Monday 15 September 2014

Short Story 2014 Longlist, Anurag Sharma


How often our memories squander to the paths from which we had moved on and take us to that lane which was the most special part of our lives.

It was 23 September 2014. Thankfully the weather Gods were at peace, summer was biding it last goodbye and winter was still a month away. My boss allowed us to go to 2 hours earlier from the office after he realized that for the past few days we were working overtime and our Balance Sheet was finalized before the due date.

Everything was perfect for a pleasant evening. I had my plans; go finish the novel which I was trying to read for the past one month. Little did I know that my Mom had other plans ready for me; the most difficult task even tougher than finalizing that Balance Sheet.

Telling a boy to clean something is the most daunting task but mothers are experts in it. It was the her last warning that I should clean the mess from my room lest she herself would do it and then I shouldn’t blame her if anyone of my important papers or books is misplaced or thrown out. So I had to fulfill that final warning call.

Yup my book shelf was no less than evening roads of some metro city where every vehicle is struck. From Khaleed Housani to Chetan Bhagat every book had somehow managed to grab its place without knowing when their turn would come.

I started from the top drawer and after around one hour of hardship I reached the lowest drawer.
When I was about to finish the cleaning up work, I found that red diary. It was covered with dust.
How often is it that when you are searching for something else you find the things which are not related to what you are searching for but which hold more value for you. This was very special. The days when I used to make a proper diary entry. So on finding that diary instead of carrying out the cleaning work, I sat on the chair beside the book shelf, I sneaked into the dairy and lost myself in the memory lane. I lost myself to the charm of good old days. The secrets that were smartly stolen from the world; my crush, my confusions and confessions, my friends. Gosh! My eyes became moist. As soon as I put that diary into my lap a folded paper flew out of it. My moist eyes saw that paper flew in the breeze blowing from the window. I ran towards it to grab it, it was one of my most precious treasures. Ah! At last I unfolded it.

It was the letter I had written. How sometimes you are drawn towards your beautiful memories which end in an unfortunate way. Those were the days when phones were still a luxury which only few could afford. The year of 1999. We had just been told how to write letters in school and this was when I had written my first and the only letter, the letter that never reached its address.
The letter was still lying in between the pages as a part of my most precious memory. The memory of my best friend, my grandfather. It was in the dusky lanes of a crowded city of Punjab, Bathinda where I took my little steps holding his strong fingers.

My every wish used to be fulfilled because the king of our house was my best friend. I would just put my demand and he would make sure that it got fulfilled. But somehow my relation with him was more than that, his presence made sure that I was the most important part of the joint family.
I opened that letter;

Dear Bauji,
I am missing you. I want to come there but Mamma says that it will be possible only after the exam. I miss those walks to the Quila Mubarak with you where you would tell me about the various stories attached to it. They all are fresh in my mind. Unlike others you never told me about those destruction stories of the city going around that some saint said that if the water touches the temple near Quila the whole city will destroy. The city had a curse they said. May be you never wanted me to fear anything. I just hope that my city is fine. I miss our house, the neem tree where papa and chachu would pick nimonis and red ones were given to me as they tasted better and were good for health too. Talking about health, I want to know if you are well because Chachu told me that you weren't and was remembering me. Papa and Mamma promised him that we will be there as soon as my exam finish. I really want these exams to be over as soon as possible. I wish I could reach there before this letter reaches you. Don't worry I will soon be there and we will have that best mango shake from the goll diggi market. Hope I will reach before this letter and be with you soon. I love you a lot Bauji. I am praying for your good health, I know God is kind and he will never disappoint me.
Missing you.
Your grandson,

It was when the call came that he was very serious and we had to rush there. He was taking his last breaths when I saw him. It was very difficult for him to utter a single word but he smiled when he saw me. I came close to his bed. They said he had very little time. Those few hours I just sat by his side and he kept his hand on my head. The strong hand had become fragile now. I took a nap keeping my head on his bed. I wanted the time to stop there only.

Next day I had another exam coming up so we had to leave to take that exam with a promise that we would again come tomorrow. I touched his feet, he opened his eyes and smiled and somehow managed to utter "Jaldi aana" and he went to sleep. Calmness on his face was visible. Even he had surrendered his fate to the destiny. The king of my empire was about to leave his throne.
I never wanted to leave him. My eyes kept looking at him as I took walk back home.

As soon as I took my last exam I had the news of his demise. Dad was there to pick me up and to take me back for his last journey. Unfortunately heavy rains couldn’t allow us to reach on time. The trains were running late and buses were experiencing huge jams due to floods in some parts of Punjab.
My best friend had gone far away leaving all of us alone in this world. The letter never reached him.
His last words still roam in my ears.

I closed that letter, the most precious letter which never reached my best friend. I wish that letter had reached him. I wish I were able to utter few words before he closed his eyes. I wish I could save him. I wish he was still there.

I miss you Grand Pa and I wish to see you once again in other world some day. I know every world will be beautiful till you are with me. This world looks empty without you. Please come back, tell the God that someone is missing you very badly on the earth. I want to be a little kid again and want to visit that city, the market, the Quila holding your hands. I want to hear those stories again. I want to talk to you.

Life has moved on Grand Pa, I have grown up, but somewhere in the heart the void which you created has not been fulfilled and will never be. Life will never be as beautiful as it used to be when you were around. Please come back. You loved me I know but I wish I could tell you how much I loved you. Whenever and wherever I visit Bathinda I miss your presence. The city and this world can and will never be the same without you. I visited the city holding your fingers and trust me Bauji I have never ever felt so safe even when I ride on my vehicle. Your fingers assured that I was safest with you. I have still not forgotten the smell and taste of that Jalebi, groundnuts and baalushai which you used to always bring for me. I have still not forgotten that Re.1 note which you would always give me to buy my favorite comics whenever I used to get good marks in my class tests. You never scolded me, not even once and always told me to respect my Parents. I do it Bauji, I know you must be seeing me from somewhere and feeling proud that I never disobeyed you. I miss that pat on my back, I miss that love. I am still your old An. Please comeback, please.
Some stories you never want to end because they are devoid of a happy ending but may be in some other world, in other life the end is there.

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