Watch Shop10 mins 21.5K 10 mins 21.5K
The kid dragged him into the bedroom. He knew it was a dream but it felt real and the feeling was that of a happy man wanting to relive a moment. With the swiftness of a good hiker, the kid climbed onto the bed. The kid looked at the air conditioner adjacent to the bed and screamed, “ON! ON! ON!” with more emphasis on the ‘n’ that felt like the ‘o’ became silent.
Like commands coming from a wand, the air conditioner obliged and switched itself on. It’s just a dream, he told himself.
The kid’s gaze was fixed firmly on the air conditioner, more specifically on the four watches that were left hanging from the air conditioner.
He started,”There are lot of…“; the kid finished, “WATCHES!”. He repeated, this time with more decibels; the kid responded in similar fashion with “WATCHES!” and called his watch collection as “WATCH SHOP!”
The kid pulled him close with his hands under the kid’s tiny shoulders. The kid smiled and shouted, “JUMP! JUMP! ”
“How should you ask?” was the question from him.
The kid revealed his finely arranged teeth and when the mouth went wide, the dimple in the check revealed itself to add to the beauty and cuteness of the kid. Then the kid came up with the answer, “UNCLE! PLEASE! JUMP! JUMP! ”
This time he obliged and lifted him off the bed and brought him down again, simulating a trampoline jump. It went on for twenty counts, after which he felt tired and asked the kid,
“NO! NO REST!”
The kid became silent for a second and whispered, “ONCE! MORE!”
It’s just a dream he told himself.
That moment came back to Vivekanandan again and again, every day and night, whenever he closed his eyes, be that for sleep or a nap or for praying. The recurring dream indicated the extent to which he missed the kid. The four weeks, the kid spent here, went in a flash. Time has this ridiculous habit of flying fast when you need it to be slow.
"I have to email my brother to see if he can come during the Christmas holidays" he noted it in the reminder pad inside his head. The Time he had spent with his nephew was probably the happiest he has had in a long time. It did help him in overcoming the grief that had plagued him ever since that fateful first of July when he had lost his wife, kid and his left leg to the garbage truck that ran over all three of them.
Everything in life wasn't the same until his brother gave birth to this little one. "You've to let go of the past", his more intellectual friends used to say. He could never let it go because he thought it was part of him and will go only when he kicks his bucket. He never looks forward to July but his nephew's presence made him yearn for it.
The first three years weren't same as this last month, when the attachment to his nephew went from good to great. "I'm his hero now like how my son would've looked at me and I should never disappoint him" he had decided. And so he spent the entire day with him, taking him to his shop to make sure that the kid is always with him. It turned to be more remarkable that they found that the kid loved watches. "How lovely was it to just look at him staring at the watches as if they were animals or birds or even cars!".
"He can differentiate the minute hand and the hour hand" he had proudly said when the kid identified the minute hand and the hour hand correctly. That was the moment when he had felt vindicated to have take up this watch business.
It was during that time, he saw a young boy, whose age he guessed to be around 12 or 13, clutching tightly the fingers of an old women, entering his shop. The boy's eyes darted around the shop and fixed his gaze on a particular section. There, his eyes scanned the collection of watches exhibited inside those glass shelves and zeroed in on a Titan ladies watch.
He was pointing at that watch to the old woman, who was curtly shaking her head. Without being rebellious but at the same time showing his displeasure, he dragged the old woman out of the shop. That moment aroused the curiosity in Vivekanandan, who walked up to the glass showcase that contained the watches and looked at the one the kid was pointing to.
That part of the shop housed the Titan Raga collection, a special women's collection that Titan advertised as “Inspired by the modern Woman”. He tried to put himself in the kid's shoes and glanced at the watches. Each watch was a blend of artistry coupled with opulence. The tagline had made him smile the first time he looked at that. Does the regality of their accessories determine the modern woman or Titan wants them to be like that?
Now to the more baffling thing of a kid looking at these watches. He wondered what a Kid sees in them. This continuing theme of watch loving kids - first his nephew and now this kid, surprised him. He remembered the look on the kid's face when he left the shop. Old instincts were screaming inside his head that the kid would come back another day.
His instinct was spot on and the kid arrived at the shop's entrance pulling the same old woman. He thought that she might either be the kid’s grandmother or a caretaker. She wasn't very keen to visit the shop again. Vivekanandan could see the kid on his knees pleading with her to allow him inside. The lack of empathy from her must have exasperated the kid so he unfettered himself from the clutches of the old woman and dashed into the shop to the shelf holding his much desired watch, to the obvious dismay of the old woman.
Vivekanandan walked slowly to the kid, taking each step carefully so that his prosthetic left leg is not so painful. The kid was staring at the collection of watches inside the circular glass shelf.
“You like them?”
The kid looked up at Vivekanandan and smiled. He followed it with an affirmative nod and continued his gaze at the rack of watches.
“Which one do you like?”
He pointed at the one in the front, that had an oval dial, that looked more like the eye of a woman although with a brown sclera. The centre point resembled a pupil and the sharp golden minute & hour hands were like nerves emanating from the pupil. Impressive.
“Hmm. Nice choice” he said with exuberance and when he told the price of the watch as one short of five thousand rupees, the kid's face lost its colour.
“There are some less expensive watches too, if you're interested.”
Again the face fell indicating his displeasure at the company’s pricing of his favourite watch at a not so affordable rate. Vivekanandan smiled to himself. Nothing can replace the innocence of children. But he was curious as well on whether the kid is seriously wishing to buy the watch.
“Will you give this one at a discounted price?” He pointed at the watch he had selected.
“Ha. That's interesting. You want a discount? Hmm. How much money do you have?”
His eyes turned to the old woman standing outside. On noticing his gaze towards her, she rushed inside.
“How much money do you have, Grandma?” He sounded in an authoritative tone to her. Without giving her the time to think he continued, “I like this watch and would like to buy it for...”, he abruptly stopped his sentence and showed her his selection.
“We can get it later. Come on! let's go” she dragged him out of the shop. Before leaving she turned back to convey her apologies to Vivekanandan. Unfortunately he didn't have the time to react to her apology too. When they were out of the shop, he could see the face of the kid staring past him at the watch.
Days were passing very slow for Vivekanandan’s liking. There was no sign of that kid during those days. He knew that the kid wanted that watch but he wasn't sure whether the kid's love has moved on to other things. If so then he might have seen the last of the kid but that helpless stare of the kid when his grandma dragged him out of the shop, will be etched in his memory. He wanted that kid to come back, just for erasing that memory and to ensure that the face that remained in his mind is that of a happy kid.
When you have almost given up on something, things happen to surprise you. That happened to Vivekanandan when the kid showed up alone. The kid looked at him for a fleeting second, when he got from his seat to walk to him. Perhaps the kid noticed the awkward walking style of his, as a result of the prosthetic leg.
“Look who is back!” said the jubilant Vivekanandan and that brought a blushing glee to the kid’s face.
“You still want the watch, isn't it?”
The kid nodded his head in affirmation.
“Do you have the money to buy it?”
This time the negation was shown by the kid by simply shaking his head.
“I'm sorry kid. I don’t give watches for free!” said Vivekanandan with a shoulder shrug and just continued, “Why do you want such an expensive watch?”
“I don’t know. I thought my mother would like this!” There was uncertainty in the voice of the kid.
“Oh! You want to buy this for your mother? Good. She will love whatever you buy, kid. How much you spend is not important!”
“Really?” he asked in a surprising tone with a face was beginning to look bright.
“Will she come back?”
“Come back? Come back from where? Is she out of town?”
“No. I don’t know where she is. I have seen her only in photos”
Now Vivekanandan was confused.
“I’m sorry, kid. She lives with you, right?” he enquired
“No” replied the kid.
“You live with your parents?”
“I live with my father and grandmother,” said the kid.
Vivekanandan hesitated but asked, “Is your mother alive?”
“Grandma says that she’s alive but they don’t know where she is”, he started sobbing and said, “I want to her to come to me but I don’t know what to do. Grandma said mother loved watches. So I came to buy one. Tell me! She will come back if I buy one for her?”
Vivekanandan could feel a lump in his throat. He knew that feeling of missing someone. He wanted to tell the kid that he can understand. But words wouldn't come out of his mouth. Is she really alive? Should I raise his hope or just bring him to reality? Questions were circling inside his head.
No. Reality will sink in at some point in life. Now let him have the hope that his mother would return to him. Should I give just give him the watch he selected? No wait! This is just a watch. He needs more than that.
He went back to his desk and opened the drawer. There, it was there, the ladies watch that his wife forgot to wear on that fateful day. It was the only remaining object that she had used. He had kept it hidden so that his nephew wouldn't find it. He was pretty sure that his nephew would've broken it if he had found it.
He took that out of the drawer and went back to the kid. His mind was protesting every bit to make sure that he did not part with an object that she used to wear when she was alive. But like every protest, it did not attain its objective.
“You like this watch?” he showed his wife’s watch to the kid.
The baffled kid looked at the watch and smiled at him. “Yes. It’s very beautiful.”
“Take this one. It’s my gift to you!”
The kid hesitated initially but nevertheless took it.
“But this is no ordinary watch. I've kept it till today because it belonged to someone whom I lost several years back.”
“Lost? You were able to find that person?” asked the kid with hope springing in his face.
“Yes” he lied. “You too can have it and hope for your mother to come back!"
The kid immediately hugged him and thanked him. Before bidding good bye, he promised to come to the shop if he comes to know anything at all about his mother. Vivekanandan was wondering whether he did the right thing. There was no feeling of guilt and surprisingly his mind too felt light and relieved.