“Hello, Mr. Nishith, Can we meet this weekend? I was going through your plan and that looks like quite a good deal. The only criteria we are looking for is a ‘ready to move flat’ since we are in no position to bear the burden of house-rent and EMI simultaneously.” Shubhi stopped only to catch her breath. Her heart was pounding. The sheer idea of owning a flat in Mumbai was like a dream come true for her.
The following weekend Shubhi and Arnav went to meet the housing agent to understand the details and the expenses involved in buying a house with that builder. In spite of the fact that the area was distant from their workplace, they decided to venture as that was the only affordable place in the city. They were also shown a beautifully done sample flat which all the more raised their urge to own a house.
But like most of Shubhi’s other dreams, this ‘oh so near!’ dream appeared vanishing at having a glance at the costs involved. The cost was around 10 lakhs over their estimated budget. Even Arnav’s excellent bargaining skills could not come to their rescue. They returned home disappointed.
Weeks passed and the incident got swept under the rug like hundreds of other incidents that always happened in her life.
It was raining torrentially that evening. Shubhi hastily removed the clothes from the line in her balcony. She was about to step inside after finishing when She felt something creepy on her left foot. She looked down to find a baby pigeon struggling to walk on the slippery floor.
“Oh my god!!!” Shubhi screamed in disgust.
As much as She wanted to help that little creature, She was hesitant to touch it. After a lull and a conflict in her mind, She decided to help the pigeon.
Shubhi rushed inside to get a shoe cover. She removed her new shoes and placed them aside. After a little bit of trimming and change, the shoe cover was ready to be the little creature’s haven for the night. Shubhi neatly placed the cover in one corner of the balcony away from the rain water and slowly chased the baby pigeon into it.
She then carefully covered the entrance to make sure that the pigeon did not come out.
The next morning was no different as it kept raining heavily. That being a Sunday, Shubhi woke up late. She was having her morning tea, when the thought of the little pigeon struck her and She almost tripped over the chair to reach the balcony. Arnav followed her looking at her reaction. “Shubhi???” He shouted from behind.
He went out to find her squatting near a completely wet piece of paper-remains with her face in her palms. She shook her head in disappointment.
“What is it? What happened?” Arnav was puzzled.
Suddenly he saw the paper moving. He stepped back and commanded, “Shubhi move! There’s something inside.”
“It’s a baby pigeon.” She said with a straight face.
She picked up the wet piece of paper and saw the pigeon shivering inside. It gasped for breath.
It was certainly the most disheartening moment of her life. She cursed herself and felt helpless. It was her first attempt to save a life and she had failed completely.
Shubhi went inside and got a cup of water. She poured drops of water inside its mouth as it opened its little red mouth. She was reminded of a popular saying her mother often referred to, ‘If you offer the last drops of water to a dying creature, that’s considered a saintly act and all your wishes come true.’
She stared blankly at that dying creature as it stopped breathing gradually. Drops of tears rolled down her cheeks.
Months passed and one morning Arnav sounded excited on the phone while talking to his mother. Shubhi craned her neck from the kitchen to figure out the reason. She left her work and stood in front of him to find out the reason behind his excitement. As he looked up at her while still grinning, She gave him a ‘What?’ expression.
He continued on the phone gesturing her to wait till he finished.
On hanging up, He said, “Maa just broke her fds and is offering us 10 lakhs to go ahead with the flat plan.”
Shubhi’s face lit up. “So? What do you think?”
“I don’t know, I am not too sure. They might need the money.” Arnav looked in two minds.
“We will return it to them.” Shubhi quickly reciprocated.
Arnav paused for a moment and said, “Let’s call Mr. Nishith”
Shubhi jumped and hugged him before reaching out to her phone.
A gong was struck by the housing agent after Arnav finished signing the registration papers. Mr. Nishith handed over a box of chocolates and a beautiful bouquet to Shubhi. Shubhi felt on cloud 9 that very moment.
On her way back, She sat up with a jolt as if suddenly reminded of something. Arnav looked at her in surprise.
“Arnav, Do you remember that pigeon?” She asked him.
“Which pigeon?” He asked confused.
“Oh! Now it all makes sense, the popular saying and the pigeon and…” Shubhi murmured to herself.
“Oh my God!!!” She covered her mouth in disbelief.
One month later.
As soon as Shubhi placed the last cloth in the wardrobe, She crashed in the bed.
“What a day??” She exclaimed as Arnav looked on.
“We have been standing since morning Arnav, do you realize?” She looked at him.
Arnav nodded softly lying in the bed beside her.
“Had the movers and packers people come on time, we would have finished earlier. Oh! I have to go to work tomorrow and its 12 already.” Shubhi got up to do the remaining bits for She had to get up early the next morning.
The house-shifting had taken a toll on the two but the ecstasy clearly made up for it.
The next morning Shubhi woke at 5 in spite of 6. She stood in her eighth-floor apartment balcony enjoying the view with her morning green-tea cup. She was thrilled to be there and kept smiling for reasons best known to her.
Her thoughts took her back to that very day when the idea of buying a flat was first conceived. She revisited all those years of struggle in Mumbai and how She would long to have her own house in the city every time she heard one of her friends buying a flat. She thought of all those moments when she feared being asked to empty the flat by the owner. It surely was like a sword-hanging on their heads.
She took a deep sigh and looked up at the reddish-blue stunning sky. She mumbled gently, “Thank you for everything.”
Life went on for Shubhi and Arnav and they soon became proud parents of a baby boy. Shubhi resumed work after six months of maternity break. Her mother volunteered to look after the toddler. Ronit was 5 in no time.
Meanwhile, Shubhi had a promotion long due. After 3 years of constant attempt, She had made up her mind to look for a new job if she was denied promotion this year too. Shubhi had served the organization for ten long years and it was definitely not an easy decision for her.
She was driving back home that evening with an occupied mind, when something looked amiss on the road.
She took a U-turn and halted her car near a man who was sleeping with an upright posture on the footpath. He looked injured and shabby. Shubhi hesitantly got down from her car and went to the man with a bottle of water.
“Kaka…Kaka…”, She said poking the man with her index-finger.
The man looked blankly at her for a while and then pointed at her water bottle.
“Oh! Aapko paani chahiye..” Shubhi said handing over her bottle to him.
The man emptied the bottle in no time. He clearly was very thirsty. Shubhi handed a 50 rupee note to him before leaving.
The man raised his hand as if blessing her. The next moment She knew She had tears in her eyes. They kept looking at each other as Shubhi drove off from there.
The entire next week as she crossed the spot, her eyes kept looking for that unfortunate man. But the man was nowhere to be found.
“Mamma..” Ronit came running as Shubhi entered home.
The mother–son cozy moment was interrupted by her mobile ringing.
“Hello Sir” Shubhi got up from her place as she greeted her boss.
Ronit and Shubhi’s mother looked at her face since her “hello” was followed by a long pause.
“Thank you so much Sir. I am completely at a loss for words.” Shubhi spoke with a choked voice.
And while She was still thanking her boss, Shubhi’s mother opened the door to find Arnav home too.
They all waited with bated breath for Shubhi to speak up after she was done talking on phone.
She composed herself before speaking out, “Let’s go out for dinner..”
When they still kept staring at her, She said snapping her fingers at them, “Don’t you want a treat for my promotion guys?”