In Pursuit of Happiness

In Pursuit of Happiness

8 mins
462


                     He was a laborious boy. He was doing well in school. He had an elder brother who lived and worked in Delhi, an elder sister who was married one and a younger sister who was yet to be married. His father was a farmer with inadequate resources who had a few pieces of land and a pair of oxen to plough fields.


Gyanchand was a meek boy who never disobeyed his parents. They didn't have enough money to meet the expenses to study. Nor did he get much time to engross in studies. He did well with self-study but his education was not focussed on the want of a guide. In due course, a new teacher joined the government school where Gyanchand was studying. The teacher too was a poor, middle-aged man who needed the job. He wore simple clothes and maintained a modest lifestyle. He was a man of simplicity. He began living within the school premises as his home was quite far. 


Gyanchand was immensely impressed by the teachers' thoughts and way of life. He requested him to give him extra tuition classes. The teacher offered him the classes at a low cost. With his proper guidelines, Gyanchands studies became more focussed. He performed better in exams and came among the top ten students in the class.


One day his father fell ill. His elder brother was busy fulfilling the demands of his wife and children. The only meager source of income of the family had been cut off. He had to take on the responsibility of farming and the long hours compelled him to skip classes. Even the little time he used to get before to study disappeared swiftly. Once the plantation was over, Gyanchand decided to move to Delhi to earn some money that he couldn't get from farming. He stayed there for a few months but didn't find interest in the work. He was constantly thinking of his parents in the village. Soon he returned home with whatever little money he earned during the stay.


Finding no other alternative, he resumed his study. Somehow he managed to appear in the higher secondary examination. He cleared the exam that many of his friends couldn't pass despite studying without interruption. His confidence inflated, he took admission in a college but couldn't complete his further study because of all the responsibilities of his house that continued to fall on his shoulders. But the difficulties made him a good citizen and taught him about the values of morals and how to live in a society.


After some years he was married to a girl, who was literate, but born and brought up in a small town in contrast to him, who born and brought up in a village. She knew only how to look pretty as well as have good food. Gyanchand’s income was limited from farming and he had to look after his parents too, so he was always short of money. He never thought of a lavish lifestyle. Rekha didn't find things suitable for her in his house. She began picking quarrels with him as well as with his parents. He got annoyed with the everyday quarrels. He had to think of an alternative. Seeing his condition, his parents too asked him to find another job without worrying much about them.


To please Rekha and satisfy her demands he moved to Ghaziabad where he got a job in a steel factory. He earned some money. He had to spend more on fashion than on food. Rekha wanted to live a lavish life with all the provisions of happiness and comfort. Envisaging more altercations if he denied her wishes he thought his happiness lay in her happiness. He let go of the hope to save some money for the future.


Soon, he was blessed with a daughter baby, Sulekha. His salary had increased but so had the expenses. His wife's demands increased in proportion to his income. He was dismayed that he was not able to save any money. He gave up, his only thought is to keep his wife and daughter happy. She wanted to maintain herself on par with the women in her neighbourhood. She found herself living among rich women. She became habituated to a lavish style of living. Whatever he earned catered to her whims. 


One day it was announced that the company was going to close. The land under his legs slipped away. He had no savings at all. Their lifestyle had been changed for good and to cater to it a good sum of money was required every month. To get a new job he had to shift to Delhi where he started a new life. Somehow he got a job, but the salary was less compared to what he had earned in Ghaziabad. 


Rekha was not in the mood to compromise with anything, as usual. Some of her demands began to remain unfulfilled. Her stylish life had squeezed to the minimum. Earlier she used to visit the beauty parlor on a monthly basis, now she had to think about it again and again before deciding. She used to go to restaurants every weekend, now she had to eat home-cooked food all the time.


Rekha was upset and cursed her luck. She was not able to convince herself, let alone her daughter. Her condition worsened day by day. 


Gyanchand had to think about the marriage of his daughter, Sulekha, who was creeping into her teenage years. One day he asked Rekha about their daughter's marriage. He said they should start saving monthly to accumulate a good sum of money. 


Rekha got infuriated. Instead of listening to him she yelled, How much more do I need to compromise? There is a limit.


Do you not see? She is your daughter and one day she has to be married, Gyanchand said, maintaining his composure.


You are the father and you have to manage. I dont want to face any more problems, said Rekha. You dont buy anything costly anymore such as clothes or take me to eat outside.


Gyanchand thought it was futile to discuss anything with her. He thought to let things be as they were. He subdued his thoughts and pondered, How to convince my wife? She is out of control.


Rekha saw only problems. She saw only Anusha, her neighbor. She gave Anusha's example to her husband every chance she got. She had such luck! She wore silk saris as casual wear. And looked gorgeous at parties. Everyone wanted to imitate her looks.


She couldn't stop thinking about Anusha's lifestyle. She thought, Why I cannot enjoy in the same way.” In parties, she observed something about Anusha Anusha talked to more men than women. She decided to follow suit. She did the same at the next party. She met Manish, a widower. He earned well and was getting bored of being alone. Once he saw Rekha his desire aroused. They became friends and exchanged contact numbers. Their friendship deepened as they began to meet often. At every meeting, Manish gave Rekha a surprise gift. They met mostly in restaurants. One the one hand Manish got to fulfill his desire, on the other Rekha got to enjoy material things and the fancy life.


Gyanchand couldn't find a solution for their situation. He began saving a little from his monthly salary for his daughter's marriage. He tried to convince Rekha many times about their responsibility as parents. His words fell on deaf ears. He was busy with his work whereas Rekha was busy enjoying her life. But he observed the change in Rekha. One day he warned her against it. Rekha ignored everything while climbing to the peak of her happiness.


Manish was never a contented man. He was in a relationship with other women too. As happens with lust the more you have the more you want. One day his eyes fell on the young and beautiful Sulekha. He put a proposition for Sulekha before Rekha on whatever her condition would be. Rekha was busy with her lavish life and her insatiable hunger made her want an even more comfortable life. In the hope of a more happy life, Rekha began overlooking social values. Rekha did not understand the value of family and bonding among family members. With the desire for more money and a comfortable life she acceded Manish's request.


Already aware of something strange going on Gyanchand became vigilant towards everything Rekha did. One day he eavesdropped on a conversation between Rekha and Manish. He was so upset; he felt it would be better to die than live on this earth. He was infuriated but then an idea occurred to him, Why not punish the culprit?


He wanted help from anyone who could instill a positive thought in Rekha, but he was helpless, stranded. She became blind from happiness whereas he only thought of prestige. He was determined to cross any line in order to save his daughter from the lecher. He knew he would have to take some stringent action when his wife had taken the wrong path, but his trust in humanity gave way to the result he was facing.


He couldn't concentrate on anything. He was restless like a wounded chicken that shakes its legs, hands, and body after having its head cut off.

 

He awoke from his bed before the break of dawn one day. He snuck into the other room where Rekha and Sulekha were lying together on a bed. He picked up Sulekha and put her in his room.


He lay down beside Rekha for a while. She was in a slumber. She didn't bother to turn and see him. But before any thought could soften him he got off the bed and moved out.

He came to the hall and took out a small bottle of wine. He unsealed it and poured it in his mouth in a single sip. He moved to the kitchen and fumbled for a knife. He didn't think of anything before forcing his hand downward. 

He just asked himself, Was he doing wrong? A clear reply came that echoed in whole over the room, No, no, no.

He stood holding the knife and ran towards the police station. He reported himself, I just killed my wife, stabbing her.


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