Anand, Gujarat, India
The lamp in the night dims out....only to usher the sunlight of the dawn. And if God wills, we behold the sunlight, if we do not see the light anymore, it is God’s will, anyway.....
I am Poritosh Banerjee, a retired high official from the Indian railways. All my life I have earned wealth more than I could have imagined and I have earned it the honest way. I have earned fame more than my wealth. I have earned the affection of my friends more than the fame.
And I retired as a proud man.
I have spent most of my wealth and energy in raising my only child; a son. After he was born, we were very clear that we did not want a second child. We wanted to provide the best of schooling and materialistic comforts and undivided attention to him. Dhruv, my wife named our son.
During my job, I was transferred throughout the length and breadth of India. So, my parents never stayed with us. They were confined to the small sleepy village in Bardhaman in West Bengal.
Throughout my job-life, my rewards brought pride to my family. Added to this family pride were the trophies my child earned for academics, sports, extra-curricular activities. He was a brilliant student and a winner all through.
Before we knew it, Dhruv grew up and we sent him to London for his further career pursuits. All that I had earned belonged to him. He was my only child, after all.
Dhruv never came back to stay in India. He and Meghan, his wife settled forever in London and now they have a daughter, whom I have not yet seen!
He would visit us once a year. Dhruv was busy, very busy. He would often have to go for some official commitments in India even during his visit to us.
My wife, Mitali, the quintessential ‘Ma’, never had any complain against her son. She instead would try day and night to make Meghan’s stay comfortable at our house while Dhruv was away.
Mitali passed away four years back. Though I had secretly wished to migrate to London, Dhruv was not very keen. Meghan was not keen either. Their child did not know who I was!
For me, the last four years passed as if I lived through four long lives. Life never seemed so long and unwelcome! My credentials and Dhruv’s trophies gathered dust day after day now that I had no more energy to clean them. The big bungalow I had built screamed in silence. Many a times I had thought of returning to Bardhaman but my parents are no more, so there is no one to receive me or even want me!
I lost the eyesight in my right eye after a stroke last year. Dhruv did not know this. Mitali had ordered me that we should never bother our child and never come in way of his career pursuits.
I have more than enough money. I have a bungalow built for housing ten people! I have the kitchen set up for feeding a dozen people at a time. Such magnanimous was Mital’s heart and intentions but now I stay here alone. I don’t need more than a cot and an arm chair. My diet is reduced to some insipid monotonous food which my hired cook makes.
If I could see God, I would enquire, how long do I have to live?
But last month, I met Tapan, a young lad from Katihar with dreams in his eyes and hole in the pocket! I rented out a room to him, not for money but in search of some companion.
He is here to earn some living, he says. He works for a small Government health project.
I had no idea that my life would change after meeting young Tapan. Over the last month Tapan and I have schemed out a wonderful proposition.
I was almost ready to spend most of my wealth to buy a place for me in the ‘Nirvana-House for the aged’. They demanded some 10 lacs for a two room space for me and other facilities which the aged need.
I talked it over with Tapan and some of my aged and frail friends whom I meet every evening in the park.
But now I have this brilliant idea in my mind, courtesy Tapan. I am not spending my wealth in paying to an old age home but I am actually turning my villa to a home for the aged!!!
Tapan will spend some time for managing the home, he says. He will infact live with all of us, for the time being. We have also got Dr. Vashisht, our neighbour to offer his voluntary service to us. In one month, five people have already contacted me. There is no dearth of money for any one of them, they have all earned wealth and fame but that is a forgotten era. They all have their children but they are busy, as I was or as Dhruv is. All they look for is a companion. All they want is not to sleep in an empty house. All they want is that if suddenly one morning, any one of them does not wake up anymore, somebody else is there to take charge of the final rites and to send a casual message to the children.
So, I know, I will be not alone anymore. I will turn my haunted house into a home. I will have friends living with me.
It is a new beginning. Even if the end is near, the path does not have to be dark.... I deserve moonlight till the last hours of the night!