AWOL

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Disclaimer:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, occasions, events, and occurrences are the items of the writer's imagination. Any similarity to real people, living or dead, or genuine occasions or actual events is simply coincidental. Thank You.

Summary:

The son of the wealthiest businessman in Dhaka escapes from home to find a job of his own according to his liking which his father opposes. For the time being, he lives as a tenant hiding his identity and promises not to go home until he gets a job.

References:

•Pohela Falgun (Holiday celebrated in Bangladesh as the 1st day of spring).
• “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” (Robert Frost)
•“Tomar Ghorey” (Singer: Anusheh Anadil, Album: Kingkortobbobimuroh, 2017)

Inspired By:

• Hungama (Indian Bollywood film released in 2003, Directed by Priyadarshan)

Setting:

•Dhaka Bangladesh

Fact:

•Based on Bengali Culture.
•This fictional short story was originally written in 2020 but delayed due to personal problems.
•www.postermywall.com (Book Cover)

“AWOL”

ISHRAQ HASSAN (2020)

Living in a busy city like Dhaka is quite hectic, especially for those who are hardworking people. No matter where a person lives one should have some particular level of expertise to survive. These skills are eventually being portrayed in certain workplaces or jobs in terms of earning money, the green papers that run the whole world, and also creates segregation between individuals whether to be respected more or less. This was one of the strange topics that Rafi was thinking about, lying on the bed looking at the ceiling fan, just in the middle of taking a break while preparing himself for the interview that he was about to attend tomorrow. This job means a lot to him. He sighs, “If I can only get this job, surely my family won’t treat me like a worthless good-for-nothing idiot! It’s about time I do something I truly like and prove them wrong. Besides, I cannot stay away and live like this for much longer! They will catch up to me, as they already searching for me through those bunch of bodyguards. Yesterday, those guards all most recognized me if it wasn’t for the hat! Phew! That was close! That does raise a question, are they now missing me? Even though they treat me like a Douche, I do miss them a lot. But as Robert Frost said, ‘And miles to go before I sleep’, I won’t go back until I get this job.”.  Rafi’s Soliloquy was disturbed by the doorbell. He wondered who might that be. It was around 9 p.m. Rafi opened his door and saw it was Oni, the only niece of his landlord. Quite a charming girl she was. She was holding a kind of Paper form which needed to be filled up. “I hope I’m not disturbing!”, she asked. “Hey! No, not at all! What brings you here?”, Rafi asked her back. She told him that her aunt sent her with a “Tenant Instruction Rules” to him and wanted his signature on them so that he would be alert not to break any of them. She also added that her aunt made the rules just for him, especially after the absurd incident of making the stairs damp and muddy from his shoes yesterday. “Oh, Come on! That was only one time, it was raining last night and the roads outside got muddy! There was even no floor mat at the gate where I could wipe the dirt off!”. “Oh, I know, it was quite a stormy night!”, she replied. “Ugh! Fine! I’ll sign it!”.

While Rafi was finding a pen to sign, Oni asked about his parents, “So how are your parents doing? Rafi alarmedly answered, “My parents? Yeah, them! They are fine! Nothing to worry about!” (Evading the question). This duplex house has only one small room adjacent to the terrace where Rafi lives now. He lied about his background so that he could get this place at a cheap price for stay despite being a bachelor. Though he was able to pay the advance rent since he had some saved money brought by him while he was back in his own house. Seeing the mess in the reading table and his laptop full of stationaries and papers she asked whether he was doing any research. “Oh, no! I’m just preparing for an interview I have tomorrow. By the way here you go I have read it and signed it as well.”. “Are you nervous about the interview?” She asked and Rafi replied, “A little bit maybe! Let’s just hope I don’t mess this up!”. “You will do fine! Don’t worry.”, She encouraged. Rafi just smiled and thanked her. “Okay then! I better go now. Don’t want to interrupt your interview prep! Bye!”, Oni left by wishing him good luck. Rafi closed the door and sat on the floor leaning on the door and thought, “There is something about her that drags out every ounce of discomfort inside me. What a nice girl she is! Unlike that witch aunt of her! God! She is a pain in the ass! Though I was lucky to find a place to stash the same day I escaped from the house.”.

The next day, Rafi was returning from his interview walking towards his rented home thinking “The interview wasn’t that hard. They were so surprisingly friendly. But it was me who became nervous in the beginning, Dang it! On the other side, they did not show any negative gestures. Nervous or not, I did answer everything in an organized manner! They even liked my scripts. Yet, it’s always a formality to say to the candidate ‘we will let you know!’, Typical! This is actually the part where I have no idea what will happen next. I really wish I make it through and get this job.”. Daydreaming the scenario, he reached home and met the very person he prefers to avoid. It was his landlord, Mrs. Kotta, who was shouting at her driver about washing her car properly. At that moment Rafi realized that he will go through a big lecture, so he tried to sneak inside the gate hoping they do not interact. “Rafi!”, she called him by shouting. He responded being startled, “Mrs. Kotta! How lovely to see you! My goodness, you look so nice! Did you do something with your hair?”. “Don’t butter me you dumb buffoon! I saw you sneaking away the moment you saw me.’’, She grumbled. “What? No way! Ha-ha!”, Rafi answered. “Did you get the notice last night, right? You have to follow all the rules accordingly. I can’t believe what you did to my precious stairs! It was full of dirt and muddy all the way”, she complained. “But Mrs. Kotta, that was only one time! It was raining outside and there was no floor mat to wipe my shoes with! Besides, it is the outdoor stairway to the terrace, it’s not like I ruined the staircase inside your house!”, Rafi retorted. She yelled “I gave the floor mat to my maid to wash it, and so what if it is the stairway linked outdoor? You should have used the stairs barefooted! And did you just say only one time? You forgot the time when I told you to water the plants at the terrace and you put the water pressure so high that it ruined my plants? And that other time when you…”. “Ok! Ok! You made your point! Besides I was trying to be nice, it was not my work to do”, Rafi interrupts. “By now you already have an idea of my kind-heartedness that I gave you shelter here! Otherwise, nobody gives rent to a bachelor! Who knows what you people have in your stupid minds?”, She gloats about her. “Yeah! Your Kind heart was only activated when I offered double the amount for the rent! Your crazy, greedy woman!”, Rafi whispered. “What was that?”, She asked but Rafi said it was nothing and laughs it off. “Listen up you fool! If you want to stay here you have to do what I say! On my terms! Is that clear?”, She dominates. “Jeez! Alright!”, Rafi painfully agreed. Mrs. Kotta finally leaves while murmuring “Giving rent to a bachelor what was I thinking?”.  The moment Rafi sighs, “Good riddance!” She suddenly appeared again calling Rafi from the back again to ask something, “Oh and one thing!”. “Good Gracious! Yes?”, Rafi curiously replied. “You noticed my hair? Mm? Well, I did go to the local parlor. Does it really look good?”, She asked. “Huh? Oh, yeah! It suits you! You look beautiful!”, Rafi butters her up. Mrs. Kotta bashes and replied, “Aww! Shut it! You liar! I was thinking the same about me too actually! I know I’m beautiful! Oh well, Now, I better not see you making any trouble again!” and walks off from the conversation for real.

The following couple of days were so straining for Rafi. Days were getting confusing as he still waits for the update from the interview. The money that he brought with him was getting near to the ground, and of course, the fear of getting caught was right on the top. Clearly now he has realized that the decision taken by him was not properly planned. “Haste Makes Waste.” People say this phrase often, and it is quite true. To get rid of overthinking, Rafi decided to go for a walk to have some fresh air. So, he went to the nearest park to walk, there he saw a bench and took a sit. He felt guilty while he sighed and thought, “I messed up everything big time, didn’t I? Really, what am I doing? Everyone must be so pissed at me by now and I have no idea what to do! Oh God, please give me a sign! I am blank right now! I really need your help!”. At that time Oni was also passing by through the park and saw Rafi sitting there so she came to him to say hello. “Hi Rafi!”, she greeted and Rafi surprised and greeted back, “Wow! Hi Oni! What are you doing here?”.

Oni, “I went to my friend’s house to help her with her assignment. And Later thought of walking by the park.

Rafi, “Oh, Okay!”

Oni, “It is very rare to see you outside.”

Rafi, “Why? Am I that obvious?”

Oni, “Well kind off!” (She chuckles)

Rafi, “I was feeling hefty for some reason that’s all. So, I thought of coming here. Maybe some fresh air can help!”

Oni, “You seem down a bit! Is there something wrong? Did Aunt Kotta scold you again?”

Rafi, “What! No way! Well, maybe in the morning! But that’s not it. It's complicated.”

Oni asked him whether he got any news from that job that he applied for but the reply was no. She comforted Rafi saying that she understands what he is going through right now. Seeing Rafi gloomy Oni tries to motivate him. She said, “Well, I believe sometimes you should not focus only on the thing which is practical. That is where people lose themselves. It is better to be aesthetic sometimes” Rafi felt curious and asked back to know what she meant about it. “Look at the sky, what do you see?”, She questioned. Rafi looks up and said that it's just a sky and there is nothing new. Oni replied, “You know what I see? I see a lovely sight of a clear blue sky covering the earth, those little circles of white clouds are adding even more to it. The south faced gentle breeze; the calm touch of subtle sunlight makes gazing up in the sky even more relaxing. Want to try looking again? But this time take a deep breath and exhale!”. When he looked up in the sky again and tried to picture the view linking with her details, Rafi saw the exquisiteness. Somehow, he was amazed and relieved. “Yes, I guess it does look beautiful. Oh my! It does feel good! What did you do to me?”, Rafi responded. Oni further comforted, “To be honest, I have no idea what you are going through. But still, I will advise you to not lose hope. In life, many obstacles will come but nothing lasts forever. Be optimistic! Sometimes good things take their time to come. I am sure you will overcome your troubles. Worrying will make you lose your inner peace and confidence. You have a long way to go. All you need is to have some patience.”. Such beautiful words did not just get into Rafi’s ears but at the same time, it poked his heart. He was amazed by knowing that there is actually someone who thinks like him, as well as understands him. He started wondering that in pursuit of harsh reality, how he has lost his optimism. Only Just then to Rafi, Oni was not only a pleasant girl with a good sentiment anymore, but she has excelled further and became his crush. Both of them had time to spare and the conversation was going at a gentle pace. But the happy moment was interrupted when Rafi saw a particular people in the park, it was the bodyguards from whom he was evading. They were obviously still in search of him.

“What the heck? Where did they come from? Damn it! What should I do?”, Rafi panicked in his mind, as clearly Rafi didn’t want to disclose his identity in this way. So, he had to get away from here to escape them at any cost from catching him. Oni seeing him twitchy suddenly asked if everything is okay. “No! Yeah! Everything is cool!”, Rafi answered. Little ahead, a Bengali cultural fest happening near the park just opened and people were gathering there forming a crowd, which happens to caught Rafi’s eye, so suddenly Rafi asked her out involuntarily for the sake of leaving the place, “Hey look! Some kind of fest is happening over there! Why don’t we go and check it out?”. “You mean right now?”, Oni asked. “Yeah! You and me, we can spend some good time together. It will be fun!”. “What! Mm! I mean! Okay, I guess!”, She reddened. Eventually, they went towards the cultural fest evading the place. Together Rafi and Oni entered the cultural celebration, where everything was colorful and decorative. Rafi felt relieved believing that he has lost sight of those guards. The festival was based on the first day of the Bengali month of “Falgun” (The First day of Spring) so, everyone inside was dressed traditionally following the Bengali culture. They were the only ones who were wearing casual, but that did not stop them from having fun. Who knew the gloomy and boring day for the two, will surprisingly turn out to be the most enjoyable one? The more time spend together today, the more they started to like each other. It was lunchtime and they try out the food court which serves the traditional Bengali menu for the day. Obviously, it was Oni’s treat, as Rafi forgot to bring his wallet, nor he had enough money for two either. While they were eating, Rafi thought that Oni is clearly a nice girl and decides to trust her with his secret, because the burden was too much to handle for a guy like him. Finishing their meal, they went towards the musical display and it was the biggest holder of the festival, as the special guest was none other than Anusheh Anadil. No wonder there was a decent crowd. Among all the folk songs, the song “Tomar Ghorey” was the track everyone was waiting to hear.

After spending an amazing moment together, both of them head back home. Meanwhile, walking Oni smiled and said, “You know, I really had a great time. I thought today was going to be nothing but another tedious day. It was really unexpected!”. “Well, maybe it is true then! Unexpected plans are the coolest and perhaps the best of all!”, Rafi replied. “Indeed”, She agreed. At that point, Rafi thought that this will be a good time to tell her the truth about him, “Oni, there is actually something I need to tell you. Well! I don’t know how to say this! Haha! You see, I never had the courage to tell you this before but after spending the whole day with you, I have a feeling that I can trust you. So, please don’t freak out!”. Oni, on the other hand, became anxious with confusion thinking, “What is he talking about? What could he possibly say to me that requires courage? Oh wait! Don’t tell me! Is he going to share his feelings for me? I don’t know what to say? Ah! Well, we did interact before other than today, right? We are kind of familiar, in a way, I guess! Oh my Gosh! What am I thinking? Ok! Don’t panic! Let’s hear it out!”. In truth, Oni also grew a liking for him from the first day they met but kept it cordial so, if Rafi proposes to her now, definitely she wouldn’t mind, but she doesn’t know how to react. “Sure, what is it that you want to tell me?”, She anxiously replied. Thus, without any more delays, Rafi finally revealed himself.

For all this time, Rafi was hiding his real identity from everyone. He was the youngest son among the other two children of none other than, Mr. Hrishab Ahmed, one of the biggest industrialists and an essential business giant. Not to mention one of the influential and richest people in the country, a public figure. Though he came from a rich family his father started from scratch. Rafi’s father always admired the ideals of hard work and building one’s own path no matter how much prosperity a person has. According to him, his eldest two children kept his name by profession and reputation, namely his eldest daughter is a high reputed surgeon at a well-known hospital in London, a Doctor who also got married to a famous barrister, and his second eldest son is a high-class Engineer assigned in a big technological company worldwide, who’s already settled abroad doing very well for himself along with his wife and children. And there comes Rafi, the mother’s pampered child who was not that focused like the rest of the two and also carefree about practical life. Instead of becoming a utilitarian person he rather looked up to become a writer, which always kept his father on the edge of the seat, tensed and hopeless. Rafi was always pressurized by his father about having a real career instead of such a weird dream of being an author, which simply doesn’t go with the family reputation. “All you do is spend my money like it is nothing, that’s all! You, good for nothing idiot! When I was already your age, I dedicated my life to work, sacrificing my blood, sweat, and tears to come where I am today. But you, do hard work? Never! You have this ridiculous thought of becoming what, a writer? Is that even a profession? You are just being absurd! You don’t even want to come and have an interest in my business, though you don’t even have that brain to cope up with it! See your other siblings? See how well they are doing? What are you doing with your life?”, Mr. Hrishab frequently yelled.

One night when both of his parents were abroad for a business trip, Rafi and his father had squabble about choosing a profession through video conference. His father had enough of his son’s relaxed lifestyle with a nonsense pursuit of a dream and do something productive. Rafi couldn’t take it anymore so, out of rashness he escaped home taking the money he saved to buy a new expensive gaming computer, and decides to never come back until he proofs his father wrong. But the reality was completely the opposite of what Rafi thought it will be, he never saw the real sight of survival this up-close before. He started to feel the pain of the normal people finding a way to put food on the table for their family and venerate their struggle. There he thought that his father was right all along, there is no room for becoming something you like from your heart other than to become society's robot. He thought of going back home but evoked the promise that he made. So, for the first time in his life, he refused to throw off the towel. Nor to get anything in an easy way by his father’s reputation anymore. This time he wants to fight back. There he got a golden opportunity, where a well-renowned Magazine company was looking for hiring some new fresh writers. Luckily after applying and submitting his sample articles to the company, he was one of the very few to be shortlisted for an interview, and from there he was waiting for their word.

Everything was thoroughly explained to Oni and it was quite astounding news to handle. The son of the wealthiest, reputable man in the country living like a fugitive sounded pretty uncanny to her. “Wow! That is actually pretty much big news to gulp in! So, for all this time your father did not bother to tell the police other than using his personal guards to look for you or tried to contact you?”, She asked. “Well! Come to think of it, he didn’t bother to look for me with that much of priority, I suppose! Maybe Dad did not bother to tell the police for the sake of his reputation. Even I am hiding from my friends and other relatives also. The only people I sometimes see trying to catch me are the bunch of bodyguards we have. I barely manage to escape them and still doing it. When we went to the festival just now, was essentially nothing but to escape them who came to search for me at the park. I feared revealing everything in front of you by getting caught awkwardly. So, I had to get away from there. Besides, speaking of contact, the only person I talk to is my sister that’s through e-mail to give them a little satisfaction that I’m alive and good, which nobody knows except for my Mom. I do miss my Mom a lot and that’s why I told my sister to tell her about my well-being and not to worry about me. I feel so guilty keeping my family in so much strain but I have to do this, I need this for myself! It is a battle of my dignity!”. “I don’t know what to say! I’m totally blank!”, She exclaimed. “I know right?”, Rafi sighed. “So back in the fest you…I mean!... never mind!”, Oni paused in the mid-sentence while asking. Rafi insisted that she continues what she was going to tell. “So back in the festival it was nothing but an escape plan, was it?”. She asked. For that moment Rafi was silent, he thought he made himself a selfish person in front of her, by saying that he only hung out with her to sidestep some individuals. But in truth, he never felt so glad spending time with her. So, before he explains, Oni interrupts and points out, “Wait! What is happening here? Who are these people in front of our house?”. They came close to their home and saw two SUVs and a Sedan waiting outside the building and a group of people wearing suits with sunglasses creating a perimeter around the place. That was the moment he realized he was busted after all. “Well, Oni! I guess it's time you get to meet my parent today!!”, Rafi answered back.

When they reached the gate, all the guards from his family identified Rafi and started giving their salutations. The personal assistant of his father was also at the gate and greeted him, “Good afternoon Young Sir, Thank Goodness! It is so good to see you after so long!”. “Hey, uncle Saad! So, how did you find me?”, Rafi asked. “We never lost you! We already knew from the very beginning that you live here. We were trailing your every movement keeping our distance.”. Rafi was shocked, “What do you mean? These guards were literally searching for me! They almost even caught me once!”. The assistant replied, “Dear young sir! Everyone here was fully instructed to pressure you so that you feel like escaping and hiding from us successfully. It was your father’s order. He might have a motive behind it which only he knows! In fact, he is waiting inside! You may find your queries answered by him.”. “Did Both Mom and Dad came? Are they mad at me?”, Rafi worried. “Certainly, they both came to receive you! I insist you go and find out rest by yourself.”. Rafi takes a deep breath and goes inside to meet his parents with fright.

Meanwhile, his parents were waiting in Mrs. Kotta’s living room having a conversation with some tea. They felt so thankful to Mrs. Kotta as she claims how well she looked after Rafi for all this time as if he was his child. The second Rafi entered the room all eyes were focused on him. That moment of emotional instinct of a mother flexed in, as his mother rushed to grab a hold of him and started adoring, “My baby boy! Are you okay Son? What were you thinking leaving us like that?”. “Hey Mom! Hello Dad! (Greeted his father with fear) It’s good to see you both too!”, Rafi replied, though his father remained silent sitting on the sofa and sipping his tea. From nowhere Mrs. Kotta also got hold of Rafi and started her act, “Oh! My dear boy! You never told me you were their son? Did you walk all the way here? Didn’t I told you not to be in sun for too long?”. Rafi was flabbergasted with Mrs. Kotta’s sudden attitude swing and thought, “My, oh my! What a Witch!”. Mrs. Kotta then went to Oni introducing her, “Oh Good, you are here too! This is my niece! Oni, do give your greeting to our guests!”. Rafi’s parents gave their attention to Oni and her beauty did intrigue them both. Rafi’s mother started adoring her too praising her prettiness and made her sit alongside her. Afterward, the initial touching moment suddenly paused as the air in the room became serious, when his father finally put the teacup down on the table finishing it. It was that moment when everyone in the room became aware that something is going to happen now, they became aware of the gravity of Mrs. Hrishab’s seriousness.

“You left a letter back at home that you won’t come back until you get a job on your own that you like. Did you get one yet?”, Mr. Hrishab asked his son. “No, not yet Dad!”, Rafi disappointingly answered lowering his head. “So just to make a fool out of yourself, you ran out of my house and never even thought that what could go through among us? How we would feel?”, Mr. Hrishab questioned. Rafi rejoined, I do understand it was a stupid thing to do but Dad, you left me no other choice! Every single time you are just after my tail and deter me!”. “What do you expect? If your way of thinking results in humiliating your parents like this? Then, yes, I needed to intervene on your every idiotic thought. You were lucky that you were in the good hands of a kind woman like Mrs. Kotta who had looked after you, else I believe you have an idea by now that how harsh the world really is?”, Mr. Hrishab Lectured. Rafi’s jaw was dropped listening to his father’s admiration for Mrs. Kotta and before he could tell the actuality about her the landlord distracted them to retain her compliment and divert the conversation, “Would anyone like some more tea? Oni! Go and bring some more biscuits and tea for our guests, will you?”

Mr. Hrishab takes a deep breath and tells Rafi to stop this nonsense and gather his stuff and come home, “Every family more or less has a faller! I think it’s time to accept that fact! You are hopeless!”, He stated. But Rafi retorted, “Dad! Just because I have a different wish for a career doesn’t make me a faller! Why does it matter if I take a little bit extra time to do what I like best?”. “And what is it that you like best? To what? Become a writer? I made you study Business so that you can become a novelist? Ever thought about our family reputation? Alright, fine! I kept you under surveillance for what a month now! Giving you a chance, pitying you! But did you find any job fulfilling your expectation? No! Face it! Life is not a fairy tale! The thing you want to make as your profession is nothing but a mere hobby for free time son!”, Mr. Hrishab burst out. Rafi remained silent he had nothing to answer further, there was no point, he realized that no matter how much hard he has tried within this time, he didn’t achieve any positive news. He became devastated by all these attempts and still no progress.

Oni comes from the kitchen with tea and started serving it to their guests. First, she serves Rafi’s mother and then goes to Mr. Hrishab. She was listening to everything like the other spectators in the room and felt so blue for Rafi. They drank the tea and the taste was delicious. They both took a sip from the cup and felt an extraordinary taste. “Oh! What a wonderful cup of tea you have made Oni! Thank you, Sweety! So delicious isn’t dear?”, Rafi’s mother complimented Oni and asked her husband. Mr. Hrishab took a sip from his cup of tea and felt calmed a little, “Indeed Dear!”, he agreed. Now he started focusing on Oni, “So young lady, why don’t you tell us about yourself?”, Mr. Hrishab asked. “Who me? I am currently in my final year at my university, studying computer science.”, she answered. “That is an amazing choice of career, young lady! Very good!”, Mr. Hrishab replied while giving a stink eye to his son. He further asked, “What about your parents? Aren’t they here?”. At that time Mrs. Kotta Answered for Oni, “Well, Oni is the child of my elder sister. Tragically, when she was 8 years old her parents died in a car crash. From there I and my husband took her all responsibility. Since we never had a child we treated her as our child. Oh! What a wonderful time it was when we were all together and abruptly unfortunate fate intrudes our family! Alas!”. While she started weeping, Rafi’s mother approaches and comforts her. Also, Rafi never knew this much about Oni and felt moved.

“Oh! I’m truly sorry to hear that!” Mr. Hrishab shows his condolences to Oni and Mrs. Kotta and asked about her husband. “He runs a personal business in Riyad! Actually, we also own a small house there. My husband stays there for work and takes care of the maintenance of the house there and I do it here.”, Mrs. Kotta Replied. “I see! In that case, it might be quite difficult for your husband or you to manage time and visit one another?”, Rafi’s mother wonderingly asked. In that context, Mrs. Kotta responded, “Oh yes! You see, I and my husband is actually looking for a decent suitor for Oni’s marriage so that we can finally complete our duty as her guardian, and settle in peace! But finding a good suitor as well as a good family is quite a big stress nowadays! Dear load! Ha-ha!”. On the other hand, the moment his mother saw Oni from the beginning, she was mesmerized with her beauty and already imagined her as her daughter in law for more than ten times and daydreamed about how wonderful both Rafi and Oni would look together. Before she could almost complete her sentence sharing her thought about this with her husband, Mr. Hrishab already knew what was going through the merry-making mind of his wife and paused her, “Not now Dear! We came here for another purpose, remember?” and started prattling his son. While that happening, Oni intervened and wanted everyone’s approval to say some words in this regard. Now everyone became curious to know what she could possibly say about this matter. Rafi’s mother encouraged her, “Oh! Sure, Sweetheart! Go on!”.

She at first took Rafi’s parents' side saying that the actions which Rafi took were thoughtless of him. Leaving his family rashly like this was very wrong. He could have pursued what he wants correspondingly by not leaving his home. She further addressed Rafi, “Parents sometimes will pressure you to focus for future, which is understandable, but that is only for their children’s well-being and in your case, it was no exception. Don’t get me wrong but the very person you left the house for, was the one who was concerned about you. He knew from the very start about all your roundabout and still gave you time to figure out the world by yourself! Doesn’t that mean that your father has a part in opening your eye? He made you face the reality. His shadow was always upon you even after you left him. He cares about you. You should believe now that if anything would have happened to you, he would have sent help immediately”. Rafi started thinking after what she said, “No! Not her too! Yet, she makes sense but it’s so embarrassing now! Great! Just what I needed!”. But secondly talks on behalf of Rafi as well assuring his father explaining that despite what he has done, he never saw his son ease off for a moment the second she was familiar with him. Although, all this time being isolated from his family and in terms of the struggle to achieve his dream, he never revealed his family’s identity to get any privilege at all. To her, he was a trier who kept on trying to reach his goal. Completely opposite what his family might saw him before. Clearly, it makes him a completely different person who finally gets an understanding of what hard work and responsibility mean in life. Mr. Hrishab and Rafi both listened and gave a minor glance at each other grasping some stated facts. Through this silence Rafi clarified something asking his father, “Since you were looking over me, that means everyone in the family knew about me this whole time? So, all those secrecies were for nothing?” and the reply was “Yes”. He further asked, “There was a suspicious kind of salesman who sold me groceries weekly willingly out of nowhere at my doorstep, giving me the items at cheap price which he assured. Also, he gave me an internet package for free saying that I won some kind of lottery or something! Is there a chance that man might be your guy?” which Mr.Hrishab clarified, “Rafi! That was our caretaker in disguise. I cannot believe that really worked!”. “Oh man! I knew there was something fishy and familiar about that guy!”, Rafi dismayed.

Before the conversation could proceed anymore, the doorbell began to ring interrupting the moment, the door was open already so everyone could see it was a delivery man, “Good afternoon! I have a package delivery for Mr. Rafi Ahmed?”. Rafi Responded, “That would be me! Strange! This this from you (asked his father)”. “I don’t remember sending any package to you!”, his father confirmed. Rafi signed the paper of delivery and received the package. Everyone became curious about what it could be. When Rafi saw the label of the package, he became excited too, as it was from the magazine company that he applied for. Rafi opened the package and saw the box full of merchandise with a letter of appreciation. At the same time, he got an email notification on his phone from the same company which congratulated him as he was selected for the company’s new article writer. They also stated how impressive the sample articles were which he submitted and provided a date to meet them at their office for contract signing. Rafi read both the email and the letter aloud and everyone was stunned. Both Rafi’s Parents and Mrs. Kotta was amazed by the news and asked surprisingly “You got a job?!”. “That’s my boy! It is so wonderful news dear!”, Rafi’s mother added and adored her son. Mr. Hrishab did not know what to say at that point. He understood that how much this job might have meant for him that he had to go through all this trouble. He was finally amazed by his hopeless son’s achievement which he has done it all by himself and most importantly what he has done what he has said he will do. So, there he said to his son, “Well! I don’t know what to say at this point. I believe we both learned something today. Anyhow it seems like you are not a hobo anymore and that will do for now. Well done my son! You have proved your point, Congratulation!”. Rafi instantly went for a group hug with his parents and assured his father, “Thanks, Dad! I'm really sorry that I made you all worry so much!". Oni was watching the moment with a happy smile though Mrs. Kotta was still confused. All was sorted out in the end.

Mr. Hrishab thought it was time for them to pack up and go home now. But this time Rafi’s mother retorted, “No! I believe there is still one thing left to do!”. Curiousness rose among everyone again. “What now?”, her Rafi’s father asked. She replied to her son, “You go and pack your bags dear, meanwhile I and your father have some little matter to discuss with Mrs. Kotta.”. “We do?”, Rafi’s father asked again. And she points out to her husband sharply, “Yes! Mr. Hrishab Ahmed! We do!”. Mr.Hrishab was smart enough not to say anything further but to agree what his wife was up to as she called her by his name, “Alright! I am here! Rafi give us a moment and do what you’ve been told!”. Mrs. Kotta instantly has a glimpse of an idea of what this small talk is going to be about, so she tells Oni to go and help Rafi if he needs anything.

On the other side, Rafi was packing his stuff and Oni was helping along. Since there were not many pieces of stuff brought by him the packing didn’t take so much time. Rafi felt joy but at the same time felt a little bit of gloom, as it was time for him to be parted, just when he started to like Oni. Rafi thanked Oni for standing up for him which really meant a lot. Oni replied, “It was nothing! All I did is say the truth!”. “Just between you and me, I was stunned how Mrs. Kotta took credit for taking care of me! Though after listening to her that how she took care of you for all this time, it really changed my view on her!”. Oni laughed and replied, “Well! She can be feisty sometimes! I hope you can pardon her! Anyway, looks like everything turned out to be good for you after all.”. Rafi agreed and also added, “I know right? Besides it all happened just in front of Dad! What a fluke? Haha!”.  Oni wished him good luck in his life and there Rafi said to her, “I will miss you very much. You were the only person who was nice to me and understood me. You do have my number, right? Please don’t be a stranger.” Oni smiled and just nodded. Rafi remembered about his untold feeling that how great time was spent together with her today. Before he could do that, he was again interrupted and this time by his mother who came to see if he was done with packing his bag, “Are you ready Rafi? It is time to go! Your Father is waiting in the car!”. “Yes, Mom everything is packed!”, he replied. His mother then approached to tender Oni and said, “Take care, my dear! You are such a lovely doll!”. In the interim, Mrs. Kotta met Rafi in the stairs while he was coming down and started throwing words of wisdom and wishes good luck in front of his mother for a show, to which Rafi sarcastically answered, “How touching! Thank you!”. When he came down and got inside his car, he saw Oni from the window and she saw him, both waved goodbye with so many unspoken words inside. All the vehicles started to leave the area and Rafi finally left the place.

*In the car Rafi asked his mother, “So what were you guys actually talking about with Mrs. Kotta back then? You said it was something personal?”. His mother answered, “Oh, Yes! We were just telling her how much we liked Oni a lot and thinking of making her our daughter in law, That’s all! We had a short video conversation with Mrs. Kotta’s husband about this matter and they not seemed to have any objection to our proposal, in fact, they are happy about it. We did Schedule a time and date to talk about this further as Mrs. Kotta’s husband will come to Dhaka within this week. Meanwhile, it gives both of the family to take time to think about it, especially Oni and you! By now we only collected her biodata.”. “I see! Okay! (Hearing this, Rafi goes back to view the streets through the car window but suddenly retorts realizing what she just said) Hold on a second! Me! Get married?”, Rafi shockingly asked. “Yes! I don’t want you to do something reckless like this again! So, we have decided to get you married and make you be more in control. At least there will be an extra someone in the family to look after you before you do something stupid again!”, his father Re-joined.

Rafi couldn’t believe his parents and questioned them, “How come you guys came to such an acceptance over Oni, where you only met her once? I mean, the way you guys were after me like crazy for my career and stuff but so casual on choosing a life partner! How ironic!”. “Finding a decent and conversant girl in today’s world is scarce. Oni showed enough intelligence to impress us, it was like both beauty and brains altogether. Besides, I am a businessman Rafi, I know very well where to invest to have proper revenue!”. “If you have any objections, then we can look for someone else if you like. But now you have made marriage compulsory for you, young man! Our decision is final, and there is no escaping that!”, his mother clearly stated. Rafi clumsily smiled hearing this but later gave his opinion, “Mom! Dad! There couldn’t be a perfect choice for her! You have my consent, procced as you wish! I don’t have any objection at all! I do know her; she will be perfect! (Blushed)”.  “Phew! Glad we are all on the same page then, haha!”, his father cheered. Rafi may have given his approval to his parents to proceed with the process of marriage, but a new tautness arose in his mind which made him think, “Oni, huh? There is no doubt that I would like to accept her as my soulmate, but the question stands, whether does she want to accept me as the same? After all, I never did get to tell her how much I loved her to accompany me today! How wonderful time was spent together!”.


Submitted: April 26, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Ishraq Hassan. All rights reserved.

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