Angels and Demons
Angels and Demons6 mins 24.2K 6 mins 24.2K
“ And So the train No 22881 Bhubaneswar to Pune Super-fast-Express will be delayed by 1 Hour 15 Min, Thank You”, then the same line in both Odiya and Hindi. I am sitting on a cement bench in platform no 2. I have many questions. I can feel my heart beating; I can smell the burnt soil after the evening shower. There is a small storm heading towards the capital. I can’t say about the others, at least I am feeling it. That one Amavasya changed my life. But am I arguing with myself and trying to prove that I have got nothing to do with it? Maybe, today I am standing in the middle of nowhere and at the end of goodbyes. It is all like yesterday when I was coming back home after my final exam, with big dreams to chase my passion and live my dreams.
The vacation was feeling sweet like never. I had decided to study engineering. It’s true that when we don’t have any work to do we feel the time runs slow. In those days, our financial background was not that stable. My father was working in a Govt. office, which was not paying him on regularly. The salary he was getting was mostly spending on agriculture and cattle. Only Mom knew how she was managing everything. I used to go to the river with my friends for a swim or just stay at home sleeping or reading old children storybooks that used to buy. I was dying inside to try something else. Suddenly I got a chance.
Our village club had decided to perform a play on the occasion of Holi. As I was interested they gave me a supportive role to the main character. Since that evening I used to go to our clubhouse after 7 every evening. I used to come back home around 8.30 or 9 at night for dinner and again back to the clubhouse until midnight. Dad was not at all happy about me doing drama. One night I came home a little earlier. When I stepped on our Veranda, I heard my dad saying,” …That is the thing. I have never imagined my son to join the drama and dance on the stage with makeup and all. He needs to understand that I can’t earn forever. He needs to start earning before I die. But look at what he is doing. Just wasting plates of rice. God knows what’s inside this kid’s brain.” The voice was clear but I could feel a sense of care in there somewhere. May be mom was sobbing. I went to sleep without making any noises.
The next day I went to the play director to cancel me for the role but everyone denied not only because just 4 days were left to the final performance but the team was doing so well that many people used to come to our regular rehearsal. Later I decided to act no matter the consequences. On one evening when I was having my dinner, I felt a bit of odd with the taste of rice.” Mom what’s wrong with the rice. It stinks. Why didn’t you make chapattis like every day?” I asked. My dad, who was lying on the bed and fighting to get the signals on the radio (like a soldier in a battlefield trying catch signal to ask for backup) to hear the news, replied,” Oho, did you hear that our son needs chapatti now. Well, sir what else would you like to have? Do you know the cost of Atta nowadays? First, serve the government like a donkey with no salary and then feed our majesty chapattis.” He stopped talking as he finally managed to track the signal.
I couldn’t hide my tears from mom. She told,” I got hit with hot steam on my palm, so I couldn’t make the dough. As your dad has not got paid for the last 2 months, I brought this cheap rice. I promise tomorrow I will make chapattis for you but please don’t leave the food.” I took mom’s hand to see. I saw a big reddish-white bubble on her right palm. My tears fell on her palm.” You do not worry Aju, I get these kinds of marks every now and then. It will be gone in a day or two. Do you need more daal?” she said while pouring a ladle of daal on my rice. She does that. She always saves the best portion of the cake for me, always pours more daal or curry to my plate and then forces me to eat everything. Many times I have seen her eating dry rice while dozing at the dinner plate.
Finally, the day came. It was a classic story. A typical hero, from a small village with a middle-class family. How he goes to the city to work so that he can get his sister married, how he faces many problems, how eventually he joins the smugglers to make quick money and at last waits for his death on a hospital bed because of cancer. Then how his younger brother is fighting with civilized society to gather money for his operation. But he is getting nothing but curses and hate from every door he is knocking. Finally, to save his brother how he is selling his one kidney but by the time he can able to reach his brother, his brother dies. A group of 18 guys was performing the play. I was playing the role of Jiten, the younger brother. It was the first time when I went on to a live stage. In the first scene, I was standing in the dark stage and was waiting for the cue of our prompter. My friend, who was playing the role of my sister, was cracking some funny jokes in my ears. Then the light fell on us with the welcoming music. It was a scene of the village but I suddenly frizzed by seeing the huge crowd in front of me.
My friend noticed that and whispered,” My dear brother, start the dialog before these people start throwing eggs at us or else I will go back to the green room and finish all those hot samosas, all by myself.” That made me chuckle. I smiled and started the dialog. That night, I was so much into the character that I cried on the stage in multiple scenes without any Amrutanjan. I could hear the applause at the end of every scene. In the end, I got called by our MLA and awarded with Rupees 101/- for my outstanding performance. Everyone gave me a standing ovation. I returned home late. As I stepped on the veranda I heard,” I had told you. I know my son. I knew from the beginning that he will make me proud. I wish you could see him on the stage, Sujata. You know, he went so much in the character that everyone in the audience was crying along with him. You should have seen him on that hospital scene or …or that climax, and you know what, he got a reward of Rupees 101/- from our MLA Pradhan Ji. I knew my son won’t let his father’s name go down no matter what he will do.”
I went to my room. My father was still talking with over joy. I jumped and punched in the air with a sense of relief and dived on the bed. But it made a noise. Father’s voice stopped.” Is everything all right?” Mom asked. I replied,” Yes Maa. Everything is all right now.”