One day on an early morning at 7 am in the busy streets of Mundakayam, Kerala, India is a Bus Stand with lots people taking their bus. Some young school love birds come early for a chit chat at the stand before they take their bus to school. Some in full formals for work and some in their colourful lungi’s and half torn shirts waking up early in the morning after goodnight hangover in the liquor bars. And then you see a young man in his college uniform waiting for his usual Kondody bus that leaves at 7:15 am to Marian College Kuttikkanam. Who happens to be the main protagonist of this story. Vishal Ram Nair, a student of Marian College Kuttikkanam and a day scholar who is in his 20’s pursuing his 3rd year B.Com.
Exactly 1 minute early, the Kondody bus to Kumaly, arrives before its scheduled time. Vishal takes the bus and rather taking a seat he stands near the door of the bus as a helping hand to the conductor by ringing the bell for the next stop and escorting the passengers in and out of the bus as his daily routine till Kuttikkanam. And the bus conductor who turns out to be his neighbor and a good friend comes by Vishal’s side for a one to one conversation once when he had finished collecting tickets, unfortunately today it was not possible as the bus was getting packed with a lot of passengers after every stop.
In 45 minutes time Vishal had reached his destination and decided to take leave from the bus and as he was taking his first step on the ground of Kuttikkanam that day the conductor shouted out to him “Hey Vish Happy Bdai” Vishal stopped for just a second and left off without replying the conductor. “Happy Bdai” was something that Vishal hated the most and it was something that Vishal was never comfortable with. He made his personal life more private. He in fact hide his date of birth in all social networking sites though the conductor knew his birthday because he was his neighbour and knew him from child hood. These two words were something that Vishal was uncomfortable with.
Even though Vishal hide his personal life, he was no ordinary introvert student of the college. He was a proactive star studded figure in the college in terms of his leadership, commitments, activities etc. in the college. A class leader for the B.Com batch for nearly 2 yearly semesters and this year also he was unanimously elected the class leader but more than that he became the Union Chairman of the College. A “Mr. Perfect” for all the students and faculties including the Principal. One of the most powerful speaker, a gifted motivator, a team builder and more than that a down to Earth human yet his personal activities are all hidden and are not easily reachable even in the world’s most powerful search engine “Google”.
As he reaches the main gate of the college, we see a lot of students wandering around, some girls sitting near the footpaths gossiping, some boys do their routine mouth looking, some love birds giggling, laughing at something which God knows what it would be and then there are also MLA’s (Mouth Looking Agents) that wander around college looking and fooling around. Vishal was 1 hour early before the class so he left for library to read his daily “The Hindu” newspaper which was always handed by his favourite librarian Tinku chetan (“Chetan” resembles brother in Malayalam). Once when he finished his newspaper he left back to his class with 15 minutes more time left before the class could even start.
As he reached his class, nearly half of the classmates were already present and having a nice chit chat and as Vishal crosses one by one and few of them wishes good morning. His collegues are always updated with upcoming birthdays but that was not the case when it comes to Vishal’s birthday. No one can get access to his personal details and many of his intimate friends ask out of curiosity of when is his birthday but he would rather smile and ask them to find out. But it was all the more impossible.
Vishal though used to have a lot of hectic schedule for his commitments towards the college but today he is in the class for one full day without any disruption. And even after the class at 3:30 pm, he left for home early from his usual 9:30 pm. He took a “Grace” bus at 3:55 pm and once when he reached his home he went straight to his room and opened his cupboard. The cupboard was filled with photo albums. He opened all the albums one by one. In each album there was one similarity, Vishal and his sister Vidya, either hugging each other for a pose, jumping and swinging in the park, sharing food etc. He takes up the albums and sit on his bed and moves back to his flash back.
7 years back
Vidya Ram Nair, elder sister of Vishal and more than that the brightest of the brightest and the heart of St. Joseph’s School, Mundakayam who is in her 12th grade. Today the entire students in the school assembly and faculties dedicate a 1 hour prayer at night for this young girl’s fate with a candle in each and everyone’s hand.
Matha Hospital, Kottayam, Kerala, India
Vidya lies on the bed suffering from a severe accident that took place two weeks back near the Mundakayam Bus stand. She was hit by a KSRTC Fast Passenger bus and lost a lot of blood and though Vishal was in his teens, he grabbed the hold of his sister and took her to the Mundakayam Medical Trust and from there they took the ambulance to the Matha Hospital, Kottayam. For nearly two weeks Vidya was in a state of coma till one day she opened her eyes and saw Vishal’s head resting on her left hand. With a weak tone “Vish…” from Vidya, Vishal woke up and looked at her.
“CHECHI (Sister in Malayalam)” Vishal with most excited voice since two weeks
“What is the dddatee todddaay?”
Vishal didn’t spoke anything as he looked down
“Telllll meeee: she stressed with her left hand tightly pressing on his.
“10th February” he said
She pulled his hand towards her and asked him to bring his face close to hers. And Vishal did exactly as commanded, she gently kissed him on his forehead and said “Happy Bday Vish”.
The beep sound of the stenographer stopped.
Back from the flash back
Vishal clears the last drop of his tear from his eyes and packs up his albums in the cupboard and before he could close his cupboard he noticed a piece of paper and took a look into it.
It read “My sweet baby Vish! You are the biggest gift that god had given me. I love you soo much and all the best for the tournament. My prayers are always there for you”
Vishal remember’s the letter being written before he had gone for an Inter School cricket tournament to Kochi when he was just 13 years. He was then the youngest player to have been part of the tournament and was the leading wicket taker though the team lasted only till the semi-final but it was a great feat for the school and Vishal was the young star in that tournament.
He took a quick shower and left for the dinner. His parents did not wish him on his birthday not because they have forgotten. But because of the request Vishal had asked for i.e. never to wish him on his birthday as it always disturbed his inner soul due to the hospital incident. Since that incident his parents kept their promise.
Next day he did his daily routine. Going by Kondody bus early and spending time in the college till 9pm for all the proper organisation of the college’s day to day activities. And every year on 10th of February, Vishal would be introvert in his nostalgic world. But on the other days he would be the extrovert something that is within the birth itself just like his sister Vidya, the brightest and the heart of the St. Joseph School. Even now she is still in the prayers of every student in the school. As every year on the day of her death there would be a silent prayer in the school for that bright young girl as a mark of respect from the school.
Dedicated to all the Sisters who have been a Symbol of Hope and Inspiration for all Brothers out there!!!