Independence

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The boy was staring at the bakery with hunger in his eyes. He had a little, half-naked girl on his shoulder and another little boy was holding his hand. All three turned around and looked at people in the bus stand expectantly. The trio approached a man with a cigarette on his lips in white spotless shirt and light grey trousers and a laptop bag on shoulder leaning on his motorcycle parked beside.

The boy hesitated and then with pleading eyes said “Bhaiyya, Char rupay denge to badi meherbani hogi, sirf ek biscuit packet bhaiyya, hum log subah se kuch nahi khaye” (Brother if u give four rupees it will be very kind of you, just one biscuit packet, we haven’t eaten anything from morning).

The man looked other way and pretended he was not listening.

The children looked up with sinking hopes and boy pleaded “Bhaiyya sirf ek biscuit packet”. (Brother one biscuit packet only).

The man got little uncomfortable, he expressed his displeasure and threw his unfinished cigarette on ground and doused it with his leg and mounted the motorcycle in order to start it.

The boy fearing more insults did not prod the man further and turned away with the other children in tow and crossed the street. The trio was loitering around the shops in the adjoining market but didn’t approach anyone else. After some time there was a little bit of hustle at the bus stand as a bus approached and waiting passengers boarded it in a hurry in order to grab the best seats. It was off peak hour so only a handful of seat got occupied. It was also the terminal stop for that bus so it was to wait there for a while before leaving.

The trio appeared from somewhere and boarded the bus the older boy made baby girl sit in the last seat and started playing with her. The other boy too joined and instantly the bus was filled with shouts and giggles of the children then the older boy started running around the bus and hiding behind the seats.

The younger boy cried out “Gopi Bhaiyya khidar ho tum! Jaldi idhar aao! “(Brother Gopi where are you, come here soon) and tears filled up in his eyes.

Gopi rushed to him and both burst out laughing.

Their little game of hide and seek continued for a while till the conductor boarded the bus. Gopi picked his little sister and got down from the bus and made her sit on the bench at the bus stand and asked his little brother to guard her.

He then boarded the bus again stood at the steps. The bus started moving ahead slowly. The younger brother started waving goodbye. Then the bus started picking a little speed. The children got scared and started crying “Gopi Bhaiyya, wapas aao”. (Brother Gopi come back)

Gopi jumped from the bus and ran towards his siblings. The little ones started smiling and felt secure again.

——————

As another Independence Day is almost here and we celebrate our freedom, independence with ethnic days, pot luck lunches and singing patriotic songs at our places of residence or work. Let us not forget numerous Gopis who have to “independently “fend for themselves and their dependents at a tender age when they themselves need a secure and safe childhood.

This leads me to a question what does being “independent” actually mean? Please let me know your ideas about it.


This post was first published @ N-zine.

Goodbye!

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This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 13; the thirteenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

He loved goodbyes!
‘He’ or “Abhi” as his father had named him. His father had said “Not Abhi-k or Abhi-sek or Abhi-jit or  Abhi-roop  just Abhi, short, sweet without any baggage”.  Abhi’s father was in Army and would go away to the border for long periods of time.  He missed his father but the best part of his father’s leaving home for duty was saying good bye to his dad. He loved the railway stations, the ambience there, the chugging away of the trains thrilled him to no end. Once during vacations Abhi’s dad had arranged a trip to the hills where Abhi’s dad was posted. Abhi was really excited by the idea of travelling by train like his dad. But he was utterly disappointed when no one had come to say goodbye to him and his mother.  Family for Abhi meant his mom and Dad. Abhi’s parents had married against the wishes of his grandparents so their respective families had cut-off all relations from them. Hence there was no one to see them off at the station when they left for the hills.  But all his disappointments and heartbreaks melted the moment the train entered the destination station. His dad was there, waiting at the platform with a huge smile and open arms to receive them.  Those fifteen days were one of the best in Abhi’s life and while returning the goodbye was grand as his dad’s colleagues had come to see them off with a number of gifts for him and most importantly his dad was coming home with them.  That day little Abhi had decided he would join the Army like his dad and work in the hills. Dreams, ambitions and lives are shattered by war. In one such war Abhi’s dad had returned home in coffin wrapped in country’s flag. He was still very young to understand the final goodbye he had so say to his father when he lit the pyre. But seeing his mother’s stony silence he realized, that he will never be able to join the Army.
As we know life doesn’t stop or slow down, Abhi too was growing up rapidly as per the nature’s rules. In the process he had made many friends but one among them was his best mate. Sundar was a back bencher like Abhi and that’s how they became close. They would bunk school and go to the sea shore and wave goodbyes to the passing ships.
Abhi remarked one day “I envy those sailors” popping 3-4 peanuts into his mouth and passing the paper bag to Sundar.
“Yes! I wish I could be one” Sundar replied.
“To be a good sailor you need to study, study really hard, boys” a voice remarked from behind breaking into their conversation.
Abhi and Sundar startled by the voice, turned to find out the source.
An old man was smiling at them.
“Sorry boys broke in like this but take it from a retired sailor, go to school and study hard, and then one day you’ll see yourself captaining a ship into the oceans” said the old man looking far away into the sea.
The old man’s word had magical effect on the boys and they went back to school and never bunked classes again. A few years later, one day, they were back at the port. Sundar in a sailor’s uniform and Abhi was there to send him off.  No, Abhi couldn’t become a sailor, his mother was very ill and he couldn’t leave her alone in that state. So he took over his mother’s Gift Shop. But he was happy for Sundar. When Sundar’s ship set sail Abhi had waved to him and uttered “Goodbye my friend, do  keep sending postcards of the lands you visit”.
Abhi with his hard work and ingenuity had expanded the gift shop and in a short period his shop was the best in the city.  But his mother’s deteriorating health kept him concerned.  Her memory was wiping off progressively, initially she used to forget names, then she forgot faces including Abhi and finally she couldn’t do basic day to day operations. He helplessly watched her losing herself. One night she fell off fatally from her bed. Abhi didn’t even get a chance to say his final goodbye to her.
Life couldn’t be all that harsh with him. He met Suzanne in his shop; she had come to his shop looking for gift for her kid brother. Abhi helped her in deciding a perfect gift. They kept meeting often and steadily they became very close. Finally Abhi proposed to Suzanne and she accepted. They got married soon and when they were setting off for honeymoon, Abhi was overwhelmed by huge set of Suzanne’s family and friends at the railway station bidding them goodbye, as the train rolled out of the platform Abhi waved at the crowd.
Indeed he loved goodbyes!

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