Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining
Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining
It was a cold and stormy evening that day. The sky was dark and the thunderstorm was wreaking havoc on the earth. Ravi had just completed his office and was waiting to collect some important file from his senior. He was in a hurry tonight. He stopped at a roadside tapri nearby office since it started to pour heavily. The drops of rain were smashing against his face and he couldn't walk any further. He saw an elderly man near the tapri who must be in his early seventies maybe. The old man was struggling to keep his cycle that was parked right beside the tapri and fell due to heavy winds. Ravi quickly grabbed a old torn cloth from the tapri and helped the old man tie his cycle to the nearby tree. They quickly then ran back to the shade of the tapri.
Ravi was a little wet now and wanted to warm up a bit. He asked for a cup of tea and a packet of biscuits to satisfy his hunger. Meanwhile, he grabbed a cigarette and lit it up. He started to go through his Facebook account to get social updated. While scrolling his eyes stuck at a photo that had long rooted memory linked to it. It was a photo of Ravi and Arati during their college days. The college has organised a social service drive and many students had enrolled to distribute milk and food alongside old reusable clothes that they had collected from their neighbouring households. They had visited an orphanage home, to begin with. Both of them stood close to each other holding a carton filled with clothes of different sizes. The children around them were very excited about getting clothes. They had already been in a relationship for about 8-9 years now. Everything was going very well. Nobody in their surroundings knew about their secret affair. They would meet every day in the fields near their school and she would bring him lunch. Suddenly a thunder strikes and reminds him of the deal that he had with her uncle. His rules were very strict.
His thoughts took him back to his village. They had a thatched roof house with 3 rooms. A cowshed in their front yard and a long backyard where they would store the crop residue for the cattles. They owned around 3 hectares of land in which they usually grew paddy and other seasonal vegetables. Ravi's father or Babuji as he called him also worked in the local tehsil office as a clerk and earned 10 thousand rupees that could provide for just the monthly expenses and Ravi's education. But he was a man of honour and was strictly against bribery. He always adheres to his principle of simple living and high thinking. He had dreamt that Ravi would be in a good job someday so that they could afford other things than just the basic necessities.
Both Ravi and Arati were approaching their proper age for marriage and prospects were already coming in for Arati. So finally one day fed up with all the process of rejection, she confronted her uncle who was her sole guardian. Ever since her childhood her uncle and aunt brought her up as their own daughter taking care of all her needs. Bound by her niece's choice her uncle finally agreed to meet the boy and his family. Her uncle was a big landlord of that village and expected a similar match for her niece.
On the day of their meeting, Maa was very busy with the preparations and asked Ravi to buy some snacks and cooking oil on the way back from the market. Maa asked him if it was okay to prepare matar paneer ki sabzi for lunch that day. She also handed over some fresh roti from the breakfast to feed the crows. This was a part of her routine. She believed that the ancestors were fed by doing so, and would bless them from heaven above. Ravi was very happy that Arati's uncle had agreed to meet his parents. Babuji had completed his daily chores and went to the farm to settle the labour payments. Maa told Ravi that today Babuji looked very smart with the ironed dhoti. She mentioned that he has also oiled his moustache in a long time.
Ravi and his friends had planned to take a dip in the river in the outskirts of the village to get some relief from the scorching summer heat. Ravi left for the bath. Maa was constantly reminding him to be back by lunch time. After spending about 3 hours Ravi returned and noticed that Babuji was sitting outside with Arati's uncle. He touched his feet to seek his blessings and went inside to help his mother and serve the snacks he had bought. Babuji asked Ravi to get a chair and sit beside him. Arati's uncle had come with his son who was elder than Arati. After maa served the snacks, Arati's uncle started to ask Babuji about their belongings and property. He also inquired about Ravi's future plans and whether he is willing to build his own house. Arati's uncle continuously kept bragging about the huge villa and the vast acres of land that he owned compared to that of Ravi's. This had already brought him to shame. To add to it Arati's uncle added 2 more conditions for both of them to get married. A 6 digit salary and a house of his own. Babuji being a gentle and polite person asked Ravi if he was ready for the challenge and simply shook hands with Arati's uncle confirming that he would definitely fulfill his responsibilities.
Lost in thought Ravi almost forgot about the tea that had lost its warmth. He asked the old man for another fresh cup. The rain was still pouring for the last 20 minutes and seems like never ending. This reminded him of the day he left his village for job preparation in Delhi. Even that day it seemed like the rain will flow away everything on its way. Maa was a little sad that his only son had to leave his house for the first time in 24 years. She always thought that he could take care of the farming along with some business in their village to earn a decent earning. Babuji, however, was very happy and blessed Ravi for a bright and challenging future. He kept reminding Ravi that a girl was waiting for him and the promise they had made to her uncle. Babuji also assured him that he should not worry about anything here at the village and should focus on the work to achieve his dreams and goals. The next 5 years Ravi had worked tirelessly to prove himself and stand apart from the crowd, to excel in this field and become the most awarded officer of the year. He didn't take any leave or breaks at work and visited his village only twice. Arati's uncle was spellbound with his success and determination.
A phone call diverted him from his thoughts. It was Arati. Ravi picked up the call and started sipping from the fresh cup of tea that had just arrived. Arati asked Ravi about his whereabouts. She asked the train timing and also told him to beware of the co-passengers while traveling. She also asked if he had packed dinner for the journey. He also inquired about the preparation back in the village, to which she said: "I'm ready to go away with you...". After all, it was their wedding the very next week.
Finally, the driver arrived with a file that read "Ministry of External Affairs" and was addressed to Mr. Ravi Thakur, Indian Foreign Service. And Ravi left in the car towards New Delhi station.