Radha 's Flute
Radha 's Flute
“For you, a thousand times over,” he heard himself saying it loud, as he read it written on the menu card and on the performing wall.
“Hey, this is from the Kite Runner written by …” he was trying to recall the name, but Radha completed the sentence.
“by Khaled Hosseini” she smiled with a weird pride. He thought what the big deal is, in being able to recall the name of your favorite writer when his work is the topic of discussion.
“Well look at the last side of the menu card, I have mentioned that this line is from this particular book. So, sir, I hope you will not file a charge for this, on our café.” Radha was smiling, she teased Krishna with this smile but along with this she also gave him a tinkling sensation which could be called either romantic or a warning.
But Krishna did not look at her face after the first time. Yes, her face was charred, and she was blinded by the acidic attempt. But a burnt face reminded Krishna of something else, and he did not want to recall it.
“Thank God! she cannot see, how I am avoiding her,” he whispered.
“hmm…” came her sound, and she left.
As she reached her counter her face had dropped a lot and he could see that. Although there were many dark spots and the right corner below her cheek was swollen. Yet, even out of a disfigured face one can make out whether there is something wrong with a smile or not.
But Krishna did not care at all. For he hated to handle emotions, even the tinkling feelings that he had when he heard her giggle, he preferred to take it as a warning rather than a curious beginning.
As Krishna is eating the strawberry pastry and Radha is busy in the library. Let us look at what makes the café Scooby Scoop special for our story. The café belongs to Mr. Rajesh Shah, Radha‘s father. He has specially designed a corner in the café, which is the performance area. Herein, on every Christmas, the brothers perform for the kids in the nearby orphanage. The brothers study in a nearby college which is run by the Society of Jesus. And the orphanage is where Sister Jen works, she is the main reason behind Krishna‘s arrival at this café. The next day is Christmas and Sister Jen wanted him to attend this performance for once. Well, the rest of the café is painted with cream shades of white and brown. Has a vertical garden on two of its walls. Well, the pots are different here; they are some handicrafts Krishna supposed. But these pots became Krishna‘s next reason for him to talk to Radha. He went inside the library; well the café had a library too! This amazed him a lot, for the size of it could not be ignored and had too many books to read.
“Could you please tell me, from where did you get those pots?” he sounded polite, much to his surprise.
“They are simple terracotta pots, my mother painted them,” she tried to be crisp and kept his back towards him. Her straightforwardness surprised her, and she was sad.
“Oh! I see.” He began to turn and leave. Motherhood was not a sweet reminder for him. Radha could feel it in his breathing.
“Sad for you.”
“Either you are unhappy or are naturally rude…”
“How can you say so?” he was curious.
“Do you know what Helen Keller had said?” she asked.
“The best and the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched-they must be felt with the heart,” he recalled.
“But what makes you unhappy can not be beautiful?” he was curious.
“Actually it can be seen from a different perspective, though.” She continued.
“You are too good to be true!” he criticized.
“Thank you” she smiled and turned around to face him.
“huh?” he was surprised with this answer.
“I try very hard to do so every day. Because I cannot see my smile in the mirror, I do not know how wide it is. No one says I look beautiful; they think it will hurt me. But then you said it right now that my smile is too good.”
“Hey, it isn’t true, that is what I said.”
“Yes, it isn’t, actually it is a band-aid that is too adamant to leave my face” she shivered a little.
Krishna was raised in Indore, so he knew every corner of this city. After this conversation, he wanted to listen to Radha more and more.
‘What will I do in the Sarafa market? I can have coffee and Radha‘s company.’ he thought to himself.
“Yaa, I get you,” he wanted her to talk.
“Well your voice is too soft, do you sing?”
She tried to compose her legs and fingers differently, she was nervous. “I am sorry if I asked the wrong question?”
“No…it is alright.”
“Your deo is too strong and my coffee would not smell good in front of it,” she said.
They laughed, uncontrollably. And every other staff in the café was surprised at this. Never had Radha laughed so hard after she got to know about uncle. “It is for the first time after eight years.” One of them said.
Krishna heard it and he knew Radha did too. This time again he was happy that she could not see his expression of discomfort and he tried to pretend that he had not heard it, he laughed hard in this attempt. But he was unsure whether she had felt the discomfort or not.
“I know your mother had committed suicide after an acid attack on her. And I was sad that I reminded you of her. I should have not come in front of you. I am sorry.”
“How did you know? Did Sister Jen told you so?”
"Yes," she muttered.
"Nevermind, why talk about her here? She was not as brave as you are."
"I am not brave either! You are the first person who calls me brave."
"Well, I am guessing. It's not easy to run such a big cafe, so well with Kite Runner's quotes around." He smirked in an attempt to lighten her feelings.
"Umm...I think you hate what your mother did?"
"I do not understand it."
"Well let me tell you one thing, probably that will help you."
"Umm...every suicide is a mark of shame on humanity at large. It shows that people are less capable of love and kindness at large. I am not brave, actually, I am lucky."
"Lucky?" this was shocking.
"I was raised with love and smiles. Those memories keep me going even when I cannot see what lies ahead."
"Raised?"He felt a strange uneasiness as she spoke this word, he thought are her parents not with her anymore?
"Well, I still didn't get your point."
"Probably, your mother didn't have anyone say to her that she is seen and she is beautiful."
"But does that matter? Whether someone says it or not."
"Why did you feel odd when I said, either you are unhappy or naturally rude. I am blind, I cannot even see your face."
Krishna preferred not to speak anything, he remembered that day when he was twelve years old and he saw his mother after the incident for the first time. He remembered his legs shifted back, and his blue eyes had widened in horror.
He felt strangely unsettling for the first time, this time he didn't blame it on her.
He thought, what if she could not bear to look at the pain every day in my eyes and therefore she committed what she did? What if she did not want me to suffer any more at the hands of society?
What could have happened if he had been smiling. If he would have gotten her her favorite chocolate ice cream, what else could have happened if he would have pampered her.
Probably, she would choose to live.
"But is it so important to be appreciated?"
"That is a personal priority, but it is definitely important to be loved. And there is a difference."
"Your favorite song?" he asked, he was surprisingly calm this time. "Let me get you another cup, your hot coffee is cold now."
She looked at him, and her mouth was open in surprise.
"Do you sing?" she asked.
"Yes...not been doing it for a long time."
"Ok, I will see you in a while."She stood up to go and through the library's back door she entered the back yard.
Krishna stood up to get some coffee for her, she was someone worth knowing.
As he got up, he saw she left her phone behind. He thought he will return it to her when he would give her a second cup of coffee. He took it.
The coffee was made, he was about to open the back door and suddenly the phone beeped. There was a WhatsApp message, although it is uncool to look at someone else 's phone the message was from Mrs. Sanita Mishra, Krishna's assistant in the hospital.
"How is this possible?" he made sure he was unheard.
He smiled on knowing that Radha had not kept a password for her phone.
'How can an innocent girl like her keep passwords!' he smiled at the thought.
The audio message was, 'he moved his little finger.'
At the same time Krishna's phone beeped too, the message read, 'he moved his little finger.'
Krishna knew the message was about, Mr. Rajesh Prasad Shah who has been in a coma for eight years. He had lost his wife in an earthquake long back and his only daughter was acid attacked eight years ago.
Krishna recalled the day when he had said to the assistant doctors that they must not allow the daughter to visit her father. Chances of him getting worse would increase and then Mrs. Sanita Mishra had offered to keep the daughter updated through the messages.
The second message had read, ' I played the song Tere Liye from Veer Zaara, which he had recorded in his own voice. The daughter had sent it today, she could find it.'
On Radha's phone, the message was, 'Your idea worked dear, the song helped him.'
Krishna scrolled through the previous messages and found out that the song was sent at 11:43 am around the same time they began to talk about his mother and suicide.
Krishna gulped a huge weight down his throat and could not speak anything. Through the window, he saw Radha, thin and brown. Her hair was very frail but black and long, probably she has a habit of nail-biting her nails were unevenly cut, and perhaps she would have been another plain-looking girl who would require make-up to look good. Hadn't this happened to her? Her one hand was burnt and in it, she held a flute.
Krishna opened the window pane, to hear what she is saying to herself.
"Look papa, I can now hold the flute again with this hand. Let me play the song for you."
" Tere Liye...hum hain jiye hothon ko siye...kya kahoon duniya ne kiya mujhse kaisa baer…" Krishna found himself humming this song. As the flute stopped mid-way, he turned around to notice whether did she caught him again?
He turned around and saw her looking at him, probably she did notice, but he was thankful this time again for the same reason.
"Thank God she cannot see how red I am."
Well, she walked up to him and said,
"My father sang the same way for my mother, Thank you for doing it again."She was beaming and teary. While Krishna looked at her sheepishly.
"This coffee is cold" she giggled.
"huh…" he stood started there. She laughed hard once again.
To Krishna's amazement, he found her laughter as beautiful as the fragile blossom in the winter snow. This time he wanted to keep looking at it. Maybe this is how courage looks like.
Probably this is love, to do something for someone else and announce it loudly and say
"For you, thousand times over" she did this for him. Even choosing to live with a smile.