I observed him carefully as he walked to the door. I knew that time was running out but suppressed the urge to check my watch. I took a deep breath and started counting in reverse under my breath. "Ten, nine, eight, seven..." Let there be miracle-six, five, someone stop him-four, three-Don’t go-two, one. My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by my mobile. I picked it up still observing him as he turned to face me. “What? Oh is it? I will be there immediately.” Seeing the worried look on my face, Mikesh questioned, “What happened? Is everything alright?” I said, “It is Kaaki, there is a slight complication.” We both hurried towards the hospital without saying a word to each other. There was so much to say but the words died in my throat and kept on echoing inside me. I felt like vomiting everything out - my rage, my helplessness, my hatred, my love, my situation now, my circumstances then; everything - inch and inch, word and word - every single thought, every single feeling, the sorrow that I engulfed within me, the joy that I do not deserve. It was such a relief to realize that he did not leave yet but he will; it was only a matter of time.
It all started a month ago. I and Kaaki were coming home from a late night marriage reception, and we met with a terrible accident. My right leg was fractured badly and right hand had minor fractures. Kaaki also had several injuries and had to be kept in ICU but she was out of danger. But again a week back, we had to move her to the hospital due to her health conditions from old age. On the 3rd day of my hospital stay, I remember very clearly; I was going through my mails to see what I had missed from the past two days and then he appeared suddenly from nowhere. The receptionist had called to inform “Good evening Mr. Som. There is a visitor who would like to meet you and he is on the way. His name is…” I said, “That is ok. Thank you.” I was expecting my dear friend Prashant since he promised to come back in the evening so that we can watch the cricket match together. But as the door opened, blood ran out of my face. I instantly knew who he was. Same eyes, same personality, same physique. He was the ghost from my past whom I tried hard to bury but there he was - fully grown and mocking at me. Why now? Why after so many years? Our eyes met, he knew that I recognized him and wasn’t happy to see him. He suddenly had this dejected expression and was hesitating to say whatever he meant to say and abruptly turned around wanting to leave. But to my disappointment, instead of walking out of the room, he looked directly at me and said, “I did not want to come here knowing how much you hate me. After I heard that you met with an accident, I could not restrain myself from meeting you.” The ghost was moving forward now, and I was completely pale and my whole body was shrieking with pain, my heart started pounding so loudly as if it would burst now at any moment. He continued, “I know how much you hate me but I love you, I love you more than you hate me.” He was almost in tears now, “I want to be here and take care of you till you recover completely” One tear glided on his handsome cheek. He wiped it,”I am not leaving no matter what you say or what you do. I will be here with you, DAD, no matter what happens”. I don’t know what to say but couldn’t bear looking at him. I just turned my head on the pillow unable to face him only cursing myself, cursing this moment. How badly I wished to die in that accident, I would not be facing this situation.
That’s how Mikesh came into my life again when I had just entered my 45th year and had completely forgotten about my previous life and was about to set foot on a new journey with Nishita. The wedding ceremony was just two months away from the day I met with the fatal accident. I despised Mikesh, innumerable times I had thought in my heart he should not have been born and when I saw him for the first time, I thought of strangling him to death. Such was my hatred for him. The day he was born, his mother died-, my beautiful Sukanya, how much I loved her and till date she is alive in my heart, in my memories. My love for Sukanya was the main reason for my hatred towards him. I put him under the care of his maternal grandfather. Without Sukanya, everything around me seemed to be dead-part of me died with her. For several days I felt as if I was just a dead body, a sack of bones-that’s what I called my self.
But after 25 years, my hatred is standing in front of me fully developed into a man and to add spice to my suffering, he says he loves me and wants to take care of me. He should hate me. I mean what kind of a man I am; I was supposed to be with him, take care of him but instead I chose to desert him. In the start, I did not show any interest, would not answer to his conversations, and would behave in such a way that he was actually non-existent to me. But Mikesh was patient and he calmly took all the insults, my tantrums, my vexation and my satirical play of words. He seemed to be more and more determined day by day and would ignore all my hatred and would take care of me. I could not directly throw him out of the house due to Kaki so I had to coldly and silently bear him. How I despised him! But slowly my hatred began reducing and my brain started to register his qualities. I don’t know at which precise moment, I actually started appreciating him. Nothing would deter this young man. He was here to win his father’s heart and his magic actually started working on me. Slowly, I started to appreciate his presence, started to answer him, and these slow moments turned into light conversations and slowly into deep chatters. He told me everything about his college, education, his career. He had resigned his present job just to be with me. From the age of 11 he had been tracking me, collecting the journals I had written. He showed me his collections which looked me as a small Encyclopaedia of myself. He wanted to be like me when he grew up. Well, it surprised me that I was his ideal and mentor. I was revered by many young students for the social work that my organizations had put up in these years and I was an established author and socialist winning so many awards in my entire social and political career and was a very staunch leader in reforming modern India with my political background. I motivate youth in my lectures and sermons in the universities and am a full time professor of Economics. It is no wonder to me that any young man is a fan of me and sees in me a mentor or an idealist. But Mikesh, what had I done to deserve his affections and reverence. I was very bad and inhuman to him but he kept on saying that probably he was bad and he did not deserve the affections of his father and it was only his fault. He says he is Ekalavya and the more I will hate him, the more he will love me and worship me. This was first degree torture but this changed my behaviour towards him. I suddenly started to hate myself rather than hating him. I was changing and did not realize how this metamorphosis had completely transformed me into a totally different human being. Nishita was also surprised the way Mikesh tended to me. She used to say, “You know Som, you are such a lucky man to have a son like that”. But she understood well that there are somethings wherein she dare not pass and hence would not continue any conversations about Mikesh with me. I was fully recovered now and did not need any help and Mikesh had announced to me yesterday that he will be leaving today since I was now healthy and recovered completely. From yesterday, I suddenly felt sick, he was leaving forever. I had started to grow fond of him and liked him. I like to talk to him, watch cricket matches with him. Was it my age or was it actually my liking for him? I wanted to tell him everything, why I hated him so much but could not find the courage. Today when he had come to ask his leave, I could see that expectant look in his eyes pleading me to ask him to stay but I could not gather the courage to ask him to stay. We have lost 25 years, can we at least spend the next 25 years? The car had come to halt and before me Lilavati Hospital board flashed in front of my eyes and I came back to present. We hurried to the ICU and doctor said everything was fine. Kaki was conscious now and she was very happy to see Mikesh and me together. Mikesh spent some time with Kaki and Nishitha was also there and all three of them were chatting and having a good time with each other. Over this month, not only me but Nishita had also grown fond of Mikesh. Both of them had become friends now. I thought I owed explanation to both of them, to Mikesh-he should know the truth of his life and to Nishita-she would want her man to do the correct thing and why he had ignored Mikesh for all these years. I could see so many questions on her face but again I lacked the strength and courage to tell her everything. Probably she must be hating me now thinking what kind of man I am and she probably would be re-considering her marriage to me. What kind of a man deserts his blood? Will he desert me too one day? All these thought were killing me, torturing me every moment. I could not dare stand their looks and left the hospital room immediately. I had already decided what needs to be done now? That night I went to Mikesh’s room and handed my old diary to him. When I came book to my room and as I lay on my bed, I know what Mikesh was reading and the events in the past stood before me like a movie.
I was born to a rich landlord Rajput father who was the only son and was constantly involved in debauchery and crimes. He was the black sheep but being only son, my grandfather was very lenient to him and ignored all his crimes. I never respected my father and took my education seriously and grew outside my family home in boarding schools and hostels. During my vacation I would come home and mostly spend my time with my grandfather and my mother. My grandfather loved me very much and I was also very fond of him. I fell in love with Sukanya my class mate who was a Tamil Brahmin and me knowing that my family will never accept her, I married her at the age of 21 without telling my parents. But she being so innocent and sweet insisted to visit my family and take their blessings and hence I took her to my family palace and we stayed there for almost three months. My mother accepted her and my grandfather was not happy about it but slowly he started to like her as his daughter in law. She had that magic. She could win anyone’s heart. One day my grandpa had a sudden heart attack and he had to be rushed to Jaipur and I had to leave Sukanya at my parent’s house. My father famous for his debaucheries and such a snake he was made undue advances towards Sukanya and one night drunk he could not overcome his lust for her. He forced himself on her. He threatened her if she told this to any one, she would kill her and make her infamous and completely destroy her reputation. Once grand pa recovered and we were back, I could see something change in her. She was not the bubbly and innocent girl that I knew. I kept on asking her but she would never tell me the truth. One day I learnt that she was pregnant and thinking that this was my own child, I was on a cloud nine. But she was gloomy and gloomy ever. She was never happy to have this child and I failed to understand why. The day her labour pains started, she told me everything before she was to be taken to the labour room. Suddenly, entire equation changed. What was I to do now? It was my mistake. Why did I leave her? I wanted to kill my father but how can I do it? He was powerful and what should I say, he raped his own daughter in law. How can I kill him, he was my father. After that day, I never saw my father. There was nothing I could do. She died in labour and my hatred for Mikesh as well as my father had already rooted in my heart. In a span of next five years, my grandfather died and he left everything to me. I was the heir and my father did not get a single paisa and I wouldn’t give him any money. He died drinking in his own spit and blood. But I had lost everything, my love my life. What remained was guilt and helplessness? Perhaps, the guilt and the helplessness drove me to the career of social and political reforms putting all my money to set up voluntary organizations for the welfare of poor and helpless.
Next morning, when I woke up I saw Mikesh standing next to me. His eyes were swollen. His voice trembled as he spoke” I always loved you no matter you deserted me and I love you even more now.” My eyes were filled with tears and everything around me suddenly seemed blurred and Mikesh was reaching for the door to go. I suppressed my feelings counting again…10, 9, 8…No- I have to control this. I screamed, “Don’t go.” Mikesh turned, jumped at me and hugged me. For the first time, I could hug him as a brother, finally I had spit out all the truth. I felt light as a feather. We hugged tightly letting go the past and Nishita suddenly opened the door rejoicing this moment. She did not know what happened but she was happy that we had reconciled and we were together now. I never felt so much happier than this moment, being with the two people whom I loved the most and felt like I will burst out with happiness and I started my reverse counting and this time it was to control my happiness…10,9,8,7…