The Path We Didn't Choose
The Path We Didn't Choose4 mins 12.2K 4 mins 12.2K
“Amma, my legs are hurting’, Raju told his mother with a painful expression. “Just bare a little, son”, saying this she turned her sweaty and tired face toward her husband and said, “Ji, did you hear? His legs are hurting and mine are also swelling”. Ram lost his temper and raged on her,” Do you think I wished for this? Just for you, I can’t slow down others also. Don’t you see other women and children walking?”. Now she is not only in pain but also disappointed. She had no other option but to follow her husband’s order. Ram’s brother realised her state and toke Raju on his shoulder. She was relieved after seeing Raju on Laxman's shoulder and ran her rough hand over Raju’s face. Laxman saw her eyes which were satisfied now. But her body pain is still haunting her. He wanted her happy as she was not less than an mother to him. He smiled at her and cunningly said.”I took Raju on my shoulder. If bhabhi is tried why don’t bhaiya carry her?”. Everyone around them laughed as if they were waiting for someone to say something funny so they can forget this misery. She hides her smile with the edge of the headcover, which she is wearing throughout the journey to avoid direct sun and also to protect her family’s dignity. She pushed him with her index finger like a mother who want to punish her without hurting him and responded,” Shut up, Laxman. Your brother is hearing”.
Ram turned around, seeing his wife’s reddish-white face, he felt sorry for what he said before. He realizes how hard this is for her. But this is not what he wanted for her and to their family. He, his wife, his brother, and many other families left his village and came to Mumbai in a herd as construction labour. So, when they leave, he thought it will better if it was a herd.
Realizing how hard he was, to cheer her up, He responded to his brother’s command,” Why not? She is my wife. She was the one whom I stole from the sky. I will carry her till Khargone”. Nothing much was needed to make her blush and cover her face. Her blush made him more poetic and romantic. To encourage him and to get entertained, a lady from the crowd shouted,”Ram bhaiya, what are waiting for? Why don’t you sing for bhabhi?”. “Why not?”, why not is a phase he add mostly to all his statement, “I will sing, but not any song. My hero, Amithab bachan’s”. He turned around, looking at his blushing wife, he started to sing “kabhi kabhi mere din me”.
After a few minutes of happiness, everyone went to silent thoughts. Some were planning what they will do after reaching their home. Children were confused about why they left Mumbai. One teenager asked his uncle.” why we are leaving Mumbai?”. for which he replied,” We will be out of money. If we reach home by the time we are here, at least we will have roti during this lockdown”. The teenager thought that why his contractor can help or government can provide as he and his uncle have worked at least 12 hours a day. But he didn’t mind asking his uncle because he knows he won’t get a direct or right answer.
It was almost 10 o’ clock at night. Everyone was tired after walking the whole day empty stomach. Children slept on the mother’s lap, while some on glass with bags over their heads. Teenager, his uncle, Laxman and some others were laying on a railway track. Hunger didn’t allow teenager to lay or sleep. He got up and told his uncle that he will be near the street light. He took the book that the site engineer gave to him. It was titled “annihilation of caste” by B.R.Ambetkar. He began to read without knowing that in a few hours his uncle will be killed by a goods train and he will be only left with this book.