would realise they have been duped only after the impostors have decamped with all valuables.”

“I am aware sir” said Gupta.”But I see the jeep and both of you appear decent.It is very hot outside today and you two are perspiring a lot..Do come in and sit under the fan. I will fetch the keys,” he said.The two men thanked Gupta and smiled at each other.

Once in they sat comfortably in the sofa and said ’We are making house to house visit in the afternoons primarily to educate the senior citizens of the hazards of trusting unknown starngers and letting them in without verifying their identity cards and handing over the valuables without even making an inventory and collecting a receipt.The department is concerned about this growing menace.”

One of the two men proffered what appeared to be an identity card but Gupta waved it aside saying he trusted them .Then the other guy wanted to know how they secured their valuables, where the almirahs are kept , whether they kept cash and jewelry in the house instead of in bank lockers so that they can advise them of the precautions if any to be taken..

Gupta told them.” I will answer all your questions and show you the locations of the almirahs.Before that I would request you to have some cold drink first. Both of you have come from outside, a literal furnace”

He walked towards the kitchen and spoke audibly”Savitri, please bring two glasses of cool drink, preferably chilled lime juice for the two guests here.”

The lady soon brought in a plate two glasses of lime juice and offered them to the two cops.Thirsty as they were, they thanked her profusely and drank the cool juice with immense satisfaction.Soon there after the two persons felt drowsy and slumped into a deep slumber.

Gupta smiled at his wife.She said “I have already called 100 and the PCR van should be here any time. I knew what you wanted when you winked at me asking for juice for them. We had discussed earlier when our neighbours were duped.the strategy we would follow.”

Gupta said ’I suspected when there was no name on their uniforms.The stripes were also in different colours.The jeep had no sign or board to indicate that it belonged to police.I wanted them to be handed over to police.”

In a few minutes the PCR van arrived and took the two impostors away.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The last wish

Usha is happily married with her children well settled in life.A loving husband,a life without financial wants, a cozy home with enough domestic help, she had ample time during the day.Given to compassionate nature she visited almost daily for a few hours a near by senior citizen’s home and spent time with the ones who are very sick, attending to their needs, writing letters for them,giving them weekly magazines ,getting medicines,conveying information to relatives and odd little things that made them happy.She spent considerable amout of hers each month in carrying fruits,candies and sweets and any small things they wished for..She patiently listened to their woes knowing well that she can do little to remove them.Yet it lightened their hearts when they shared their travails with her.

The old man in the corner bed was very sick with some acute ailment.He had become very weak and his condition revealed he may not have many days to live.She spent daily considerable time with him always holding his hand with affection with him remaining mostly silent.She could see that he was sinking and the doctor had mentioned even a week earlier he would die any time.But though the life was ebbing, it did not leave him as though there was some unfinished task remained..He was often found crying with tears..

She took pity on him and talked to him consolingly though he was not in a position to comprehend her fully.One day he signalled to her to come closer to him..When she took her ear close to his mouth, he expressed a desire to see his grand daughter.He spoke with much effort panting for breath frequently.”I had one daughter.I was harsh on her when she married someone she loved without my approval.The pity was she fell in love with a good-for-nothing loafer who had decived her about his qualifications and job.In my false ego instead of helping her out of the predicament, I shut the door on her.I heard she gave birth to a girl child.I prevented my wife from meeting her.All attempts by my daughter to visit us were thwarted. She stopped contacting us. The last I heard was she died of some ailment without proper medicare after the loafer deserted her.I am not aware of what happened to the girl child and who took care of her.I heard she was taken to a village. That was about ten years back.As I am on my deathbed I would feel fulfilled and happy if I can see my grand daughter just once and give away all that belongs to me to her.Can you please help?”

Except for the names of hos daughter and her wastrel husband,he could not tell much.He had no clear idea of the name of the village and where it is situated.It was an impossible mission.He was alternating between drowsiness and some consciouness.But he was repeatedly expressing his wish.

Usha knew that unless he had the satisfaction of having seen his grand daughter, his end would not come about.. She visited two small villages with similar name but drew a blank with practically no details. His condition was becoming serious.She hit upon an idea.Her cook had a eleven year old daughter, a very smart girl and bubbly by nature.With her cook’s permission, she coached the girl what to speak to the old man, gave her the names of her supposed parents, how she died and the name of the village she was taken to. .She asked the child different plausible questions and satisfied herself about the child’s answers.

She took her next day morning to the home.”I have been luckily able to locate the village and your grand daughter though with much difficulty.It took two days of endless running around.Here is the girl.Hold her hand” she said loudly to the old man

The child took the old man’s hand and put it on her cheek and said “Thatha,I am Soundari.I never knew you were here.Luckily aunty brought me here. Hereafter I will always be with you.Can you see me clearly?”

“Can you repeat your name a little loudly, my little girl? What is your mom’s name?” he asked

“I told you thatha..Soundari is my name.Selvi is my mom’s name and dad is Anand.I don’t remember my dad.He left us when I was very young..After amma died I was with my aunt.Had I known you were there, I would have been with you.Never mind thatha, we can atleast be together from now on.”

The old man hugged the little girl with tears flowing from his eyes.”Soundari,I am very happy.I can now die in peace. I was holding my life all these days for me to see you..I was cruel to your mom.I am a wretch.You don’t have to suffer any more.This aunty will take care of you. Please give me a kiss.My heart is brimming with joy and may break any moment. Please hurry, ”he said feebly

As the girl kissed the old man, his hand that was holding her fell down and the happy spirit flew away..

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The return of the prodigal son

Vatsala was in a very happy mood as she was having her dinner with her husband Raghavan. She saw him nibbling his food with disinterest.Something obviously bothered him.He had not spoken one word since the evening when they got the call from Bharath their only son.He was lost in thoughts though she could not comprehend the reason for his being so at this happy moment.

Bharath who was brilliant in studies had got into IIT like any other talented boy.But their joy was short lived when he fell into bad ways from the end of third year.What started as fun and experimentation with some of his hostel mates soon pushed him deep into the depths of drugs.He never realised the self destructive nature of the addiction to his life and career.He started doing many despicable things which he would not have dreamt off like stealing, misappropriating the semester fees for drugs and even selling himself to women for the much needed money.Things came to the knowledge of parents and all their pleadings were of no avail.He sank lower and lower till he was expelled from the institue.He never came home and no one knew his whereabouts.
It was almost two years since their only hope of brightness and cheer in their lives was lost into the quicksands of drugs and unrealised aspirations.Their life was enveloped in sadness that held out no sign of redemption
It was in such depressing time that when Vatsala heard Bharath calling”Amma, I am coming back in a day to be with you all.I am a changed man.Please tell appa that he need worry no more and should forgive me”. Her heart leapt with joy that he had turned a new leaf and would be back with them soon.
She could hardly speak filled with emotion. “We are waiting for you all these two years.Where are you and when will you reach home? Have one word with appa,” she said but the call was cut.When she shared the good news with her hubby, his face was expressionless neither exhibiting joy nor sadness.
Vatsala asked him” Why are you bland faced like this? Aren’t you happy that our son is coming back and is a reformed man now?”
Raghavan smiled wryly and said”I am pleased no doubt.But I would prefer to wait and watch before I burst into raptures like you.Drug addicts do not change that easily”
Bharath looked haggard with sunk and bloodshot eyes, his speech was not very clear and there was a marked deterioration in his personal appearance.Luckily in his conversation with the parents after the dinner, he gave the clear impression that he was in no denial mode or in rationalising the problem he had. He was fully aware of his addiction and determined to get out it however tough and long it might take. His parents assured him that he can lean on them for encouragement, treatment and support.They were grateful to God that he had learnt his errors and aware of the mess he made with his life.
Two days later they left Bharath at home alone as they had had an appointment with the doctor in the morning.When they returned by 2pm,he did not answer the bell.Worried his dad used his key to enter and called him in vain several times by name.They found the show case open and the large silver bowl missing with the synthetic flowers strewn on the floor.He ran up to the first floor to see the almirah open and things thrown about.He found that Rs.50,000 he had always kept in cash for emergency missing.He found a costly watch also gone from the dining table.
He sank on the chair with chin cupped his hands.Vatsala worried asked him” What is wrong with you, honey? Where is Bharath? Where would he have gone? I am worried.Should you not report to police about the theft?”
“You are a fooliish woman.Can I report to the police against my own son? Let the money and things go.I am unable to bear the pain of deception.Bharath came here pretending to be good only to knock whatever things he can lay his hands on for buying his substance.He will not come back. He has not changed a weebit.I am greatly disappointed and a defeated man.I wish I had not set my eyes on him again,” Raghavan said sadly
It was then they heard the door bell.Vatsala rushed to open to find the tired Bharath waiting.As he entered Raghavan said”Stop there.You are not welcome in our house.We showed you lot of love and affection despite your errant ways only because you promised to mend your ways.It is hardly two days since you came and you have already displayed your mean and cunning nature in stealing from your own house for the wretched drugs of yours.Please go away and leave us in peace.”
Vatsala said “Don’t be rash to conclude without knowing his version.Do you think my son would have stolen and yet come back home.He is sick and needs our love and affection.I am disappointed with you and your impatience.”
The telephone rang then and Raghavan heard the Inspector of police telling him
“Thanks to the prompt information of the theft given by your son in person, we could nab the thief.The vital clue was the silver bowl and we rushed to the local pawn broker to find it there .It was then easy to nab the culprit, a regular thief, and to recover the money also.Please come to the station.”
Raghavan ashamed of himself started profusely apologising amidst sobs to his son even as he clasped his hands saying “Bharath, Please forgive me for suspecting you initially.”

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter is a promise God renews to us in each spring.
May the promise of Easter fill your heart with peace and joy!The spirit of easter is all about Hope,Love and Joyfull living.
Happy Easter!

The misfired surprise

Sharath literally doted on his wife Vasanthi.Married for four years, his world revolved around her.They were a happy couple and the love only grew stronger over the years.It was Vasanthi’s birthday the next day.She had not reminded him about it.She felt he should remember if he really loved her that much as he constantly professed.There was even a tinge of disappointment that he did not mention what he proposed to do the next day.Till last year it used to be a fun day with him planning in advance,smothering her with all gifts and taking her out for a show followed by a great dinner.There was not one hint of what awaited her the next day.Her ego would not permit her to ask him or even obliquely remind him of the occasion.

Sharath wanting to surprise her left his office early and went to her favourite shop for salwar khameez in his locality.It is only here she bought her dresses and spoke well of the shop for the good quality, wide variety and reasonable prices.Though he accompanied her to the shops, he had absolutely no idea of her likes and dislikes, the colour, the texture and the type of dresses.He would nod his head vigorously in agreement whenever she asked him whether he liked the dress.

When he was at the shop and told them he wanted firstclass salwar suits, he could not specify what he specifically desired when they asked him.They showed many from the bewildering varieties they had stocked.It was then a young lady of about the same age as his wife entered the shop.There were not many customers except these two.It was off season.She was of same build and complexion as Vasanthi.An idea struck him as to why not seek her assistance in the choice.

He went to her and said”Madam, I wonder whether you can do me a favour.Tomorrow is my wife’s birthday.I wish to surprise her with a couple of good salwar suits.I am not good at selection and actually don’t know what to buy.It is mind boggling.Would you help me select in two or three dresses?”

She smiled and said “Why not? It would be my pleasure.Tell me what stuff are you looking for, salwar or churidhar, party wear, embroidered varieties or casual?

“I leave it to you.I think she would prefer salwar. Whatever you would choose for your birthday should work out well”

“What price range?” she asked

“Price does not matter.The stuff should be good.There is no limit” Sharath replied

She smiled and said “You seem a very generous and loving husband.OK, let me select for you.”
She asked the shopkeeper to show her different varieties.She chose one and placed it on her and asked Sharath “How does this look on me? Do you like this colour.The material is good and the price can be negotiated once we decide?”

“It looks great on you.Please choose two more of a different types” he replied

She selected a few more repaetedly testing on her and asking for his approval.Finally when they had decided on the three, he asked the shopkeepr to pack.She helped him negotiate the prices as he didn’t know what they actally cost.

It was at that point a shadow crossed at the entrance and in entered Vasanthi. She had come to the market to buy some urgent provisons and entered her favourite shop to see whether they had any new design..She was surprised to see Sharath there.“Hey Sharath, you never told me you would be coming here.What brought you here?” she asked

“Nothing just came here on the way to home.Would you like to see some stuff?” he asked.

“Why not, if you wish to buy for me? “she said with a smile

When Sharath asked the shop assistant to show the varieties, the foolish assistant blurted out “Is this in addition to what you had already bought for that lady?”

“What? What are you talking about another lady” she asked in shock and turned around to see none.That lady was not to be seen when Vasanthi started talking to him.

Vasanthi asked the shop assitant whom she knew well as she was regular customer “What was it you were mentioning about the selection made already? Can I see them?”

“It is already packed in three bags after that lady chose them.She had even bargained the prices.”

When she took out the costly suits from the threebags, her rage and suspicion grew uncontrollably.She threw the dresses down in anger.

”Who is the lady for whom you bought these? Where is she? Why had she disappeared when I entered?” she asked Sharath.

“She was here a while ago. I sought her hep in choosing the dresses.She is a nice lady.I don’t know when and why she left” he spoke softly with an embarassed look

“She is a nice lady, is it? Do you know her earlier? Why did you ask me to see some stuff if you had already selected for me with the help of your lady friend? I don’t like this at all” Vasanthi asked

Sharath got angry at the shop assistant and shouted at him”What were you blabbering? How do you know I bought for her, you fool?”

This enraged the shop assitant who said “How would I know it is for our madam.That lady tried each dress and you said the dress looked great on her..Not once you said the dresses are for your wife.”

Vasanthi shouted in anger”Enough of this humilaition.I am going home. .I don’t need anything from you.If you bring them home , make sure I will throw them out”

It was at this point of ftime , the young lady emerged from the trial room and seeing the dresses she had chosen lying on the floor asked Sharath with a smile ”You were planning to keep it a surprise for your wife.How come she has seen them already?”

She came to Vasanthi and said “Happy Birth day wishes in advance. I hope you like my selections for you.”

It was then Vasanthi realised her mistake and Sharath’s wish to keep the gift a surprise.She snuggled closer to Sharath who thanked his stars for the much feared storm that vanished as quickly as it came..