Shadowed7 mins 15.8K 7 mins 15.8K
Mr. Mahesh Ranawat was the principal of Yorkdale Convent School ten years ago. Today is 30th September. In this day he retired. He can vividly recall the day. There was light drizzle on that day. As usual he went to school much before the scheduled time. Because he was very much sincere and passionate to his job. He always considers himself to be lucky to be in the job of teaching. Students also have a great regard for M. R. Sir. One after one teachers and staff came. He found everybody was exchanging a pleasant smile. A farewell programme was organised in the auditorium at 12.30 noon. Everyone eulogised his devotion to teaching profession and affection to students at the same time a strict disciplinarian. Finally he was invited to share his experience and valuable advice to the next generation of teachers. He reminisced his first day in school as a teacher and his lifelong struggle to enlighten students. At last his junior colleagues and students touched his feet in respect. They presented him some classic books, pens and a shawl, some sweets and painting colours and brush. He is a good painter. In many occasions he brought his paintings to school but he cautiously kept it secret that he painted. Somehow the secret got leaked. Even if one goes to his school one or two of his paintings may be found on the walls somewhere.
Mr. Ranawat is now sitting on an armchair in the balcony of the first floor. He spends most of his time here. Because from here he can view people below and far. He is still quite fit to do his daily chores. In the morning and evening he walks around four kilometres. On the way he talks to the fruit seller, newspaper vendors, street hawkers. He is not much interested to talk about old age diseases for a long time. He dislikes oldies who complain only about their illness.
The sunlight is streaming through the grilled balcony. He can't understand why the sunlight has turned so hot. In his childhood he found pleasant sunlight in this time. He has read about global warming. And it seems to be true to his experience.
Childhood memories are flashing within him. He goes back to the day when he was running after a snapped kite with all other boys. While running in a frenzy he reached to other village. He did not know anyone there. Suddenly three or four boys chased their group. They got angry because they went to catch kite in their area. It is like the society of dogs. If a dog by mistake or intentionally reaches to other dogs' area they unitedly attack that stranger dog. Had those boys been able to catch them it would have been no more funny. They dispersed in different directions and none succeeded to catch them.
He remembers another funny incident. The James Cameron film Titanic became hit all over the world. He went to watch the film in a local theatre. Wrapped himself under a great shawl he sat at the side of a row. A youth came to him and asked, 'Hello Badey Bhaiya, could you please lend me your lighter or match if you have any?' In the dark he identified it was Rakesh, a senior student of his school. In a changed voice he replied, 'No, I don't have.' Rakesh went away to get a lighter to smoke.
Mr. Ranawat's wife died five years ago. After his wife's death the situation in the house changed. His elder son Amit works in an IT firm and Amit's wife Bidisha goes to teach in Trideb Chandra Memorial High School. It's a reputed school. Only little Neha loves her grandfather very much. Neither his son nor Bidisha has time to talk to him. While they go out for their jobs they say, 'Dad, don't forget to take your food and medicine in the right time.' There begins and ends the relation. Of course he doesn't forget his medicine. He is very punctual. But day after day he discovers himself neglected. They don't have time to query about his needs. Neha is also busy like a bee with her studies, painting, dance and karate classes. Everyone is chasing their goals. He can't understand why such blind race everywhere. Why such race?
Almost on a regular basis youths are dying or killing themselves in motorcycle accidents. They prefer speed more than life. They forget the heavy tax of error in speed. They die but none learns.
In his home he feels alienated. And that pains him. He finds that he has turned into a mere existence, a shadow of his past entity. No more dear and lovable to anyone. His little bank deposit is their target. He wants to forget his pang. So he goes out in the street. One morning he was walking in the nearby park. He found three youths with some girls were wandering about and merry making. As he was crossing one of them stopped and looking straight at his eye said, 'Hey old vulture, when will you die?' Greatly shocked, he left the place. Later he narrated this incident to his friends. They also said that they faced same situations. He has been compelled to adapt to the language and culture of the new era.
Morning passed to noon. Noon turned into evening. No one has asked him if he has had his meal. Such happens frequently. Today the maid has not come. He was not informed of it also. No one is concerned with his needs. He is now a packet whose content has been utilised. One does not keep a packet even if it's attractively designed. But he still has his needs as a human being. He needs food, medicine, care, love. The feeling of unwantedness crushes him inside. He tries to shake off this uneasiness often but can't succeed. It haunts him when he is under the roof. Today is the tenth anniversary of his retirement. All day he has fed himself only a few biscuits. He cannot withstand the food of a hotel. He has another son who lives in USA. He works hard, calls him sometimes. But he is no help to him. And it's not possible for him also. But his younger son has a feeling for him. He can understand that his father is not all well.
His elder son frequently says, 'Dad, this month I am going on with empty pocket. I don't know how to pay my daughter's tuition fees. The ex school principal understands the language. Besides his monthly expenses he gives him some additional amount from his little bank balance. Every month he has a recurring expense of medicines.
Dejected, he is lying on a sofa. None of Bidisha, Neha, or his elder son has returned yet. They might have gone to Neha's friend's birthday party or to a multiplex to watch any latest Bollywood hit. They never inform him when they go out. Robin only says, 'Dad, for some days we are going out. Keep safe. We have arranged everything for you. There will be no problem.' But its never smooth after they go out. He faces lot of problems to continue his daily experience.
Now his mind is swaying over the beauty of past and the frustrating present. Suddenly his phone rings. He receives the call. From the other end his younger son Rahul speaks, 'My Dear Dad, I'm giving you a surprise. I have landed tonight. I kept it secret. I never told you that I have built a free old age home here. I have decided to serve the destitute poor old men and women for the rest of my life. Isn't it a good idea! Now dad tell me will you join my project?' Mr Ranawat gets elated,' Of course I'll. But tell me where is your wife Margaritha? Rahul's voice subdued a little, 'Dad, she died of cancer three years ago. And I'm never going to marry again.'