From Dawn To Dusk

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Life's Journey

It is a story about a boy giving his precious thing, to support his family.

From Dawn To Dusk

“How long will you take to fill up these forms?” questioned the shop owner as Raju trying hard to complete the task by 12 PM. There is no time for him to kill his hunger. Only a cup of tea and biscuit is what giving him the energy to fight from 8 AM, the time when the shop opens.

 It is the month end time, business at its peak, no time to rest. Just run and run to generate more and more revenue for the shop owner and in return an incentive of nominal amount will be added, to the monthly salary slip.

The term nominal is actually very relative to the employees of the shop that is to Raju and his four colleagues, which includes three boys and one girl. However, to the shop owner, this incentive amount is huge and the output of these counter sales man and women is not up to the standard.

Surprisingly for the last one year, the shop owner was unable to define the term called hard work. Since all five of them gives there hundred percent from 8AM to 10PM without demanding for Tiffin or lunch break in a fear of losing the job. 

Cost cutting, has not affected this telecom retail outlet. Since the shop owner, Mr. Sinha recruited people based upon the minimum requirement of running the shop. However, he smartly kept the pressure and fear of taking away the employment, if not performed properly, or if asked for minimum relaxation time more than twice in a day for boys and four times for the girl.

Without knowing of all this business complication, these five people just for the sake of retaining their employment, continues to fight for basic needs and against mental depression.

Raju was the youngest member of the team only eight months old and the rest were more or less fifteen to sixteen month old in this system.

Rai, among these five members is the oldest. Sam, Deepak and Sachin joined at the same day fifteen months ago.

Sam, an Orphan, totally frustrated and depressed because of girl friend lose but very smart and with lots of ego.

Deepak and Sachin, friends of same location and of same fate, their father used to work in a jute factory but unfortunately it was locked out, now there father sell snacks in the local market.

Now comes Raju, the family size is small comprises of Mom and Dad. His mother always tries to hide her ill health in front of her son to save some money for the treatment of her better half who is a paralysed patient because of cerebral attack, a year ago.  Most importantly, the cost of the treatment made Raju and his mother paralysed too, and so he has to stop his masters on Indian History in search of a job, to run the family.

Raju is tall, good looking, soft-spoken, humble and, most importantly having a smiling face. The only thing of which he is proud of is his bicycle. To Raju this bicycle is a symbol of “Never to give up spirit.”

“Raju, come let us have something.” Rai said.

Affirming the statement Raju spoke “Yes coming, just a single form left”.

It was twelve past fifteen in the noon when three out of five members had their tiffin, while the other two were busy, attending the customers.

“Today the counter sale is on the higher side” uttered Sam, giving a bite to his bread.

“Hmm” Answered Raju, giving a close look at the pending customer application forms while chewing the bread.

“I think we will be able to achieve our sales target in all parameters this month.” Rai said, giving a bite to her part too.

“Rai, today you are looking very pretty.” Sam spoke.

Hearing this, Rai felt very shy. Raju looked straight into the eyes of Sam after giving a side look towards Rai, and said, “Let us all be fast, since the other two also need some food and refreshment to survive”.

The tone was so demanding that both Rai and Sam were confused and wrapped up the proceedings without much deliberation. All three of them, then went to their respective counter’s, giving relief to the other two.

The sitting arrangement of Rai is always on the middle position between Sam and Raju. However, today Rai stood on the extreme left, followed by the other four in a series starting with Raju.

“Has the form being filled up?”The manager questioned Raju.

“Yes, just coming to hand it over” replied Raju.

“What the hell is happening to my sim card?” A female customer entered the shop, like a thunderstorm.

Everybody got scared even the manager of the shop, who actually does not work apart from buttering the shop owner for his uninterrupted employment.

“Please be sited madam,” requested Rai, in a very soft and sweet voice, which is the special quality of her.

“The women gave a glaring look but were unable to disobey the request.

 “For the last twenty-four hours, my connection has not been restored, why? I have given all my documents that were asked for re-verification, but still, it has not been done an absolute shame”.

The women screamed like anything. A dead silence engulfed the entire ambience.

 The manager steeped in and started proving “Madam, to whom you have handed over all the documents?”

Pointing her finger towards Raju, the women answered.

“Raju, has the form being submitted?” The manager enquired.

“No”, replied Raju.

He was about to say few more things when the manager called up the shop owner and narrated the entire story, in his own way.

 The women, continues to shout demanding an enquiry to this lack of responsibility.

Clearing the customer waiting in front of her, Rai stepped in to settle the confusion.

Taking the form, from the hand of Raju, Rai questioned, “Is this, the alternate contact number?

“Yes off-course” replied the women.

Rai dialled the number; after her husband received the call, she started questioning.

“Sir, sorry to disturb you, but it is an urgent, please do co-operate.”

The person “Sure, but please do tell me what is the issue?”

Rai started saying, “Hope you remember that yesterday evening a person named Raju called you up, to say that the signature in the documents and in the customer re-verification form of your wife founds mismatch and its needs to be changed”.

The Person said, “Yes I do remember,” adding, “He also told me that if any clause founds improper then the hub will reject the form and the connection will get terminated with immediate effect till further notice, also said that he cannot keep the documents with him without sending.”

“But surprisingly the same has not been communicated to your wife from your end and for that reason she is creating a havoc in our shop this afternoon” Rai spoke with a controlled angry tone giving a constant look to the women.

By now, the women felt very ashamed and started crying. However, controlling herself emotion she requested Raju to provide another set of form by saying sorry for her miss-conduct.

When the women, was busy is filling up the form and all the others were busy in attending the customer, the shop owner called Rai up to know the exact reason or precisely to analyse the gravity of the situation. Rai eased the tension and through her eyes asked Raju to relax his nerve.

Its evening time, and like always Sam, Deepak, Sachin were busy attending the customer and solving their queries with random counter sale.

 Raju, busy in preparing reports, filling forms, following up with the activation officer for fast activation and Rai was busy in updating the stock and preparing a draft for some fresh requirement.

However, the manager is busy in staring at Rai, without doing, any work.

At times, Rai felt very irritated and uncomfortable but unable to express her irritation. To distract the manager from constant staring, Rai spoke out loudly “It was such a busy day that we forgot to take our lunch “. While the others endorse this statement, Raju with due permission, left the counter for a break of five minutes.

Coming out of the shop, he called up his mom to know the exact condition of his father’s health and family requirement. He was about to extend the conversation when the manager pulled his T-shirt from the back to notify that break time is over. Raju turned and silently entered in the shop after disconnecting the ongoing call abruptly.

It is 8PM, When the shop owner entered the counter with a big smile in his face.

“It is the incentive time, based on the last month performance, which sir failed to give us along with the salary of this month “uttered the manager.

It took everybody by surprise. In no time, clearing few remaining customers present in the waiting area all the employees started calculating their achievement in a sheet of paper. Apart from Raju who was busy in updating, the sales figure in the office computer.

Rai calculated the incentive amount of her and Raju both.

By 9PM, everybody got their amount; surprisingly Raju got the highest amount from the rest an amount of rupees four thousand.

Rai got an amount of rupees three thousand five hundred only. Sam got five hundred rupees less than Rai and the other two got the same as Sam.

Raju was very happy, but unable to express his happiness, in a fear of losing the job.

Usually, the shop operation gets off by 10.30PM. However, for Rai her closing time is 9.30PM, since she needs to travel a fare bit distance to reach home.

Waving hands to everybody, she retires from the shop, but like always, she gave a halt while crossing the bicycle of Raju. Coming closure to the bicycle, she brush her hand over it. Especially over the seat, which is not in good shape, taking a deep breath, she walks away quietly.

Raju felt very hungry today, so after the closure of the shop operation, he quickly moves to a fast food centre along with his bicycle.

Before starting the journey towards home, he called up his mother to inform that he has taken dinner for both, and so no need to cook food for the dinner. He also informs her about the fact he has received the incentive.

His mother was very happy from inside as she was in deep tension of how to pay the electricity bill and the medical bill, which was pending for almost two months in the medicine shop.

Praying for her safe journey, she disconnected the call.

After filling up the stomach with some light stuff and keeping, the packet full of dinner in the bag Raju starts his journey.

It was 11PM; almost half of the society has gone for sleep into their cosy bed. Only the night guards, the home guards, few corporate professionals, moving here and there. In addition, among the animals, few streets dogs and jackals were loitering in the streets fighting among themselves.

“I cannot bear your burden anymore”, an unknown voice forced Raju to slow down his cycling speed.

“You are becoming fat day by day” again the same voice. This time Raju stepped down from his cycle to search the origin of this unknown voice.

“And finally you stepped down! Feeling relaxed now.” The unknown voice uttered.

Raju, after hearing the voice for the third time got very confused, and in fear of ghost attack started chanting in the name of God Almighty.

“You idiot, I am not ghost’. The voice said being angry, adding “look straight, I am your bicycle speaking “.

With broad opened eyes, Raju looked straight into his bicycle, as ordered. With trembling feet and thirsty voice Raju questioned “You can you speak? You are non-living.”

“I can speak from day one when you purchased me and brought me to your home. However, you heard my voice for the first time today. Now do not waste more time, it is almost 11.30 PM, just get above me and ride, mother is waiting for us.”

As ordered Raju did the same and by 11.45 PM he reached the gat of his home giving all his power, energy and speed to the bicycle.

Keeping the bicycle aside, and after locking the gate he entered the house “It is to late today” mother said softly.

“Sorry Mom, actually few parts of my bicycle stopped functioning smoothly for some minutes.” Raju answered as he stepped into the washroom for refreshment.

Mother believed what her son said as her son has no outer world apart from them.

His mother, whose age has just crossed fifty-seven a week ago, remained scared for her son almost twenty-four hours. Though she has tremendous faith and confidence upon his son but has no faith in her luck, which has taken away everything that includes the death of her elder son in ragging at the engineering college campus.

Raghav Sen, a handsome boy of twenty-three, a bright prospect, as predicted by all professors but unfortunately his fate turn dark.

His mother somehow survived the shock but unable to protect her husband from receiving the same.

It was 12 AM, when Raju and His mother took their dinner.

“It was very testy, isn’t?” Raju smiled and handed over the incentive amount keeping Rs 500 aside for himself.

Saying good night to mother, Raju went to his bed in the other room.

It was midnight; the environment was dead silent and romantic, lying on the bed, Raju texted, saying goodnight to Rai.

Within a few seconds Raju received a message from Rai, saying “good night to you too”.

“You were looking gorgeous in black today”. Raju texted as the message status shows ‘delivered’.

A smiley sticker was send back as an acknowledgement to Raju’s compliment.

“You saved me today from being beaten up”. Raju texted as the message status shows ‘delivered’

“I hate to get oppressed and love to stand by the truth, you are a very honest and humble person Raju, be like it always do not try to change for other’s” replied Rai, message status delivered.

Raju, returned the compliment as she did, but this time message status shows pending.  He immediately called up the number to enquire and found that it went off.

Being confused and distracted from his relaxation, he started calling the same number three times at regular interval however, the response remains the same “switched off”.

Being helpless and tired Raju closed his eyes by setting the alarm clock at 6AM.

It was a beautiful morning, Raju was about to pick himself up from the bed being constantly irritated by the alarm clock when his mobile phone whistled, notifying the receiving status of a message.

Raju hurried to unlock the phone keypad to read the message send by Rai that states “sorry dear last night the charge of my cell phone drained out, so it went off, very good morning”.

“Are you alright?” Raju questioned in anxiety as the message status shows ‘delivered’

“Yes I am absolutely fine, please do not worry about me, just calm your nerve and focus on your work” Rai answered adding “last night you forgot to send the daily sales report in message format to the manager and he then called me up to get the details.”

“Oh My God, I am so sorry, actually I got confused when my bicycle started talking” Raju replied, message status delivered.

“Bicycle! What did you say?” questioned Rai.

Using all his skill and brain, Raju somehow managed to shift the focus of Rai from bicycle to business since month end is approaching.

Saying goodbye to the conversation Raju stood up to get ready after having a cup of tea.

Taking the small tiffin box in his bag and blessings form his parents, he started his journey for the day.

“You fatty fellow” the bicycle shouted. Raju gave a tab on the handle as if, beating in his head.

 The bicycle added, “I will not stop, why you cannot go for a jogging? Do not you feel ashamed of your belly?”

Ignoring all the words of the bicycle, Raju started singing with a belief that his worse voice will overcome the sound of the bicycle, and in this way its voice will be subdued and no one will to listen their interaction.

The bicycle being agitated and irritated with the shrill, non-harmonic voice of Raju, requested the chain to step down from smooth rotation. As ordered by the master the chain did so.

Raju was about to speed up the process, when the chain fell down.

In great hurry, he stepped down from the sit and concentrated in putting the chain in place for smooth ride.

Spending almost ten minutes in the open road, Raju requested lord almighty to intervene, to solve the problem.

As expected, receiving the order from the god, the bicycle requested the chain to get it fixed, without troubling any further. Finally, the stopped journey continued.

During this proceeding, Raju came to know that the voice of the bicycle is on exclusive hearing mode with him since all the person who were moving through the road were unable to hear what they were saying in soft words.

“You crazy boy, I am not as fast as you now.” The bicycle uttered, continuing, “I am now ten year old, having lots of wear and tear, in my entire body”

“Keep your mouth shut and let me ride” Shouted Raju.

When everybody was busy with the morning briefing encircling the manager, Raju was busy in parking his bicycle. Therefore, with a very harsh tone he was welcomed.

Raju was furious from inside and gave a glaring look to his bicycle, who was the culprit for this ten minutes delay in reporting.

 “May I step in to attain the briefing session?” questioned Raju.

“I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request”. The manager answered.

 

Without understanding the meaning of the sentence, Raju uttered, “Pardon please”

“Means, No”. The manager replied.

“No one knows why the manager, dislike Raju. Apparently, it seems that the honesty and dedication towards his job and customers follow up with deep care might be the reason for this all-time irritation”. Dipak said to Sachin.

“Your logic does not seem to be strong enough,” answered Sachin, standing at the back of the manager while taking the briefing.

 “Then what next?” Dipak questioned.

“It’s Rai,” Answered Sachin.

“Yes this seems to be a strong reason,” Dipak murmured.

 “Fighting for a woman? a tradition, from the days of Troy”. Sachin uttered, and they both smiled at each other.

Rai felt very ashamed after hearing the entire conversation, and looked at Raju who was busy trying to figure out the pending of last night being unaware of these situations.

Therefore, as it happens, customers started flowing in with volley of questions on the new tariff launched last night. 

Raju started responding with the old tariff details and was almost engaged himself in bitter interaction with one of high value customer when Rai intervene and somehow managed to avoid the embarrassment like always.

Understanding the gravity of the situation, Rai secretly texted the entire briefing by taking a break of five minutes, since the manager ordered them not to share the information with Raju as he is late today, and will forced him to receive abusive from the customer as punishment.

Without wasting any more time, Raju went through the briefing and cleared the crowd.

By then, Rai came back from the break and started talking to Sam, ignoring completely the look of Raju.

“Sam, you look so bright today,” Rai said. It was a fascinating experience for Sam. Receiving a compliment from Rai who always maintain certain level of dignity, he felt very shy and returned the compliment saying, “You are also looking very pretty”.

They both looked at each other and smiled.

To Raju, it was just like, landing from glacier to desert. Trying to forget the incident, taking a break of five minutes, he left the counter and called his mom to get the news of dad.

 Getting positive response from his mother, he went back to his place to attain the next customer by wiping his tears and smiles in lips.

Back home, his mother a women of fifty eight years of age, complete all the daily task of life, starting from cleaning the house, washing clothes and utensils (which she hardly did few years ago by herself), cooking food, nursing and feeding her paralysed husband, taking medicine for herself and giving the same to her better half.

Keeping the amount (given by her son last night) safe in the locker, she took a break from the hours of continuous work and opened the television set with a cup of black tea.

She might be weak financially, but her mental toughness is just like a rock fighting alone in the battlefield, trying to bind her family together from scattered off.

Throughout the day, Raju did not interact with Rai, in fact not even with anybody else. His mind caught between expense of medical test and lost love. 4th-April was approaching fast, and if he fails to arrange an amount of ten thousand rupees, then the list of medical tests as prescribed by the doctor will go for a toss along with the routine cheek up.

From the evening, Raju took everybody by surprise, through his body language and aggression.

He is ready to give more than hundred percent for some extra cent in the next month.

“Is everything alright?” Rai texted, status delivered.

Raju ignored the message and continued to attain customer. Rai, now felt very disturbed by this behaviour and walked straight to his counter and started clearing the crowed so that she get some time to speak with him.

Raju, Sam and the manager felt very uncomfortable by this behaviour of Rai. The other two members were least interested in all this and continued to concentrate in their work.

It was 6PM, when the crowed settled.

Rai looked straight into the eyes of Raju and hold his hand tightly for few seconds. They did not spoke a single word yet thousand of words and expression exchanged between them.

The manager smiled, saying, “Now Raju will do less mistake”.

Taking the cell phone in his hand with due permission from the manager, Sam went away and called her ex-girl friend to say “sorry”.

Actually, Rai loved by all for her dignity and personality whereas Raju, hated by all.

After settling the nerve, Raju forwarded the message received from the pathological centre to Rai, which gives an estimate of ten thousand for all medical tests and medicines and checkups.

Rai looked up but unable to say anything as few customer has started creeping in and it continued to increase as the hours gone by.

9.30PM, everybody was exhausted including the manager. Rai was about to close her counter for the evening, when Raju handed over a cup of tea and snacks to her and to all others.

For the first time everybody were actually happy in the shop, the manager came close and blessed both of them, Rai smiled and left the shop saying goodnight.

One hour later, when the shop operation closed and everybody left, Raju stood there for few minutes. Taking a deep relaxed breath, he gave a call to his mother and Rai to inform that he is coming back home.

“Hello, come fast,” roared the bicycle, adding, “I am standing here for hours, receiving heat and humidity from the environment, do not you feel ashamed of not coming fast?”

“Today I am very happy”, Raju said.

“I am not” Bicycle replied.

“I can understand your situation,” Raju said by adding, “have you seen the rush today? Even, we did not get the time, for lunch. It was such a busy day today.”

“Yes, that’s true, but what came out in the end was something special very special” The bicycle uttered.

Raju felt very shy and pulled his head down from sky to skin.

“Ok, enough of drama, now come above me and start riding, but please do not be fast.” The bicycle murmured.

“No no, this time I will not make you feel burdened. It will be a joy ride. Like the days of my institution and college. We will recreate the fun once again.” Raju answered.

The bicycle was very happy and over excited hearing this.

With a famous song of Tagore, the journey began; rather the joyous ride began after a long time gap.

Finishing the song, the bicycle spoke “Remember, the day when you first brought me to your home from the road side cycle shop.”

“Yes, I was so happy that day.” Raju spoke softly.

“It was a full family then” the bicycle uttered, giving a pause and then continued, “You were a teen of sixteen, just completed the secondary examination, and your elder brother, a young, energetic chap of nineteen”.

“Yes, my elder brother was my best friend, my super hero” Raju replied as tears rolled by.

Today, the ride is very much comfortable to the rider and the bicycle, cool breeze and happy memories guiding them in their journey.

“Please do not cry” The bicycle said, adding,

“Your father was also a man of principle. He promised you to give a bicycle post completion of the secondary exam, which he kept.”

“I kissed you so many times as if I am kissing my girl friend.” Raju answered.

“Mother was so happy, not because of the gift but because of the smile which you gifted her after getting the bicycle.” The bicycle replied.

“I love my mother very much, I can even die for her, and she is the greatest gift of my life”. Raju exclaimed.

“She wants your happiness, only happiness,” The bicycle whispered.

“Suddenly the bicycle started laughing loudly.

“What happened?” questioned Raju, with a pause “why are you laughing?”

“I am just trying to recollect that day when you fell from my sit in front of a lady, trying to balance the handle,” The bicycle answered.

“It was so embarrassing; thank god that lady took the matter sportingly else it would have ended up with a severe beating” replied Raju with a continuation “you know dear, you are so close to my heart that I have always tried to protect you from danger and damage”.

Their journey has reached the midway, when the bicycle requested Raju to give a halt for few minutes for breathing.

 Raju did the same and parked the cycle on the side of the road. It was 11.30 PM, A full moon night, a night where ‘love meets lust’, night where new dreams take birth, a night where friends promised to stay forever.

Holding the handle tightly Raju spoke “I know you have gone old, your hands and legs were bit broken, bandages several times. Even you cannot take the pressure of two. Yes I do understand that replacement is required, but let me tell you one thing, I am not going to leave you, or neither I will sell you.”

The bicycle smiled and requested Raju to hug its body. Adding fifteen minutes more from the halt, both reached the main gate of the house.

 His mother was waiting in the balcony. Entering through the gate Raju kissed and parked the bicycle and texted Rai of his safe return while getting inside the house.

His mother was silent today, her eyes looks scary. “Has something gone wrong?” Raju questioned to himself but kept his smile in front of mother.

After taking the dinner, Raju like always stood in the balcony for some refreshment, when mother spoke “The blood sugar level of your father has gone up as per the sugar report came few hours ago. Doctor advised to admit him to the government hospital to adjust the dose of the insulin, but?”

In no time, Raju took out the cell phone from his pocket and dialled Krish, saying,

“Krish, I am ready to sell my old bicycle for one thousand and five hundred rupees only, but I need the money by tomorrow itself.”

Looking straight into the metallic handle of the bicycle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: April 01, 2016

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