DROPS OF DESTINY
I ran. I was trying to run as fast as my legs could carry me. Past the buildings, past the market, past everything that was alien to my inner turmoil. I ran, wanting to run into the world of my yesterdays.
I ran, as the thunder re-sounded my steps. Dark clouds strode like sentinels in black across the length of the skies, firing raindrops like bullets on my face. The wet roads conspiring with the rains, tried to skid me. But nothing was going to stop me that day because I had to reach for a place; I had to reach for my angel. For that I had to reach for the bench- that wooden bench in the park.
I jumped over the wooden fence and headed for the park . My knees bumped into a lamp post that was illuminating the rain like a string of serial bulbs. But I had no time to feel the pain. I kept running
I ran around the corner of the lane and stepped on a puddle of water. I lost my balance but I had no time for falling then. So I dint fall. I kept running
As the project manager of a large firm, I had always been a man laden with work and professional responsibilities. For all the work there was and all the projects to be completed, I had little time to spare for Sandy-my seven year old daughter. Ever since Mythili left me, Sandy had become the world of my existence and I loved her dearly. Justifying the fact that I was too busy a man to look after her I put her in a boarding school who unlike me would tend to her every need and take care of her.
Every Saturday my assistant would fetch her from the school and we would spend the evening in the park, sitting on the bench, chatting.The wooden bench was beautiful not only because it was flanked by a meadow of daffodils and ferns on one side and a huge birch tree standing by a small brook on the other, but because it carried pleasant memories of me and Sandy and had overheard all our little secrets.
Those few hours were sheer bliss. I’d sit, an enchanted audience, to her childish talk, her petty complaints, and innocent gossips. To me nothing was sweeter in the world than to listen to her talk and to watch the way her little brown eyes would round in amazement at her own stories. Now and then she would stretch her little hands asking for a promise so she could safely confide her little secrets to me. And when the time would come for her to return to her school she’d cling to my shoulders. I’d feel like the most brutal guy but then I was just doing what was best for her. I’d send her back to school, with a heavy heart of course.
One day, an unfortunate one as people called it, I got a phone call from Sandy’s school saying that she fell from the third storey of the building and sustained severe injuries on her skull and that she was no more. But angels don’t die, do they? I refused to believe them, they were a bunch of foolish people. I refused to cry, my angel was there in the school taking lessons. Instead I waited for Saturday to come. It did after a couple of days.
I waited for her on the bench in the park. I waited till sunset. After a few minutes sun rose again. She never came. She must be doing her math assignment I said to myself and got back to work. The next Saturday I waited again, she did not turn up. She must’ve caught the flu from one of the girls I decided. She must be busy with her exams I informed myself when she deprived me the pleasure of being with her again. Thus two years went with yearnings and excuses but I still went to the park on Saturdays, waiting for her.
One Saturday I was walking towards the bench when I found that someone had already occupied the bench. Rather than getting furious like I usually do, I was surprised. It was a small kid- about the age of my Sandy. She was very much different from Sandy but there was something special about that kid, I couldn’t point out what. Something in her resembled Sandy. I stood there watching her play with her doll that was just as ragged as she was. She would talk with the doll endlessly in a language I didn’t understand. At around sunset she left. I waited for a few more minutes trying to find an excuse for Sandy not coming but failed. I went home empty headed.
I couldn’t get myself to wait till the Saturday so I decided against my decisions that I’d go to the park the next day. She was there staring into the brook, watching butterflies as they fluttered about the daffodils. I kept returning to that place like a man possessed to the park and watch her from behind the birch tree, trying to find out what semblance she bore with Sandy. Another kid solved my problem when he made her laugh.Yes , that was it. When she laughed it wasn’t just her lips that did it. She smiled with all her face, brow lifted, eyes creased, she smiled- delighted and content, just like my Sandy. I looked around and learnt that she belonged to the group of nomadic people who had put up their caravan and tents near the park.
That night I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t go to work the next day. All that I knew was that I would bring that kid back with me. I’d keep her to myself. I’ll tell her stories, teach her math, pillow fight with her and take care of her. She would talk to me with her black eyes rounded in amazement. Yes, I’ll bring her home and never send her away.
It was Saturday the next day. I ran to the park, to the angel with the ragged toy to gather her in my arms, and bring her home.
I kept running, oblivious to time, space and distance till I reached the park. I ran to where the wooden bench was.
Suddenly the wooden bench looked old and rotten. She wasn’t there. She wasn’t there with her ragged doll, staring at the pond, watching butterflies. No it was not just that she wasn’t there. ‘She was gone’. It hit me only when I turned around to find that the caravan had moved away and it had taken my angel with it. The caravan was carrying more than what it had before- it was taking away with it all my dreams.
Suddenly it stopped raining. It felt like the clouds had cried away all their tears. My knees hurt and I felt like I was falling. A drop of tear reluctantly emerged from my eyes and escaped the pain that was there. My heart melted trickled and down my eyes- colourless as my world had become.
I cried out- loud.