Friday, October 16, 2009

Night of the Thousand Stars – Happy Diwali !!!

Dear Readers,
First of all let me take this opportunity to wish you guys a very happy Diwali. I hope you like the small story I am posting today.
Urs Truly

It was Dhanteras, the festival of the wealth god as per the hindu calendar two days before Diwali, the most auspicious day of the year. Subodh was sitting besides the newspaper hawker waiting for him to wind up his shop. Subodh was a rag picker who used to pick the old newspapers everyday in the evening and take it to the paper mart for a measly sum of ten rupees. It was his last job of the day which ensured that he would eat a meal in the night. Days when there was a press strike or a festival and there were no newspapers the next day, he had to sleep with an empty stomach. So for him festivals were nothing more than a conspiracy by god to keep him hungry. He hadn’t celebrated Diwali ever since he remembered. This Diwali was not going to be any different.
“Chhottu, take these papers.”, the newspaper vendor cried out as he closed his shop. He picked them up and opened his big gunny bag. He was barely twelve and badly malnutritioned. His elder sister was sixteen and she used to work as a maid. She used to meet him at Regal cinema every night to go to the small roadside shack near Bangla Saheb. His father and mother died long ago due to dengue and since then it has been these two fighting against all odds. His sister Sunidhi was despite her sufferings very optimistic about life. She wanted her brother to study and become a doctor one day but was never able to afford to send him off to school.
Every Diwali her employers used to give her their children’s’ old clothes and some sweets which they used to keep for the days when they didn’t have any money to buy food. Their life was in a constant spiral of poverty and there was no respite in the last six years and they didn’t expect any changes soon. That night Subodh noticed that his sister was looking paler than usual. He asked her ”What happened didi?”. “Nothing Chhottu, a little fever.”, she replied as she cooked rotis (Indian whole wheat bread).
That night she remained restless and when Subodh got up the next day, he saw that her sister wasn’t up as usual. She was down with fever and body ache. He ran to the nearby shack of Ramnath Chacha, a distant relative of theirs to tell him about her condition. Ramnath was not there but his wife Phoolwati came with some tablets to their shack and saw her burning with fever. Sunidhi tried to get up but was stopped by Phoolwati “Beti, don’t get up in this condition. You must take rest.”
“Subodh you go for work today, I will take care of Sunidhi.” She said. “But kaki, there is a party in Mrs. Verma’s house and I have to be there, she will fire me if I am not there today.” Sunidhi told her. “Don’t worry didi, I will go in your place today.” Subodh said as he looked for his cleaner set of clothes. “OK, then tell Mrs. Verma that I am down with fever .” Sunidhi told Subodh as she swallowed the medicine Phoolwati brought.
Subodh walked to Gol market to the address mentioned by her sister. Mrs. Verma was a little apprehensive initially but later she asked Subodh to do the non kitchen job during the party. “I don’t want you loitering around the kitchen, and work carefully with my Bone China”, she warned him. “OK, memsaab”, Subodh said in a swift gesture. It was going to be a long day for Subodh as the party wasn’t to end anytime before eleven. He was worried about her sister’s condition though.
Somehow he managed everything very well, and at eleven thirty that night was given some leftovers and a hundred rupees by Mrs. Verma. “Give this to your sister .”, she said. He nodded and left. Suddenly he remembered that he had to buy some medicines for her sister and went to the all night chemists near the govt hospital. As he was about to cross the road, two shining headlights suddenly washed away Subodh’s sight and he was hit by the car. The car stopped at a distance and a person with a white coat came out running towards Subodh who was lucky enough to just get some bruises. It seemed that he just missed the car and fell down. The young doctor asked him if he was all right. He nodded and tried to get up. Subodh saw that the food Mrs. Verma gave him was all over the street and the hundred rupee note in his fist was no longer there. All of a sudden, his eyes were damp and a tear fell down his cheek.
“Don’t worry, I am off duty now boy, I will get you some food.”, the doctor said. “But…but my hundred rupees, I had to buy medicines for my sister, its gone now”, Subodh cried. “We will get them too” the doctor said as he tried to help Subodh up. They moved to the nearby chemist from where they got the medicines mentioned in the small piece of paper Subodh had. Then the doctor took him to a small restaurant in the hospital complex and got some food packed for him and his sister. He asked him the place where he lived so that he could drop him there but he asked the doctor to leave him near Bangla Saheb too shy to show him the poor shack where he lived. As he came out of the car, the doctor gave him a five hundred note and asked to take care of his sister. “Happy Diwali”, he said as he closed the car door. Despite the bruises on his legs, Subodh felt happy as this Diwali they wont sleep hungry.
As he turned round the corner he saw a few drunkards shouting as they walked towards him. Somehow Subodh felt uneasy in their presence. One of the men came towards Subodh and asked him what does he has in the bags. “Please let me go, please.” He cried but the man snatched the bag from him looking inside. “Arre, he has food here. Come here I am starving.”, he shouted to others. He also saw the note in Subodh’s fist and asked him to give it to him. Subodh tried to resist but wasn’t able to when the other drunkard lifted him up. He tried to bite the man but he slapped him back and took the note away.
Subodh kept on crying as he sat on the street in the middle of the night. Fortunately the goons threw the medicines away when they took off which Subodh collected and started to move towards his shack. It was well past one in the night and the so called Diwali had already started. There were sounds of crackers in a distance but for him it was an unlucky day. He hadn’t eaten for the entire day and had no money to give back to her sister. He sat down on the footpath thinking about it. Suddenly a warm hand landed on Subodh’s shoulder. Subodh was already scared and gave a mild shout as he turned back. It was Prof. Hari, the old man who lived in the Bunglow where his sister worked. He calmed down and wished him. He told him that how some goons took his money and food away. He cried as he told him that his sister was ill and they didn’t have food for the night nor did they have any money to buy it.
“Don’t worry, beta, keep this” said Prof. Hari as he took a packet out of his Jhola characteristic of the professor and handed it to Subodh. “Don’t open it yourself, give it to your sister ” he said and started to walk. As he turned down the the lane Subodh shouted “Happy Diwali Sir!!!”. Hari smiled and vanished down the turn. Finally Subodh reached home to find his sister cooking some food for his brother. He was delighted to see her back as normal and hugged her from the back. She smiled and said “Chhottu, what have you brought for me”. He smiled and gave her the packet and said “Prof Hari gave it to me.” She was surprised to hear that but then she opened the packet. She could not believe her eyes at that moment. That Diwali was different for Sunidhi and Subodh. No one slept hungry that day, no one wore old clothes. And from the next month Subodh went to school. “Thank you Prof. Hari, may your soul rest in peace.” Sunidhi murmured as she prayed every night.

Happy Diwali !!!

1 comment:

Story Snippets said...

nice man .. i felt really happy after i read this one ..

Warning: Radioactive Content !!!

Statutory Warning : The content on this blog may appear inappropriate to some users and is highly toxic in nature. Prolonged exposure to the content may cause severe deficiency in the Medulla Oblongata of humans. The author has no responsibility for any national, organizational or personal losses that may occur to the reader after reading this blog.
The posts are chaotic in nature and reflect the moods of the author who is an eccentric person.