Bereft

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
2 people of different age, who are deprived of a companionship, come together to take a decision to shape this unnamed relation.

Submitted: July 13, 2017

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Submitted: July 13, 2017

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Chapter 1

Minutes passed after the train departure. Varun quickly had his coffee from the stall and came out on the road. He saw a mid-heighted half bald man busy checking his phone and holding the pickup board of ‘Mr. Varun Suman’. “Mr. Mehra? The broker?”, Varun went close to him and asked. “Yes! Yes! You must be Mr. Suman”, said the broker welcomingly to which Varun nodded with a smile. “It is weird that the train was on time”, continued the broker with a giggle. “I think the railways are improving”, said Varun in a lighter tone. “So, can we move on to view some flats? Actually, I have to join the company from tomorrow. This is the only day I have and it is already 3”, he continued. “Yes, Sir, of course. I have already talked to some of the owners. I have parked my bike over there, I will just come”, said the broker as he pointed towards the bike and started going. “Hey, wait!”, Varun called out to him. The broker quickly stopped and turned to him to say, ”Yes Sir?”. “Do you really want me to come with you and choose a flat?”, asked Varun somewhat straightly. The broker replied after a pause, “Yes Sir, that is why I am here, why do you ask this?” “Then you have to agree to something”, said Varun. “What, Sir?”, asked the broker thoughtfully. “Don’t call me ‘Sir’. I am much younger than you. I clearly don’t like it”, said Varun with some casual creases coming up on his forehead. “Oh! Yes, okay. I appreciate that, Varun”, said the broker as they both smiled. They got onto the bike and went towards the core city. Seated at the back, Varun was pleased with the hilly town visuals. The tea gardens coming their way, some mountains with snowed peaks standing still and the feel of the clouds were something which spirited him. Coming from a busy city with no time and life, this all was blissful to him. They reached the internal areas of the town and after a while, the broker rode themselves into a premise. They both got off the bike and looked at the tower. “Varun, believe me, this is the best premise in the town. You would surely choose a flat in here”, said the broker while taking his helmet off and looking at Varun. “Yes, I think so. It is nice and calm”, said Varun, still eyeing the tower. Then he looked down and after running his eyes over the small plantations in the garden, he asked, “How much will my office be from here?” “Not more than 2km. This is a good thing that the best in town is very near to your office”, the broker informed while walking some steps forward and waving to a security guard, to which the guard asked with a hand-gesture indicating keys. The broker nodded. They stepped into the lift and went to the ninth floor. The broker made him see the entire flat and Varun liked it at the first sight. The scenes of mountains and the grey sky from the balcony immediately captivated him. How could anyone resist a thought of having a hot coffee while gazing at those beautiful mountains? Holding the bars of the balcony and seeing some of the tea gardeners down, Varun said, “Why can’t all places in this world be like this? I have not felt this type of freshness before” “I don’t think I could answer that but can say one thing”, the broker said as he too held the bars. “Ya, go on”, Varun said. “Welcome to the north-eastern part of India”, said the broker smilingly. “Oh! Thanks Mr. Mehra”, Varun warmly said. “Really, our metro-cities are too overrated. All they do there is running”, he continued. “True, I agree”, said the broker. “Work is essential, but in the end, it is a just a part of life and not the whole” “Woah! Mr. Mehra, so now the broker has a philosophical side as well, not bad”, said Varun, as he looked at the broker with slight amazement, they both shared a laugh over it. The broker locked the flat as he wanted Varun to see some other flats as well. Varun did insist to finalize that one but the broker requested to view some more options to which he agreed. As they took the stairs and were going to the lower floors, they heard a voice which called out, “Mr. Mehra, wait!”. They both stopped and quickly looked back. “Hello, Mr. Raman”, said the broker and looked at Varun with a faded face. Varun understood that there is something behind this reaction of the broker. “It has been a lot of days now. The security guard often informs me about your visits to this premise, but why don’t you take any of your clients here?”, asked Raman with a gentle tone and smile. Varun looked at the man, his white Indian attire, that thick spectacles, and the honest smile he carried. “No No, its not that way. Actually, most of my clients are families and they prefer flats. But don’t worry, I will soon get you a paying guest”, said the broker, trying to look as if he was in a hurry. Before Raman could reply, the broker prompted, “Good bye, Mr. Raman”, leaving Raman to stop himself from continuing. The broker held Varun’s arms and took him to the lowest floor. “Stop! What was that?”, said Varun as he pulled his arm from the hold. “What? Please don’t stop. Let us leave”, said the broker looking restless. “But why? Who was that man? You really seem to avoid him”, asked Varun being puzzled. “Yes, exactly. You know, if he catches anyone, like today he caught us, he would make them talk to him for hours. People are bored of him”, said the broker, still trying to pull Varun’s arms. “Last time when I took one of my clients to him, he talked to us for hours, and whenever we requested to leave, he would insist : ‘sit for few more minutes, let us talk, it is getting interesting’, interesting? Hell boring it was”, continued the broker showing his frustration. “But why does he do that?”, said Varun, still confused with the man’s thoughts. The broker took a deep sigh and replied, “The man is alone, alone from the last 20 years since his father’s death. He is unmarried and doesn’t have his own family, so…” “…so to address his loneliness, he takes anyone possible to his home and talks”, said Varun. “Yes, exactly. So, please don’t waste any more of the time, if he catches us again, definitely our day will be over at his house only”, replied the broker, again showing the hurrying itch. Varun didn’t reply and seemed to be into a thought. The thoughts which brought a silence in him, which made him recall certain events and more importantly, certain people. “I am ready to be his paying guest”, said Varun. “What? Are you crazy?”, the broker almost shouted in surprise. “Varun, don’t be an emotional fool. I know you are moved by his loneliness story, but think again, the man who could make an outsider talk for hours, what would he do with his own paying guest? God! The thought is itself scary”. These words brought a smile to Varun’s face, he said, “He won’t do that to me. I exactly know what he wants” to which the broker didn’t reply, being over shocked with the thought that how could anyone in his senses agree to live with a man like Raman. “Come, let us go that floor again”, said Varun, now pulling the broker’s arms.

Chapter 2

“You sure about it?”, said the broker looking at Varun with displeased eyes. “Will you knock the door now? It has been 2 minutes already that we are standing in front of his door”, Varun said. “Varun, believe me this man won’t let you go to your office also…”, the broker continued but Varun pushed aside the broker and knocked the door, looked at the broker with a casual reaction. The door was quickly opened by Raman. Upon the opening, they both could see a surprised smile on the man’s face, to which Varun smiled back. “Mr. Mehra, please come in, please”, said Raman with his smile getting wider, but the broker’s face still contained that displeasure while stepping into the flat. Raman closed the door and said, “Please sit, both of you, shall I bring some lemon tea” to which the broker replied, “No, Sir, it is just about few minutes, then I have to go my office, then for lunch as well and then…”, hearing this, Varun closed himself to the broker’s ears and whispered, “You really don’t have any manners, Mr. Mehra. The old man is just asking for a lemon tea and you are so desperate to go”, to which the broker whispered back, “Precaution is better than cure, Varun. Please understand”. Seeing them going on whispering, Raman asked, “Is there a problem, do you need anything?”. “No problem at all, Uncle”, said Varun as he turned his face towards Raman. “My name is Varun Suman. I am from Delhi and have come to this town for about a couple of years”, he continued. “That is great. Please stay here. I am sure you will like this place as your own home”, said Raman being very glad with his eyes saying it all. “Thank you, Uncle”, Varun said, while observing the energy in Raman’s eyes. He could make out that how much the man has been alone, that just getting a person to talk seems a goal to him. “Come Varun, let me take you to the room, I hope you would like it”, Raman said as he started walking through the kitchen. They both stood up too and followed him. Raman started describing the room to Varun, he did not even leave a small coffee table without praising, making sure that Varun agrees to take the room, but he did not know that Varun has already made up his mind to stay, not because of the room or less expense, but for the man. The broker quickly slipped off after taking his fees and Varun started unpacking his bag and adjust the belongings into the room, after some hours when he was still making up the room, he suddenly heard a tiny bell ringing from the other room, which was Raman’s. “It is 8.30 in the evening. Is it a normal time to pray?”, asked Varun with a polite smile as he entered the room and saw Raman before the small wooden temple. Raman put the bell aside and said, “It was not a prayer, son. It was just a ‘thank you’”. “You really seem to enjoy people’s company”, said Varun as he too went before the temple and joined his palms. Seeing this, “Wow! You believe in God?”, asked an amazed Raman. “Yes, Why is it shocking to you?”, asked Varun. “Kids of this generation are too practical, they don’t understand religion. Good to see, boys like you still have faith in Him”, said Raman, “come, let us have some lemon tea”. “No, I don’t think so. The kids are not at all practical, they are just self-obsessed and weak to follow the principles of a religion. In fact, they are not practical enough to believe God’s existence and the existence of righteousness, which has to be followed, practically”, said Varun as he sat on the chair of the dining table and looked at Raman who was preparing tea. Hearing this, Raman turned and stared at him for seconds and said, “My God! Who are you? A saint from the Himalayas?”, Varun laughed and said, “No, Uncle. Just an engineer in a construction company” “Oh! Into construction, nice”, said Raman as he brought the cups to the table and sat on the chair next to Varun’s. “So, which is the site?”, continued Raman. “I don’t know the exact address, but I heard ‘Canal road’ many times by my seniors back in Delhi”, recalled Varun. “Yes, the Canal Road. Several projects have come up there. I often see those when I go the vegetable market. It is just about 2 km from here”, said Raman. “I already inquired about the distance from the broker. Being at a new place is always challenging, so less travelling may help”, Varun said while sipping one. “Of course, son, and don’t worry about your food, I will…”, continued Raman but was interrupted by the ringing of Varun’s phone which was kept beside his cup of tea. Raman saw that the phone-display said ‘father’ and then looked to Varun, who took the phone and rejected the call. “I think it was from your father”, said Raman hesitatingly. “I know”, Varun replied. “Aren’t father’s calls needed to be picked up?”, asked Raman. “But a call in a month, sometimes two, doesn’t matter”, Varun replied and stoned his eyes over his cup, thoughtfully. Raman saw this, brought up a smile, put his hand on Varun’s shoulder and said, “Son, at least answer him once, he must be worried that you are in a new town” “I am 25, uncle. He was not worried when he should have been, his worry is senseless to me now”, said Varun as he finished his tea and stood up, “Would you mind if I sleep, I am a bit tired now and have to catch up the office tomorrow” Realizing the disturbance in Varun, Raman replied, “Yes, son, sleep well. You can wake me up whenever you need anything” Varun smiled and said, “Thank you, uncle” and took both the cups from the table and kept it in the kitchen. While heading towards his room, he saw that Raman was still looking at him with a concern, “Sorry, it was not good to just stand up and go like this, if you want I can talk to you for some more time”, said Varun. “No, son. Please take some rest. I was just thinking about…”, said Raman. “Thinking about me and my relationship with my father”, completed Varun, to which Raman nodded with a concerned smile. “Can I confess something? The broker told me about your lone life and the fact that people avoid you because you always try to deal your loneliness through them. This is the true reason why I chose to be your paying guest”, said Varun. “The broker is right, people here, they don’t understand me, but I don’t blame them. They have their life too, why would anyone take time to talk to me”, said Raman with a smile, “but these years, they have been hard on me”, he continued softly. “I understand”, said Varun. “But son, how did my story touch you?”, asked Raman while standing up from the chair. “I don’t know, uncle. Probably because of the fact that we both lacked the same thing in life”, said Varun while entering his room. “Companionship?”, asked Raman. Varun turned from the doorstep, smiled at him and said, “Good night. Tomorrow morning we will have a great cup of lemon tea again”. Raman reciprocated with a wider smile after not receiving a straight reply from him and said “Sure, son, good night”. Varun laid down on the bed soon. He took up his phone and opened the call list. All he did for the next few minutes was staring at the missed call from his father. Putting the phone aside after deleting the missed call, he closed his eyes. Raman was again before the temple in his room. Joining his palms and looking at the Shiva idol, he said, “He is a good boy, right? These years, it is just been you and me. But, thank you, thank you for this gift. I promise I will take care of it. Just never make me alone again, please”, he prayed and got onto the bed.

Chapter 3

The alarm rang, Varun took the phone and dismissed it with his eyes shut. As the sleep was making its way out slowly, he started stretching the hands, still feeling the tiredness of the travelling day. He managed to open both of his eyes now, which straightaway saw a beautiful pigeon outside the net at the window. He stood off the bed and went closer, gazed at the bird. With the cool breezes and the sun rays touching his face, it brought a smile to him. “In love with this place, son?”, said Raman as he entered the room and saw Varun with that peaceful smile. Varun turned back, still carrying the smile and said, “Magical, what a morning! No cars, only chirps, less buildings more mountains, what a morning!” with pauses. Raman smiled back to him and said, “So what about a hot lemon tea in the balcony, with the lemon just left to squeeze” “That would not be less magical as well, uncle”, said Varun. “I am not feeling like but I have to brush”, he continued giving a short laugh. Raman laughed too and replied, “Okay son, waiting for you in the balcony with our pleasing drink” and turned after a while to go in the kitchen but looked back again as Varun said, “Uncle, good morning” with a loving smile. “A very good morning, son”, replied a smiling Raman catching the vibe with which Varun said. Raman so was happily electrified to get that ‘good morning’ from Varun that he went before the temple briskly and saw his Shiva idol and spoke, “A good morning? Someone greeting me a good morning? With so much affection as well! Thank you again, you exactly knew what I wanted. I praise you Shiva”, and after looking at Him with admiration, he went to the kitchen. “So, excited for the first day?”, asked Raman putting some sugar to Varun’s cup. “One spoon it is”, said Varun and started the stir, “First day? Actually I have had a quite few ‘first days’, not so exciting now”, he continued. “Anyway, best of luck, son”, said Raman and extended his cup towards Varun’s. He too approached Raman’s cup with his and asked being muddled, “Why do we do this?” “Boy!!! It is your first day, you may not be excited but I am, so cheers”, said Raman wearing a big smile. “Cheers!”, replied Varun, “Do people in here have cheers of lemon tea?”, he continued with a troublesome smile. “Do you mean…”, Raman said. “Ha-Ha!”, Varun chuckled, “leave it uncle, you are too good for all that”, he said while drinking a sip. Raman kept the cup aside and replied, “too good for what? Beer? Alcohol?” with curiosity. Receiving this questioned reaction, Varun started hurrying the drink. “Easy, Varun, its still hot”, said Raman concernedly. “Not hotter than your asking face”, laughed Varun and stoop up, “Uncle, it is eight-thirty now, I should be taking the bath”, he said. “Oh yes!”, exclaimed Raman, “go now, it is your first day, you still have to find the place”, he continued. “Exactly”, said Varun and picked up Raman’s cup. Seeing this, he said, “You are getting late, please go now, I will keep them myself”, but Varun smiled and took away the cups to the kitchen. Varun zipped up his pant and tightened the belt while still eyeing his stuff to be taken away to the site. He quickly packed those and stepped outside the room. “Son!”, called Raman. “Come here before Him“. Varun looked left to Raman’s room and got in. Opening his hand as to receive Varun, he held his hand and said, “It is your first day. Take His blessings. Light up this diya for He shall take care of you” and looked at the idol. Listening to this, Varun was perturbed with slight amazement, he picked those matchsticks kept under the temple and slowly lighted it. Still holding the stick in hand and looking at the idol, he was thoughtful. “Go on, son”, said Raman smilingly, to which Varun nodded and lit up the small temple-lamp. They both joined their palms and prayed. Raman then looked at him, waiting for him to open his eyes, but when he opened it, the eyes had moisture. “Son, what happened?”, said Raman as he was surprised to see those tears. “Nothing”, replied Varun as he turned his face away from Raman. “Don’t hide. It won’t do good, son. Tell me, what happened?”, said Raman softly. Varun again turned and saw him, before Raman could ask more, Varun hugged him and started shedding those tears which were fighting to get out. He hugged him even tighter now and Raman too grabbed him. “Easy, Varun, easy”, pacified Raman with gently moving his hands across Varun’s back. He took him to outer room and made him sit on the sofa. “Let me bring some water for you”, said Raman and stood up but Varun held his hands. “No, don’t go anywhere. Please let me realize it, please”, he cried and kissed Raman’s hands. Raman sat beside him again and didn’t speak further so he could take the inner weight out. Varun soon got composed, but still held Raman’s hand. He slowly got off the sofa and went in to clean. As he washed his face and saw himself in the mirror, he could see those light-red eyes, stared at them and thought about those moments in the past years which brought the same condition to his eyes. Raman was still sitting on the sofa when Varun again came out and stood in front. Raman quickly stood up and brought that consoling smile, to which Varun smiled too. “I am sorry for all that, uncle. I really troubled you”, said Varun as he continued his smile. “Trouble? No son, absolutely no. But, what happened to you?”, asked Raman. “All I will say,”, said Varun as he went closer to Raman, “is thank you!”. “That one feeling, that particular when you stood with me to pray, prayed for me, prayed for my first day at work…”, he continued. “Son,”, replied Raman, “but that was nothing”. “Nothing?”, Varun questioned, “You say this because you don’t know my years, my seeking from it and the outcomes”, he continued. Raman saw him lovingly and said, “I know what longings can do to anyone. You know mine as well, but what is your longing? What do you lack?” “Is there a straight answer to it?”, said Varun, “You tell me, how did you feel when today you had someone to pray for, how did you feel when you had someone to have a lemon tea with? How did you exactly feel when you had someone with you gazing at those mountains? Or simply, how did you feel when, after all these lone years, you had someone who really listened to you?” As Varun completed, Raman held his eyes still, as if he too was reminded of everything, again. Gathering some breath, he said, “I don’t have words, son. Whatever I have felt since last evening because of your presence is…is…”, he could not complete. Seeing his blank face, Varun came closer and placed his palms on Raman’s old wrinkled cheeks, Raman too grabbed those palms lovingly. Varun, while looking affectionately into his eyes, said, “See, didn’t I say, there are no words for it. You say that my presence has importance to you, but uncle, your presence is that much pleasing to me as well. Those moments which I felt this morning in the temple-room with you, is very fresh to me, it is something I have never felt before, that is the reason I could not control myself” “I understand it, Varun”, said Raman smilingly, “When we get something, especially relations which we never experienced but always deserved, we cannot stop those erupting emotions”, he continued. “I don’t want them to stop either”, said Varun smiling back and they hugged each other again. Realizing the slipping time, Varun quickly wore his shoes and picked up his office bag. As he started going and looked back to wave at Raman, Raman spoke, “Son, whatever talk we had, I am making out the reason for you not talking to your dad. Am I thinking right?” “Yes you are. But, he is just my father, not a dad, he never became one. Of course, you must be understanding the difference”, said Varun as he smiled and waved a ‘bye’ to him and started taking the corridor steps. Raman went closer to the door, looked at Varun and called, “Son!”, Varun stopped and looked at him, “at what time will you be back? Lemon teas should not be kept waiting”, he said and smiled, hearing this Varun gave a short laugh too and replied, “Will be back at 6, and listen, uncle, no need to go the vegetable market, I will be bringing it every day”. “but you must be tired then”, said Raman concernedly. “Won’t you be tired after doing households and preparing food for us”, replied Varun. “Food! Sorry! I forgot to give you the lunchbox I prepared, wait I will bring that”, said Raman as he went in quickly to the kitchen, As he came out, he saw that Varun has come up too. “So sorry, son. You would get late because of me, on the very first day”, said Raman apologetically and handed the box to him. “Don’t be sorry, please, it would make me feel ashamed, instead, thank you for this”, said Varun affectionately, “See, you must have prepared this even before I woke up, you really will be tired at the end of the day, so, vegetables are upon me, okay?”, he continued, to which Raman smilingly nodded.

Chapter 4

Days and months were passing, bringing their hearts close. Whatever one did, was to please the other. In a way, these two ‘thirsty’ beings were enjoying this sea together, were enthralled to get this new wave in life, which they dreamt of. The only thing they wished to do is make the other glad, make him feel that he really has someone who cares, who asks, who really has got his back, who is as happy as him to have this relationship, though an unnamed one. There was not a pin of awkwardness about his strange relation, why would that get a space, because this, what they two did was unconditional and unasked. Both were a prey of certain loneliness, but when they found each other, it felt like the hunter didn’t exist anymore. The door was knocked a several times now, receiving no response, Varun pulled off his phone through the his pant pocket to call but the door got opened hurriedly, “Varun, sorry there!”, said Raman breathing heavy. “Why did it take so long?”, asked Varun being anxious about the abrupt breaths, “Hey! Are you okay? What happened”, he continued as he came in. “Oh nothing”, said Raman trying to look stable and controlling his breaths, “was doing up some cleaning of the house, did not take it up the previous week so…”, he continued, trying to cover with his usual smile. Now looking at him sternly, “How many times?”, Varun said strictly, “Just tell me, its been months now, how many times do I have to tell you that the cleaning can be done on Sundays when I am in here, why do you do it alone?”, he continued being on the verge of irritation. “Actually, son…”, said Raman taking a thoughtful gap. “Yes yes, now make up an appropriate answer, come on”, Varun spoke with the strictness maintained. “Ha-Ha-Ha”, laughed Raman expecting Varun to get light, but Varun’s face was still the same. “Now, forget! Just forget that I will agree and follow whatever you say“, said Varun while taking off his shirt off and going to interiors. “Son!”, said Raman while following him quickly, “Wait! I promise it won’t happen next time, I promise”. Hearing this, Varun looked back, still wearing that pale expression, and went into the bathroom. Realizing that he has somewhat upset Varun, he started walking out of the room with slow moves and went to the other room where he was conducting the cleaning. Varun, after freshening, soon came out of the bathroom and looked out for Raman. He walked to the other room and stopped to look over. He saw that Raman was sitting on the chair which is near the wooden table and far from the clothes’ shelf. Just as he entered the room, Raman stood up and smiled lovingly like a child who is trying to make up for his mistakes. Seeing this, Varun couldn’t resist a smile on his face too. Going near him, he said, “First, sit down”. Grabbing the side-handles, Raman sat down, still looking at him. Varun was looking into his eyes with the same affection, he moved his hands to Raman’s face and held his cheeks, “Its not your age to do all this, please”, Varun said, “and most importantly, you are not alone”, he continued as he looked at him without blinks. “Yes, son. I am glad about it”, replied Raman smilingly. “We both are”, said Varun, Raman smilingly nodded. Varun took his hands off and they both took a sigh, realizing that the baggage of emotions between them was getting too overwhelming. “So!”, said Varun, “what were you up to?” “Nothing much”, said Raman as he stood up and looked at the shelf, “was just putting your empty bags into the shelf, they were getting dusty all these months”, he continued. “Oh! So this was behind your breaths”, giggled Varun as he went near the shelf and opened it. “Is there anything left now? Let’s do it!”, he asked. “You see that grey one? Can u pull it down?”, said Raman as he pointed to the bag. “That one? okay”, said Varun as he stood on his toes to make his hands reach the bag, getting the handle-strip, he started pulling it. As the bag was coming off, he realized that it was much heavy. He put the bag on the floor and said while looking at it, “God! What do you have in it?”. “A lot of files”, Raman replied as he walked to the bag. “But why all of a sudden you get reminded of it?”, asked Varun, sweeping the tiny drop of sweat off his forehead. “Because it is time to make some decisions”, said Raman as he opened the zip of the bag. Varun looked at him and asked being perplexed, “What decisions?”. “Son!”, said Raman as he took out some files, “the decisions about my belongings”. “Belongings?”, asked Varun confusingly, “What decisions?”, he asked further. “I will tell you everything but”, said Raman as he started to smile and open those files, “…first make a fresh lemon tea for us”. “Hmm…”, replied Varun as he stared with a strange ‘questioned’ look to him and stood up to go the kitchen. He initiated the making, but still wondered what was Raman talking about, meanwhile Raman took some the files and piled it up on the wooden table. Varun stepped in the room with the cups in hands. He placed those cups on the wooden table besides those files. “Will you put the bag again in the shelf?”, asked Raman. “Sure!”, said Varun as he zipped the grey bag and put it into the shelf again. While coming near the table, he asked, “Will you tell me about your decisions now?”, listening to this, Raman said, “Of course, it has to be told to you, but have your cup first”. They both started sipping their teas, after a few sips, Raman spoke with effectual pauses, “Varun, you are aware of my conditions. I had no one, till you showed up” Realizing those words of Raman, “Wait! No way!”, said Varun as he stared shockingly at Raman, “you can’t do this“. “Why can’t I? It is my properties, can do anything with it”, replied Raman softly. “No! No, uncle. You don’t understand, it won’t do any good to me”, Varun said, still concerned over the thoughts. “What bad will it do, son. It is just give and take, it is my love for you”, Raman said as he too got concerned with the weird reaction of Varun, who stood up and went near the window. Raman too got up and said, “Listen”, Varun looked back to him, “isn’t it time that we open ourselves? I know we decided that we would never recall our past, that ungiving past but…”, he continued. Varun shook his bent head, but suddenly a sound was heard, making them look around. Some files were off the pile from the table edge. Raman made a move to collect but Varun quickly gestured to him with hands and said, “I’ll do that!”, and approached the fallen files. As he started rearranging some document pages which were off, his eyes got stuck on a detail. He moved his fingers abruptly to unpin the document, took it close to observation. Raman got keen towards Varun’s reaction, he was surprised that what is it that has attracted him from the files which were three-four decades older. Varun was on his knees, holding the paper, he slowly moved his head up with a pleasantly amazed smile, a wide one. Raman silently twisted his palm as to ask ‘What???’. Varun stood up and ran those steps towards him, saw him with his sparkled eyes and hugged him squeezing-tight. Raman was clueless about the happenings, unable to stop his anxiety now, he asked, “Varun!” and he released the hug, “What have you seen in that document?”, he continued. Still carrying the same excitement and holding Raman’s shoulders, Varun shouted cheerfully, “It…is…your…”, took a sighed pause and completed, “birthday today….”. Raman, upon hearing this, took a deep breath bringing the mystery created by Varun to peace. “That could have been without a fuss!”, Raman said, managing to bring upon a smile. Receiving such a pale reaction, Varun exclaimed, “Fuss is negative! I am amazed….” “Does birthdays excite you this much?”, Raman jokingly asked. “If only”, replied Varun, “it is yours”, he continued as he hugged Raman again. “So now, rest of the talks would be done somewhere else”, he continued. “Somewhere else?”, Raman asked. “Yes, uncle, we have to celebrate”, replied Varun smilingly. Seeing him so excited, Raman did not want to fade the mood, so further he didn’t question and said with a mild cheer, “Okay, son. Let us celebrate!”

Chapter 5

Varun kick-started the bike and they were off, off through those small but beautiful roads up the hill. That seven o’clock evening moment, when the sun is still not set, night is knocking but the day is letting it enter slowly, the birds flying their way home, is so restful for any eye. Raman too was pleased with these, all the way he did not speak but just eyed everything beautiful that came the way, those small tea huts, flower stalls, wet roads, everything. The bike was stopped and they got off, leaving it on the holding stand. Varun held Raman’s hand and looked at him with excited eyes, to which Raman replied with a smile and gripped the hand firmly. “Hill Toppings Restro”, said Raman as he read the name of the cozy-looking hotel in front, “so is this the place?”, he asked smilingly. “Come on!”, exclaimed Varun and they both walked towards the hotel, hand in hand. During all those steps, Raman couldn’t take his eyes off the held hands, seeing it with the utmost emotions he recalled his Shiva and thanked Him. The wooden door was opened by the keeper and they both stepped in, Raman started looking at the antiques which were decorated on every table. Being astonished after his eyes got stuck at something, he said, “Varun, look there”, pointed with his half raised hand, “let us take that table with the shivling painting. It is really beautiful, come”. Varun saw that table, he giggled and said, “At least leave your Shiva for some time, get off his neck, uncle” Smiling on those words, Raman said casually, “Ya…Ya…”, and started looking for another table, “so what do you suggest then?”, he continued. Looking to the glass door on the other side, Varun said, “When we can celebrate under the beautiful sky, why to choose this?” and took a step ahead. Raman too looked at the door and asked, “Where does that go?”. Varun didn’t answer but looked at him with a smile and started walking towards it, seeing him walk, Raman followed too. Reaching the door, Varun again looked at him with a smile and came close his ears, “Now, close your eyes” he whispered. “Oh please!”, Raman said with a sigh, “I am not your girlfriend, stop being cheesy” and shook his head laughingly. “Uncle, please, will you?”, said Varun very softly, “I promise, next half an hour is going to change your life, our lives”. Hearing that, Raman’s facial transformed into a gazing one, he sensed that Varun is with something serious, he closed his eyes. Raman could feel that Varun has opened the door and has taken him out of the closed box of the restaurant as a cool breeze just struck his face, though gently. After a few steps, Varun stopped him and again whispered in his ears, “Just a couple of minutes” to which Raman gave a half nod, his eyes still shut. Raman was hearing those footsteps of Varun who was being to and fro, probably making some arrangements, he thought. “Now”, Raman heard Varun, “you can open your eyes”. After listening to that, for a fraction of second while he was just gearing up his eye lids to open, a stream of thoughts crossed him, thoughts about upcoming moments which were giving him goosebumps already. Gathering the thrill, he slowly opened his eyes. Varun was in front, on his knees with his hands hid behind. “What are you exactly doing?”, asked Raman as he had an amazed smile on him after seeing Varun that way, “and what are you hiding behind?”, he questioned further. “I will tell you everything…”, said Varun as he too smiled, “but first a promise from you!”, he continued. “Varun, what is happening, get up!”, said Raman as all this was getting very confusing for him. “Can you give me a promise?”, asked Varun. “But…”, said Raman, “okay whatever you say”, bringing a glimpse of nervousness. Still on his knees, he started saying, “Almost a year ago, we were strangers, completely. Then we met, and I still remember, from the very first minute, we were into each other. What do you think has brought us together, to this phase? I have the answer, it is our own life. And why do I say that? Because this very life kept us waiting for that feeling, that special feeling which we were bereft of all these years”, he said but stopped as some tears made their way out and touched his lips. Seeing those, Raman came a step closer and said concernedly, “Son! Why…” to which Varun interrupted, “No, no, I am happy, believe me, just listen to me, please”. He cleared the wet on his face with the rub of the arm so that the hands still remain hiding. “I know”, Varun started saying again, “that we don’t have a blood relation. But is that the only criteria? And if yes, what has those damn blood relations has given us? Tears and longings only” and took a pause as he realized that Raman’s eyes were stirring too. “So, ”, continued Varun, “coming to the promise, you remember earlier this day, you wanted me to accept your properties and belongings?”, Raman replied, “Yes, son! What about that?” “Okay, I am ready to accept it but provided that you too accept something from me”, said Varun, now managing to bring upon a smile. “Of course, son”, said Raman, “I am ready to accept your love in any form. But what is it?” “It is just not one, a couple instead!”, said Varun. “Okay, son, bring it”, said Raman smilingly. Varun brought his hands forward and kept it parallel. As Raman saw those hands, he noticed a tiny box being held. Varun extended his hand to him asking him to take the box and open it. Raman took the box in his hands and gazed at it. He wondered the content and thought that how this thing is going to change their lives. “Keys???”, Raman questioned being perplexed as he opened the small thing, “What is this?” Varun smiled at his reaction and said, “Now as you have seen the first gift, it is time for the second one” “But son”, said Raman smilingly, still looking at the box, “your hands are empty now!” “Yes I know”, replied Varun, “but this second one is from my within, my soul probably”. Raman, upon hearing that, wasn’t able to ask further, he just awaited the words of Varun. “Uncle”, Varun started, “the keys you are holding right now is of a flat in the project on which I have been working on. Last month, I booked it, in the name of ‘Mr. Raman Shetty’”. “What!!!”, exclaimed Raman as he quickly looked at those keys again and then at Varun with wide surprised eyes, “A flat? That is really expensive as a gift, please son”, he sounded uncomfortable. “And why do say so? I know the reason, still…”, said Varun. “Because…”, Raman said but got thoughtful as he ran out of words. Seeing him being incomplete, Varun said, “I will help!”, and Raman looked at him, “I was hesitant in accepting your gift and now you are. You know why? Less love? No! But because somewhere in back of our minds, this relationship of ours is unnamed. The moment we get a name of this relation, this all would be straight” “Absolutely! This is the exact reason. The future of this relation is unknown, probably this brings this hesitation”, said Raman showing some unrest in him. “Yes, so as a solution…”, Varun replied, “Comes my second gift”. “Does your second gift bring a name to our relation?”, asked Raman as he smiled at him. Still on his knees, Varun opened his arms and said, “You are well aware that I have a father, though just a title for me. He has just been a biological father for me, his second marriage is all that he considers.” and looked up to the open sky, “Today, this moment, I brought you under this sky so that your Shiva could be a witness of the purity of my proposal” “What proposal?”, asked Raman as he took a step near him. “Uncle, the time which I have spent with you has been the best moments of my life. Our laughs, our talks, the companionship, understanding each other’s sensibilities and most importantly, our unasked love is something that sparkles my heart, it just makes me feel alive. And this sparkle is something I have seen in your eyes too, all these months”, Varun said as now he looked down to Raman and continued, “I think this it is time for us to give this relationship a name, so, Mr. Raman Shetty, will you be my Dad?” As Varun proposed this, he saw that Raman was enlightened through those words and quickly came near to him and got on his knees. Unable to handle this mixed emotion of joy and the thoughts of earlier life without a companion, he started shedding some tears, keeping his head on Varun’s shoulders. Varun caressed his head and kissed it too, Raman then looked at him and said, “I was fool in my young days to think that I can pull off my life alone. Till my father was alive, I didn’t realize it but when he died, I felt that I have no one. These past twenty years has been a test for me, but now as I get you, I think I have passed that test”, hearing this Varun hugged him and Raman too grabbed him affectionately. Still hugging, Varun kissed Raman’s ear and said lovingly, “Dad, tomorrow we will move to the new home, our new home, with a new beginning to life”, to which Raman replied with the same sentiment but with a giggle, “Yes, Son. But I hope that it has a beautiful balcony so that we can have our darling lemon teas there”.


© Copyright 2017 Abhishek Navathe. All rights reserved.

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