I was reading a newspaper in the drawing-room. My wife Anu was cooking in the kitchen. My son Raju was playing in the kitchen garden. It was a fine morning of a Sunday. Suddenly someone knocked at the door. I looked at the door. It was Sunjay. Raju was in his lap eating chocolate. Sunjay was my neighbor and colleague in the office. He was Raju’s friend, besides being one of my best friends. He never forgot to bring chocolates for Raju, whenever he visited us. He had a lot of affection for Raju.
To others in the office, he was a silent man, always absorbed in his work. But to me and my son Raju, he was quite different. He was a generous and genuine friend of both me and my son. He was an accountant by profession and joined our company last year and he was allotted the quarter to live in next to mine. That time Raju was three years old. At the very first meeting, he won Raju’s heart and became his friend. Soon he became one of my best friends.
One day, when I asked him about his family, his face got pale for a moment or two. Then he began to tell me all about his family. He told me that he had a pretty wife and a four years old son. He told me how pretty his wife was and how naughty his son is. He told me that his wife was living along with her son in her home town and soon she would come to live with him. I noticed that he was slightly sad when talking about his family.
Months passed but his wife and son didn’t come. He was still living alone. One day I advised him, “You should take a leave and go to meet your family.”
Hearing my advice, he got sad for some moments and remained silent. Then he began to smile and said, “I am thinking of going to meet her. She will be waiting for me. One day I will go to meet her.”
Before I could say anything else on this matter, he changed the topic. It seemed to me that he didn’t want to talk any more on this topic.
I waited for his taking leave. Months passed but he didn’t take leave to go and meet his family. One day boss said to me, “All of you take leave occasionally but Sanjay has not taken any leave so far. “
I said, “Perhaps he didn’t need a leave.”
Just then, a co-worker, who was listening to us jump in saying, “He is a crazy man.” He was not in good terms with Sanjay. He continued, “by the way, we take a leave when we needed. We don’t like to take leave without any proper reason.”
He was unhappy at the boss’ statement.
Boss stared at him with anger. He immediately went away.
“He did not mention anything about his family in his bio-data form,” Boss said to me.
“I will talk to him about this,” I said to boss.
That evening I visited him at his quarter. I found him drinking wine. He got happy seeing me and offered me wine. He was in a good mood. He told me many anecdotes about his childhood, school life, and college life. He was for the first time, so frankly talking. He was under the influence of wine.
When I asked him about his wife and son, he got silent and filled his glass with wine. He didn’t like my asking about his family. He gulped the wine and said, “Don’t ask about her. All is well. I love her. ”
He lay on the floor. He was so inebriated that he was not able to speak a word.
Weeks and months passed. He fell ill seriously. No one was to look after him. I had admitted him to the hospital. He was diagnosed with cancer. Doctors told me that he must be immediately operated. Call his family members.
I told Sanjay, “Now, you should call your wife. As a friend, I am doing whatever I can but I have my own limits.”
He was sad and hearing my words he began to weep. He cried, “I always told a lie.”
I asked, “What lie?”
He sobbed, “I have no wife and son. I am alone since my childhood.”
I was surprised to hear his words. I asked, “Why did you tell a lie?”
He replied, “To escape the questions being raised by people about my being unmarried.”
He paused for a moment or two and then said, “I told this lie wherever I went. This lie became a part of my life. In the succession of jobs, I lived in many cities with this lie. With the time I got used to this lie. I began to behave like a married and responsible person. And a time came when this lie become the reality to me. “
I interrupted him, “But why didn’t you get married?”
He remained silent for a while and then said, “There is a reason behind it.”
I asked, “What reason?”
He said, “The fear of separation from the beloved. I was born in a middle class broken family. My father was a bank officer and my mother was a teacher. From my early childhood, I found my parents always quarreling. I didn’t know on what issue they always used to quarrel. I had a younger sister. Whenever parents fought with each other, she and I cringed away in a corner of the other room and tried to support each other. I had a brotherly affection for her. These quarrels left a negative impact on me and my sister’s mind. We are almost devoid of parental affection and care. When I was studying in high school, my mother took a divorce from my father. Although my father loved her a lot, she left him. She took my sister with her. Father took my custody. After the divorce, my father got depressed and began to live in his own thoughts. He could not give me as much time as I needed. I was alone and afraid. This sense of aloneness became stronger and stronger with time. This aloneness didn’t leave me even in my youth. After college, I had a good job and sufficient money to enjoy life and to get married. But I was used to aloneness and was living in my own world. I had seen separations in my life; separation from the mother, separation from the beloved sister, and the separation from my love Anita. It came to my mind that the same would happen to me if I get married. ” He got silent.
I said looking at him with curiosity in eyes, “My love Anita. Who is she?”
He told me, “She was my love. She was my classmate in college. Although I was of reserved nature and didn’t like to make friends in my life, I got attracted to Anita. She was a nice and simple girl. One day I ask her for just simple friendship and she accepted my friendship. I made a friend for the first time in my life. We helped each other in studies and sports. We enjoyed a good friendship. And gradually this friendship turned into love. I wanted to marry her and live a happy life but once again I had to see a separation. One day she passed away in a road accident leaving me alone. My misfortune was still not ready to leave me.” Saying so, he began to look at the ceiling. His eyes were wet with tears.
I asked in a low voice, “And then?”
He said, “Somehow I managed to recover from the shock of Anita’s death. After complete college education, I find a job in a company and began my carrier. My misfortune gave me another blow. My father passed away. No kith and kin were present to console me. I was stark alone in the world and suddenly a thought came into my mind that I was not lucky enough to get the love and company of beloved. That thought made me more reserved and I preferred to remain alone in my life.”
Hearing all this from him, I began to think about what can be done for him. After a minute or two, I asked him, “And Where is your sister? I will telephone her.”
He said, “She was ten years old when we parted. Mother sent her to her uncle’s home where she completed her education and after graduation now she is in America. I don’t know where is she lived in America?”
I asked, “And the mother?”
He said, “After the divorce from father, she never contacted us. I don’t know where she is. I even don’t know whether she is alive or dead.”
Hearing his story my heart melted. Due to sympathy and my kind nature, I took his responsibility and did whatever I could for him. After getting my signatures on some documents, doctors perform surgery on him to remove a tumor from his body. He had to remain in the hospital for about three months. I visited him whenever possible.
Meeta was a nurse in that hospital. She was familiar to me. She was a kind-hearted woman. I had told her about Sanjay and requested her to give him a bit extra attention and call me if the situation arises.
That day, when I visited him, I found him happy. It was pleasant to find him happy. He talked to me for a long time. He was happy with Meeta. He praised her and told me how she took care of him like a family member. I met the doctor who was giving him treatment. He told me that Sanjay’s progress was satisfactory and he will get well soon. I was feeling relieved of hearing this. After this, I couldn’t visit him for a long time because of my own family responsibilities. Meantime he telephoned me once or twice and told me that he was happy and going to begin a new chapter of his life. I could not understand the meaning of his words.
Weeks passed. He was still in the hospital. One day, when I have time and I was thinking of visiting him, I got his telephone call. He gave me the good news. He told me that he had been discharged from the hospital. He also told me that he was going to give me a surprise. I asked him what the surprise is. But he didn’t give me any hint about it.
After a few days, it was Sunday morning and I was teaching my son. All of a sudden I heard a familiar sound of Sanjay. He was calling me from the outside of my home. My son and I immediately went out. To my great surprised, he was not alone, he was with Meeta. I welcomed them to my home.
It was apparent from their faces that they were happy.
He said to me, “Meeta and I were going to marry. We love each other.”
I said, “That’s great. I wish your successful married life. Both of you took the right decision. And see; don’t forget to invite me to the marriage ceremony. I am your friend and neighbor.”
He gave me a broad smile as a reply. My wife took Meeta to the kitchen to prepare deserts.
He said to me, “After diagnosed with cancer, I was sad and alone. In the hospital, I was waiting for my death. That time I was not afraid of death. Having no one to shed tears and no one to remember me after my death, I lost my interest in life. Then Meeta was deputed to take care of me. She is a very nice, kind, and caring woman. I never saw such a caring lady in my life. She gave a new life to my dying feelings of care and love. She brings the rays of hope in my life. Within a few days, she won my heart. I fall in her love. She was alone, too, like me. I felt fortunate when she accepted my love. Now I am going to live my new life.”
I could see the brightness of confidence, happiness, and hopes on his face. I congratulated him on his new life.