PrEm Ji

RAW YOUTH (Short story)

 

RAW YOUTH

It was around eight o'clock in the morning and I was standing at the bus stop near the newly constructed house of Jayesh. At last, his head appeared at a distance and I started walking toward him. 

Pundits were chanting Sanskrit Mantras, sitting near the sacred fire and the house warming function was going on quite well. Friends and relatives were busy moving in and around the newly constructed house and children were playing Cricket in the courtyard. They never fail to utilize every opportunity to play even in light drizzle! 

Jayesh took me inside and started showing each and every facility incorporated, proudly. Suddenly, my eyes were stopped by a wonderful painting hung on his study room.

‘Jayesh, did he allow you to take a canvas print of his painting?’ I asked.

‘This is not a print... original... man... this is original,’

‘Impossible,’ I couldn't believe my ears...

‘Premji... Saju came here yesterday evening, and presented me this... You know... he was so happy yesterday... You will also get one... he told me…’

Saju was busy packing his paintings using huge brown papers when I reached his home. His personal gallery looked almost empty. 

‘Hi... Premji, how are you?’

‘Fine... What about you?’

‘I am alright... Come, let's meet Mom... She will give you some Coffee,’ he told pleasantly.

‘Not now’

Slowly, I walked toward his huge library. Pretty rich parents he has... that's why he could spend a minimum of five or six thousands every month to purchase new titles. So possessive he was, on his personal belongings as he never allowed anyone to lend a book from that library.

‘Raw Youth,’ a novel by Feodor Dostoevsky, was lying on the table. I had to complete that book just by sitting there years back! 

'To Premji.... With Love... Saji,’ it was written so artistically on the front page. I couldn't believe my eyes!

‘Premji... It's for you!’

‘Saju... when did you become so generous?’

‘Just yesterday!’ He started laughing. ‘I will present one of my paintings also to you... My masterpiece... What do you say?’

‘Sounds great’

‘That's Saju... Saju the painter!’

‘Saju... let me ask you a simple question,’ I stopped in the middle...

‘Go forward’

‘So... When are you going to do that?’

‘What?’

‘Suicide!’

Saju and me... We are friends since childhood... He joined Fine Arts College to fulfill his dream and I had to end up in an Engineering college though my mind was busy with unwritten characters. 

During my first semester vacations, I went to his college. Young boys and girls were busy sketching nature using charcoal. 

‘Premji... meet my friend... Niru,’ Saju introduced a beautiful girl. ‘Nirupama’

‘Hi,’

‘Hi Premji... I know everything about you,’ Nirupama said.

‘What is your specialization?’

‘I prefer applied arts,’ Niru replied.

‘And you... Saju?’

‘Why doubt? Painting... painting... painting!’

I could see his excitement in her eyes!

Yes! Her eyes were his biggest canvass! They were madly in love!

Four years disappeared like four months... Niru was selected by O&V, one of the leading advertising companies of the world, and was appointed in their Bangalore office. She emptied almost half of her salary just for recharging her 3G mobile phone to call Saju. In the meantime, Saju was completely engaged with new paintings... He never wanted to leave his parents as he was completely aware of his caliber! Someday, I will also become a known painter!

Gradually the number of calls and e-mails dropped drastically. 

‘Colors don't have the same vibrancy as of earlier,’ someone started telling him. A causeless uneasiness started tormenting him.

They were sitting inside a star hotel in Bangalore. She was enjoying different layers of Cassata ice-cream... First layer was over... First layer of life!

‘Saju... I have been selected for O&V's overseas assignments... I have to be there in California by Thursday...,,’ Nirupama said calmly.

‘nhum,’

‘And I am not sure when will I be back,’

‘nhum’

‘Will you come with me?’

‘No... Why can't we stay in Trivandrum itself?’

‘That's impossible... My career will then be in gutters!’

‘Then?’

‘Then what? No more emotional commitments, Saju! Bye forever!’ Nirupama told boldly.

Saju started crying like a child, hugging me tightly. The iron fist of depression started strangling him again and again...

‘How did you know that?’ he asked through unending sobs.

‘Because, I am your friend... Your eyes can never lie with me’

‘Premji... I am so fed up... so drained...Take me somewhere,’ he requested me.

'Loss of love' is the short-cut to madness...., his sleepless eyes silently told me. 

Sushama was standing in the midst of some aged women, like a Lily among thorns, near that palliative care center when we entered into the campus of Regional Cancer Center. 

‘Hi Sushama,’

‘Hi... Premji... How are you?’

‘Fine... Meet Mr. Saju... You know... he is a wonderful painter’

‘Is it?’

‘Yes.’

‘Thanks God! Mr. Saju... will you be able to help me? See... one of our patients... a very bright girl child... She likes to paint, a lot... but, I was not in a position to...,,’ Sushama asked him openly.

‘Surely,’ he replied immediately.

‘That can help her to recover fast,’ she said. ‘Medicine is for the body... But, faith is the best medicine for mind, which only cures every ailment!’

‘Faith!’

His painting camp became an instant hit among young patients. Their laughter could easily bring back the colors of his life.

‘If you don't like to live for yourself,

Then, why can't you try to live for others?’

His mother showed me a piece of paper, which she got from his room.

‘He has become a poet now!’ we laughed.

Two weeks later...

Saju and Sushama were coming down, all alone, through the lift. 

‘Shall I marry you?’ he asked her.

She remained silent for a moment.

‘What do you know about me?’

‘I know only this... that you are the woman whom I love!’

‘I am an orphan’

‘So what?’

‘I was a Cancer patient once’

‘So what?’

‘I can't bear you a child’

‘Anything more?’

‘Nothing’

‘Then... Nothing to worry...dear… We can adopt a child!’

‘Saju... every problem has a solution... the only thing is ... we have to find them out in the right time,’ she smiled. ‘You are alright now’

He hugged her tightly like a raw youth! He could see warm rays of a new colour emanating from her lips!

 

Is that the colour of hope?

 

PREMJI

 

 

 

 

Comments2

  • L. B. Mek

    I think this may need age restriction my friend,
    because you've woven the nuances of your meaning a little too subtle, and if the reader loses that element, then some of its wording is a little concerning..
    but personally as a lover of Feodor Dostoevsky, I found this a wonderful reimagining of his themes and ideas, although given a more modern facelift..
    a thought provoking read, thanks for sharing, dear poet

    • PrEm Ji

      Thanks dear Mek... Feodor Dostoevsky is my favorite writer... I will take care of the age restriction factor... Thank you for your kind words...

    • Fay Slimm.

      What a captivating story Prem and with a wonderfully happy ending too - -- good things often appear when we are helping others and how well that applies to Saju and Sushama. Thank you for sharing their story with us.

      • PrEm Ji

        Thanks dear Fay... Thanks a lot... Share, care & sacrifice, these three words define a meaningful life!



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