16
Feb
10

Child of the Windd

I’ve seen you in my dreams

Sometimes crying, sometimes smiling

I’ve felt I’ve known you all along

In your love I felt like flying

You gave me joy that knew no bounds,

Felt happiness worth a million pounds.

I know it will be difficult to live without you,

In my heart, I’ll always think about you.

I’ll always remember you name,

As they say, ‘child of the windd’

In my life, like a breeze you came,

Touched my soul, deep within.

No matter what happens tonight,

With destiny, I can’t fight.

As always, will take what comes my way,

Thanks for giving me strength,

For making all the pain go away.

Inspired by this poem, the book talks about a journey. A journey that an author takes to share someone’s love, trials and tribulations and how hope wants to surmount against all odds. How the protagonist, Samir, who is in love with Naina… yet doesn’t know if he will be able to survive the odds. This book is about the story of Samir’s life told to the author by Naina the girl who is in love with Samir  and willing to do anything for him before the final chapter unfolds…

Child of the Windd is a journey ‘5’ years in the making. A journey that I hope to take along with all of you. What you are about to read is a concept called ‘Blook.’ (Blog + Book)

Essentially, blogposts / blogs that are generated to transform into book.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blook

The work is originally based on certain blog posts that I started writing in 2005 registered on

http://srini2k5.blogspot.com/

Started writing this blook so to speak, in 2005, with a lot of changes and a lot of learning from many a publishers, friends, family and reviewers and of course a lot of rejections from the likes of Penguin, Rupa and Co. etc… Decided to take on this concept. Original draft written to be published by AGM Books by Parvez Abeideen, the project needed a lot of modification after which, I never approached the same publisher.

There are many reasons why it has not been published up until now. One of them being, that technically and from the tightening perspective, it needs to be redrafted with fine editing process. This I realized when I attended a creative writing course at Xavier’s Institute of Communication. Now that I have a bit of time and learning from that course at XIC. I plan to keep on constantly editing this Blook and of course that with all your help.

Now I approach all of you, my readers / my friends to participate in this experiment I’d like to conduct. A social means to understand the reader, my audience and take feedback from you and hope that this ‘blook’ becomes a real time ‘Book.’

Hope you all enjoy reading this book, hope you respond to comments either through direct comments or email whichever suits you. It’s not necessary that you give opinion / feedback after reading the entire blook. You can give your comments randomly on any posts.

I’d certainly be editing the same as part of ‘Trance Writing’ concept and this blook will be constantly under review, till it reaches certain sets of expectations.

email: srini2k7@gmail.com

Happy Reading!!!

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16
Feb
10

So Far So Good!

So far so good,


Hope to Get there… One Day


For My Mom and Dad…

16
Feb
10

Acknowledgments

I must say, when I started writing, I never imagined I would be able to write this book.  The support that I got from everyone helped me complete it, especially from my good friend Swapnil.  Thanks a lot buddy for being there when no one else knew what I was capable of.

It doesn’t get better than this; I don’t know what’s on the other side of this world. But on this side, I have you. This book is dedicated to my soul. Inspiration, yes, besides that I’ve got a lot from her. Thanks to Anila, even though we are not together what we shared was something that helped me write this book and eventually be part of this book. I want to remember our beautiful relationship as a ship sailing through the rough waters of a turbulent ocean, fighting the waves and gigantic icebergs, braving it all. Thanks for your support. Of course, how could I forget, Merline, her mom and her sister, Nikita for their support.

Thanks to my very special friend Denise, who also helped me all the way through my journey. Thanks babes for being there and giving me the kind of support that I could have only imagined.  You of all the people know best, how I have come through as a person in this escapade. Thanks for your support and literally helping me discover my love for someone special and being there as a sounding board when I needed to talk to you.

Thanks to Shraddha, my blogger friend who encouraged my writing with her supportive comments on my blog, and she is a good writer herself. Keep it up girl! Also thanks to Shilpa, another good friend who really writes well and knows how to live her life. If I were to write about a story of how we met, that would entirely be another book. Someday maybe, someday…

Also thank you Dottie, for your reviews on my early work. Thank you for your feedback and the time you took to review the book. I have edited a lot and added some more after you gave me feedback. Hope you find the changes interesting. You are an amazing writer yourself.  After reading, ‘Guardians of the Deep’; I knew that your writing is certainly, work of art.

I would like to thank my parents who have inspired me all the way in this journey of Life.  Without both of you, this journey would have never started at all. Dad wherever you are, this one goes out to you.  Also, thanks to Ayesha for helping us through our time of distress. Your ‘kholi’ was a heavenly abode for us back then.

Thanks to Chris, my good friend and basketball coach. Stacey, my mentor and close friend. Lubna my partner in philosophy. Liz another one of my mentor and most definitely, a person who changed my life for the best. Bea, hope you are having a good time back home. I still remember the crazy rides, shopping and the cooking at your place. Also a big thanks to all my trainers at Tracmail, who shared with me their crazy experiences and know about my ordeal, my crazy tantrums etc. Thanks, Smriti, Josh, Leander, Leo, Sowmya, Naresh, Malti, Kshitij, Naresh, Seema, Vero, Gaurav,Clarissa and Dee of course. Viggi, another one of my philosophy partner, “Bro the dream will happen.” Arshad, aka ‘Metal’, hope you like this book. Of course how can I forget Satroy, our favourite entertainer. Also thanks to Himanshu & Nishant, the biggest Schumi fans ever. Thanks Bincy, Smitha and Lavina my very first team leaders and the only team leaders.

Thanks Ralph, for your help and vision. And of course how can I forget Danny ‘The Stalker.’ Thanks to all the trackers, ex-trackers, and everyone else whose name is not mentioned here, yet in some way or the other, they have been there for me.

Thanks to Merita, Jai and the Xpressions team, for giving me ‘Srini’s Café’ my own column in the newsletter, ‘Xpressions.’

A special thanks to all my family members especially my cousin Sandy, who reviewed this work a long time ago and is amongst the first ones to actually read the entire book. Thanks bro.  I am fortunate to have your blessings. Cheers Guys!

Amber, I would like to thank you not just for the inspiration you gave to me, to write so many poems but also for being such a good friend of mine.

Rutavi, Thanks for being my friend despite the many odds that were against us. Also thanks for your belief and endorsments you always keep doing for me. 🙂

Alicia: Thanks for those endless chats and sharing your insights on every relationship that I’ve been a part of. Hope to spend have a fun trip around India when you come down here.  :-p

A special thanks to Ms. Renu Balakrishnan, our creative writing professor at Xavier’s Institute of Communication. There has been a lot of learning from your workshop and as we speak, I’ll tighten this work and hope that by the end of this experiment I’d be able to do justice to your hard work and everything I have learnt from you.

Then of course, how could I forget my Lenovo Y500, where I poured all my feelings and expressions. It was my true companion during this time.

Most importantly, thank you God, for giving me such a wonderful gift, the gift of writing. Without the strength, the power and the belief that you gave me, I am sure I would not have been able to do this.

And of course, please, if I have forgotten anyone it’s completely through oversight. Please forgive me and yes let me know so that I keep editing. 🙂

*And now that I’m starting this experiment I would like to thank each and everyone in advance, who participates  on this blog, with their feedback and comments.

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16
Feb
10

Prologue

“Am I stupid? Why on earth did I buy this book? Who is this author anyways? Never heard of him.”

Is this what you are thinking? If you look at the reasons of buying this book, here are a few. You may have bought this book because you probably looked at the cover, the name and you liked the design, or you were just fascinated by the name of the book. Probably you read the back cover and liked the short pre-view. Possibly, you remember my name from somewhere or you are one of my friends, if nothing else, I just gave you this book. Well what is important, is that you have this book and are interested in reading it. Well, you know what; I’m interested in selling my story to you. If you don’t like my story, you will most likely trash the book, I guess. If you’ve paid for it and want your money’s worth, you will read this one and won’t buy anymore of my books, that is, if I write one.  Well whatever is the case, let me thank you for reading through at least this part, who knows you may just end this book right here. Or, may be not, but thanks for getting this book.

So here I am! Writing about, how I started writing.  This book is essentially, my work so far.  It’s a collection of my emotions put together in a single composition.  I would like to take you through a journey full of unpredictable situations and beautiful characters with whom, I am sure you will relate to easily. All of us might have encountered similar situations. It is the time, the experience that changes everything.

Simple truths make big differences in everyone’s lives. I know there are times when we think, Why Me? Why Now?  I would say, think again because we are not the only one. There are so many people who have gone through experiences, much more difficult than ours.

This is when I thought, “What if I talk about these simple things to you and tell you how they can make a difference to your lives.” Feelings, emotions, that’s all I had to pen down! To add to that I also discovered a different dimension of myself and let my imagination do the talking. Now that’s something positive I got in return from life and as we all know ‘Life is a learning.’ Here I am, sharing this learning with all of you. Adding some really good colours to the characters, it was fun working with my imagination.  Something that made a difference to this book. I hope you like reading this experience.  A journey that will enchant you and touch your heart! Talking about the journey, this book is an illustration of a common term we all know as, ‘Love!’

‘True love’, is something, which cannot be ‘found’. No matter what you think, feel and realise, life is always like that. Once when I had a conversation with my friend Denise, I asked her, “How do you know that you are truly in love?”

I wanted to find out if, what I was experiencing was ‘love.’ This happened to me when my heart was no longer mine and I was on cloud number nine. I felt emptiness that one experiences when they go through either sadness or madness.

Yes it was a kind of madness you may say, the kind that is unheard of, unspoken and totally unseen.  I like to call it ‘love.’ But the trick question is, ‘Was that really love?’

So I asked her, “How do you know, if you are in love?”

Her answer was pretty confusing to me initially, on second thought I found it to be extremely profound and it made complete sense, to me at least. Here’s what she had to say.

“You don’t really know if it’s true love. If you realise that you are in love then that’s the end.”

Come to think of it, it is true! If you know that you are in love then your search is over. The excitement is lost. But all said and done, one must realise that the definition of true love differs from person to person, time to time and situation to situation. It is just a perspective. So I understood that, ‘Love is all about discovery!’ Discovery of a new world, with that one person whom you adore. All you need to do is, just keep going…

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16
Feb
10

Navi Mumbai – The Future City

“Bombay, the land of opportunity, the city of dreams!”  How many times have you heard people say this?

“I fell in love with this city when I came here first”

“If you want love, life and death, let this be in this city.”

As huge fan as I am of Bombay I never knew there would exist a place called New Bombay or Navi Mumbai as it is called, and I would end up living here someday. I have read four best possible books on Bombay and have fallen in love with the city each time I read about the different places of Bombay from these authors’ perspective, be it Vikram Chandra, Suketu or my idol, Gregory David Roberts, I have enjoyed each and every little bit about this city. The more I read about it, the more I want to visit those places repeatedly, to cherish the beautiful places one more time…

However, the only mention of Navi Mumbai was in Suketu’s, “Maximum City.” As the name suggested, it definitely was the ‘New’ Bombay you wanted to be in. Away from the crowded corridors of the plague, the darkness and all the sin in the city. You wanted freedom from the hustle and bustle and the scorching fast life of Bombay. It was a vision somebody had, for he had suffered in the darkness. Yet there were so many people who were living their dreams in this darkness. That is what Bombay is all about.  At least that was what Bombay was all about, for the future had yet to be written. That is when I thought; why not give people dreams of this new city, a city that has given opportunity to thousands of people to live their dreams.

When I had originally written this book, I had lived in this city for more than three years, one day it occurred to me, that no one has ever written a story in this beautiful place. A place where thousands of stories are told each day. A place that is in the news on so many stories that it gives us every single day.

I remember when I landed a job interview a few years ago and as destiny would have it, I came to the future city for the first time. I saw the amazing, International InfoTech Park, beautifully structured on the Vashi railway station. The first time I ever ate at ‘Riverdale.’  That is the time I truly fell in love with this city. Never had I seen such clean wide roads, amazing infrastructure. Everything was so well planned that I just wondered if we could just start from scratch and make Bombay just as well planned as this place. But then, what would be the fun, for Bombay has its own charm with the historical buildings and the trivial relevance to each and every little road in the city of dreams.

Who would have thought way back in 1972, that this twin city would bring so much of glory to the state. It most certainly is the largest planned new city in the world. From the mainland eastern seaboard of Thane creek the city stretches from Airoli in the north to Uran in south. I looked up the internet for many books on Navi mumbai, the ones that I could manage to find were ‘The making of Navi Mumbai’ by Annapruna Shaw and Stephen Read’s ‘Future City’ these are very comprehensive books that you could read about Navi Mumbai. That is when I thought of getting this city in my story. Well, long before I wrote this story, someone up there knew I would end up here in this place and the story was already written up above.

It was just a matter of time before I discovered my love for this place and bring something for each one of you. One more thing I liked about Navi Mumbai, was the beautiful stretch of ‘The Palm Beach Road’ I mean the first time I ever saw the huge stretch and looked across the horizon, I just couldn’t stop gazing at the sun set across the mountains towards the west. Its definitely one of the best, cleanest and peaceful roads I had seen within a city. Whenever I rode my bike across this huge stretch of land, I couldn’t help losing myself in this world completely surrendering to the beautiful landscape and the tall buildings. Then there were the quiet surroundings, the drag racing roads of Kharghar and of course the Kharghar hill. How can I forget the Parsik Hill connecting Nerul and Belapur, the favourite spots for adventure junkies? I also fell in love with the amazing McDonalds just before the Bombay-Pune expressway and so many other places in this city that I can’t just stop talking about.  So here, I am to tell you a story, which means a lot to me. A story that has never been written before and a story that will probably change my life forever. A story that is set around few parts of these beautiful locales. A story that had already begun, but I didn’t probably know at that time. When you read this book, I don’t know how much justice I would do to the artistic expression and portrayal of this city. But, this I’m sure you would definitely relate to the some of the places that you have been to in this city or definitely heard of at least. More importantly, I would want you to read it from your heart. A story that is told without any reason, without any purpose. The only important thing is to feel the emotions attached to those places. I have enjoyed each moment I have lived in this city and my heart goes out to this city. This book is for all you people of Navi Mumbai, to the life, to love and to the city, the new city of dreams…

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16
Feb
10

January 2007

 

The car came to a screeching halt! I thought to myself, “What a brilliant story!” It was a story that I wanted to write for such a long time. This was the perfect story, which the world needed to know. A story about dreams, desire, and the conflict that one goes through when they fall in love. Or at least they think they are in love. According to me, there is no such concept as love. There is sensitivity, romance, emotion, attraction, lust but no love.

At least that is what I felt before that night. The night, that changed my whole perception of love. Many times as I said before, people tend to think about things that happen to them and wonder why it happens to them, only them. So many times, they forget about the things happening around them, for they are caught up in their own world, so much so, that they do not realise anything beyond their misery. That itself is an illusion created only for their eyes. So many times, people do not realise what is happening around them or in the world outside. That is why stories that they hear, see and read are merely stories to them.

I am sure you might have watched many movies and thought to yourself, “What rubbish is this? All this never happens in real life.”  Well surprise, surprise, it does, and you know what, “The difference between fiction and reality is, fiction has to make sense.” Well that’s what Tom Clancy said once.

So, when you read this book, I hope you realise that fiction is always inspired by life, no matter what type it is, art always imitates life. So next time you watch a movie, read any other book, always keep this in mind, someone has already gone through that experience. How much of it is imagination, and how much is real, is a different story altogether.

I was freezing to death that evening when I got a call from my agent, so I answered the phone call.

“Hello…” The agent spoke breathing heavily and took a long pause.

“Yes, Harish, what have you got for me tonight?” I said with bated breath, hoping that he had an assignment to fill my pockets.

“Well, I have something interesting for you, but this offer is a little bit different.” He sounded a little hesitant,

“Different, what do you mean?” I asked, curious to know what he had in mind, when he said different. Different good, or different bad?  I somehow had a feeling that he wanted me to do him a favour and probably I won’t get paid well, for this ‘assignment’ of his.

“There is this friend of mine from school; she has a story to tell. She wants someone to write it for her. But she can’t pay you.”

“Can’t pay me? Hmmm, So… What are you suggesting?”

“She’s okay with you publishing the book, since she has no money to get it published. Besides you can have all the copyrights if you think it’s worth publishing. Her main objective is to get the work recognized, and there’s a strong reason behind it.”

“Yes, Harish, I understand. But you need to understand man, there are millions of people in Bombay whose stories can make really great books. You know I’m not in a position to self publish yet. I would have to pull a lot of strings in order to get that done.”

“At least you can listen to what she has to say. You can decide later.”

“Okay, give me the address.” With that, I finished my conversation and decided to meet this girl, a good friend of my literary agent, from his school, to listen to her story. What unfolded after that, was something, which made me realise so many things I had not known before. Things that I thought about in my life, yet never tried to go beyond the thinking part. Many times, there are so many ideas that become a part of you. The only dilemma is that these ideas are hidden deep down in your mind that by the time you surface these ingenious thoughts, you realise that all this while you had been so stupid for doing something like this. What happened that night made me realise how big life could be.

Here I was at the small apartment on the outskirts of the city of Bombay, it was a small town called Panvel. New Bombay or ‘Navi Mumbai’ as it is called, has many small suburbs within its vicinity. Panvel happens to be the last station on the harbour line in Bombay. By road, it is on the way to Goa. Just like so many other small towns in Bombay, this place also has a flurry of apartments close to each other, built in close proximity. These apartments have come up in a span of a decade and the town is heading towards expansion. It was cold that evening, especially since the place was on the outskirts of the city. I was going to meet her at this address. It was a town in its own and a city of its kind. Panvel has so many markets that one could spend an entire lifetime over there. Besides that, it was also a junction of sorts. One could easily go to Karjat from Panvel. One could get buses easily to Pune, Lonavala. Of course, you can also get buses to Thane, Dadar and other parts of Mumbai. Of course, between Pen and Panvel, there lies a Karnala fort, a place that weekenders would love to getaway to. Karnala is very popular for its serene surroundings and its birds.  What’s more, there is an upcoming airport that is proposed at this place. It seems this place was most certainly going to be the hub. The place I was going to was not where the girl lived. It was her friend’s apartment. A close friend, I came to know later.  So here, I was at this small apartment, sipping hot coffee to get some warmth for myself. A nicely prepared cup of coffee, I think it was the maid of the house who gave me the coffee. It was a small apartment, a one-room kitchen with little furniture in it. They had painted the room recently, I could smell the whiff of the new paint and the walls were almost spotless. It was a neat and tidy house with a soft ambience. A home like that on the outskirts of the city with a great view of a huge stretch of land was something amazing. Even though the apartment was a small one, it was truly enchanting, especially with the breeze slowly blowing across the room through the balcony which had huge doors. Sliding doors, which led to the balcony, had a great view of the landscape. There was a small wall clock in the apartment that gave the home an antique yet classic touch.

It was the wall clock with a pendulum. I am always amazed when I watch a clock ticking away with glory and see the pendulum going back and forth. It gives me a strange feeling of time that is so precious. Every time the pendulum swings, and you try to count how many times it does in a minute, is when you realise, how much every second is worth. The room had a nice pair of chandeliers, which matched the ambience of the room’s soft sandalwood paint. I somehow got the feeling of being in a place that had the serenity, which could last for eternity.

I was sitting on the only chair there was in the hall. Besides the chair, there was a small couch and a nicely made bed placed on a carpet on the floor for someone to sit on. There was a small 14’ television kept on a table, which had a lot of books in it. A variety of them, mostly written by Indian authors. I saw, ‘The Namesake, God of Small Things, Spouse, The Inscrutable Americans, Interpreter of Maladies, and of course my personal favourite, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.’ That is one book written by an Australian author, yet it is all about our very own ‘Amchi Mumbai.’ I didn’t see any more of thick books, Shantaram was the thickest of them all. But one thing I knew by now was that whoever lived there was a big fan of Indian writing. I hoped this person to be someone who has belief in today’s market for Indian literature and according to me, it has an amazing potential, worldwide.  It also affirmed the fact that the ‘friend’ who had called me here was really serious about getting her story published. I wondered what the story was, that she had in store for me.

Suddenly, I heard a beautiful voice and saw a girl who was probably about 21-22 years old. She was slender and had eyes that were so pretty that one could just sink deeply into them and be lost forever.

“Thanks for coming here. I really appreciate your gesture.”  She said shaking my hand. She had a firm handshake for a girl of her age.

“You are welcome”, I said looking at her beautiful face, one that I could never forget. I was thinking to myself, “What kind of a story can a young girl like her have, to tell the world.”

“My name is Naina”, she said with a slight sadness in her tone.

I could see from her face that she had a determination, the one that can be seen on soldiers’ faces when they head for war. It seemed, as though, there was no other purpose to her life at this time. There was a reason that I was here, but I did not know yet. I just hoped in my heart that the reason was good enough and hoped to know a little more about this girl I met. I knew there was a lot of anguish and a lot struggle in her face. I just wanted to understand the truth, the way it was.

For a while, I had a conversation with her about what my work is, and told her how the concept of ghostwriting works. I also told her that usually, getting published is not so easy. It takes years of determination and hard work and told her that I will try my best to do whatever I can. I did not promise her anything. She was okay with it. What followed, was a story that she told me with great interest and I was sitting there for a couple of hours just listening to her and absorbing as much information as I could. I was deeply enchanted by the story she had to tell me and the characters in this particular story made a real impression on me. By the end of those two hours I had gone back through time to retrace a countless number of experiences told by her. I also read a few poems, written by her close friend, whom you’ll come to know as ‘Samir.’ The artistic brilliance that is displayed in his poems is mind blowing.  Experiences, which to a certain extent cannot be told in mere words, off his poems.  But, the minute you read them you feel the emotions and the journey is relived through his eyes.

It was 9’ o clock at night when she finished telling me the story and then I thanked her for the coffee and promised to get back to her as soon as possible. With that, I left the apartment and drove away on the cold winter evening thinking of what I should do.

As I was driving back home, my mind was full of so many thoughts about the story that she had told me. I had seen the complete picture and even I felt, that this story had to be told. However, I did not know how to piece everything together, I kept thinking hard, that’s when I got lost in a train of thought, and I did not see a signal in front of me on the highway. Suddenly I saw this other car crossing over and taking a turn in a lane right next to me. The car came to a screeching halt! That is when I had a ‘light bulb’ moment and figured out everything in my head just like that. I said to myself, “What a brilliant story!” This is what I really wanted to write and I would be stupid to refuse this offer, even if it meant investing my hard-earned money and taking a risk. A risk, which, if gets paid off, would mean a lot to my writing career. Now I knew what I needed to do in order to get this book and his works published. I had a master plan. With that thought in my mind, I started with the research and began this work. All I did for the entire month was eat, sleep, and breathe this book. Many times when I wrote, I always tried to imagine how it would feel, to be in somebody else’s shoes. I somehow felt deeply estranged with this world when I tried to get into somebody else’s skin. For me to come up with a story as brilliant as this meant, ‘I had to do a lot of homework.’ Besides just listening to the story that she told me, I had to retrace every single moment of the lives of the people involved. It meant that I had to feel the location, description and the emotions of what the characters had gone through. It is almost like reliving their experiences to understand what they have gone through in their lives in order to tell their story just like actors or directors who feel their characters and their screenplay. One thing I have done before is have many conversations with the people for whom I have ghostwritten before.  It gave me a lot of insight on their experiences, especially since most of my previous works were based on true incidents. I enjoy focusing on characters and stories, which have happened to somebody. This was the only time when I agreed to do it without being paid upfront. It was a different story and I hoped to get some returns especially since I would get the copyright to this work. Yet, it is a huge risk that I was taking. I just hoped it paid off.

One of the most amazing things I felt while doing the research was something I never felt before in my entire writing career. On previous occasions when I wrote articles, books based on someone else’s lives, I had been told about their lives by the protagonists or the people whose stories I was going to write about. This time around, however, I heard the entire story from someone else’s point of view. That gave me a third person perspective on the entire story and when I wrote it in that same point of view, it became so easier for me to write those experiences that it actually felt that I was reading the story to myself but there was an inner voice, a voice that narrated the story to me.

How many times have you thought that you were born for something different? How many times have you felt whatever you have been doing all your life had no meaning? No meaning until you went through an enormous change. A change that gave you a reason to believe that, whatever happened had a reason behind it. I always believed in fate, the only thing is, what you believed to be fate always existed in your mind as your future. Many times people never evaluated their fate to the past that they had had. We often tend to forget all that we have done in the past and somehow when we look at this huge future up ahead of us, we end up relating it to our fate. Yet, it is always the past that has a tendency to haunt us and give a completely new meaning to our destiny. We only realise it when we are back to square one.

What follows next, is an experience that anyone and everyone might have gone through, in their lives. Many times when people go through these, tough daunting experiences they feel the need to realise their own feelings with something they call ‘a profound silence.’ Sometimes, we realise so many things with this kind of a silence, silence tells us a lot, without saying anything. A silence before a storm is an indication of the turbulence ahead. Silence before expressing ones feelings tells them how much you love them. Silence after being caught red-handed tells us of the shame and regret you have in your heart.

This silence reveals a lot of truth to people without them realising it until they have truly heard the ‘silence.’ That was the kind of silence in the room, when he received a call that night. A long pause changed the story of his life.

The pause made Samir curious and he quickly asked, “And…?”

There was silence… He asked again, “What did he say?”

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16
Feb
10

December 1996

“What’s going on?” Samir said to himself. There was a huge commotion outside Samir’s house, people were making a lot of noise and something had gone wrong. Samir had been asleep after he had enjoyed a heavy meal that Saturday afternoon. It had been a long while that Samir had enjoyed such an amazing nap. Usually, he did not sleep in the afternoon. On weekdays he was used to being at school, he never felt like sleeping in the afternoon. Generally, he enjoyed watching cartoons on television or reading comic books.  Seldom did he take these naps on afternoons. On this day, however he was tired, as he had ran a few errands for his parents. They had gone to visit a distant relative who was not well. Samir was sleeping peacefully until; he woke up when he heard the huge commotion outside. He washed his face, had a glass of water and was curious to find out what was happening. He tried to step in his balcony and tried to see if he could get a glimpse of what was happening outside. He could not see much, except a bunch of people crowded outside in his apartment complex. He stepped out of the house and walked outside, in the apartment complex. He saw a group of people who were standing outside his friend’s balcony. They were talking to each other with a grim look on their faces and suddenly he had a glimpse of a woman, who was crying and was being consoled by other women who were her neighbours. He recognized that woman as his friend’s mother. He was wondering why she was crying and wanted to know what had happened. Now he became all the more anxious as he knew that woman pretty well. He used to play cricket with her son and they were good friends. That’s when he saw a fire blazing inside his friend’s apartment. Many people stood outside, staring at the fire from outside the apartment. Some men had stepped inside and were desperately trying to put the fire out. A television set had caught fire.

Fortunately, it was in the evening, when everyone was around. The people of Chetana Apartment complex, in Andheri came to the rescue. They were successful in putting the fire out and there was no need for the fire brigade to interfere. At the end of it all, no one was hurt. Samir thought to himself, “It was quite scary, what would have happened if it would have been my TV set? Especially since I have a habit of watching television sitting right in front of it.”

Samir did not know that God had a different plan to test his endurance. I always wondered how one would stand up to the test of time without having the knowledge and the slightest idea of what’s in store.

Samir Kumar lived with his parents in Andheri. Chetana Apartments was the smallest amongst a block filled with high-rise apartments in Andheri west. A suburb of Western Bombay, it is a place full of buzz, high rise apartment complexes and a huge hub of commercial locations. Real estate has been soaring in Andheri and it is one of the buzzing suburbs of Mumbai or Bombay as it was formerly called. Most people living in this city still like call it Bombay rather than ‘Mumbai.’  The name change happened when the ‘Shiv Sena’ a local and a very famous political party in the city and across the country decided to rename almost half of the cities, streets, railway stations and airports to names that went back to the tradition that this city has. Their main objective was to let the world and the people of the country know, how much they despised the English names that the British had left behind, when they left the country. The belief was that Bombay was a corruption of the original name. Yet in a certain way, most people living in this city have an affinity for those names and still like to use them or maybe it’s just that they are used to it and do not want to change everything all over. Andheri was one such place where a mix of these people who came to the commercial capital from different parts of the country lived together, in harmony. Despite the history and its fair share of disharmony that the city has had, the place is still one of the most cosmopolitan and helpful cities all over the world.

That is where Samir’s dad owned a three-bedroom hall kitchen, which was a huge ordeal for a middle class family in this city of dreams, back then. Come to think of it, anywhere in the world, owning a house is a big ordeal and a huge accomplishment for everyone.  Samir was 13, in the year 1996 and was in the eighth standard of Vidya Bhavan High School in Andheri.  His dad worked as a scientific officer, E grade in Bhaba Atomic Research Center, also known as B.A.R.C. in Anushaktinagar, Trombay. A place, which is highly secured and off limits for common people. The hub of geniuses of the country, who spend most of their lives into years of research on the science of the nuclear energy. Samir’s mom owned a small business in Andheri, one she had been managing since Samir was five years old. She was into the business of photocopying, typing, cyclostyling, electronic typing, lamination and the works. So they were a small family who were doing pretty well, except for Samir, who was terrible at math and not so great at academics. Everyone in Samir’s family expected him to turn out like his dad, who apparently was a genius when he was a kid and of real strong academic background. Almost everyone in the family expected Samir to follow in his dad’s footsteps. That is the kind of pressure, which is hard to deal with, especially when you know that you cannot match up to their expectations.

Don’t know if you’ve heard someone say, every one is born with a purpose in life. Samir did not know what purpose he had in life, but he knew that someday he was going to make it big. It was just a matter of time.

Most of his life Samir had been a loner, especially since both of his parents had been working right since he was five years old. Until the time he was about 10 years old, he used to spend his time in a crèche when his parents were out working, earning bread for the family. When he was in the eighth standard, his parents decided that Samir was old enough to take care of himself and left him on his own. So now, he was a lock and key kid. Samir started to hang out on his own and enjoyed his solitude.

One of the things Samir liked to do on weekends was to take a walk across the Versova beach. Sometimes he rode his bicycle around that area enjoying the cool windd blow in his face; sometimes wandering across in the plush locality of the seven bungalows area. He went on his own and explored new places around that locality.  Whenever at home, he would either watch television or read comic books. Samir was very fond of reading a lot of comic books.  Sometimes, he lived in a completely different world. A world of Phantom, Superman, Spiderman, Adventures of Tintin and so on.

He was so crazy about comic books that he had a huge collection stocked up at his apartment and had read them at least twice.  A lot of times, he used to read the comic books at his study table as well. He used to hide a comic book inside his huge textbooks and happily read them, while his parents thought that their kid was studying hard for his exams.

Academically, Samir was a just about average. He used to score well in all subjects except Math. Math is something he hated the most when he was in school. However, he had a big flair for the language. English was his favourite subject. That was the only subject he knew at the back of his hand.

The credit should go to his dad, who used to help him out during exams and even he enjoyed solving exercises from the ‘Wren and Martin’ There were times when Samir used to get up in the middle of the night, solve the exercises and feel proud of getting all the answers right. So this was something he knew, would help him in his future.

Samir was not too bright at sports either. He was pretty all right when it came to sports. He participated in all the events, but never won any of them. As far as he could remember, the only time he got an accolade in school for any extra curricular activities was when he participated in a debate and was one of the best debaters.

That was the year when he had also participated in an English play. It was organised for the Annual Day of the school. He must have been in the sixth standard. It was very special for him, as he had never won anything before, to add to that, the principal of the school announced the award. He was impressed with the way Samir had performed in the debate. It was a special prize. A prize that Samir will remember throughout his life. Two books which he read and enjoyed, more than the comic books. ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘David Copperfield’ both written by legendary authors, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens respectively. That is when he actually started reading.

Besides this Samir was pampered a lot by his parents, he was always treated with a lot of love and his mom always gave him the best toys clothes and food. Samir spent so many of his birthdays with lavish parties for which he invited most of his ‘so called’ friends from Chetana apartments. It was a tradition in most schools to distribute chocolates or small gifts of some kind to fellow classmates on birthdays. Samir’s mom had once given the entire classroom books. The book each of them had was, to practice cursive writing. It was unusual yet helpful to the other students, Samir’s classmates. Yet it was so ironic that Samir never wrote in cursive handwriting ever, in his life, he tried once, but was miserable. He had the worst handwriting ever. On most of his birthdays, Samir received many expensive toys, which he did not care for as much, yet played with them without actually knowing what it was like for other kids who could not afford such expensive toys. Samir also used to play video games, he enjoyed being alone with his game pad and did not like to be disturbed while he was trying to beat himself at this game. Trying to better his scores every time he crossed a new level. Samir never knew at that age, what it actually took, for him to enjoy these good times. He was oblivious to the kind of effort and hard work his parents had to put in, in order to give him this kind of happiness. Happiness that was derived from his parents’ sweat and toil. He was living life to the fullest and as far as you can tell, everything was going really well for the Kumars until this twist, in his mom’s life, changed everything for them.

“Let’s wake up, we have to meet your uncle, his train leaves at 9:00 AM”, Samir’s mom woke him up on a Sunday morning.  He was so sleepy that he could hardly open his eyes.

“Sunday morning and you want me to wake up so early. Come on, give me a break.” Samir replied with deep slumber in his eyes.

“No way, quickly brush your teeth and take a shower, your uncle is leaving for Rajasthan and you won’t be able to meet him for another year or so.”

“All right, I’ll get up, what’s for breakfast anyways?”

“We’ll have breakfast on our way.”

“What? No breakfast yet? I’m really hungry, why didn’t you prepare breakfast?” Samir yelled at his mother, upset with the fact that he had to stay hungry for another couple of hours.

“We don’t have enough time, now get up. If we leave you behind, you won’t get anything to eat until afternoon.”

That was more than enough to make Samir get out of the bed. Samir loved food and couldn’t live without it. It did not matter what kind of food it was as long as it was edible, he was always game for it. Generally, he was never picky or fussy about food. Well yes, he did dislike certain vegetables, like spinach, brinjal or ‘egg plant’ as it is called.  But most of the times he ate whatever was on his plate with great relish.

As soon as they got ready, they left for the railway station. The train was supposed to leave from Kurla terminus. It is a station which, usually boards passengers who have to travel interstate. So, for them to go to the terminus they had to switch trains from the western to the central line of Bombay. Or they could just take a bus to Kurla, which they decided to, as it would be more convenient and not as crowded.  By the time they reached the station, Samir was wild with hunger.

Hunger pangs from within were driving him crazy. He felt as though he could eat up the entire stall, which was serving the snacks. Unfortunately though, he had to suffice with a couple of samosas and his favourite drink, ‘Energy’ it was a cold drink, actually, cold, flavoured milk.

As soon as they entered the railway station, he asked his mom to buy a comic book for him to while away his time.  They had to wait for his uncle and his family to come by.  Soon his uncle and his aunt arrived, well before time and they met his parents.  Samir’s dad and his uncle, spoke for about twenty minutes and then it was almost time for the train to leave. His uncle was off to Rajasthan. They bid farewell to each other and the train set off to the desert land.

Once the train had left, they were ready to go, that is when Samir saw something he would never forget in his life.  He saw his dad, noticed him to be completely lost, and had a worried look on his face. He was thinking about something very deeply.  There was an expression on his dad’s face, one that he had never ever seen before.  As a matter of fact, this was one of the first times he had seen a tear in his dad’s eye.  Samir was not sure why his dad felt emotional and he could not react.

As soon as they reached home, he got to know the reason why his dad was so worried. With a grim look on his face he told Samir, “We need to sell this apartment. We have to consolidate all our debts; the only way we can do this is, by selling this apartment off.”

Samir did not know what to say. He was too young to understand what had happened and why they were in this situation. But he could recognise that his dad was very unhappy that day. Samir was disappointed at himself for not being able to do anything about the situation that his parents were in.

He had spent a lot of years in that huge apartment of his. He just could not imagine moving out of there. Within a few years, he would be in high school. That was the time when he would learn new things in life. I guess this was his first step in learning what real life is all about.  He could imagine why his dad was so upset and disappointed. It must have been a difficult decision for him to take. After all, this apartment was his dream.

A dream fulfilled with years of hard work and labour. A dream that brought him great recognition amongst his family and in the society. He had achieved what he came here for. The city of dreams as they call it, ‘Bombay.’ Worked here, toiled hard for 20 odd years and with that he had bought the dream apartment of his, a huge three-bedroom apartment in one of the big suburbs of Bombay.

Alas, that dream was about to be shattered. Samir could not imagine how his dad felt but he knew that, this was a difficult time, however; it was the only viable solution at that time. Little did they know that things would be a lot different than expected, once they moved out of this apartment.  They moved to his uncle’s apartment in Malad. Another western suburb of Bombay. This place was much smaller than what they lived at; however, it was sufficient for them to spend their time until they sold this off, consolidated their debts and then thought of getting a new one. There was no choice. Since his uncle had relocated to Rajasthan he was okay with Samir’s family moving into the apartment.  They did pay for the electricity and the maintenance charges of the Lok Uday Apartments in Malad (East).

The reason they had to sell the apartment was due to the debts that had piled up, as his mom’s business had not been doing all that well.  They had to move the business to a different location. This location was not as good for the business as the earlier one.  So, this sudden twist brought a new dimension to their lives.

A twist in his mom’s life changed everything for them.  The shop that she had set up her business at, was doing exceptionally well, one of the best in Andheri. One fine day the owner decided to have it for himself. As it was such a good location, he thought of a business plan for himself.  What he did not realise is, besides the location, there were many things that had gone into the making of the success story behind his mom’s business.

Anyways it doesn’t matter what happened to his business, a garment store.  For all we know, destiny had its way and it was meant to be like this. His mom was looking for a different place nearby in the area that was close to the railway station and that meant a lot of business. She was trying to get in as much of resources as possible to make this right. For the time being, she had relocated the business to a nearby place; however it was not suitable for their business. It was far from the railway station, which meant that most of the customers would go away to other competitors before they came to her shop. That is why she was trying to get her hands on a better location, strategically placed so that she got as much business as she used to at her old shop. So while she was in that process this is what happened one day…

“Let’s go, we have to go to Ghatkopar.” Samir’s dad told him one evening as soon as he came home from office.

“Ghatkopar, why do we have to go there?” Samir asked surprised by the sudden plan that he heard from his dad.

“Mom is going to meet us there as well. We are going to meet a businessman who is interested in selling his shop to your mother.”

It was a place close to the railway station in Andheri, which meant that many customers would be waiting to get their documents photocopied, typed, laminated while on their way to and from work.  So once their talk was over they would go out and eat dinner in a restaurant to celebrate this small but important achievement.

“Wow, that’s great news, let’s go” Samir got ready with excitement.

With that, they left for the train station. When they reached there, they had to stand in the line to buy railway tickets. Samir thought to himself, “What a crowd. I just don’t get it. Why don’t they do something about it?”

Usually there used to be a huge crowd of people buying tickets in the evening and they had to be at the railway station at least 15 minutes in advance. So, finally having managed to get through the line, they bought two return tickets and headed off to give moral support to his mom and help her clinch this deal.

It took them about an hour and a half to reach the place and they waited at the person’s apartment. His mom and dad were in a different room and they were talking to the people while Samir was out in the living room watching television. They were discussing about their business affairs. He was not interested in what was going on, simply because he did not really know what they were discussing.

But then something happened that made him wonder, “What’s happening?” He heard someone crying, inside the room and he realised it was his mom. He was surprised and totally unaware of what had happened. After a while they left the apartment and went back home.

They did not have dinner at the end of it all. Samir was wondering, what had happened. “Where’s the celebration?” he asked himself.

They reached home at about 10:30 at night and had their dinner at home, whatever little food that was cooked. After the dinner, Samir saw his mom go off to sleep. She seemed upset. He did not know the reason why but she was sad.

Samir was curious and he asked his dad, “What happened, Papa? Why did mom cry at that place?”

“We did not get the shop that we were supposed to get. The person who was going to sell the place to us ditched us at the last moment. He sold the shop to someone else.”

“But that’s not fair, he was supposed to sell it to us. Isn’t that wrong”

“In business, there are no ethics, at least nowadays.” Samir’s dad replied with exasperation and went off to sleep.

Samir was not feeling sleepy at that time. He was disappointed too. He felt bad after knowing what had happened that night. He felt bad for the fact that he was helpless and could not do anything to help his mom. He just hoped that everything went well from here. From that day, a lot changed but the situation that Samir and his family were in, did not. Days passed by and life went on.

Everyday was just the same; his mom was working hard, even though she knew that the money she was making was not enough for them to repay the debts that they had. Creditors were buzzing like bees and used to come to their apartment every other day asking for their money back. All his mom could do was to assure them that once she got a nice place for her shop, she would start making more money and would pay them off. Meanwhile, his dad also tried to cut down on the household expenses in order to gather more funds. He couldn’t go in for a loan as he already had a home loan and a few other debts that he had to manage. Sometimes he was so frustrated that he thought of taking up voluntary retirement. Which would give him the money up front but then he would have no job. Samir’s mom was against that, with the self-respect that she had, she told his dad not to take any such steps. Since his was a government job, she did not want him to lose the job security he had. Moreover, a job like that is certainly a dream in this city. A few years passed by and they lived life like this, surviving on the bare minimum. Struggling, mentally and financially, trying to make it through.

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16
Feb
10

March 1998

“Can’t you get it? It’s so simple. I don’t understand how you can’t solve such a simple equation.” Samir’s dad told him with a frustrated tone of voice.

“Easy for you dad, I’m not really good at Math.” Samir replied.

“So what are you good at, roaming around and doing nothing?”  His dad sarcastically questioned him.

Samir knew that his dad was only trying to get him to learn the stuff that he always found boring. He knew, no matter how hard he tried, this subject would never be something, which he would get to excel at.

Samir was in tenth standard. In high school finally. This was the time when his family expected a lot from him. No matter how hard he tried, the world was pushing him to do even better. Of course, why shouldn’t they, these were one of the few occasions which are very important in one’s life. He had to succeed to prove his mettle.  Even though it did not matter to him very much, Samir knew he could do pretty well in his exams. He knew he could not rely on Algebra and Geometry to help him get a good score. He had to focus on at least, getting average marks in these subjects so that he could score really well in other subjects and overall get a good score. Enough for him to get into a good college.  Samir was never the mugging type. He could never mug up and learn things. Most of the times when it came to other subjects, like History, Geography and Science, Samir tried to understand concepts and then read them in order to write the answers on his own. At the same time he was pretty good at computers, so he knew that he would get a good score in that subject. As far as Marathi was concerned, Samir took his mom’s help as she had lived all her life in Bombay, studied in a school where Marathi was a first language. His mom was the best help he could get for this subject.  Yet, the only concern for him was his most hated subject, Math. GOD alone would help him with that.

The first couple of semesters passed by at school. Samir could not score passing marks in Math. He was getting worried, as he knew that if he did not score well for his finals, he would disappoint his parents. They were already going through a lot of stress due to the financial situation they were in. He did not want to complicate matters further. All he wanted to do was to score well so that his parents would be proud of him and could tell the entire family about Samir’s achievement. Samir did not see that happening up until now. He was trying hard to understand and solve the problems that he learnt at school. His dad had also enrolled him for private tuitions in spite of their financial difficulties. Now, Samir knew if he failed, all this money, hard work would go down the drain. In addition, Samir had competition from his cousin, whom he knew he could never beat, as he was excellent at studies. Samir had never in his life come anywhere close to what he had achieved, academically. He knew that he would score really well and if Samir did not, then his parents would feel embarrassed.  So this was another motivation, Samir had, to get a good score in his final exams.

By the time it was February, the school had closed for the students who were in tenth standard. Now, Samir had finished both his prelims at school and the private tuition that he was going to. Somehow, he had managed to at least, pass in math, however he knew that it was not good enough, if he had to get a good score and get into a good college. He knew that he had to study harder and try to get better scores, especially in math. However, the fact remained that he did not enjoy this subject at all. Integers went over his head, Pythagoras theorem was a pain in the ‘you know what’ Most of all, he did not like Trigonometry. He was not sure how he could get a score that will boost his overall average. Most of the times he ended up solving equations and problems that he had learnt and was already good at. He got the satisfaction of solving the similar type of sums and felt proud of knowing how to do math. What he did not realise is that he had to advance, in order to get better scores in the dreaded subject of his.

Finally, it was time. Time for his exams in April. Samir knew that it  was a do or die situation. He had to do a good job. He got to know at which centre he would have to write the exam. It was the famous Swami Vivekananda High School in Andheri. Even though Samir and his parents had moved to Malad, they still wanted him to continue with Vidya Bhavan High school in Andheri and all this while Samir used to travel by bus to his school on his own. Eventually his centre to write his exam also was in Andheri where he had to go to, for all his papers.  All his exams went well and finally it was D-day.

Yes, he had to write his Algebra paper. That day he woke up at 5:00 AM and began revising the formulae. Slowly, he also went into practicing some equations to be sure that he knew what he was doing. It was 7:30 AM, they had to reach the examination hall by about 9:30 as the exam started at 10 o’clock. Since his mom was also going to work, in Andheri, she decided to accompany him to the exam hall. After breakfast, both of them left the apartment at 8 o’clock.

They were waiting for a bus for about 30 minutes, but unfortunately, not a single bus in sight. Samir started panicking. He said, stammering,

“Wh.. What will I do? I need to get to the exam hall on time or else I’ll not be able to finish my paper.”

“Relax, Samir, I’ll get you to the exam hall on time.” His mom replied coolly.  Then she decided to hire a cab. Yes, it would cost them a lot more than a bus, definitely. However, there was no other option, they were already late by about half an hour. If they waited any longer, for the bus, they’d most certainly be late and eventually Samir would not get to write his paper. So a taxi it had to be.

They looked around and found a taxi stand. A guy was inside his cab and lazing around, feeling sleepy. He couldn’t care less about the passengers who came by. He probably had not had his cup of tea yet. Or ‘cutting chai’ as they say. They went and asked him, “Andheri West jaayega kya?” Will you go to Andheri?

“Andheri mein kidhar?” Where in Andheri do you want to go? He asked yawning loudly.

“Swami Vivekananda School, Versova road” His mom promptly replied.

“Chalo,” he said and started his car.

Samir’s mom looked at his meter. It was not working. She asked him why his meter was not working. He replied saying it did not matter and that he knew the fare would come up to two hundred rupees. That was ridiculously high, however Samir and his mom had no time to argue as they had to reach the exam hall on time and they did not see any other taxis nearby. So they did not bother to haggle with the taxi driver.

It was almost 9:00 AM, the taxi driver was driving the cab at his own sweet pace. He did not realise the gravity of the situation. That’s when Samir’s mom lost her cool. Yet, she patiently told the cabbie, “Bhaiyya, jara jaldi karna, Dasvi ka paper likhne jaa raha hai mera beta.” Please drive fast, my son has to write his exam.

“Thik hai, Thik hai” He replied rudely, being least bothered about it.

On the way, the driver decided to take a different route, which was a bit longer, however our smart fellow did not know that. This was a clear indication that he did not know the place too well. Since Samir’s mom was born and brought up in the western suburbs and had lived there all her life, she knew another route.  It was much shorter and the traffic on this road was less as compared to the route the taxi driver took. So she asked the taxi driver to switch to that route on the next turn. The driver did not listen to her and just went on without realizing how important every second was for both of them at this time. After a while, they reached a crossroad, where there was a huge traffic and now, they were stuck behind a huge row of cars, buses and trucks.

That was it! Samir’s mom could not take this any longer. She scolded the taxi driver and told him that, she had advised him not to take this route. He yelled back at her and said, “Mujhe kya malum idhar itna traffic hoga.” How would I know there would be this huge traffic here. First, he had delayed them; secondly, he was not even admitting his mistake.

Samir’s mom got really mad and told Samir, “Get out of the cab, we’ll walk through this traffic and take another cab at the next signal.”

Samir was confused; he did not know what to do. So he listened to his mom, and got out.

His mom gave him a hundred rupee note for getting them to this place. She knew that was the right fare. The taxi driver saw that he got less than he expected.

He yelled at his mom and said, “Yeh kya hai? Aur ek sau rupaiya do.” He demanded for hundred rupees more.

Samir’s mom ignored him and began walking away, expecting Samir to follow him, but before Samir could go ahead, the taxi driver, caught hold of his hand and wouldn’t let him go. His mom realised after walking a few steps that Samir wasn’t following her, she looked back. She came back and told the driver to let him go, but the driver did not listen and asked her for his money. That was his final mistake and he would have regretted that for life. What happened after that was something, Samir had never seen before.

His mom quickly slapped the driver, really hard on his cheek and grabbed his shirt so hard that a button from his shirt broke off. He was shocked to see such great force come right back at him, and at that instance he left Samir’s hand. The driver was speechless. People around them started looking at the driver and they felt that he had done something wrong. That was the end of that story. What a way to end it. Once he let go of Samir’s hand his mom started walking along with Samir and did not look back once. She did not care, what happened to that taxi driver or was not bothered to find out whether he was following them for his hundred rupees.

She just went up to the next signal and took another cab. Fortunately, both of them reached the exam hall on time and Samir was able to write his paper. Samir was taken aback after what he had seen that day. That was another side of his mom, one that he had never seen before. He was amused at the plight of the taxi driver and felt proud about his mom’s boldness.

During the exam, Samir, just could not stop thinking about what had happened that day. On one hand, he was thinking what might have happened to the driver and on the other hand, he was worried that the driver might show up at the school and try to harm him once he was out of the exam hall. The driver knew where Samir and his mom had to go. So at the back of his mind, Samir was afraid that he might end up being kidnapped, beaten up or who knows murdered. Just for a hundred rupees! Well, he let those thoughts go back to where they came from as he had an exam to write. So he concentrated for the next few hours on his math, something he never did before and tried to attempt those tricky, and difficult D group questions in his Algebra paper. By the end of it, he was really exhausted and happy as well. Happy that his exams were over and his vacations would start.  The best times were here. For the next two months, Samir had nothing else to do but enjoy his free time and live life along the easy way. It meant a lot of sleeping, watching television, flying kites and of course eating. Samir was looking forward to his vacation. Samir also had decided to go to his hometown Bangalore. A city, well known for its greenery, pleasant weather and of course most of all, the confusing roads, blocks, mains and crosses. The addresses in the city of Bangalore were always hard to find, to outsiders at least. It was one city where every other place looked similar. They had the same kind of addresses and similar kind of buildings surrounded the place.  The only difference to those buildings was the heads of the demons on them. Yes, they literally had demon heads on the terrace of bungalows. Apparently, people living there believed in that superstition. The demons supposedly warded off evil spirits.

Samir had already started enjoying his vacation and had asked his parents, when he would get to go to Bangalore. His parents told him to wait for a while as Samir’s grandfather; his mom’s dad was not in the best of his health. They had to call off their plan to go to Bangalore, Samir decided to stay at home to enjoy his vacations. Everything was routine for him, except that he didn’t have to study anymore. At least, for another couple of months.

For most part of his summer vacation, Samir used to spend his time sitting at home and watching television. By this time, he had lost interest in comic books. He had not touched a comic book for the last couple of years. One of the things that Samir had recently started was, listening to the radio. He used to enjoy listening to English music on 107.1 FM a radio station that was the only FM station during that time in Bombay, which played English numbers. He was very much into the music that he listened to. He enjoyed it so much that sometimes he used to call up the radio jockeys and he spoke to them. He was also involved in writing in to the shows. A very famous RJ, Chintu hosted a show called ‘Wednesday Night Mailbox.’ Samir used to write into that show and waited for the entire week for his letter to be read. Besides that, show there was an RJ called Keisha Lobo. Samir was in love with her beautiful voice. Who wasn’t? She had such an enchanting voice that was as sweet as a nightingale; hardly anyone would turn off the radio after tuning into her show. To add to that, she played beautiful numbers as well. Samir had called into her show and spoken to her a couple of times as well. He found the job of a radio jockey very interesting and as a matter of fact, he also dreamt of becoming a radio jockey. Imagine a job where you are paid to do play and listen to music and talk to a world full of music lovers. He was certainly fascinated by this profession. He did not know whether he had what was required for the job. Nevertheless, he enjoyed listening to the radio for hours and hours. Days went by and Samir was having a lot of fun until…

“Tomorrow, we have to leave early in the morning.” Samir’s dad told him as he came home from the office.

“Where are we going to?” Samir asked inquisitively.

“Well, your grandfather has been discharged from the hospital. So we will go to visit him.”

“Ok. What time do we have to get there?”

“At about 10 o’clock in the morning, so we’ll finish our breakfast and leave as soon as we are done.”

“What about mom? How is she coming? When will she go to work?” Samir had a lot of questions.

“She’ll not go to work tomorrow. She has arranged for someone to look after the shop for tomorrow.”

“That’s good, we’ll get to spend some time with grandpa.”

Samir’s grandfather lived with Samir’s uncle, his mom’s brother, in Dadar. Another suburb of Bombay, Dadar happens to be one of the oldest suburbs and parts of the city with many landmarks and places of interest. One such place, Siddhivinayak temple is the most popular temple of Lord Ganesha. Every year thousands of devotees visit this temple, especially on Tuesdays, which happens to be the day of this sacred GOD.

With that they went to meet his grandfather. Samir had a very interesting relationship with his grandfather. Way back when Samir was still a kid, he used to go to his uncle’s apartment for his vacations and spend a lot of time with his cousin, Richa. One of the best things he liked about the place in Dadar was the taste of the water that they used to drink. Every time he went there, the first thing he used to ask for was a glass of water, as he loved the taste. Besides that they used to enjoy eating a lot of mangoes in the summer vacation. After eating the mangoes, Samir and Richa used to take the seeds and play a game. A very interesting one I must say, called ‘Gutli Chor.’ A game where a team of four people try to steal the mango seeds from a central location, while one person is supposed to catch them in the act of stealing and retain all the four ‘gutli’s’, mango seeds. He had a lot of fun playing this game.

The common thing about Samir and his grandfather was, that they both enjoyed watching sports, be it of any kind. Whenever his grandfather came over to Samir’s place they used to switch on to the sports channel and just enjoy. Lately both of them enjoyed watching wrestling on the sports channel. WWF as it was called back then. They liked this unconventional form of sports entertainment, something which young kids are hooked on to nowadays. Samir’s grandfather was a big fan of wrestling for, in his youth, he was very much into fitness and bodybuilding. To add to that, he had also seen the great Indian wrestler, Dara Singh, fight other huge men with great tact. Wrestlers of the likes of King Kong Bundy were overpowered by this Indian prodigy and Samir’s grandfather was a witness to the spectacle.  So, Samir enjoyed listening to the tales that his grandfather told him about the wrestling matches he saw. Besides that, he also told Samir various other stories from ancient kingdoms.

His grandfather read these stories in a very famous comic book called, ‘Chandamama’, which means ‘Moon Uncle’ Yes, believe it or not, it is a name of a very famous Indian comic book. More like a book of short tales. It was published every month and one of the most read stories were of, ‘Vikram and Betal’ a series of never ending stories told to the great king Vikramaditya, by a ghost called Betal.

So yes, he enjoyed his grandfather’s company, even though he had his fair share of scolding from his grandfather, especially when he did not do as he was told. His partner in crime was his cousin Richa, who was also careless like Samir, and used to misplace things here and there. However, overall he enjoyed talking to his grandfather and asking him many questions, especially when the story was over. His grandfather never refused answers to any of those questions.

Sometimes his grandfather used to take up odd jobs at home for which he used to be paid weekly. These were simple jobs where, one had to either make necklaces, fit some screws into plastic holders. Samir also enjoyed helping him with the assignment of his. This was constructive and gave Samir a feeling of doing a real job. At the end of the job, he used to get a small stipend of a couple of rupees per day, which he used to spend in chocolates or some snacks.

Lately, his grandfather had not been keeping well. He was ageing and there were many complications. This seriously aggravated his health. So, he wanted this little time over the weekend, well weekend for his parents, not for him of course. For him everyday was a weekend.

Before they took a bus, they decided to eat something for breakfast. One of the things that Samir enjoyed eating for breakfast was the delicious, ‘Bhajiyas’ at the Kamath snacks corner near his apartment.  So he went with his dad, bought them a couple of plates, and had his fill. With that, both of them left for the bus stop, where they caught a direct bus to Dadar.  In about an hour, they reached his uncle’s place, where his cousin was waiting to meet Samir. They caught up on old times and chatted with each other for a few minutes. Then he went and spoke to his grandfather.  This time around, Samir was doing most of the talking, as his grandfather was not in a state, where he could talk a lot. The doctor had advised him against it. In the evening, Samir switched on the television to the sports channel, where their favourite show was about to begin. Monday night RAW as they called it. For the next couple of hours Samir and his grandfather enjoyed their favourite television event with great interest. Although, his grandfather lay in his bed relaxing, he certainly caught a glimpse of the action. Something, which he had enjoyed watching always. After dinner, all of them went to sleep. Once the weekend was over, Samir had to get back home, with his dad. His dad had to go to work on Monday morning. So they said good-bye to his grandfather, uncle, aunt and his cousin Richa.

A week passed by. Samir knew in another few weeks his results were going to be out. Samir had kept his fingers crossed. Within the last, couple of months the amount of enjoyment that Samir had had, it was time for all that to come to an end once his results were out. He sincerely hoped for the best and wanted to get a good score. All he had to do is wait for another couple of weeks. On a Sunday evening, he was at home watching television when his dad got a phone call. It was at his neighbour’s home.  His dad went and answered the phone. After a while, they left, left to Dadar.

On his way Samir asked, “What happened papa? Is everything all right?”

“Well, son, your grandfather…” he took a long pause.

“What happened?” Samir wanted to know desperately.

“He is no longer with us. Your mom had just called. He passed away an hour ago.”

Samir was left speechless. He just could not say a word. All the way when they were in the train, he just kept looking outside the winddow, thinking of many things. Thinking about what his mom might be going through at this very moment. He thought about how he would miss watching the wrestling matches and listening to the stories his grandfather told him. He thought of the time when his grandfather had exposed a plan that he had made along with his cousin Richa. They had stolen a few rupees from his mother’s purse to buy ‘pepsi colas.’ His cousin could not rip the plastic pouch of the pepsi cola with her teeth. She went back home to get a pair of scissors and his grandfather caught her red-handed. He scolded both of them and taught them a lesson by making them work for the money they stole. They had to help him with his work for a week without any pay.  He laughed to himself, with a lump in his throat, but no tears in his eyes yet. He was just anxious to get to the apartment and take a last glimpse of his grandfather.  When he reached there, he saw his grandfather’s body kept in the hall room, his mom and his family sitting besides him.  He knelt to pay respect to his grandfather. That was the first time he ever cried for someone who passed away.

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16
Feb
10

June 1998

“I’m going to get myself a job.” Samir said with a lot of excitement.

After his grandfather passed away, by the end of the month of April, Samir decided that he still had a month before his results came out. He decided on this, since he was spending most of his time at Dadar with his cousin Richa and when he got back to his Malad apartment he did not have a lot to do. He had seen a couple of advertisements in the train. “For jobs call 88882020”He thought; why not earn some money by working for the next few weeks until June and have some fun as well on the job. That’s when he felt proud about the fact that he would also be independent. Now that his grandfather was no more, he was worried, worried about the fact that he would get no more jobs to do.

“Are you crazy?” His dad asked him with a seemingly surprised tone of voice. Initially he thought that Samir was joking. Soon he realised that his son was not joking, with a determined look on his face, Samir was hell bent on doing this job.

“No, I won’t let you work. What do you need to work for? If you get a job then later you won’t concentrate on your studies, once the money starts rolling in.”

“No dad, I don’t care, I want to work for a month.” Samir replied firmly.

“Ok, fine, then do what you want. Only for a month, I warn you.”

With that approval from his father, Samir decided to call up the placement agency that had placed their advertisement in the train. They asked Samir to get his resume and meet them in Kandivali. That’s where their office was located. Once he went to the office, they asked him to fill up a form and asked for a hundred rupees as their placement charges. Samir happily dished out the money, as he was excited to get this job. Once all the required formalities were completed, they gave him an address of an agency that required sales executives. Samir had to go to Mahim, another western suburb, where he would start his new job.

Samir woke up early in the morning, showered up and picked out his favourite jeans and T-shirt and he was off to his first day at work. His first ever, real job. He was gung ho about the assignment that he was to undertake. He kept imagining what kind of a job he would have to do. He was wondering what exactly he had to sell. What will be the kind of customers he would get? At one point he also visualised himself to be wearing a nice blazer and assisting customers in a very plush outlet.

“Snap out of it.” He told himself when he started daydreaming. Yet, all that mattered to Samir was the experience he was about to get from the new job of his.

With great expectations, he caught the early morning train from Malad railway station. This was not the first time Samir was travelling in a crowded train during the peak hours, however this was the first time he was travelling in the second-class compartment. When he was in school, he got a concession on his train and bus fares from the school and he could afford to travel first-class. However, not now, not today.  With great difficulty he boarded the train which was overly crowded, in the rush hour. This is definitely not a new sight for a ‘Mumbaikar.’ Most people in Bombay are used to this life and this is routine for them. Somehow, Samir managed to get down at Mahim station and quickly got out of the railway station. He began looking for the address that he had to go to. It was near the station, that’s what the people at the placement company had told him. They had also given him a map, which they had roughly sketched on the back of their visiting card. Finally, with the help of the map he was able to figure out where the office was.

It wasn’t what he had expected. It was a small apartment in a very isolated area behind a crowded lane, full of fishmongers. He managed to go to the office, which was not really an office, but a flat, which they had converted, into an office. He told the person in charge that he had been sent by the placement agency and he wanted the job.

The man greeted Samir with a smile. He welcomed him to his office. When Samir walked into the cabin, he felt a little out of place. It was his first job interview and he realised that he was wearing a T-shirt and a Jeans. This was something he learnt after making the mistake. Later when he started his work that day, one of the guys gave him that feedback too. Samir’s boss, Mr. Javed Shaikh explained to him what his job would be.

“Well, we are into door to door selling of watches. We sell the watches in a scheme. Your customers get a, ladies watch free if they buy a, gents watch or vice a versa. For every watch you sell, you get a commission of Rs. 30. At the end of the month, there’s also a bonus if you surpass your specific target that has been given to you. How does that sound?”

The gentleman asked with a smile that said, “So, you’ve come to work ah? Let’s see if you can handle this.”

“This is nice, what about the travelling and food allowance?” Samir asked quickly.

“Yes, I’ll pay for the monthly pass once you agree to take up this job and you get twenty rupees per day for your food.”

“Ok, works fine with me. I’ll do it.” Samir said with great excitement.

“All right then, what you can do is, for today, spend some time with a few experienced executives of ours to learn how to do this job. Once you’ve seen the work and gained information about everything, you can start working from tomorrow.”

“Great, we have a deal then.” With that, Samir shook hands with Javed and left for work with the other executives.

That entire day Samir was with these executives, out in the scorching summer heat, trying to earn his bread for himself. Well mostly trying to learn the art of selling. Soon Samir started working and selling those watches. He enjoyed the job and selling those watches to people whom he hardly knew. Samir did not do such a great job at selling those watches for the month that he worked for the company, but he liked what he did. At the  end of this ordeal, he managed to sell about 10 watches and he earned himself Rs. 300. His first pay.

A month passed by, Samir had left that job. He went back home and things had returned to normal. All the ceremonies related to his grandfather’s death had been performed in that month and most of the relatives who had come from his hometown went away. Back to their own lives. Another crucial day was approaching soon. Samir’s results were going to be out soon. What was his plight going to be? With these thoughts, he kept wondering to himself, about the future. A future that he knew nothing about. He hoped to pass, that much he knew. He was aware that no matter what, he would get passing marks in the subject he hated the most. Yet, he was also aware of the situation they were currently in; he realised that passing was not good enough. He had to have a good average in order to get into a good college. In order to fulfil his parents’ dreams.  Deep down his heart, Samir wanted to get to the top.  Show the world what he was capable of. Many times in his life, Samir was always ridiculed of, and always questioned about what he was capable of doing. No one ever believed in his abilities. For most of them in his family, Samir was nothing but a below average kind of a guy, who had no interest in his studies and was overly pampered by his parents.

It was time that Samir changed all that. It was time to show the people that he was capable of scoring well in his studies. It was time that the world realised his potential. It did not matter all that to Samir whether he proved other people wrong. All he wanted was to make his parents happy and feel proud about his achievement. At the end of the day, Samir always knew deep down, in the bottom of his heart that he had a reason and a purpose to do this.  The real question was, “Will Samir be able to score good marks or not?”

Samir went to the school with his mom that day. His mom and other parents had to wait in the lobby. The principal addressed the entire class of the tenth standard and gave them a general picture of how that batch had fared for the exams. He was proud to say that they had 98% of people passing this exam. This reassured Samir that he had scored passing marks.  After a while, they started handing out mark sheets.

Samir was eagerly waiting for them to call out his name.  Thankfully, they were not announcing the marks, everyone was getting. He hoped to get the results anytime. Soon he heard his name and there, his teacher stood, with his mark sheet in his hand. Slowly, he went to the teacher and collected his mark sheet. He did not dare to look at it until the time he got to his bench. Slowly he looked at the mark sheet, knowing that he had passed, yet eager to know his final score. It read as, “524 out of 750” He breathed a sigh of relief.

He had secured 69.86% much above his expectations. The only thing he was a bit bothered about was, if he had scored 525, a single mark more than what he scored now, he would be a perfect 70. Nevertheless, Samir was more than happy with his results and felt overjoyed after he told his mother about this. Even his math teacher was happy with the kind of performance he had pulled in that subject. Overall, he scored 103 out of 150, which was not so great yet better than his previous performances. All in all, it was a day to bask in the glory of his success and enjoy his time. Once they got out of school, the first thing that Samir and his mom did was to call his dad and let him know of the results. His dad was also happy with the results and bought some sweets in order to distribute them amongst friends and family. Samir’s dad called up and let the other family members know about Samir’s score. He felt proud that day. Proud for the fact that his son had finally broken the myth. Samir had proved to the world what he was capable of. Yet in a way, Samir’s dad felt that he knew this all along, it was just a matter of time before he finally did it. This was a day to remember for Samir and his dad. One that they will cherish, for life.

With that, Samir started to go to college. His father enrolled him for a three-year diploma course in computer engineering. It was just a route for him to do bachelors in Engineering in Computer Science. Apparently, that was the trend of the market and had a lot of scope much against Samir’s will to do Arts. So, Math slithered its way, yet again into Samir’s life. He did not have much choice either.

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16
Feb
10

March 2001

“Ok, so where is this place anyways?” Samir asked his dad.

“It is close to Thane, on the central line.” His dad replied.

“Mumbra, hmmm. I have never heard of the name dad.”

“Well, it’s a very small town. But the best part is we are getting a place to rent and it has a lot of potential for the business that your mom is into.”

“All right, I hope it does well. Mom will have to travel a lot. Don’t you think?” Samir, asked with a lot of concern.

“Yes, that’s right, but we have no other choice.” His dad replied with an exasperated tone of voice.

His mom had moved her business; the business by now had gone really down. To pay off some of their debts they had even gone to the extent of selling off some of their machines and repaying the debtors. The main intention now was to get rid of the burden more than expanding their business. The place they had moved to was another town, which is about 50 km from Bombay. It is a very small town in the Thane district of Bombay. Thane is famous for its Jail. Almost 80% of Mumbra’s population consists of Muslims. It is also well connected with Bombay by roads and of course the local train. One of the famous places in Mumbra is Mumbadevi; it is a small temple on top of a mountain.  A mountain, which is famous amongst rock climbers for their escapades. With the help of a contact, his mom had got a place for a very cheap rate for rent. However, the contact of theirs, Abdul, generally referred to, as Chacha, meaning uncle, was an old swine who duped his mother. He took more than Rs. 100,000, got them some fake investments and ran away. He had promised some investments, and some schemes to help his mom get rid of her debts, which were all fraud and fake.

Much later, they came to know that he was associated with a few more people who were into scams and the CBI was looking for these people. Eventually he cheated Samir’s mom and had disappeared.

Nevertheless, his mom managed to get this place on rent where she was hoping to establish herself again, even if it meant that she had to travel a lot more. By this time the pressure was rising, even though they had managed to pay a lot of people off. They still had many debts to repay. Things were not getting any easier, especially after they were duped of the money and suffered huge losses.

Samir was in college by this time, he had been struggling to settle down in college but to a certain extent, he was able to manage the studies, in spite of the K.T’s that he had.  It is a term called, A.T.K.T, which means you are Allowed To Keep Term. So if you don’t clear, let’s say three subjects this year, you will be allowed to go to the next year, however, you have to clear those subjects the following year to pass that successive year of college. As usual, he was terrible at math, and that was a subject where he got a K.T.  At the same time, his father was trying to get in more resources in order to get rid of their debt. They tried to sell their Andheri apartment, yet in these years, the apartment had not been sold. They did not get a single customer to fetch a good price in order to get a good deal. A deal that would get rid of all the debts at once. They had also cut down on unnecessary expenses, cable TV, eating out, unnecessary shopping and the likes. There were times when Samir kept thinking, when, when would there be a change in his life.  He hoped that times would change and life would be different. There were moments where he felt like escaping all the misery. Go some place where he would find his peace of mind. He felt like they were in a situation that had no resolution. Everyday was like a bad day at a job. It felt as though, he had seen it all. Nothing else mattered to him. There was nothing more to lose. Now you might wonder what else could happen. Even I felt that, when Naina was narrating this story to me. That is when; another twist happened in his life, like a hurricane, the faster it arrived, the sooner it left.

“Where are you going?” Samir asked his dad with great curiosity.

“We are going to meet this person who has a small apartment in Mumbra.” His dad replied while he was putting his shirt on.

“Mumbra, why do we need an apartment there?” Samir was confused.

“Well, it’s really cheap, plus it will reduce the amount of travelling your mom would have to do. Besides your uncle has to relocate to this apartment in a few months, so anyways we have to find a new place to live.” By this time, his dad was almost ready to leave. Samir’s mom was already waiting downstairs for his dad.

“B… But dad, you are not feeling well. You look pale,” Samir said with a worried look on his face.

“Yes, I know, I had gone to the doctor. He has given me some medication, don’t worry. I will be all right.  With that, both of his parents left to go to the railway station.

It was a Sunday afternoon and his parents had gone out for about four hours. Samir was getting bored. After studying for a while without being able to concentrate on the boring digital electronics book that he was reading, he decided to listen to some music on the radio. He went out in his balcony, sat on the reclining chair and started listening to his favourite channel 107.1 FM. By now, he was a regular to all the programs that played on the radio station and knew exactly which radio jockey was slated for which slot. He was listening to the radio for hours and did not realise how time flew by. It had been a long while and he had not moved from the chair at all when all of a sudden the doorbell startled him.

“Who is it?” He asked curiously, as he was lazing outside in the balcony.

“It’s us.” His mom replied from outside, she spoke loudly.

When Samir opened the door, he saw his mom and dad standing outside the door and they seemed to be really exhausted, especially his dad. He could see that his dad’s eyes were red and his face was pale, much more than it was in the morning. He went in the kitchen and got some water for his parents.

His mom said, “Let’s have dinner.” With that, they finished their dinner and went to sleep.

Samir woke up the next morning a little after both of his parents had gone to work. He lazed around for a little bit, listening to the radio and reading the newspaper. At about 9:00 AM he went to college. That day was boring at college. He attended a couple of lectures for electronics and microprocessor programming, which was a real torture, especially since the lecturer could hardly speak in English and most of the times did not know what he spoke about. Besides that, he used to make fun of his students and insult them very bad. Samir used to keep quiet and be careful so that he did not attract the professor’s attention.  After the lectures, they had practicals for C programming and dBase iii+. DBase was Samir’s favourite subject at college, as he knew that subject since he was in the fourth standard, and the lecturer was good at teaching the subject and gave many opportunities for the students to participate and had an interactive way of teaching, rather training them in that subject. In one of the lectures, she had challenged the students to come up to the podium and give a seminar on a particular topic that she had covered on that day. No one but Samir accepted that challenge. He demonstrated excellent presentation skills and explained his learning to his fellow students as if he was the professor himself. Overall, at the end of the day, Samir was satisfied with his day at college, even though it started on a boring note.

Once he was done with his college, he headed back home in time to catch up the 4:00 PM show on the radio. So he thought of listening to the radio for a couple of hours until his dad came home. Once he got home, Samir knew he would have to study and there were no two ways about it. After a while, Samir looked at his watch and realised that it was 8:00 PM and his dad had not yet come home. He was so deeply engrossed in listening to the music, that he did not bother to look at the time nor step outside and realise it was dark. So he wondered to himself, “Why is dad late today? He usually comes home by about 6:30 in the evening.” He decided to call up his mom and find out if he had tried contacting her at her shop, since there was no telephone at home.

“Mom, dad has not come home yet, do you know where he is?” Samir nervously asked his mom when he called her on her cell phone.

“Yes, Samir, I know, I’m with him. He is in the hospital.”

For a moment, Samir stopped thinking. He panicked as usual and his heart started beating fast.

“H…Hospital?  What happened? Is everything all right? Which hospital are you at?” Stammering with intense nerves, he asked a series of questions.

His mom told him that dad’s condition had worsened and his stomach had swollen. They had taken some preliminary tests and were trying to diagnose what he was suffering from. His face looked pale and his skin had become yellowish. So far, the symptoms hinted at jaundice, but nothing was clear yet. In his youth, Samir’s dad had suffered from jaundice once. It was the worst time for him, as he could not eat anything, never felt like eating and hence had lost a lot of weight. Apparently, it might have resurfaced. They did not know yet.

A few days passed by and his dad was still in the hospital. Samir and his mom used to take turns to stay at the hospital. Sometimes, Samir’s uncle, his dad’s brother used to stay along with Samir.  So far, the tests had confirmed that his dad was suffering from Hepatitis. It is another form of jaundice, a very deadly virus that if not treated at the right time could prove to be fatal. The Govt.  had started creating awareness to prevent yourself from this virus. Unfortunately, Samir’s dad had not vaccinated himself, as it never occurred to him. Samir hoped that his dad got well soon. Thankfully, they did not have to worry about the medical expenses as his dad had a government job, and they were covered for illnesses like this and did not have to pay for the treatment. A lot of relatives and family used to visit Samir’s dad often. Samir used to stay at his uncle’s apartment with his another cousin and his aunt in Chembur. As soon as Samir finished his college, he used to directly head to the hospital to stay with his father at night.  During this time, the doctors continued their tests and hoped to get his dad recovered as soon as possible.

“Did you have breakfast dad?” Samir asked concerned of his dad’s health.

“Yes, I feel like sleeping for a while now.” His dad replied with a feeble voice and lay on the bed with his eyes closed.

Samir sat next to him and started studying but hardly was able to concentrate. His thoughts troubled him constantly and he was worried about his dad’s condition and could not see him in that state. Slowly he got used to studying at the hospital. Even though the atmosphere was not the best, the peaceful surrounding helped him gradually to concentrate. Finally, Samir passed his exams to move on to the final year of his diploma in computer engineering. Yes of course, he had KT’s in second year as well, but the most important thing was that he reached the final year somehow.

On a Saturday evening, Samir’s mom came over to the hospital. She told Samir as she entered the ward, “You can go home now.”

His mom had just finished work and came over to stay with dad at night.  That is when Samir left as he saw his dad sleeping peacefully. He went to his uncle’s apartment, had dinner and was watching television at their apartment, something that he had lost touch with for ages now. After enjoying a nicely prepared dinner by his aunt, Samir was feeling drowsy as he was watching the television and he decided to hit the sack. That is when he heard the phone ring. His mom had called. Even she had finished her dinner and she wanted to find out if we had dinner.

Samir’s aunt had put her on the speakerphone so all of them could talk to her.

“I spoke to the doctor today; he said that he had some test results.” His mom said and then took a long pause.

The pause made Samir curious and he quickly asked, “And…?”

There was silence… He asked his mom again, “What did he say?”

She held her silence for a bit and then slowly stammered, “Ca… Cancer”

“He has cancer of the liver.” Live cirrhosis, they got to know it as later, caused by advancement of the Hepatitis.

Samir was totally shattered. He was speechless for a while and it seemed as though there was vacuum all around him and he could not hear himself breathe. He did not know what to say. It was as if his brain stopped functioning and time stopped completely for him. His world was devastated and once again, it seemed as though nothing around him mattered. It felt like whatever he had seen so far was just a beginning and the pileup had just begun. The silence in the room was the worst he had ever experienced. He felt emptiness, emptiness filled with desperation and he plunged into complete darkness. A darkness that flew across his head. His mind was completely blown away and he was running towards a sea of nothingness. He had no knowledge of what was going to happen.

Slowly, reality sunk in and gradually Samir realised, “This is it, can this be for real? How can this happen to us. This is not fair.”  First Samir was hoping to turn the clock around and change all of this. Slowly he started to think of the future he was looking at. He began to understand, yet again, there was little he could do about the situation that they were in. They still went for second and third opinions and consulted a few more doctors. Everyone realised that this was going to be a difficult time for all of them. Samir now felt isolated. Now he probably realised what real isolation or solitude was all about. It became difficult for him to imagine, what next.

The hepatitis was diagnosed at a later stage and that lead to the cancer. Hepatitis is a kind of a disease that is caused by a virus, which attacks the liver. Since, it was undiscovered for a long time it complicated into ‘liver cirrhosis’ which meant that the only option in this case was a ‘liver transplant’ One day, one of their relatives came over and told them that there was a doctor at Jaslok Hospital, Peddar Road. He had treated a similar case before and was successful. Thus, they decided to get him admitted in that hospital.

The word ‘Cancer’ is a terrible word in itself. More than anything else, the word is psychologically overwhelming. It sucks away all the hope that you have for the person whom you love the most. It feels like nothing is going to change. When you know that, it is in an advanced stage, it is like fighting a war, already lost. You may win a few battles, but not the war. The suffering, one has to undergo is in itself an upheaval besides the mental struggle. Nevertheless, hope is such a strong catalyst that it pushes anyone to go to extents that you would not go otherwise. With that hope, they admitted Samir’s dad to the hospital, hoping for the best. With the help of a recommendation letter that they got from one of the doctors from B.A.R.C hospital, they were able to get the treatment covered for in this hospital as well. Thanks to that, they saved themselves several hundreds of thousands of rupees.

“Yes, I’m studying real hard papa.” Samir said to assure his dad.

“I’m doing really well and the exam is a cakewalk for me. Trust me.”

It was another Saturday evening. After his college, he had gone to the hospital and had planned to be with his dad over the weekend. Usually Samir, talked to his dad a lot whenever he came home from college. He used to find it interesting to talk to his dad about the new subjects that he learnt at college. He found the knowledge he got in college from some of the subjects very fascinating and he felt like he was going through an intellectual metamorphosis at this stage of his life. As his dad was a scientific officer and specialised in physics, Samir had learnt many things from his dad. Things that he found very useful in his college even though art was his first preference, he did enjoy Physics as well. Many conversations that he had with his dad revolved around science and philosophy. He remembered the time when his dad took him for a ‘stargazing’ exhibition, which helped him learn about the solar system. It gave him the opportunity to get a glimpse of the Moon, Jupiter, Mars and various other astral bodies.  In addition, he thought of the time when his father had bought him the world book encyclopaedia. It gave him all the information, which today’s internet gave us.

While at the hospital, he thought of all these times he had spent with his dad and imagined where he would have been without his support. If it were not for his dads dedicated involvement in Samir’s studies, he would have struggled to reach where he was at, now. He remembered those times when his dad used to sit with him to coach him on Physics, Chemistry, Biology, English and Math of course. By far, he was the best coach ever.

“He has to go through dialysis.” That is what the doctor told Samir and his mom. His condition had worsened by now. He was only on liquid diet at this stage. He was in the ICU of the hospital. Generally, the hospital did not allow anyone inside the ICU. They allowed only one person to stay in the hospital; however, that was in a small dormitory above the ICU section of the hospital. Everyone who had patients as their friends, family or relatives stayed together in that dorm. At this time, even Samir’s mom was admitted to the hospital in B.A.R.C as she was suffering from Malaria. This hospital was in Anushaktinagar, where Samir’s dad was previously admitted. Now once again thanks to the government job, which he wanted to quit for the sake of Voluntary retirement once, they were able to get cover on his mother’s expenses as well. Everything happens for a reason and destiny has a way of telling you the strangest things in the strangest of manners. However, it also meant that his mom had to be away from his dad for a week or so. Samir stayed with dad for that entire week, all alone in the hospital, with frequent visits from his family members. At the end of the week, they discharged his mom. Although, she had not fully recovered, she had enough strength to make it to this hospital in time for the dialysis that was to be conducted.

The dialysis was successful; however, his dad was exhausted and looked completely drained out. Later, Samir’s mom asked him to go to her friend’s place at Mumbra. This woman, Farzana, was helping mom to manage her shop. Next morning Samir had to go to college, submit all the pending assignments, and then go back to the hospital to relieve his mom.

“Let’s go,” said Farzana.

“Where to?” Samir asked, looking a bit astonished.

“We have to go to the hospital.” She replied.

“I just came from the hospital.” Samir said, now he was even more surprised. Probably she wanted to see mom or she had some intuition, that is what he felt. So, he went with her with a confused look on his face. They went to the hospital again, going through a tiring journey, a local train to Byculla and a bus from Byculla to Peddar road via Hajiali. Yes, the mosque we all know that is built in the middle of the sea. Looking at it from the winddow of the bus Samir prayed to Allah, “GOD, let this all be over soon, please. Let peace be back in our lives once again.”

Once they reached the hospital, Samir saw his mom with other relatives in the lobby. So he asked her, what happened, she would not say a word. Once again, he asked, “What happened, tell me.”

“It’s all over.”  She said with a despair look on her face. That was the time when Samir felt numb.

He knew deep within his heart, that it was probably a good thing for his dad because, he saw him in so much of pain everyday. Samir’s biggest phobia after what he had witnessed his dad go through was the fear of pain when one dies. Slowly, Samir went into the ICU, where they had kept his dad’s dead body. He did not know how to react. He went into the ward with his mom and grandmother. As soon as he entered, he saw his dad with his eyes closed. By now, they had taken off the saline, the needles and the bandages were gone. He was wrapped with the white sheet used at the hospital. That is when he saw something dreadful and it stayed in Samir’s memory forever. There was a container, a medical apparatus, sort of a beaker. A beaker that was filled with his dad’s blood. At leas a litre of it. Samir tried to make that image disappear, but that never happened. Once again, Samir had a tear in his eyes. March 12th 2001, a day that he would remember his entire life. He did not know if that was the last time he had shed a tear, but in his heart, he was ready. Ready for the future unknown, for in his heart he thought he was strong.

Child of the Windd

I hope all of you like the book so far! For the rest of the book… Keep watching this space and this book will be soon out on paperback. You can also contact me at:

Email:  srini2k7@gmail.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/srinistuff

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