Three Seeds

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
The story revolves around the incidents that take place when some guests turns up. The guests are not liked by one one. Moreover, the factors money and poverty add to the prejudice.
What follows is a tale of love and sacrifice.

Submitted: April 10, 2008

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Submitted: April 10, 2008

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Three Seeds

The town of Chandrapur was considered – by the inhabitants – as the best place to dwell in India. All over the city there were sprawling gardens, where one could walk without being disturbed; magnanimous sculptures, at which one could gaze, when sitting idle; a great number of museums, where the townsmen can go and know about their rich cultural heritage and appreciate it. But the heart of town’s popularity lied in the fact that if you are a tourist, every passer-by possesses a generous heart towards you. Ask him the directions and he will escort you to your destination. This gave the city a good reputation in the outside world also.

Mr. Bradbury, a British businessman who came to the city on a vacation, found himself very much attracted by it. He decided to construct a Nuclear Power Plant here.

Accompanying the Plant, a waste-trench was constructed - in order to discard the radio-active waste. Very soon, the streets around the area became laden with animal corpses; the vegetation started dying; and it became impossible for the nearby residents to live. The philanthropists got enraged and made plans to rebel. They pled the workers to go on a strike; the workers agreed. The factory owners declined to negotiate, which caused the strike to continue much longer than predicted. Its impact on the lives of people proved to be gruesome; in some cases, fatal.

For Rajesh, a low-paid worker, the factory was his only source of income. Since two months, he had been surviving on his savings.

Rajesh’s family was seated at their small dining table, feasting upon the leftovers of yesterday. Suddenly, Rahul – Rajesh’s son -- threw his spoon in the rice bowl, pushed it in front and yelled:

“Mom, I can’t eat this. It’s stale! It stinks. Can’t you get us somethin’ worth eatin’?”

“Rahul, you shouldn’t talk like this to your mother. This is all we have” said Rajesh, pointing towards Neelam, his daughter, “She’s eating the same thing, yet she does not complain”

Neelam was used to such quarrels. She ignored it, and kept herself engaged with her food.

Rahul gave an angry look to his father. A minute passed between them. He then picked up his spoon and started nibbling again.

“Rahul, Neelam, I have something to tell you”, said Sheela, Rahul’s mother, who was silent till now “Sridhar will come to-day to dine with us. I expect you to behave like proper hosts”

Sridhar was also a worker in the same factory, but was placed at a much inferior post than Rajesh. There was a time when they used to be good friends. They would visit each other’s houses on every occasion, and would invite each other for dinner parties.

Some time back, Sridhar used to be the driver of a rich businessman. One day, he seriously injured his right leg while saving the businessman’s daughter. The girl was unable to narrate Sridhar’s bravery to her father – she being two years old –, and he soon found himself thrown out of the job, accused of negligence while driving. He was forced to work as a sweeper in the same factory as Rajesh. He began to consider Sridhar as inferior since then. The sole purpose of his calling Sridhar to dine with them was to prevent his family from dying of hunger.

“Not again”, said Rahul, throwing back the spoon in the bowl “Why does he keep eatin’ in others houses. He came to dine with us last week also. He should eat in his own house. Hasn’t he got one of his own?”

“As it is we don’t have much to eat.” mumbled Rahul.

Just like his father, Rahul was also infected with the bug of prejudice.

“Rahul, listen. Sridhar has gone through tough time because of the strike. His wife is really depressed. You know his son, Nanu, you friend. Last week he was seriously ill – on the verge of dying in fact. They are not able to feed themselves. It is our duty to give him a helping hand.”

“I hate their family”, said Rahul in a low voice, “He was the one who called for the strike”

“Rahul!” shouted Rajesh, “Its better you mind your tongue. Sridhar is a very good human being. He is doing all this for the workers.” Thought he himself didn’t believe it.

After this, no one spoke a word at the table. Rahul finished his Lunch and ran back to his room. He jumped on the bed, covered himself with the blanket and looked out through the window. His window overlooked a big and filthy trench at some distance – the same one constructed by the factory owners. On the bank of it was a banyan tree. Rahul remembered that he was the one who planted the tree, some five years back. The first thing he used to do after waking up was to gaze at the marvelous wonder of God, his tree. It had grown to unimaginable heights. But the tree was no more the same now; it was dead. It lay in front of his eyes like an ugly spot on mother earth. Earlier he would sit under the tree with his friends and play; now it wasn’t possible. The area around the tree smelt of dead rats and faeces.

“I don’t like him”, muttered Rahul “Why does he keep eatin’ eat in other people’s houses? All would have been fine if he hadn’t called for the strike. We are suffering because of him. We don’t have much to eat, and now we have to share that also with him. That . . . beggar. I hate him. His clothes stink. I don’t like Aunt also, she’s always crying since the strike. It is a bad habit for people to got around begging in other’s houses”

* * *

The door creaked open and a fat gentleman with a stick in his hand entered through it. He had difficulty in walking. Following him, a woman and a child entered.

“Hello Sridhar. I hope you didn’t have difficulty in coming”, Rajesh said with a stiff voice, not disturbing himself from his book.

“No, no difficulty-”

“What’s this? You got hurt? How did it happen”, he said looking at the white cloth that was wrapped around Sridhar’s hand.

“Nothing, nothing. Don’t worry. I just … just fell down”

Rahul was sitting sunken back on his chair, looking at the happenings with disgust. Nanu was standing behind Sridhar, peeping at Rahul with his inquisitive eyes.

There was a time when Nanu and Rahul used to be good friends – in fact, the best friends. Rahul began disliking Nanu since the time his father began disliking Sridhar. The exact reason for their hatred was unknown to them. Nanu always had hopes for a better day – just like his father. He knew that one day he would pull out his friend from the well of prejudice. One day, Rahul would come to him rushing, hold his hand, take him to his room, invite him to play, show his toys . . .

But nothing as such had happened till now; Rahul kept looking at Sridhar with irritation and Nanu kept waiting for his hand to be held by his old friend.

Neelam, Sheela and Meghna (Aunt) moved towards the kitchen and got themselves busy with the dinner preparations. Sridhar seated himself next to Rajesh. Nanu sat on Sridhar’s lap.

“It is all because of that . . . that greedy businessman and . . . and his big plans of making Chandrapur ‘electricity capital of the country’” said Sridhar, in a poignant voice, addressing Rajesh.

“Yes. You’re right.” Rajesh replied, uninterested.

Suddenly Rajesh stood up, and excused himself giving the reason that he had to make an urgent call.

Rahul felt it was the right time to begin with the first phase of his revenge. Next to him was a side table, on which was kept Rajesh’s gold watch. It was gifted to Rajesh by his father, some seven years back. He never allowed a soul to even wander around it, let alone touching it; yet today he forgot to wear it. Rahul knew how he had to exploit Dad’s love for the watch, for his own good.

“It seems Dad forgot to wear it” he said looking towards it “he he. I got an idea! he, he. Sridhar is in big trouble now.”

Our soldier (Rahul) stood up, walked towards our enemy (Sridhar), with a bomb in his right hand, which was waiting to spur out fireworks (the watch). Our enemy, who was already injured in the hand, was unperturbed and unconcerned to the approaching danger; he seemed to welcome our soldier with a smile on his stupid face. Our soldier ran towards his enemy; then, he struck his feet with a table nearby and he fell over our enemy’s injured hand, and also placed the bomb in our enemy’s jacket.

Our enemy stood up and tried best to control his shriek. Rajesh saw all this and came rushing into the room. A tear trickled down our enemy’s eyes. Rahul fell back on the sofa with satisfaction. He was successful in making the incident to look like an accident in others’ eyes.

“The watch beeps daily at 9 O’clock.” thought Rahul “He, he. Sridhar’s gonna be dead now. Dad’s gonna accuse him of theft”

“Rahul, see what you did.” said Rajesh “You should have been careful. Sridhar sit down. I’ll get some water.”

He rushed towards the kitchen and within a few seconds came back with a glass in his hand. Throughout, Sridhar didn’t utter a word, neither of pain, nor of complaint. As if, he knew all this was coming.

Rahul had always noticed one thing in Sridhar: there was always a smile of patience and satisfaction on Sridhar’s face while he went through pain. He saw it on his face when he lost his first child; when his wife almost died when she came under a horse-carriage; and last, he saw it when he fell on his injured hand. Earlier, Rahul would consider it to be the unbound self-control and patience of Sridhar’s character, but this time, it irritated him.

“Rahul.”, said Rajesh “Why don’t you and Nanu go upstairs and play? I’ll call you when the dinner’s ready”

Rahul stood up and went out towards the stairs, without looking at Nanu or inviting him to follow. Nanu followed him – he needed no invitation to join his friend. They walked together, side-by-side, without uttering a word.

Rahul stopped and bent down to tie his lace. Nanu continued walking, but at a much slower pace, waiting for Rahul to catch up. Suddenly, Rahul stood up, came rushing by and pushed him. Nanu fell down; his forehead hit the edge of a stair. It was lucky of him that he didn’t roll down the stairs. He uttered a soft cry of pain, inaudible to anybody except Rahul. Sridhar came rushing, followed by Rajesh.

“Oh! I am sorry Nanu” said Rahul “I didn’t do intentionally. I’m very sorry”

Nanu tried to suppress his shriek in order to utter his two worded reply: “It’s ok”.

Both these words came out of his mouth rugged and dead, filled with pain.

Rahul bent down to help Nanu to stand up, but before he could do so, Sridhar came rushing, picked up Nanu in his hands and tried to comfort him. Nanu wasn’t crying, contrary to the expectations of Rahul. He could have accused Rahul, but he didn’t.

Sometime back, Rahul’s mother was narrating him an incident about Sridhar. Once, a mad-man was running after Nanu, trying to scare him. Nanu fell and got his knee badly bruised. Sridhar came rushing by, picked up a brass rod and thrashed the mad-man. Sridhar had always been a calm fellow; his beating someone shocked Rahul. The mad-man was rescued by a police constable who was luckily nearby. Otherwise, she said, the mad-man would have died that day.

Rajesh gave an angry look to Rahul. He lifted his hand to beat him, but was stopped by Sridhar.

“No, No. It wasn’t his fault.” Sridhar said, “Nanu wasn’t careful. I saw it. Don’t hurt him”

Rajesh went down-stairs, back to his seat. Sridhar followed him, with Nanu in his arms. Rahul stood there for a minute, trying to recover from the shock.

‘Nanu wasn’t careful. I saw it.’ – These words echoed in his ears.

“Did he really feel that Nanu fell on his own?” Rahul thought “How is it possible? He saw it all. Whatever. It doesn’t matter to me.”

* * *

The men were sitting on the small round dining table and the women on a mattress spread on the floor. The food was distributed among the two groups. Sridhar saw Rahul coming towards the table and alluded him to sit besides him. The women had already begun eating. There were eight pieces of chapattis kept on the table for the men; and six were kept with the women. During the normal course of days, Sheela would cook twelve chapattis - four for Rahul, three for Neelam, three for Rajesh and two for herself.

Rahul felt very irritated with the very thought of sharing his family dinner with someone else. He expected that the chhapatis would be distributed equally among them, each would get two. Any change in the given syllabus would have seriously offended him – unless, of course, it was in his favor.

Soon, Rahul found himself quite busy with his dinner, but he still kept a constant attention at Sridhar’s actions. Rahul was waiting for him to raise his eyes from his plate and look at him so that he can make faces at him. He got this privilege twice. Each time in reply, Sridhar chuckled. He thought that Rahul was showing his affections towards him by trying to make him laugh, and not trying to insult him. Moreover, the fact that he was the only one who received this privilege, made his conviction even stronger. After two failed tries, Rahul gave up.

After his first chance at affronting Sridhar failed, he began to look forwards for his next one. He kept a close eye at Sridhar, to make sure that he doesn’t take a chapatti more than the allotted two.

Rahul’s mother told him that once they had gone to Sridhar’s house for a dinner party.

“Sridhar used to be such a happy person” she said “He used to have a very big appetite. I saw him eating four chapattis once!”

Rahul would have left no chance at insulting him, in case he went from two chapattis to three.

Rahul’s second chance at insulting was even more brutally crushed. Sridhar – to Rahul’s utter astonishment – retired himself after just one chapatti. He even offered Rahul to take his second one. Rahul, being hungry, agreed. Nanu looked at the incident with confusion. He felt confused what he shall do with his second chapatti? He thought that he was expected to do the same, and hence, he also offered Rahul his second chappati.

To Rahul, it was perhaps the most shocking incident of the evening. He was very well aware of Sridhar’s large appetite.

Rahul finished his dinner but kept sitting at the chair, thinking.

“Did he eat anything and come?” Rahul thought “No it can’t be. How can he? He wife is ill, she can’t make food. Maybe . . . he intentionally left it for us . . . for me. Oh! No how can it be. I’m worrying myself with all useless thoughts. He might not be hungry, that’s it. But still . . . he’s not a bad human being. Maybe I was wrong about him”

The table and floor were cleared by Sheela and Meghna. Neelam, very soon after the dinner, retired herself to her room for completing her school work. The men found themselves seated in the other room.

Leaving aside the occasional bark of a dog or whispering sounds from the other room, the room in which men were seated was dead silent.

“I have heard that you went to the court yesterday.” Rajesh asked, breaking the silence “Is the government ready to help us? What did the government officials say?”

“Ha, ha! No one’s gonna help us.” Sridhar burst out, feeling happy to be talked to “I went to the IAS officer. His watchman told me to sit outside, as IAS officer was busy in a meeting. I sat there for four hours. God! I tell you what – no one even asked me for water. Four hours in the sun! Then, the watchman came out and told me to go. I told him that I was waiting there for the IAS officer since four hours. He tried to force me to go. I was reluctant. Then, he called for two people from inside. They . . . they bought bamboo sticks and thrashed me. Some white-collar people came out and laughed at me. The watchman told them that I was trying to steal something. I had to run from there limping.”

The expression on Sridhar’s face was very lively after the dinner – as he had self-confessed that the dinner was excellent – but when he told Rajesh about the whereabouts of his meeting, every sentence made a new pore in his liveliness. By the time he reached his last statement, every trace of liveliness had ejaculated; and was replaced with a fresh dreariness.

Rahul looked at him with utter interest and tried to catch each word. By the time Sridhar had reached the conclusion, the sturdy glass of hatred inside Rahul’s heart was blurred by the fog of sympathy.

The hatred was diminished, but love was yet to be born, and guilt was nowhere even on the horizon.

“He’s not so bad after all.” Rahul reflected “How brutally those people have beaten him. He has started limping also. But . . . oh well . . . anyone would have beaten him. He refused to go from there. But it seems – they have been too cruel to him”

Sridhar looked at the ground with blankness on his face. Suddenly, as if remembering something, he took out something from his pocket.

“Hey Rahul, come here. See what I got for you” Sridhar said, taking out a toy car “Ta Da! A Gift! It’s a car. I know you like cars. I brought this one exclusively for you. Hope you like it”

Rahul reluctantly moved towards him, and took it.

“This car, I saw it somewhere” Rahul thought “This car belongs to Nanu. It is his favorite toy. I saw him playing with this one. How can he give it to me? How can he be so cruel to his own son”

Nanu felt he might cry, if he looked at his toy even once more. To avoid this, he fixed his eyes towards the door and kept looking outside.

Rahul didn’t say anything, and went back to his seat.

The windows split open, the wind rushed in with full vigor. It carried with it a seed. It planted it on the barren lands of Rahul’s heart; it was the seed of pity.

Rahul rushed to his room, threw himself on the bed and got himself busy with his toy. Half-an-hour passed. It started raining. Some raindrops came rushing towards his window. They had planned to greet Rahul the first rain of the season, but they all collided with the window and died. The rain brought some joy with it, which it gave to Rahul.

“He’s not so bad after all.” He thought “In fact . . . he’s good.”

The joy gave birth to love.

Rahul ran downstairs, planning to give a big smile to Sridhar in lieu of his love for him. That was when he saw:

“Listen Sridhar, I don’t want to hear anything” shouted Rajesh “Get out at once. I don’t want to call the police”

“I . . . I didn’t do anything. Please listen to me.” Sridhar begged. There were tears in his eyes. He almost knelt in front of Rajesh. Meghna was standing behind him, pursuing him to leave. Sridhar would not listen; he was not willing to leave unless he proves himself innocent.

“Go at once!” Rajesh said, and shut the door.

Suddenly, Rahul felt that the reason of this upsurge was not so much alien to him, as he had thought. The time was 9’O clock, the clock in Sridhar’s pocket might have rung, he thought.

Sheela went inside, followed by Rajesh, who muttered before going “Poverty is a sin”

Rahul went down-stairs, and having conformed that there was no one around, he opened the door. They all were going down the street. He could hear Sridhar’s weeping, Meghna was trying to comfort him; Nanu was walking slowly, behind them. Nanu looked back. Rahul feared that one of his veins might burst out – he didn’t have the courage to face Nanu. Nanu gazed at him with his inquisitive eyes. Rahul felt like a criminal . . . like a murderer; he felt Nanu’s eyes were asking him – Are you the same Rahul I knew of? Why didn’t you save my father, when you could have?

The raindrops changed their course and moved towards Rahul. They were angry; they wanted to hurt him, but all failed – they hit his hard skin and died.

The wind blew once more. This time it carried two brother seeds with it. The eldest seed is of no use when present alone; the younger is not born until the elder is present. When they are both present together – they do wonders. They hold the power to make even the most ruthless murderer kneel before them and cry. The wind sowed these seed, next to the seed of pity – which had sprouted into a plant by now. The elder seed was of Shame; the younger, of Remorse.

The path between Sin and Redemption is a narrow bridge. In order to get redemption, one has to cross the bridge. This bridge is made up of three planks. One cannot leap; he has to step on all the planks. These planks are: Pity, Shame and then Remorse, respectively.


© Copyright 2017 Nishant. All rights reserved.

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