Friday 15 September 2017

Short Story 2017, Shortlist, Ruchika Pahwa

His Moon Had Life

It was another morning when he was all set to go to his office as usual. Shambhu was an admin executive in a government department, but he worked more like a peon to his senior officers, and occasionally, a typing assistant who used to get some extra bucks if he did overtime. As he reached his office that rainy morning, he was all wet. Shambhu never bought an umbrella or spent on his clothes and luxury in life. There was anyway nobody in his life to bother how he looked or groomed himself. His wife had died a few years ago, and now, he was not ready for another loss.

Shambhu’s boss Vijay did not reach office and asked him to take care of the files he allocated to him the previous day. While Shambhu set on it, his mind was wandering in a land where he was roaming alone, crying hard, and asking for help if somebody could come into his sight. It was lunch time when his colleague Arvind broke his daydream by putting a hand on his shoulder. He felt as if there was rain in his desert. To his shock, he was still holding the pen between his fingers and his files were still waiting to be opened. Arvind accompanied him to the canteen where they both started conversing over dinner. Arvind had been observing Shambhu for days and knew what was making him feel helpless.

Aarav, Shambhu’s only son, had lost five kg weight and some more hair since he had started receiving treatment for blood cancer. While Shambhu could do nothing but to initiate his son’s treatment somehow, his worries had started consuming his mind. From an always cheerful man who used to make his colleagues smile with his jokes, he had turned into someone having free-floating anxiety. Arvind knew that Shambhu needed financial support to continue Aarav’s treatment, but it was not possible to afford everything in his meagre salary from a cashier’s job.

Arvind, on that day, came as a ray of hope for Shambhu. During their lunch, he suggested that Shambhu could do a well-paying, part-time job, instead of doing overtime at the office. One of Arvind’s officers was a retired man from an airline. This was the same airline that had a vacant position for ground staff during an evening-to-night shift. While Arvind could get a reference for the job through his officer, he instead recommended it to Shambhu whose lips now smiled for the first time through the day. Within a week, he was all settled to complete his office work by evenings to do his admin duties with the airline until late nights.

While Shambhu had been adding a significant sum to his bank account, Aarav was showing no progress. However, nothing could put out the flame of his hopes and love for his only treasure in life. He kept on working hard with extreme determination on weekdays and taking his son to a specialized cancer hospital on certain weekends for stem cell replacement. Soon, his determination and all his expenses done on Aarav’s treatment started paying off. Aarav had begun showing improvement while the new therapy was benefitting him. It was also a remarkable feat for his doctors who were treating a 9th-class child at a critical stage of cancer.

Though Shambhu was the one supporting Aarav in all ways, Aarav could never be less thankful to his father who sacrificed his days and nights to keep him alive. Shambhu had gone so weak himself, but never skipped a day of work to earn for his son’s sake. Like father like son; Aarav, who had left his studies mid-way due to his worsening condition, soon took admission in an open school to continue his education. Shambhu kept earning and spending on Aarav’s treatment, diet and studies for years, without being rude to the world around him or complaining to God to have given this illness to his son.

Shambhu just knew what he had to do to keep his hopes alive. After years of his persistence and perseverance, Aarav is now a fully recovered teenager who is soon going to pursue an engineering course in one of the top colleges in the country. He is a bright boy who has received a scholarship from the government to continue his higher education. Aarav has been studying dedicatedly, as he knows it is his time and turn to fulfil Shambhu’s dreams and make him lead a good retired life with his son.

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