PrEm Ji

FATHER (Short story)

 

FATHER

 

Now-a-days, I love Fridays very much! Because, it is on Fridays we reunite as a family again, that too after four days of separation! Our children live with their grandma. Wife and I, we work at different places, some two hundred kilometers apart from them. Life is like that! And if you wish to be happy in life, accept it as it is!

It was again a Friday, nearly one month back ... I had been waiting for my wife at Trivandrum Railway station since around six thirty in the evening. Three evening tabloids made the 'waiting' joyful. I love to read tabloids as they give wonderful ideas for any writer! I settled on to one of the long chairs in the platform. Nobody dared to sit near me as my mustache and body language resembles to that of a high ranking Police official, except mosquitoes and bugs! A boon in disguise!

Sometimes, reading is a very dirty habit! Her train arrived and people scattered away like waves receding to the sea after a Tsunami. And the funniest thing was… I was not all aware of the surroundings, except an article written by my friend, about increasing rate of alcoholic addiction among call girls! Customers seemed to be crazy of making them being drunk and having violent sex with 'sweat smelling' night Jasmines! What an extensive research he had done for that report!

‘Great!’

‘Really great!’ my wife shook me back to senses. ‘If I was there in the position of his wife, I would have registered a petition for divorce by now’

‘I am sorry... Come… Shall we have a cup of coffee?’ (Crazy girl was not all caring for me!) ‘What shall we get for the children?’ I tried to change the subject.

‘Let’s go home as early as possible… Kids might sleep off,’ the deep longing of a mother to hug her kids was clear in her voice.

‘I won't get even a hug tonight... you bastard!’ I cursed the tabloid reporter.

Usually, I used to listen to her wonderful stories during those one hour long bus journeys. Writers are crazy people, they may find a poem or a story even when their dear and near are in death bed! She was totally silent on that Friday, just by burying herself deep into those three tabloids.

‘Tonight is going to be another fasting night!’ I cursed the woman from whom I purchased those tabloids and closed my eyes. I was not blessed with sleep, how could I? The scent of a ‘dear woman’ can throw any man to sweet madness, that too after some days of separation!

‘Premji… did you see this?’

‘What?’

‘A teenage girl died, on the spot, hit by a car…. Very near to our house… You know her family very well’

‘No... I didn't’

‘How will you see that... when doing research on call girls?’ her temper was not going to subside! 

I was standing in front of that vegetable shop, immediately opposite to my friend's Photostat shop, on the next day morning. The steel pipes which supported his veranda were bent and the compound wall of the house, next to his shop looked demolished by a massive impact! 

‘Hi... Premji,’ Sam touched my shoulders.

‘Hi... Sam’

Every shop remained closed that day in honour of the departed girl. Sam rolled up the shutters and started taking some photocopies, paying homage to her. 

‘Premji... usually, she comes inside when she accompanied her friends to take photocopies of class notes... but... yesterday, she just waited outside... and that bastard rammed his car on to her... poor girl was crushed in between the car and that wall...,,’ he pointed toward the broken wall where red ants were still moving around her semi-dried blood... blue in colour... ‘Luckily, I was saved as we used to stand there during free time’

‘Was he drunk?’

‘That bastard... was full tight! Heavily drunk... you know... he lost control while preparing a drink... that too while driving! And that son of a bitch, escaped during that confusion,’

‘Sam... One of his relatives... a policeman... tried to remove alcohol bottles from the car, it seems...,,’ I tried to share a piece of information.

‘He tried... but... he was caught ready-handed by our youngsters... they bashed him to pulp! Bastard! Lawmakers are bloody lawbreakers most of the times…’

Sam was busy sticking those photocopies on walls. Her spotless innocent face on them remains as an everlasting scar in my mind.

‘Premji... I couldn't sleep a single moment yesterday... Whenever I tried to close my eyes, I could see her vomiting blood by calling ‘Achchaaa... (faaather....)’... Just three times... she vomited blood and closed her eyes... she was only...just fifteen... My hands still smell her blood...,,’ Sam smelled the gum-clad right hand. 

‘Such bastards have to be thrown behind the bars for a minimum of fourteen years... rigorous imprisonment’

‘Yes... bastards have to sweat out even their bones!’ Sam told out his solidarity.

Suddenly an ambulance appeared on the main road.

‘She is back,’ Sam told painfully.

Forty five year old Sugathan and his wife cried aloud as their one and only child Meena slept forever, on a narrow desk, decorated with expensive flowers which she couldn't even have imagined when she was alive. Her face, unharmed, resembled another red Rose and her crushed bosom remained like a trough where her pains were deep buried!

‘Madam, where shall I dig the grave?’ Johnson, the gravedigger, asked our local body member politely.

That simple question pierced everyone's mind like a harpoon! She walked around the shack, two or three times, to find a suitable place. But, unfortunately she was not successful in that attempt as Sugathan had only seven hundred square-feet of land as that of his own! That too, land without any document! 

‘There is no space at all... So... shall we bury her inside the house,’ she asked us, totally confused. 

‘Madam... we can bury her, here,’ gravedigger Johnson suggested, pointing towards the door-steps in front of that thatched shack. ‘But, it won't be possible to get out of the house without crossing her grave!’ he felt so sad as if someone had punctured his heart forever.

Boys from the local Arts and Sports Club distributed bread and black coffee to people when burial was over. Sam vomited violently as if he had drunk blood! Blue blood! All I could do was just rubbing his back!

Our local body member tried to give a five hundred rupee note to gravedigger Johnson.

‘Madam... I too am a father... of two girls... please,’ he denied that with honour.

Untimely rains are the harbingers of danger! A rootless, dried up tree fell on the compound wall of our home and stray dogs started entering in from the nearby beach. 

‘European tourists are really crazy... they feed all stray dogs...,’ my wife told out of anger while pelting a stone.

Sugathan was also among the masons as a helper. His bearded face resembled that of a ghost, but his lifeless eyes were burning with anger... Where did his lust for life vanish?

Five months back... It a fine morning in April and I was busy surfing through poetfreak, reading the poems of Nimal. Nearly two thousand poems...O! This man is a thought-battery! I was fluttering like a thirsty butterfly through the untouched flowers!

‘Papa... somebody is out there to meet you,’ my younger son announced.

Sugathan and his beautiful daughter Meena were standing at the doorstep.

‘Come in,’ I welcomed them.

‘No need Sir... We will stand here,’ the poor man in Sugathan desperately trying to satisfy his ego!

‘That, I will decide... come inside’

‘As you wish,’ he told while entering in. ‘Sir, I need your valuable advice’

‘O.K. What's the matter?’

‘Sir... Immediately after the completion of SSLC, my daughter Meena plans to join a Polytechnic College for technical education,’ Sugathan said polietly. ‘Someone told her that you work in a polytechnic... Sir, can I afford it?’

‘Her decision is right... She can learn engineering, absolutely free of cost... under fee waiver schemes,’I told confidently.

Meena smiled happily as someone in the world had accepted her decision. Acceptance, that's the only thing the whole world is longing for!

‘Will she get a job after that?’ Sugathan asked innocently as every father's mind is like an open hearth, where fire kindles mercilessly... especially parents of poor young girls!

‘That depends on the course she selects and her academic excellence later,’ I replied. ‘Meena, which branch would you like to learn?’

‘Automobile Engineering,’ she said boldly.

‘Meena... it's a branch meant for boys! Why do you want to learn it?’ I couldn't hide my anxieties.

‘Sir, that doesn't matter... I know that you can easily put me inside of some huge vehicle dealerships as a front office executive or as a service advisor,’ she replied confidently. ‘Moreover, I can clear my doubts when you are at home’

‘Can you speak in English fluently?’

‘Why not! It takes just two months to learn English for anybody who knows his or her mother-tongue better!’ Meena replied with enthusiasm. Such a confident girl is a real blessing to any father!

Sugathan was making cement mortar, all alone, and the spade vanished inside the sand heap as if he was digging a grave! So powerful were the strokes!

‘Eyy... Sugathan... what are you doing? We have to stand here... don't you see Cement fly up?’ Chandran, the chief mason shouted.

Sugathan was not even aware of that and he continued the mixing. At last, the masons washed their hands and legs as it was nearing lunch time.

‘Sugathan, come let's go,’ the chief mason said.

‘You please proceed... I am not feeling hungry’

‘O.K... but, don't spoil your health’

‘No problem... hunger is nothing new to me,’ Sugathan lit a Beedi. (locally made cigarette) 

It's burning end brightened like the morning sun... So Red in coluor... like his peace-less mind... While he was taking the nicotine smoke inside with enormous passion, I walked near to him.

‘Sugathan... Come... let's have something from my home,’ I invited him for food.

‘Premji Sir... I am not feeling hungry at all... You know... He started driving Cars again,’

‘Who?’

‘That bastard, who killed my daughter... He crippled three others earlier because of his drunken driving... but, my... one and only daughter,’ poor man started crying. ‘I could have looked her after... if at least, some life was left on her body... Sir, we have no point in continuing this life,’

‘I know... Didn't they cancel his driving license?’ I asked.

‘License... for him? Authorities are heartless bastards! He has many driving licenses in different names! Money can do wonders! Money!’

‘You are right... These bastards have to be put behind the bars for life imprisonment,’ I told out of anger.

‘That's not enough... Sir, do you know something... yesterday night, they bashed up those boys who hit that policeman who tried to remove liquor bottles from that car,’

‘Who did that?’

‘Policemen... it seems... it's a warning... none should touch a Policeman though his doings are wrong!’

‘Are we going through another emergency?’

‘I don't know... But... He should never be allowed to touch the steering wheel again... I have to make five thousand rupees as early as possible,’

‘You skip meals for that?’

‘Yes... I have nothing to sell... All I know is... I need that much money immediately... I have some twenty thousand rupees with me... given by her friends... And they have agreed to do that, for rupees twenty five thousand though their rate is fifty thousand... They also gave me a discount of twenty five thousands... they too have sisters,’ Sugathan said boisterously.

‘Who are they?’

‘The gangsters form Fort Cochin... They have undertaken a 'quotation work' for me to crush his hands with iron bars... that he should beg for a living... they will powder his finger bones... It should be a lesson to the world...,,’ his eyes started glowing like a red-hot Beedi tip!

‘Papa... are you not coming for food?’ my elder son came near running and asked.

‘I am coming,’ he ran back contended. ‘It should be a lesson... it should be,’ I told myself.

‘My wife is suffering from heavy depression now... I am not sure whether she would be alive when I return home... who knows whether she might recover just by seeing him begging...,,’ poor man started crying silently.

‘Papa,’ the boy started shouting again.

‘Sugathan, I will pay the rest,’ I told him calmly...

‘Papa... Are you not coming for food?’ I heard a girl child calling aloud!      

PREMJI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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