The Last Lottery Ticket
The Last Lottery Ticket9 mins 21.6K 9 mins 21.6K
“I feel like throwing all this garbage out of my house. As if Babloo’s toys were not enough to create a mess that now this head-ache. Not even a single lottery has worked for him but he will just not throw them.” Savita blabbered lifting the old aluminum box. After a hard day’s work, clearing her father-in laws’ room was another task for her. She used to be totally drained by her lunch time every day.
Savita lived in a small flat in Mumbai with her husband, her five year old son and father-in-law. Her father-in-law had recently moved in with them after his wife’s demise. Everyone was still making efforts to adjust with each other.
Hira Lal had a habit of collecting lottery tickets from a young age. Every week he bought lottery tickets from his savings. He was hopeful, one day he will win a huge amount that will change his life forever. His habit became his passion ever since one lottery amount helped him pay off a huge debt.
Hira Lal was a small- time farmer who had raised his five children with great difficulty. He lived in a small village in Maharashtra. His wife Rupmati Devi was his pillar of strength. She supported her husband in everything he did and never complained of his habit of buying Lottery tickets in spite of living in abject poverty. Rupmati sacrificed her wedding jewelry for her children’s studies. She and Hira Lal had dreamt of a better future for their children and were ready to do whatever it took to do so.
While the two daughters were married off in decent families, the three sons had started a small business in the village itself with Hira Lal’s savings. The eldest son moved to Mumbai upon getting better prospects there and was earning just enough to feed a family of three. After Rupmati Devi passed away, Hira Lal decided to move to Mumbai with his eldest son.
It was only six months that he had arrived in Mumbai. Every second Monday of the month, he used to go to the station buy a lottery ticket with his grandson, the results of which were always announced on the last Friday of the month. Hira Lal never disposed his lottery ticket collection of nearly fourty years which were neatly kept in a small aluminum box. Babloo was highly amused by his grandfather’s lottery ticket collection and often helped his grandfather arrange them.
Savita, however was highly wary of her father-in-law’s this habit. She had never witnessed him winning anything off the treasure he considered his prized possession.
One year passed and Hira Lal had become acquainted with the surroundings of the area they lived in. He being friendly in nature was a good company to his neighbors too.
One day when Hira Lal was crossing the road with Babloo after getting the ticket, the child suddenly broke free and ran after a flying kite. Hira Lal shouted to stop his grandson but his voice was lost in the din. Babloo was hit by a bike with the biker trying his best to control the damage by pulling the brakes. A crowd immediately surrounded the scene. The child was hit on the head and was bleeding profusely. Hira Lal was shell-shocked on witnessing his grandson bleeding. He requested the crowd to help him, take the child to a nearby doctor. Luckily a neighbor had informed Savita of the incident. She rushed to the hospital immediately too.
Babloo was brought home after a brief treatment. Savita did not spare a second in throwing all the tickets away in the bin and waited with bated breath for her husband to arrive. Sohan Lal arrived soon on getting the news. He turned towards his father and asked, “What had happened?”
Before a shocked HiraLal could speak anything, Savita remarked sarcastically, “This was bound to happen one day, is it something strange that has happened? Sacrifice your son for some silly lottery ticket. The world can turn upside-down but the tickets have to be bought.”
“If you can’t take charge of your own self, why take a small child along that too on a busy road like that?” She continued.
“I have been telling you incessantly but all my words always fell on deaf ears. And this is the last time I am mentioning, if anything happens to Babloo, I would never forgive this man…”, Savita could no longer speak with her choked voice .
“Savita!!!!” her husband screamed angrily.
“Baba, what had happened? Will someone tell me what exactly happened in the morning?” Sohan Lal was frustrated on not getting the answer.
Hira Lal had gone inside a cocoon after the incident. He stopped talking to anybody and kept mostly to himself. The neighbors started noticing the remarkable drop in his garden visit. A few of them even dropped in to enquire about his health but Savitri dismissed them from the gate saying all was well.
Babloo was kept away from his grandfather as much as possible. Sohan Lal remaining busy in his business did not notice the detouring health of his father.
One night, during dinner Hira Lal requested his son to arrange for the return tickets and that he wanted to stay with his younger son for some time.
Sohan Lal just nodded in affirmation and continued eating. He did not even feel the need to stop his father or ask the reason for it. He was very disturbed already with his business suffering heavy loss, so he rather preferred agreeing at that moment than arguing unnecessarily.
Savita had overheard the conversation and started making sure that the tickets were arranged on time by offering her little savings to her husband.
Little Babloo was the only one sad on coming to know of his grandfather’s departure. One afternoon when his mother was fast asleep, he quietly slipped into his grandfather’s room and slept near him cuddling him tight with his little hands. Hira lal woke up with the hustle bustle happening around him and adorably hugged Babloo back.
“Dadu, it was not your fault”, was all the little boy said before falling asleep in his Dadu’s arms.
Hira Lal felt free of all the guilt and his eyes were filled with tears of joy.
Hira lal boarded the train thoughtfully and bade bye to his son and grandson who came to see him off. He sighed deeply on realizing how badly he was going to miss Babloo, that one link who had kept the relation steady with his elder son, that one individual who seemed to have the most wisdom at that time in spite of being the youngest in the family.
Months after Hira Lal had left for his village, One fine morning when he was brushing his teeth, he noticed someone familiar coming towards the house. He rubbed his eyes in disbelief but that was for real. Soon they were nearer and a little boy dashed towards him and hugged his legs while shouting out loudly, “Daaaaduuu”. He immediately took Babloo in his arms and went ahead to receive Sohan Lal and Savita. They touched his feet and sought his blessings. They all went inside.
Hira Lal sat on a chair with his younger son and his wife standing by his side, Sohan Lal and Savita sitting down near his feet and Babloo joyfully toying with his grandfather’s fingers on his lap.
Sohan Lal hesitantly took out something from his pocket and gave it to him. “What is it Sohan?” He queried having a brief glance at it. It was a cheque worth rupees 10 lakhs.
“What is it? Why are you giving it to me?” He questioned again.
“Baba, it’s yours.” Sohan Lal said slowly.
“Babuji, nearly after a month you left, One day a man knocked the door confirming our address.” Savita took over.
“He started asking many details from me as if verifying something. Then he took out a number and asked me if I had the lottery ticket bearing that number.” Savita held her head down.
“Baba, Savita had thrown all your lottery tickets so she could not produce the lottery ticket. The man was about to return when Babloo came running with a ticket in his hand. It had the same number the man had shown. He then took out a cheque and handed it to Savita.” Sohan Lal continued.
“On asking Babloo about the ticket, he said that you had given him this ticket the day you were leaving. It is the same ticket Baba that you had bought on the day of the accident.” Sohan Lal sounded apologetic.
While Hira Lal listened to all of it patiently, he caressed Babloo’s hair in affection.
He began looking at Sohan Lal, “How is your business going on Sohan?”
Everyone looked with utter surprise at him to hear that ‘out of context’ question. They tried comprehending his mind.
There was a lull before he repeated, “Yes Sohan, I know it was going through a rough patch at the time I left your place. How is it now?”
Sohan Lal said slowly, “Not much has changed Baba.”
Hira Lal got up on hearing that and asked Sohan Lal to get up as well.
Sohan Lal got up perplexed and dumbstruck. “Baba??”
“I was very upset with you after the whole incident Sohan, for you not having a say in all what happened and keeping aloof to avoid the situation. I know you were going through a rough time, but that is no excuse for not understanding your father’s situation. While I very well know that whatever happened was unfortunate and should not have happened but I will not hesitate to state that it could have happened with you or Savita accompanying Babloo also.” He said it all in a breath and continued further. . ” When a child is small, he is his parents’ responsibility, similarly when the parents are old, they are their children’s responsibility. You take care of them and not break their hearts. I left your place with a broken heart and cursed myself for not giving you the right values.”
“But today, I am a proud father. I am assured that there was no fault in our upbringing.” He said looking up as if speaking on his wife’s behalf too.
“In spite of being in absolute need of money at the moment, you brought this cheque to me. In spite of the cheque being in your name Sohan, you came all the way from Mumbai to inform me of the prize money. Who would have known if you had used it without informing anyone? I am proud of you my son, I am proud of you.” He hugged Sohan Lal tightly saying that, something they had not done in a long while.