Rains had decided to take a break after a daylong pouring. Clouds were however running fast, as if in a hurry to reach elsewhere to meet the earth again. The Sun showed up for a while only to set in the west again. Yet another day was coming to an end. There sat Raghav, in the porch of the house, with his eyes closed. There was utter silence apart from the chirping of the birds. The smell of the soil post rain was heavenly.
The doorbell rang. Raghav ignored it mistaking it for hallucination. He had made this house his home for quite some time now. None of his friends or his family members which could counted on finger tips knew of this house that he now called his home. This house was the place where he used to seek solace whenever worldly issues were hitting too hard. It was his recharge therapy. He lived by a funda of “Taking a pause and re-think when necessary, rather than marching ahead with a clogged mind.” When bell rang for the third time, he was out of his Zen mode.
Raghav was surprised to have a visitor. Keepers and cleaners stayed in the same compound and hence had they keys to the gate. After his self-imposed exile, people who once used make sure of Raghav’s presence to their parties, hardly made any attempt to look for him. He thought of shouting out to the unexpected visitor but then decided against it. Slowly he got off his chair and walked towards the gate. Normally it would have been his servant opening the gate, but today was a different day. He had sent the servant to town in disguise of buying necessities. He wanted to spend this day alone. After all, it was this fateful day that had changed his life forever many years back.
Kailash, his country side home hardly had any visitors. The name Kailash, was given by his father to this home. It was a simple house, yet for Raghav it was palatial. The house was surrounded by lush green garden which had come to full life with lilies, roses, bougainvillea, Indigo, Cape jasmine and many more other flowers. There were mangoes, coconuts amongst trees. Neem was planted to provide cool. The verandah was of the length of the house, roof made of clay tiles. There was several decorative plants there too. A hammock from colonial era was still present. An old armchair which was used by Raghav’s grandfather, was his place to sit. House was made in such a way that there was no need to turn the lights on until late evening. House had gained no touch of modernity in last half century apart from change of electric fitments whenever needed.
It was dusk by then. He slowly opened the gate. “Yes?” He asked at the visitor. “Actually.. Um, I’m in a bit of trouble. I’ve been traveling in the jungle around and have lost my way to the city. I tried looking around but could only find your house. Could you please guide me to the city?” Said the young lady hesitantly. The clouds were building up again. “Please come in. It’s too dark and dangerous to travel alone in this area during the night if you are a stranger.” said Raghav. He gestured the lady to come in. She followed him without a word. She has no option but to trust him. She felt strange kind of familiarity. She felt as if she belonged there.
When he turned the lights of the veranda on, he was by taken by surprised. His heart started pounding. The visitor was an exact copy of Maya. His Maya. Same blue eyes, dark hair, round face, tall stature and athletic body. He had grown old, but he could recognize these features even after 21 years. There were so many questions he wanted to ask. He somehow controlled his nerves. He directed visitor to the guest room. Hot water was arranged for her so that she could get rid of cold. When she excused herself, Raghav was lost in the thoughts again.
The visitor had introduced herself as Meera Palash. She had been raised by her mother who never told her name of her father. She was told her father died even before her birth. Whenever she tried talking to her mother about him, she was silenced either with scolding or tears. Eventually she had stopped asking about him for all her efforts, she knew would end up in vain. Later than night, duo sat in the veranda for long hours, bonding over their love for nature like long lost friends.
When Meera went to his room next day to bid him goodbye, it was her turn to be surprised. She found a life size picture of her mother with her host. Image was clearly very old. Questions now were in her mind. She looked around for him. He was nowhere to be found. What she found instead was an envelope addressed to her. She took it and left the place. On her way to her city, she read and re-read it. Tears rolled down her eyes. She hugged the letter and cried her heart out.
Forgive me, for I’m weak. I don’t have what it takes to look into your eyes and answers all your questions. I was never present when you needed me.
I and your mother grew up together. Since a very young age, we knew that we were destined to be together. Who knew then that, we were not meant to be together forever? Maya and I used to spend time at Kailash all the time. We were barely of the legal age when we got married. We were young and restless. You will not be aware that you had a twin. Just a few months after your birth, we took yet another journey to the Western Ghats. Your sibling was in my lap while I was driving and you were in your mother’s lap. We were hit by a lorry which resulted our collision. We lost your brother in that crash. I cried, begged, did all in my discretion to convince Maya that it wasn’t my fault. She however had made a choice already. I too was dead for hear that day.
Tired of not being able to convince your mother, I left the city. For years I stayed in dark rooms thinking where did I go wrong? Was it my fault? There was lot of ifs and buts that went through my mind. I used to cry every hour of my day. She had lost her son, but me, I had lost my universe. I finally accepted it was my fault to take the journey against Maya’s will. It was a choice I made. She forgave me but never accepted me. After that day, I as well made no attempts to get in your lives. In the end we all are slaves of the choices we make.
Yesterday was 20th anniversary of that fateful day. It was fate that you stopped at your father’s door. I was too scared to tell you anything for the fear of losing the chance of spending some precious moments that I spent with you. I do not expect you or Maya to come to me but if you ever decide to come here, I’d be more than happy. I’m ageing now, do not know till when I shall last. If possible please forgive this unlucky father of yours.”