It’s A Miracle!
It’s A Miracle!23 mins 745 23 mins 745
Murthy looked eagerly at his boss after submitting the project report he had meticulously prepared after spending several sleepless nights. He waited patiently for his usual quota of appreciation from his superior officer, even though his fingers tapped the desk impatiently. His boss took his time to study the report down to its minutest details and nodded approvingly every now and then. Murthy’s eyes twinkled with elation whenever the almost bald head of his boss bent into a nod as if saluting his immense talent and sincere efforts. But there were also times, when he frowned and tapped his chin with his pen as if raising an accusing finger at Murthy’s credibility. Murthy’s throbbing heart was almost brought to a standstill by those questioning frowns of his boss. Not so later, the clouds of doubts were dispersed off his boss’s face and a smile of approval lit it brightly. A smile of relief simultaneously spread over Murthy’s face too.
“This is amazing, Murthy!” His boss clapped his hands.
“Thank you, sir.” Murthy humbly bowed his head.
“That’s why I’ve always preferred you over that good-for-nothing Kurup.” Boss looked admiringly at Murthy. “You are simply the best! If our company has prospered by leaps and bounds, it’s only because of the meticulous efforts of one man and it’s you, Murthy. I’m sure you’ll keep up with your good work in future too.”
The thought of being acclaimed as better than his arch rival Mr Parameshwaran Kurup, thrilled him beyond all limits.
“Thank you so much, sir.” A lump formed in Murthy’s throat out of gratitude towards his boss.
“Murthy,” boss’s mean eyes threw a stealthy glance at him, “this project is almost complete. You should start working on our Cheniyyar villa project. We must win that contract at any cost.”
“Definitely, sir,” Murthy said obediently, “I’ll start working on it right from tomorrow morning.”
“Not tomorrow, Murthy,” boss vigorously waved his hands, “you should start right now.”
“Now?” Murthy looked anxiously at the clock. It was already 8 p.m.
“Look, Murthy,” boss sighed dolorously, “any kind of delay from our part will pass the contract on to our competitors. We have never missed any of the vital contracts since you’ve joined our firm. It’d be black mark on the company’s reputation as well as on your career. Do you want that to happen?”
“Oh, no, sir,” Murthy almost wailed. “I’ll start working on it right away, sir.”
“Excellent!” Boss’s vibrant smile was back.
Murthy walked back to his cabin. His Boss carefully concealed a wicked smirk as he had succeeded in exploiting Murthy’s weakness. Murthy was a workaholic. It was only success and money that mattered to him the most. His childhood days that were spent in utter poverty had played a pivotal role in turning him into the money-spinning machine that Murthy was.
“What did boss say about the report, sir?” Murthy’s subordinate Iyer asked as Murthy thumped himself on his chair.
Murthy described at length about the compliments, boss had generously showered him with.
“I knew it!” Iyer threw his hands in the air. “Sir, you are the king. Kurup Sir is nothing when compared to you, a big zero I must say. And that’s why I joined your team. I didn’t even hesitate to beg at boss’ feet to join you.”
“You’re such a sweetheart, Iyer.” Murthy was overwhelmed. “You are not just a subordinate to me but a best friend too. And after working for so many years with you, I’ve started considering you as my own brother,” Murthy said earnestly.
“So have I,” Iyer, who held a master’s degree in the art of flattery, realized that along with praising his senior officer, criticizing his rival was also crucial. “You are a noble soul, sir. But look at that Kurup sir, he is always busy flirting with Malati madam during office hours when he should do his job. He is a father of two teenage girls but still has no shame! Lord Muruga, have some pity on the sinner!”
“I think you are overreacting.” Murthy felt it was a crime to assassinate someone’s character without ample proof. “There is nothing like that between them.”
“Not at all, sir,” Iyer came close and whispered into Murthy’s ears, “don’t you see him offering a lift to Malati madam every day? Where do you think are they going?”
“To drop her at her place,” Murthy said innocently.
“No, sir,” Iyer flashed his filthy teeth and even filthier smile, “they go straight to a hotel where Kurup Sir has already booked a room.”
“Who told you so?”
“I know everything, Sir.”
“Anyway,” Murthy shrugged, “boss has told me to start working on the next project. Let’s do that, shall we?”
“But, sir,” Iyer grimaced, “you know my mother-in-law is battling for life in an ICU. She has only a few more days to live.”
“Oh, yes!” Murthy said, “You should be by her side. You may go, Iyer and don’t worry about the work. I’ll take care of it.”
“You are so kind, Sir.”
With those words, Iyer rushed out of the office and dashed straight into the nearby bar.
worry about the work. I’ll take care of it.”
“You are so kind, Sir.”
With those words, Iyer rushed out of the office and dashed straight into the nearby bar.
It was already midnight when Murthy reached home. His wife Subha opened the door with a flushed face and moist eyes.
“Now please don’t make a scene, Subha,” Murthy shrugged, “you know I have work to do.”
“Do you remember what day it was?”
Murthy walked in and saw his children sleeping on the table near a birthday cake. His daughter was still clad in the frilly gown she had bought for her special day.
“I know, Subha,” Murthy’s face was tainted with regret when he saw his children, “but you must understand that I’m doing all this for you and the kids.”
“Did we ask you to do this for us?” Subha’s glare was merciless. “What’s the use of piling on money when you are losing such beautiful moments of life in the bargain?”
“I’m really very sorry about it.” Murthy felt it was good to surrender than go into further argument with his wife. “Let’s celebrate Anju’s birthday even more grandly the next year.”
“You’ll say the same next year too.” Subha snorted and took the children to their bedroom.
Murthy sighed in relief from getting rid of his nagging wife and her complaints much easily than he had expected. After having a bath, he went to the children’s bedroom. Both the kids were sleeping quietly, unaware of his presence.
“Happy birthday, honey,” Murthy said as he kissed his daughter.
He looked lovingly at his children and got up to leave with a bruised heart.
“Have you had anything to eat?”
Murthy was taken aback to see Subha standing by the door of the bedroom.
“I thought you were already asleep.” Murthy carefully avoided looking into her eyes.
“How could I till you do?” Subha almost pounced up on him. “Now come and have your dinner.”
She walked towards the dining table where a celebratory dinner was arranged. A guilt laden Murthy quietly followed her and sat down on the table with her. She served the food on two plates, well aware of the sheepish glances her husband was throwing at her.
“I thought you already had your dinner.”
“How could I till you do?” Sudha fired back.
“It’s so delicious!” Murthy praised her culinary skills as he took his first bite of the food.
Subha turned a deaf ear to him and ate her food silently. Murthy didn’t give up after his first failure to impress his wife. He kept praising the food she had prepared, to the sky. After all, after spending so many years with the flattery king Iyer, Murthy had gained a little command over the art. Finally, his efforts started bearing fruits and Subha began to melt a little.
“If you liked the curry so much,” Subha finally opened her mouth and uttered a few words, “then why don’t you have some more?”
Subha happily poured some curry on his plate and Murthy smiled gaily back.
“You look so beautiful in this saree!” Murthy kept showering her with compliments as he realized that the trick was working. “You have an innate talent of selecting the saree that suits you the best.”
“Don’t you remember this saree?” Subha frowned furiously.
“You gifted this on our last anniversary.” She looked suspiciously at him.
Murthy choked on the food and drank a glassful of water to borrow time to think of a way to escape from the predicament.
“Silly woman!” He tapped playfully on her cheek, “I was just testing your memory.”
Subha shook her head and resumed eating.
“This necklace looks so pretty on you, Subha,” Murthy grinned. “It was my gift on your last birthday, isn’t it?”
“Eat your food and go to bed,” Subha said curtly. “My sister gifted this on our marriage.”
“Oh!” Murthy found it safe to remain silent.
Murthy sped his car through the zig-zag roads in a furious frenzy. He was late for office. He had worked overnight on the tender that was of prime importance for his firm. As an aftermath, he overslept and now was on the end of his wits as there was no way he could make it in time to the office. The boss had ordered for the papers to be ready on his desk by sharp 10o’clock in the morning. It was already 10.30 and Murthy was still far from the office. Iyer had called him several times in between to convey boss’ indignation due to the delay, adding to Murthy’s anxiety. Murthy mouthed some vile curses and pushed the accelerator. His car raced ahead at a dangerous speed. But the speed of the car was nothing when compared to Murthy’s racing pulse which threatened to break all barriers of safety any time now. The sound of screeching tyres echoed in the air as he turned his car through a sharp turning. Just as he stepped on the accelerator again, he was confronted by a small group of school children who were crossing the road. To avoid an accident, he vigorously turned the steering wheel and dragged his car far away from them. As a consequence, his car ended up speeding on the wrong side of the road. He turned the steering wheel again to pull his car back on track, when his eyes opened wide from the horrible scene that he saw on the road. His car was now at a hand’s distance from a huge water tanker that was approaching from the opposite side of the road. Murthy pressed on the brakes with all his might. But it was too late by then and the speed of his car was too high for the brakes to bring down. He shivered as he could not do anything to avoid the unfortunate. The school children who had safely reached the other side of the road by now were jittered as they heard the sound of a loud crash as the two vehicles collided head on. They covered their ears as the glass of Murthy’s car broke with a loud shrill and scattered all over the road. Then there was a deadly silence as blood oozed out and drenched the road all around the accident site.
Murthy opened his eyes and looked around as his vision began to clear. He was surrounded by various machines and that were beeping synchronously with each other. An image of his car crashing into the water-tanker flashed in front of his eyes and he pressed his eyes tightly closed. A wave of relief flooded his mind as he opened his eyes again and realized that he had survived such a grave accident. His lips murmured a silent prayer to express gratitude towards the Almighty for saving his life. The next dreaded thought that took possession over his mind was whether he had survived with all his body parts still intact. He ran a check on himself and found that he wasn’t feeling much pain. He felt it quite strange that even after suffering such a massive accident there were no signs of any pain.
“May be because I’ve managed to escape with only minor injuries,” Murthy consoled himself.
To countercheck his notion, he got up slowly and sat on the bed. He was surprised that he wasn’t feeling any discomfort and even felt lighter than he usually did.
“I’m perfectly all right.” Murthy was now absolutely sure.
As soon as a feeling of immense relief calmed his jittered nerves, another nagging thought took over. He began worrying about his work was left pending due to his accident.
“If I’m alright then I shouldn’t waste time, lying idly on a hospital bed just to help some doctors make money out of it.” Murthy thought, “I have so much work to do, I can’t afford to lose even a second more.”
As the thought came to his mind, a wave of electrifying current pulsated through him and he instantly stepped down on the floor. He took a few steps ahead but then halted as he noted something totally uncanny. He held his breath and slowly turned his petrified eyes back. He got the shock of his life when he saw himself lying on the bed.
“How can that be!” His stomach knotted and he couldn’t believe his eyes. “If I’m standing here then who the hell is lying on the bed?”
His head began to swirl and he grabbed his head with both his hands. A part of him, the vital one, had been separated from his almost dead body. He raised his head and looked at the machines he was surrounded by. The readings showing on the screens of the life supporting machines told him that his body was more or less still alive.
“Then, what am I?” he shuddered as he asked himself, “only a soul?”
The mere thought of losing a battle with life at such a young age when so many doors of a prosperous career were lying invitingly open in front of him, sucked out whatever life was remaining in him.
“No. That can’t be!” Murthy screamed to expel the agony that was gnawing him from within, “I can’t die now!”
He turned to take one more look at his body lying on the bed to make sure that it was not one of the deadliest nightmares his life..
“Doctor! Help me,” a freaked out Murthy ran out of the room expecting the doctors to sew him back into his body.
The corridor outside the ICU was crowded with the staff members of his office, his friends and relatives. On a tiny bench opposite Murthy’s room, a teary eyed Subha was sitting. Her eyes were fixed on the door while her trembling hands were tightly clasped in prayer. On her either side, their kids were sitting huddled to their mother. Their faces were pale and somber as they could comprehend that something was terribly wrong with their father. Murthy’s eyes grazed through the faces of his colleagues and widened in surprise when he saw Kurup among them.
“What a hypocrite!” Murthy smirked as the sight of his rival’s face made him repugnant.
Murthy quickly turned his eyes away unable to bear Kurup’s crocodile tears. His eyes then landed on Iyer who was leaning against the wall and mourning the tragedy that had befallen on his beloved superior.
“Oh! Poor dear!” Murthy was touched by Iyer’s concern for him.
Murthy quickly scanned the faces in the corridor all over again as he couldn’t find the face he was yearning to see. He hadn’t had to wait much as the next instant, boss came rushing in. Everyone instantly became alert and those who were sitting, rose from their seats as boss walked towards Murthy’s family.
“He is a fighter, Mrs. Murthy,” boss said in a tender voice as he took a seat next to Subha. “He’s born to win and I’m sure he’ll be back with us, safe and sound. You don’t have to worry about him, ma’am. Murthy will be fine.”
Murthy was, as always, overwhelmed by the words of praise from his boss.
After consoling Subha with some more sugar-coated words, boss got up and silently walked to Iyer who was standing nearby.
“I’m really worried,” boss said.
“We all are really worried for Murthy Sir’s well being, Sir.” Iyer said in a meek voice.
“Oh, no! It’s not about Murthy.” Boss shrugged.
Iyer’s corporeal eyes as well as those of Murthy’s spirit turned quizzically towards boss.
“I’m worried about the project Murthy was working on.” Boss rubbed his furrowed forehead. “I think I should hand it over to Kurup.”
Murthy could understand his boss’ helplessness and chose to respect his decision without any grudge. Deep down, the thought of his dream project making its way to Kurup’s desk filled Murthy with agony. But he consoled himself with the thought that it was not handed to Kurup owing to his own merit but because he, who truly deserved it, was not in a condition to take care of it because of the accident.
“Kurup,” boss said as he cornered him, “I’m appointing you the Project Manager of the Chenniyar Villa project as you are the only person I can trust with such a crucial project. You are simply the best and that’s why I’ve always preferred you over that good-for-nothing Murthy. If our company has prospered by leaps and bounds it’s only because of the meticulous efforts of one man and it’s you, Kurup. I’m sure you’ll keep up with your good work in future too. All the best and congratulations for the new project.”
“I promise I will not disappoint you, sir,” Kurup said as he energetically shook hands with the boss.
Murthy kept staring at his boss dumbly. Along with the project, the boss had also handed over the exact ‘words of praise’ that once belonged to him.
“You’ll assist Kurup in the project,” boss said as he briskly passed by Iyer, “I’m leaving now.”
“But, Sir!” Iyer was shocked by the complete transformation in boss’ attitude towards his favorite subordinate. “Murthy Sir is in a very critical stage. I think you should stay back.”
“Murthy is as good as dead!” Boss readily sealed him in a coffin even when Murthy was still medically alive. “I have an important meeting with a client and I can’t afford to lose the deal. And don’t forget to call me when Murthy’s game is up. I guess, I’ll be able to wind up my work by then and be in time for the condolence meeting.”
With those words, boss brushed past a stunned Murthy and ran out of the hospital. For a moment, Iyer kept staring at his back like a cold turkey but then realized that it was time for him to follow his boss’ footsteps. He looked at Kurup and his eyes glinted with adoration towards his new commanding officer.
“Murthy is as good as dead!” Iyer muttered under his breath as he pasted a rapturous smile on his face and walked towards Kurup.
“Good evening, Kurup Sir.” The warmth with which Iyer greeted Kurup was enough to make the tiles on the hospital walls to melt.
“Good evening,” Kurup’s reply was as cold as a corpse. He was not at all interested in talking to the proponent of his close opponent.
“It’s an honor to work with you, sir,” Iyer became even more determined to make Kurup fall in the web of his flattery, “I didn’t even hesitate to beg at boss’s feet to let me join your team. You are a man of extraordinary talent. Murthy was nothing when compared to you, a big zero I must say. I regret wasting all those years I had worked under him. But now, I’m sure my career will prosper under your guidance.”
Now it was Kurup’s turn to feel overwhelmed as Murthy had been underrated by both his superior and his subordinate.
“It’s a pleasure to have you on board, Iyer.” A victorious smile adorned Kurup’s face as he turned to Iyer. “Welcome to the team.”
“You are such a noble soul, sir.” Iyer knew he had finally found a soft corner in Kurup’s granite-hard heart. “But that foul-mouthed man Murthy, he is always busy speaking ill of you instead of attending to his duties during office hours. You wouldn’t believe if I told you the awful things that Murthy keeps saying about you.”
“My response to negativity is silence.” Kurup said sagaciously but the expression on his face bore the impression that he was curious to know more about it.
“Last evening, when you and Malati Ma’am were leaving the office, Murthy accused you of having an affair with her!”
“What?” Kurup’s face flushed.
“No!” Murthy’s restless spirit became even more restive as it was unable to prove its innocence. “It was him!”
“I tried to defend you by saying that Kurup Sir is only offering her a lift. What’s wrong with that? At this, do you know what he said?”
“What?” Kurup couldn’t keep his vow of responding to negativity with silence and asked with an infuriated frown.
“He said that the two of you are headed to a hotel room. Lord Muruga! Have some mercy on my poor soul. No sir, don’t ask me anything more.”
“Murthy!” Kurup turned into a blood-thirsty hound. “Malati is like a sister to me. How could you even think of such nasty things about her? That’s why you’ve suffered such a terrible plight. You are paying for your sins.”
“Serves him right, sir,” Iyer voted in support.
“I had no idea that you were going to back-stab me like this, Iyer!” Murthy’s ghost paled, if that was even possible, when he saw the true colors of those he had once worshipped.
“What am I even doing here in the hospital?’ Kurup shook his head violently, “I’m out of here. Are you coming, Iyer?”
“Let’s forget about that jerk!” Iyer said, “You’ve become the in-charge of a project that’s worth millions. Doesn’t that call for a celebration?”
“Of course!” Kurup finally smiled as he made his way out with Iyer.
As the hands of the clock crawled by, word passed around that Murthy was not going to survive for long. The crowd of hypocrites gathered in the corridor began to dwindle as people understood that there was no use of pretending sorrow for a man who was of no use to them now. They severed ties with Murthy even before life did. By the time it was midnight, the corridor that was once thronged up with Murthy’s near and dear ones was almost empty, except for Subha and the kids. Anju was sleeping in her mother’s lap and Subha had also started dozing in her chair. Their son, Anuj, was still awake and was drawing something on a piece of paper. Murthy went close to him to see what it was. Anuj was drawing a picture of his family of four. On the top of the paper, the word F-A-M-I-L-Y was scribbled in large capitals. And below it were words that made Murthy’s eyes fill up with guilt. Murthy read as tears blurred his vision, ‘Father and Mother, I Love You.’
“What are you doing Anuj?” Subha woke up and rubbed her swollen eyes.
“I’m drawing this picture for Dad.” Anuj smiled at his mother. “I’ll gift it to him when he gets back home.”
“Get some sleep, baby,” Subha cuddled him close to her. “Your Dad will be fine by morning.”
Murthy felt an urge to hug his son and cry his regret out. But it was too late by then. He fell on his knees and burst out sobbing.
“What a fool I was!” Murthy wailed, “I’m a gold medalist in business management but I couldn’t even make a good investment of my life and time. I invested my time and trust in people who replaced me in a matter of seconds when I was of no use to them. And I stole myself from those whose love for me was real and sincere, irrespective of my negligent attitude towards them.”
Murthy drew a deep breath and tried to flush his sorrows deep down.
“Dear God,” Murthy folded his hands and closed his eyes as tears trailed down his face, “please give me another chance to live my life the way I should have. I don’t know whether you are going to answer my prayers or not but if you do so I promise, I’ll make the most of it.”
As soon as he said those words, a powerful force pulled him back and then there was utter darkness.
Murthy opened his eyes and the machines beeping in chorus made him aware that he was still in the hospital.
“It’s a miracle!” The grin on the doctor’s face was so wide that Murthy worried whether it was going to tear the doctor’s face apart. “We doctors are always accused of comforting patients with lies but today I’m going to be open with you, Mr. Murthy. We had lost all hopes of your survival and this incident is one of the miracles in the history of medical science!”
“It’s all because of their prayers.” Murthy pointed a frail finger towards his family standing behind the doctor. “I’ve always betrayed them when they needed me but still they stood by me when I was in need.”
“Now you have a lot of time to make for the loss, Mr. Murthy.” The doctor nodded satisfactorily as he checked on Murthy’s vital stats.
“Even a lifetime is not enough to shower your dear ones with all the love you have for them.” Murthy’s eyes brimmed up again.
“That’s of course true.” The doctor patted Murthy’s hand before leaving. “Learn to make the most of whatever you have.”
The doctor stepped out of the ICU and his grin was even wider than his face as he greeted the people waiting eagerly outside.
“He’s fine,” the doctor raised both his hands in the air, “he is perfectly alright.”
Iyer who stood glued to the wall was knocked down by a feather as the news of Murthy’s well being came like a bolt from the blue. A little later, he sprung into action and punched a few numbers on his mobile phone.
“Has he died?” Boss yawned indolently over the phone.
“No, sir,” Iyer wasn’t sure whether he should convey the message gaily or gloomily and hence opted for a neutral tone, “he’s going to live.”
6 Months Later
“Sorry sir, I’ll be able to finish this work only tomorrow,” Murthy looked straight at his boss and said it loud and clear.
“Are you planning to leave so early?” Boss was dazed. “It’s only 5.30 in the evening.”
“My duty hours are over by 5 p.m.” Murthy shrugged and got up.
“You know very well Murthy that I trust you more than the rest of my staff.” Boss resorted to his usual emotional blackmailing. “You are the most valuable one to me.”
“Yes I know that very well, sir.” Murthy smiled rather sarcastically. “And I also know that you don’t value my life more than a business deal.”
Murthy briskly walked out of boss’ cabin leaving him absolutely bewildered.
“How the hell did he find this out?” boss whispered to himself after Murthy was gone.
When Murthy returned to his cabin, Iyer was already waiting for him there.
“It’s good to see you back in action, sir,” Iyer’s face was bright with a warm smile.
“Thank you,” Murthy said without giving him much air.
“Do you know, sir, when you were in the hospital I used to wait outside your room for days at a stretch, like a loyal dog.” Iyer’s slurred as a lump built up in his throat.
“Oh, really?” Sarcasm was bubbling in Murthy’s eyes as they turned to Iyer.
“What?” Iyer’s hazy eyes turned suspiciously at Murthy. “What do you mean sir?”
“I know what you were bitching outside my room when I was in the hospital.”
Iyer turned deadly pale as Murthy walked past him with a knowing smile. Iyer gulped down heavily and kept staring at Murthy’s back until he had disappeared behind the closing doors of the lift.
“You are back so early?” Subha couldn’t believe that it was her husband who was standing at the doorstep.
“Where are the kids?” Murthy giggled at Subha’s astonished face.
“Have you come to fetch something that you’ve forgotten?” It was impossible for Subha to believe that her husband was back from work at such an early hour. “Do you have to go back?”
“Yes, I had forgotten about my family in my frenzy to attain success.” Murthy said as he wrapped his arms around her. “But then I remembered my wife’s words who once scolded me by saying, ‘what’s the use of piling on money when you are missing out on the beautiful moments of life?’ And those words twitched my ears and dragged me back home in time.”
Subha scanned him from head to toe and back again as she suspected whether he was the same man she had been living with for the last six years. The kids came running from their room and hugged their father.
“Get ready kids,” Murthy said, “we are going on an outing.”
“Yipee!” they shrieked as they rushed back to get ready.
He smilingly turned to Subha who was still struggling to believe what was happening right in front of her eyes.
“Hurry up Subha, get ready.” Murthy cupped her face. “What are you thinking?”
“It’s a miracle!” Subha kept murmuring as she walked back to her room. “Yes, it can’t be anything but a miracle.”
“I went well into the realm of death to understand how precious life is.” Murthy said to himself when he was left alone in the room. “It was the cold touch of death that taught me how to relish the warmth of life.”