I was sitting in my room along with my Thai friend whose name was Big, who ironically was the exact opposite of his name for he was smaller in size than even my younger brother, and reminded me more of a small, cuddly bear. His temper though was as big as his name and he often would spew it out on his elder brother, Boss. It was crystal clear who the actual boss was between these two brothers. Aside from his temper he was otherwise very intelligent, benevolent, and a good friend to have. We often hung out on Sundays when there seemed nothing to do. We’d watch videos or just chat, he telling me about life in Bangkok and about how life was so different here. We were just chatting one day when his elder brother climbed up the stairs that led to my room and tapped me on the shoulder. Big, immediately looked up at him and said, “What’s your problem?”
“Principal, sir, is calling Sherwin immediately. He wants him to go to his office.”
“Why?” I asked, worried!
“I have no idea, I was playing table tennis outside his office when he came out and asked me to give you this message.” He added, “Hurry, he’s waiting for you and if you want I’ll accompany you to his office?”
“Thanks!” I then put my feet into my sneakers and left with both brothers. We cantered across the field where a number of boys were playing soccer on one side while another group was playing cricket. I caught sight of Mr. Sunil, the cricket coach, his dark complexion a stark contrast to his white cricket attire. He happened to be the Master-on duty that day and he waved back at me, affectionately.
The two Thai brothers accompanied me to the Foyer but before leaving Big said, “Good luck Sherwin, hope everything’s alright”.
The Principal, who saw me approaching the door to his office which was open, gestured to me to enter. The smile on his face made me feel a lot easier and caused the adrenalin flowing through to me to stabilize..
There was a lady in a yellow sari with a red border, sitting opposite him. She was extremely fair and had a pretty face, one that could be associated with aristocracy. Even though she was seated she appeared tall and well built. She invited me to sit down near her, which I didn’t do because I had shifted my focus and attention to the Principal. He noticed that I wasn’t listening to her and thus said, “Ma’am here, just asked you to sit down”.
“My humble apologies Ma’am, I’m sorry but it’s just that I did not hear you.” I was too embarrassed to tell her about my problems with hearing and hoped she’d just accept my explanation and leave it at that. Unfortunately, that was not to be since the Principal went on to tell her about my handicap, which caused my cheeks to become red like strawberries.
“That’s amazing, it truly is! To think you can barely hear and still are one of the finest classical dancers in Dehradun is unbelievable. Your Principal was just filling me in about your talent and telling me about what a graceful dancer you are.” She then paused before continuing, “I’m sorry I should have introduced myself earlier, I’m Sharmila Bartari and I’m a classical dancer myself. Principal, Sir, has just asked me to put up something spectacular for your Annual Day Programme and that’s how you became the topic of discussion”.
“Thank you Ma’am, yes, Sir has been as mush a support to me as was Pramila Ma’am who taught me everything I know and I’m certain that without their support I would be just that dumb boy in the school whom everyone would have classified as a child of a lesser God.”
“I’ve heard that your dad too is quite a talented dancer too and it’s easy to understand where your talent comes from for the apple cannot fall far away from its tree. I do believe that you were born with this talent and perhaps inherited it from him. Well, I have a big ask of you. I want you to lead almost the entire school in a dance performance. So far you’ve always given solo performances but this time you’d be responsible for almost leading each and every other member of the troupe, besides doing a few solos performances in the dance. Do you think you are up to it? I know you’d be considering your hearing problem, but I have faith in you and am confident we can make it worth, for I cannot afford anyone but the best dancer to lead the dance. Think over it, but do get back to me as soon since we don’t have much time”.
“Sure Ma’am! I will discuss it with my parents as it is a big challenge, and also the school’s reputation which is at stake. I promise to get back to you tomorrow. Also thank you for your kind words and thank you, Sir for your appreciation and faith in me”.
“Okay, we’ll be waiting for your reply and take care”, said the Principal before I left the office.
I was almost leaping with excitement instead of walking when I exited the office. When I came out I met my two friends, who were anxiously waiting to know why I had been summoned by the Principal, and so with a ‘Kodak moment’ smile on my face and almost eating up my words I related all that had transpired. They too seemed to be genuinely happy for me. “Well. Why don’t you go and discuss the matter with your parents?” said Boss. Big chirped in by adding, “You’re something special man, look at me; I’m never chosen to do anything. You have been truly blessed!” Those last words triggered me to recall that silent talk I had with God, the night I prayed to Him when I lost Ms. Pramila, during the last autumn, about almost eight months back.
Those eight months were difficult for me. The number of admissions into the school had grown and some of the new ones were quite the opposite of the older ones who accepted me and encouraged me. Some of these guys spread malicious rumors about me being gay and even nicknamed me ‘deaf guy’ or “Hey, what are you doing in a normal school you should be in the Deaf and Dumb school.,” They were referring to a similar school located on Rajpur Road, not far from where our school was. By now I had learnt to fight back and give as good as I got. I remember telling this one particular boy Arjun, “Sorry pal, I’m not the one who doesn’t belong here, but you! What are you so damn good at, that makes you feel you deserve to be here? Perhaps, you weren’t good enough in your previous school and that is why you’ve had to seek refuge here. Whatever I achieved I’ve had struggled for, unlike you, spoilt kids whom even your parents cannot not handle. You remind me of the pot calling the kettle black.” I am sure he would have physically beaten me up but was wise enough to know that he’d be suspended or even expelled as bullying was not permitted in school.
He was obviously not going to take this lying down and so started a campaign to harm me by setting up his group of friends to taunt me and call me names, accidently on purpose kicking me while playing football or hiding my books, resulting in me being reprimanded by some teacher or the other. I could’ve gone to my dad, who literally controlled the school, and told him, but something told me not to. I felt I needed this battle to be won on my own and to be patient as the necessity warranted it I could turn to Jigme or Ugyen, my classmates from Bhutan who were as tough as the yaks of their land. Nobody messed with them, no body, whether big or small! I also had my own group of friends who sort of sheltered and shadowed me wherever I went. To add to it, I had my big brother, Shannon who would give his life for me. I knew I had to somehow ride the wave and not allow it to swallow me up.
It was two days later when the auditions for the dance started. Almost the entire population of the school’s students had assembled in the Foyer during the Games and Activities time where The Principal introduced Mrs. Sharmila to all the students mentioning that she was a very well-known Odissi dancer, and that we were very fortunate to have her volunteer to prepare us for the Annual Day Display. “You all must give your hundred percent and make a note never to be late, whenever she calls you for practice. Have you understood me?”
“Yes, Sir!” a unison of voices shouted back.
From that day it became a part of our routine to assemble and then follow her instructions. After making us perform certain moves that she had earlier performed, she began making cuts. This action of hers brought forth different emotions; some happy while others who wanted to be part of this special dance performance ended up in tears when they were told they weren’t good enough.
It must have been a week later at about five thirty in the evening and the afternoon heat was losing its strength when mom was passing the Foyer on her way back home, after her daily work at her office was completed. Mrs. Sharmila who had caught sight of her called out to her. “Sabrina, your son here is an amazing dancer! I’ve fallen in love with him. Give him to me; I’ll take him to the top”.
Mom began to blush, “Thank you so much Ma’am! I’m just happy that he has you to teach him. Sandeep, the Principal has told me so much about you that I am truly honoured and blessed to have you teach my son. He just can’t stop talking about you, too”.
Two months seemed to pass by so quickly. In that time everyone in school including the teachers knew the song which we were to dance to, ‘Oh Ganga Behti Ho Kyun’ by late, legendary Assamese singer, Bhupen Hazarika. They not only became familiar with the lyrics and tune of the song, but with every step of the dance. In fact while the dance was being performed at the function the spellbound audience couldn’t help but take a glance at almost the entire body of female teachers who had placed their hands on each other’s shoulders and were replicating the moves that we were performing on stage. This was testimony of this great lady’s abilities; she had this magical effect on everyone!
After that day she suddenly disappeared for about a month and then mysteriously reappeared. I noticed her seated with a European gentleman, or so I thought he was, and the Principal in the office. My heart was warmed with what my eyes had seen, but my brain wanted an answer. This behavior of my brain is what we call curiosity. “Where had she disappeared to, and why, and also who was this foreigner with her?” I was feeling as curious as a cat but I could not just pounce into the office to find out. I had to be patient. Perhaps, I could intercept them when they came out, I thought. The question though was how long would I have to wait? I crossed my fingers so that they would come out before it was time to go for evening studies. I had about fifteen minutes to find out the answers and not a minute after that.
Whilst I was outside the office my dad suddenly appeared out of nowhere. He was on his daily rounds, overseeing that all the games were being played properly and also that the trainers were doing the jobs they were appointed to do, and also that no child was idle, like I was at this moment. He saw me and immediately said, “Why are you here and not on the field?” Though he was my father he would not play favourites, not even when it came to his only flesh and blood. He treated everyone with the same yard stick which meant that I needed to have a proper explanation or both me and my trainer would have to stay back for detention. I explained to him that I had sought permission from Coach Payal to have a drink of water, and I was on my way to water dispenser when I suddenly saw Mrs. Sharmila and thought that I’d speak to her when she came out. “Well you go and finish what you came for and I’ll ask her to meet you when she’s finished. It’s not good to tell your teacher one thing and do another. So, go on, on the double,” he ordered. On my way to the water dispenser located at the end of the hall I turned round and noticed dad entering the office.
Just before my game concluded dad phoned my Coach named Mr. Payal informing him to send me to the office. I had the feeling that it had to be something to do with my desire to meet Mrs. Sharmila and the stranger, the foreign gentleman. I ran like a boarder who had been given the news that his or her parents had come to meet him after a long time. I ran blindly and with so much enthusiasm that I almost knocked down one of the poor security personnel posted on duty outside the office. The poor fellow even though he was a strong and sturdy fellow almost lost his footing and would have tastedthe floor had he not broken his fall by stretching out a hand enabling him to get a grip of a railing. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you,” I dutifully apologized. He said something which needless to say I did not hear.
Dad was in conversation with both the people in the room and they all seemed so animated and deeply engrossed in their conversation that none of them noticed me at the door, so I knocked on the door and said, “I’m sorry to disturb you, but…… before I could finish my explanation Mrs. Sharmila said, “Come in, it’s nice to see you again!” She had a big, pleasing smile across her beautiful face. “Come here and give me a hug, I’ve missed my favourite student”. She then took out some candies from her white Pierre Cardin handbag and handed it to me and said, “Pull up a chair and then I’ll introduce you to this gentleman sitting here, and also tell you about why we’re here”.
I was seated on a single seater, chair while she spoke to the gentleman, who was extremely fair skinned and had silvery- white hair. His hairline had shrunk just a little, suggesting that he was in his mid fifties. He was well-built for his age and looked very handsome like a Hollywood star. He was wearing a snow white, designer shirt and a pair of blue, denim jeans. “This boy here is Sherwin, he’s an amazing dancer and I want him to be in our next performance. Oh! And let me tell you to always look at him when you speak to him as he has a hearing impediment,” He interjected, “You mean Selective Hearing, he has a selective hearing problem like all men have when given instructions by their wives?” Everyone in the room began to laugh. “No Tom, he has a genuine hearing impairment and therefore he reads lips”. The man looked a l bit perplexed. “Then how does he dance to music, that impossible!” “Well, you’ll see Tom that nothing is impossible, this boy here is proof of it; you have to see him perform to believe it! You know what they say about, the adage, seeing is believing; I’ve no doubt that he will do more than justice to the saying.”
Dad and the Principal sat on the leather covered sofas like mere an audience to all that was being said. Then the Principal looked at me and said, “Sherwin, this gentleman here is Tom Alter, have you ever heard of him?” I was certain I had not and so replied, “No sir, but I have heard of Tom Cruise, I thought he was his father or relative.” They must have found my ridiculous answer amusing because they once again broke out in laughter and I followed suit, though I did not know why. Dad spoke for the first time, “Mr. Tom Alter is a legendary Bollywood star who usually always played the role of a British officer in the movies. I recall the move, ‘Kranti’ which I had bunked class and gone to see along with a few of my naughty class mates when I was in school. He’s an Anglo-Indian like us except for the fact that he was born in the day and I at night which was in reference to the opposing colours of their skins, and also he is different from us since he knows and speaks Hindi better than any Anglo-Indian I have ever met”.
The students could be seen trooping in for their evening study classes, crossing the Foyer before descending down the stairs which led to their respective class rooms located a floor below. “Well, Sherwin you’d better get going now for you mustn’t miss your Prep classes. We’ll call for you in a couple of days when Mr. Alter and Ma’am will be coming to school again. They have some big programme planned and I can tell you that you are in the frame of it all,” the Principal informed me.
At Prep that evening, I was feeling exhilarated to say the least. I had always dreamt of becoming a star and today I actually got to meet one. Perhaps, one day I’d get to be like him. No one knew what the future had in store. My dad always wanted to run in the Olympics but ended up being an educator. We all have dreams and it is said that if you really wish for something with great belief and conviction you might end up getting what you dreamed of or for.
I was sitting with Big who was busy solving some Math problems, given as homework. He hardly seemed to be aware of the other fifteen boys in the class. Jigme was dreaming with all conviction of getting something tasty for dinner. Ugyen was busy bullying the others, while Amandeep was looking up a magazine on cars; it was his dream of owning one of the amazing machines, contained in it. I wondered if they ever thought of the future. For them the future was later in the hostel where they would be up to some mischief.
When I returned home I surfed the net and found out some information of the man I had met earlier. It was mentioned that he was fluent in Hindi and his knowledgeable of the Indian culture was encyclopedic. He had worked for noted filmmakers like Satyajit Ray in Shatranj Ke Khiladi and is remembered for his role as a British officer in Kranti. In Sardar, the 1993 film biography of Indian leader Sardar Patel, which focused on the events surrounding the partition and independence of India, Tom portrayed Lord Mountbatten of Burma. He has also played an Indian character in an Indian television series, such as the long-running, Junoon, in which he was the sadistic mob lord Keshav Kalsi. He had also acted in th Hollywood movie, ‘One Night with the King with Peter O'Toole’.
I knew that I would be dreaming of him all night, which was exactly what happened.
The first rays of the sun had not appeared and except for the streetlights that offered visibility to the surrounding darkened environment everything resembled a dark, lonely highway. I was at this time on a bus along with fifteen other students and two teachers heading for Rishikesh, the holy city for Hindus and a famous center of pilgrimage, in Uttaranchal. It is situated in the laps of lower Himalayas and surrounded by scenic beauty of Himalayan hills from three sides with the holy Ganges flowing through. It is considered as a perfect place for meditation and salvation and it has given birth to several spiritual and yogic centers. Tourists from around the world would come here for spiritual enlightenment and also to enjoy a treasury of nature that God had bestowed upon this place. It was also acquiring greater significance as a center for adventure sports such as, white water rafting, other riverside sports and served as a base for Himalayas treks. It also served as the entrance gate for visiting Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamnotri, all pilgrimage places. We had a long journey ahead and some of us had not even fully awoken from out night’s sleep and so without a care of the road ahead visited the Land of Nod, instead.
We were to perform at a cultural extravaganza as part of a dance troupe led by Mrs. Sharmila and Mr. Tom Alter. It was supposed a significant event of the state and the Chief Minister, Mr.Romesh Pokhriyal, other state ministers and a number of foreign dignitaries were members of the audience. We had been practicing for more than three hours every day since I had met Mr. Alter and Mrs. Sharmila in the Principal’s office. We coincidentally would be performing the dance to the same song, ‘Oh Ganga Behti Ho Kyun’ which we had performed earlier. It was coincidental because we would be performing on the banks of the river, Ganga which served as an inspiration for all we jaded and tired performers and though the song was the same however, a few routines were altered so as to enable Mrs. Sharmila to play the central character.
I was awakened by someone when we reached our destination, which was like a bee hive, buzzing with activity. I was immediately enchanted by the beauty of this place and it seemed as if God’s angels or workers were its architects. Unfortunately, I had no time to enjoy natural beauty as I had to beautify myself for the event. I was given this bottle green satin kurta and white churidar pants to wear before sitting in front of the makeup artist who layered my eyes with thick, dark mascara and began putting blood red lipstick on me which made me feel like a madam of some brothel. I loved everything about dancing except the part which entailed me to go through this torturous make up process. I could never comprehend as to how and why women loved this activity and could spend endless hours not only on applying it on themselves, but also spend valuable time and money on purchasing it! I was thankful that I wasn’t a woman.
Once on stage I could see a crowd which resembled a swarm of locusts. There were cameras of different shapes and sizes in every direction. I turned my head and found some were focusing on me, but I had to focus on not on them, but on not putting a step, wrong. The dance was completed and went off without a hitch. The praise bestowed upon our performance was read by everyone at school, in the local newspaper, Dainik Jagran. A glittering memento was also awarded to the school by the organizers, which was later kept on a shelf in the Principal’s office.
This event became a catalyst for an everlasting relationship between Mrs. Sharmila and me. She became so fond of me that she’d often take me out with her and treat me to some delicious food or bring some snacks for me. Then, one day she met my mom while I was practicing for a performance to be given for the Governor of the state and said, “Sabrina, I just love this son of yours! Give him to me and I’ll take him to America and Europe to perform. He’s got the potential to be a star. Let him spend two years with me, that’s all, I ask you.” Mom smiled but said nothing about the topic and instead began to talk about how more caring and confident I had become, and also how I always had something or the other to say about her. Then the topic changed to dad and his relationship with the Vice Principal, to which mom said, I’d rather not comment, they are professionals and that’s how it is. I just try to keep the peace.” “I understand its common knowledge that they think very differently, but I appreciate all that Richard does for the students here and for the institution, he’s a kind, and loving person”.
If things were getting better for me they were unfortunately deteriorating for dad. He seemed to feel depressed at the changes taking part in the school. He was a liberal-minded person and felt that education had gone through a paradigm shift and had moved on with time and generation unlike the new Vice Principal who believed in the old and traditional ways of education. There were several confrontations which was difficult for dad to handle. He was raised as a gentleman and therefore ground his teeth at times rather than get into yet another argument with her. All the pressure that he was undergoing was questioning his reason to continue in the intuition and one day when what he had said was misconstrued and told to the Management so as to cause trouble for him and he was called to clarify what he meant, he decided to throw in the towel. The Principal though, refused his letter of resignation with the assurance that the Vice Principal would have no direct communication with him in future. I knew that day that the fire had been not completely dowsed but a spark still remained.
Somehow the students who absolutely adored my father had got wind of the news that dad had resigned and that evening they all collected in the living room of my house and begged dad not to leave and warned that they would harass the lady to such an extent that she would be compelled to leave. “Sir, who will protect us and who can we depend on if you go?” said Nikhil, one of the oldest students of the group. “Sir, you are the only one who seems to understand us and if you go then we too will convince our parents to take us out too”, pleaded another boy. I too wanted dad to take a rethink of things and said, “Dad you cannot just hang up your boots now, you were the one who always said that you do not amputate a hand just because it has a sore on it. but instead you nurture and try to cure the sore. Don’t you think you aren’t putting into practice what you preach?” This barrage of questioning by almost all the seniors eventually got him to say, “Okay, I’ll see you through till your Board exams, but cannot promise anything after that”.
A month later Shannon was called to meet a lady representing “Youth for Understanding”, which is an organization that sends students from around the globe to other countries as part of an ‘Exchange Programme’. If he was found suitable and met all their requirements he would then be sent on a fully funded scholarship to Japan, for a month. He along with two other students of his class were to be interviewed, but only one would be selected and so he was a little anxious as he very much desired to be the chosen one. Mom had kept coaching him on how to sit and what to say. He was a simple and good-natured boy, who always brought home a good report card. He had brought laurels to himself and his school at all public speaking competitions and so we all felt confident that he’d impress the lady.
Later that day, the lady visited our home and gave us the news we were hoping for. “I have found your son to be a good ambassador for the school and so he should be leaving for Japan in January. I will intimate you about all the procedures after we are able to find a host family for him. Congratulations! We will be in constant touch with you. Have a good day!” Mom then walked to her car which was parked outside. The lady got into her car and then the driver reversed the car and drove the vehicle towards the gate. Mom immediately dialed dad’s number and delivered the exciting news to him. I had no doubt that dad must have felt over the moon. He was at a meeting and promised to be back soon. Unfortunately, soon could mean not too soon as dad barely came back early from these meetings. This one was about some boys who had been allegedly found to be possessing cigarettes and so they were being interrogated. Dad would be the one trying to save these guys from being expelled while the Vice Principal would be doing just the opposite. This was one meeting that would end up either getting adjourned or winning. He was superb at playing the Devil’s advocate!
The sun had slowly but surely given up its position in the sky and the a light crescent shaped moon appeared to take its position in the vast cloudless, open sky by the time dad finally made his grand entrance looking as tired as horse that had labored all day. “Sorry everyone for the delay, but I’ve had a harrowing day! Unfortunately, it’s not over, but where is that lucky boy of mine?” He was so tired that he did not seem to notice Shannon sitting at the dining table with earphones plugged in his ears listening to music on the laptop. “There he is,” said mom gesticulating to where he was. “You look exhausted! Could I make you a cup of tea?” mom asked him. “Thanks, Honey I’d sure appreciate that, but I want to know all about this Japan trip, I want to know all the details,” he replied. “Well, come to the kitchen with me and I’ll tell you everything,” said mom, heading towards the kitchen with dad in tow.
A little later dad said, “Let’s go out and party. Where would you guys like to go?” “Not tonight, Honey, it’s late and you look so tired. Why not go tomorrow?” mom commented. “I may look tired, but I don’t feel so, also I believe in enjoying success when it comes, not later. Tomorrow! That word is not in my dictionary, never leave for tomorrow what needs to be done today! Hurry and tell me where you would like to go or else I’ll make the decision, myself,” said dad with a serious, though excited expression on his tired face. “Let Shannon decide, he’s earned the right to choose,” I said not wanting to steal his hour of glory. Then he stood up in his typical victory style with his hands outstretched as if reaching to the heavens and said in an emphatic manner, “Momos!.” I could have guessed he’d choose this Tibetan delicacy, for he loved eating them.
“And where in Heaven’ name will we find a Tibetan restaurant open so late?” enquired mom. I know a place, Kelsang restaurant,” said dad behaving like an encyclopaedia. “That’s in Mussoorie, more than an hour’s drive, and driving up the dark and dangerous hill roads is too risky a proposition, certainly more so with you looking so tired. No, I don’t advise it,” said mom with great concern. “What are you trying to say? Are you trying to imply that I’m a lousy driver? Honey, if you remember I’ve driven you home safely even when I was completely sozzled?” I’m carrying precious cargo; cargo worth more to me than the Kohinoor diamond on Queen Elizabeth’s crown. Please show me some respect for my sense of responsibility and skill at driving!”
On the way up the steep slopes that led to Mussoorie which had a number of hairpin bends and barely any street light alight causing us to feel nervous of falling down one of the deep slopes, to our doom! But dad drove the car like a seasoned formula car driver on these curved and inclined roads. As there wasn’t much to see in the blackness that enveloped us and at times the dense fog that made it difficult to see even with night vision glasses on dad drove on confidently. If he was even a wee bit a little weary he appeared to be just the exact opposite, for he drove as if he possessed hawk-like vision. Along the way Shannon kept changing the music tracks on the CD player and we all sang along, everyone sang, whereas I croaked. No one seemed to care though as they were all in such state of exhilarated excitement.
The conversation at dinner was all about what Shannon would see and experience in Japan. I could envision him playing in the snow and singing at Karaoke centers for he possessed a great singing voice, but I could also imagine him detesting sushi and other Japanese sea food since he never did have an appetite for it. In fact, besides mom none of us would eat sea food. Many people found that odd of dad as he was born and brought up in Kolkata where fish or other sea creatures were a part of almost every Bengali family’s daily meals. I wondered how we as a family would cope if we ever had to shift to one of these South East Asian countries in which the sea influenced the people’s lives. Who ever thought that my brother would be going to Japan, therefore it could be possible that we too could move out, somewhere there, some day. Towards the end of the dinner I suddenly remembered that Shannon did not possess a passport and so I thought it necessary to remind the family, just in case it had not crossed their minds. Mom replied confidently, “We have nothing to worry, dad is there, and he’ll procure it!” “Really, you are like the rest of the world who uses God as the fire escape! What do you think I am God who performs miracles? Do you know how long and difficult it takes to obtain a passport in this country? What you are asking me to do is to perform a miracle,” he sounded not too enthusiastic or confident of being able to live up to mom’s expectations.
There was a slight pause as nothing was said for some time. “You, my dear are used like a fire escape by everyone, so why not I use you like one, myself? Mom put the question to dad. The atmosphere suddenly changed from excitement to seriousness, and was getting a little uncomfortable. “Well, I’ll use my contacts while you, you can hope for the best,” he replied after much thought. “Now can we finish our meal?”
The ride down provided a splendid view. Dehradun with all its lights in the darkness below resembled a black, velvet cushion embedded with precious jewels. It was so beautiful that I wanted to capture the sight and memory for the rest of my life. It then occurred to me that I was fortunate that God had given me the vision to see the wondrous gifts of life and nature. Being deaf was better than being blind for not only could I visualize things as they were, but also not always hear the harsh criticisms which others had to say about me.
Dad was like God as he somehow managed to obtain the necessary Passport and that too without having the necessary Corporation Birth certificate, a requirement for being granted the same. All he did was contact the resourceful people and pay a bribe to an agent and he had the Passport delivered to him in no time. All he had to do was give a promissory note that he would submit the certificate as soon as he obtained it from the Calcutta Municipal Corporation when he obtained it from there. Miraculously! Shannon would eventually fly to Japan on the appointed date, with a legal Passport and visa despite not having a legal Birth Certificate. Money and influence could make anyone a God. I came to this conclusion when I thought over how things turned out for Shannon.
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