The bright sunrays leaped and spanned in the milieu as the sun was still left with miles to traverse before it reaches the destined west. The air around was sultry and loaded with humidity. It was scorching hot on the narrow dirt lanes of faridabad. I was barefooted sitting atop a monstrous wheeled Hercules bicycle holding a candy in one had which at regular intervals attracted my mouth while the other hand pivoted like an angular support to the handle .The Hercules named it ‘roadster’ I called it ‘farid mail’.
Soon i engaged myself in pushing and propelling it and would forget to thrust the candy into my unbrushed stinky mouth which would leave it starved at times. I focused more on fostering farid mail’s speed so that it reaches the next step a bit earlier and astonishes the passengers. I wondered if it was the only train in the magnificent country which cares for it’s passengers. Mine was a train that runs between a source and a destination. It’s funny yes, every train does that.oh! but my train has just two stations to stop. yes, no mid locations. Our journey of dreams, i consider should be devoid of rest. We pause,rest,introspect and react to the environment around us and grow suspicious of our aim. Dreams are like those end ribbons of marathon races. We cannot exactly figure them when we start but one must keep running till the end. We should be like those rockets which when propelled don’t stop for a thought for the fire on their back is their zeal and enthusiasm.
And with these inspiring thoughts in my mind i managed to reach my destination. It was no less than a dreamland. The site was much in isolation. A banyan tree stood high and ambitious pushing itself a few inches ever year. I saw it growing since i was a kid. I enjoyed the serene and quiet nature of the place. it was soothing and relieving. The cuckoos were ever enthusiastic and vibrant to sing a melody or two enjoying their solitude as nothing hovered over their little minds. And on the other hand there were those little ants that strived and worked hard to get the little grains up the vine. How contrasting is the world? But more than that i enjoyed my father’s absence.
My father was a bangle maker and this is not at all surprising. Thousands of bangle makers throng Faridabad for a livelihood. My father was also one of them but an adept of his business. I dreamt if his head ever thought anything other than bangles. He was like a robot who had in him a voluptuous battery installed that never discharges. He was always chary about how the family could sustain all the hardships and kept moving unceasingly. This wariness of him kept the kerosene lamps lit for a sizable section of night. He worked at a bangle factory at day time and devoted his night for the small ancillary works of the factory that could raise his scant income to fairish.
He would bring some 100 bangles packed in red miniature boxes to bedizen and spruce them up so that they look trendy and fancy. He always had that target and achieved it. And when we woke up in the morning saw the unexpected. The dia was still lit but the flame a little less smoky owing to the morning breeze that hit it. I questioned mother about father’s whereabouts but the lipped bowl that lay on the earthen floor unfolded the entire mystery. It vexed me to see how my father works inhumanely and we cherished in the boat that sailed in the river of his sweat. He rowed the boat alone without a single hand in cooperation. If he stops rowing we would sink. It reminded me of those passengers at the end stop. Was i that cuckoo and my father the ant? But the cuckoo was independent and self-reliant i wasn’t. I grew reclusive and tried to throw the hogwash out of my mind.
I dressed up in zeal and took my bicycle for a ride. Unwillingly utter dissatisfaction clunged me. I was discontented on how my father despite all sacrifices wasn’t rewarded. My bicycle bumped for a while and i could see the front wheel rotating in air. The wheel symbolized my father who kept rotating but didn’t move. How can i absorb all his plight? I was lazy and hated physical activity. But i was his son, I cared for him. I sat on the grass unfolded my arm and gazed the blue sky. The clouds floated like the lotus in pure blue water. My mind tried hard to synchronize with the movement of clouds and bring a rain of ideas. The shower had arrived both outside and inside. I took the cycle and paddled hastily towards house all agog.
That night when my father’s hand moved relentlessly on the bangles i planned meticulously for the action. I waited anxiously for the dia to be extinguished. Cool breeze filtered through the windows and made the atmosphere slumberous but i somehow managed to keep my eyes away from drowsiness. It was 2 o’ clock. I heard the cross chair being folded and the cot being laid. It was a peculiar sight to see my father sleeping before me. It seldom happened. The loud snores confirmed my father’s presence in fairyland. I opened the main gate avoiding even the slightest of creek.
The dark night looked ferocious for i rarely had stepped out of my house before this at such an ugly time. I could hear barking dogs, chirping crickets and owl’s hoot. The air too was could and the experience sent shivers down the spine. I made my way to the entrance of the factory where my father worked and felt relieved to see the security man dozing off. He had somehow managed to fit his lethargic and bulky body in a midget chair. It was a cakewalk inside. My eyes constantly tried to figure the store room where the just out commodities poured in. The unsanitary floor looked like a total mess. I searched for a chisel with which i could crack the bolted door and get inside to discover the treasures. I found one and in no time got inside. The street light was on and the curtain less windows poured decent illuminanance to let the eyes have a sober view of what’s inside. The bangles dazzled and illuminated as beams of light struck them. Without sparing a minute I garnered handful of bangles and packed them inside those red boxes that my father used to carry home.
I had a thief within me since childhood. I had always looked for shortcuts to earn and grab things by the easy way.And they say shortcuts are meant for the disabled or the cunning. But my father’s too idealistic nature had always pulled my conscience whenever i indulged in such activities. It was my first theft. A grab of 15 boxes that means i had a straight 75 0rs in my pocket. I would sell it tomorrow and keep the money in the almirah I thought. My legs shivered with a pulse of fear and excitement. I reached home and kept the money in the almirah.I tried to sleep but couldn’t. The entire day’s activities turned up in front of my eyes.
The morning was bright and cheerful. I could see my father combing his hair and all ready for the factory. He proceeded towards the almirah that made me spring from the bed.”What do you need?I said in a husky and nervous tone.
”The bead wire and the loop I need it today “he said in suspicious tone.
I grabbed the bead wire in a haste that caused it to stuck in the almirah bolt and snap. A number of loose beads scattered all around. I pushed the stack of red boxes to create a safe position under the pile of clothes. My father moved a few steps forward i tried to take out my hands so that my face’s expression doesn’t showcase my actions. Unfortunately the boxes had not been well placed and they tumbled one after the other. It had grown all worse.”What’s all this? My father enquired me with inquisitive and desperate eyes. I stole some boxes of bangle of boxes from the factory and that too..i had no option but to accept what i had done. But before i could complete my sentence .father thundered upon me..” This is against my beliefs. I have religiously followed Gandhi My country is an independent country and I am not a slave that needs to beg. I can earn my living and if not i would prefer to die starved without eating a bread that is maligned with dishonest flour.”
Freedom is a misconception. Gandhi sacrificed all his life for freedom but still the country is slave to corruption and social malpractices. The slave and master principle is not in the clutches of time. It’s perpetual and endless. Someone has to be a ruler and someone has to be ruled. What has Gandhi to do in the present time he was the part of an event. We do not have britishers to report to now. Was my father playing Gandhi and his idealism the britishers? I wanted the Gandhi to win. Let the practicality win over conscience. I went on further to explain him., “if you take five boxes no one would complain. What’s wrong in this. you deserve this for all the efforts you have put since years.”
As soon as i spoke my father hit me the mightiest slap he could. My body felt the warmth of the soaring blood. I made a fool out of myself by trying to influence the intense white beam to turn dark. But when the light becomes too intense it only suffocates the viewer’s eye .Idealism and truthfulness in only a philosophy found in books now. You might have light inside but you would be like that opaque house that has light filled within you but the world will only see you in contrast. What’s the fancy in having such a character?
It has been ages since i had last seen my father. I missed his absence but my life had all the pleasures i longed for. The day i left the house i pledged that i would work like a maniac but i would not be like my father whose truthfulness was nothing but a blockade to his success. I had a meeting in a few minutes. A meeting that could change my life. It was a collaboration meeting with a reputed cosmetics company. A number of Indian bangle companies had lined up to expose their commitment and the company was to choose one among them. I had a good glance through the office window. I saw hundreds of cars plying on the roads. The traffic light turned red and the cars halted. I looked at the clock, took my file and proceeded.
The meeting hall had a mysterious silence all around. Everyone was briefed about the event and we the managers had to give an interview. I felt nervous and apprehensive. I had cheated all my life, earned money through frivolous ways. It was a turn to face the interview and i had heard enough stories of how the experienced interviewers rejected the fake candidates. I heard my conscience asking me to follow it. For the first time i found me being ruled by my conscience. Had the new age begun?
The room was full of surprises. I saw my father sitting as the chairman. I thought it was a dream. My conscience had found a new ruler and the next my father’s voice echoed in my ears.”you might win all wars by frivolous ways but the battle is won by the bravest. Gandhi might have suffered several bruises, he would have been kicked out of the train, he had to suffer but his ideality won him the battle. Life is all about being true to yourself.”
I took the file and walked away without a word. Yes the new age had begun!