Story

“Never Let Me Go”

I used to be daddy’s little princess. My life used to be perfect until I made a couple of mistakes that totally turned my life upside down. My first mistake, I made a boyfriend when I was 16. I guess making a boyfriend wasn’t that big a mistake as was sleeping with him. He always said he loved me and would never let me go. I was always comforted by those words which is why I didn’t mind going to bed with him. But then I got pregnant and that is when my life took a huge turn. My daddy stopped treating me like a princess. My boyfriend simply disappeared from my life and suddenly had nothing to do with me. So much for “never let me go” crap. I decided to keep the baby and that is when everyone I was close to in my life started to freak out. They all told me it was a bad idea and that I knew nothing about raising a child. They were right, I didn’t. I grew up without a mother so I literally had no idea what being a mother was all about. But I had made up my mind and there was no way I was going to turn back. My decision didn’t go too well with my father. He had a heart attack. He survived it but I realized I did not want to be a burden on him. So I left the house. Alone and scared, I had no idea what to do and where to go. It’s quite fascinating how in times like these all your so called true friends are nowhere to be found.

My second mistake, I moved to a new town. And not just any town, it was one of those places that people called “bad neighborhood”. I couldn’t help it though. It was the only kind of place that I could afford to live in. I met this woman named Samantha, my new roommate. She could have been anywhere between 40 and 60. The wrinkles on her face did not agree with her make up. Her eyes and her lips never smiled together. I lived with her for a few months before I realized that she was a hooker. I somehow did not judge her for that. Every crazy person has a sad story, just like I do. She took good care of me during my pregnancy. She got me food, took care of my rent and even accompanied during my regular clinical checkups. I was happy. I found an elder sister I never had. She was there clutching my hand real tight when my baby was being born. She was the first one to hold him. I named him “Sam”, after her own name Samantha.

I used to feel tired and restless a lot. Taking care of a baby was no joke. The feeding, the bathing, the pooping and above all the crying. Thank God I had Samantha otherwise I would have gone nuts. Sam was 2 when he started walking. I remember how happy we were. Our little boy was growing up. I realized that may be that was the right time for me to get a job and put Sam in a day care center. I wanted to help Samantha for all that she had done for me, for us. I applied to like a thousand jobs but sadly I did not have the right skills or qualification for any of them. Little did I know that darkness was around the corner and my life was going to take another plunge in a pile of shit. Samantha got sick, very sick. When I admitted her to the hospital I had made up my mind I would not let anything happen to her after all that she had done for me. She was hospitalized most of the time and I had to figure out a way to pay for those medical bills as well as for the nanny that I hired to watch Sam while I was in hospital. The bills were starting to pile up and there was still no luck with the job search. I knew well enough even if I did get one of those ordinary jobs, there was no way I could manage the expenses with that kind of salary. Finally that moment came where I had to take a stand to choose between the people I love or my self-esteem. I chose love. I looked into Samantha’s old mobile phone to find a few contacts from her workplace who could help me out. And they did.

I started making a lot of money. I was working all night, every night. While I was spending my nights with disgusting drunk freaks with breaths that smelled like dead rats, all I could think about was how could I leave my baby alone in the middle of the night like that while he was asleep? What if he has a nightmare and wakes up looking for me? What if he is hungry? What if someone breaks into the house? But I had to do it for him, and for Samantha. I had to swallow my guilt and do it for them. It was all for them. Then one day, the time came when Samantha’s body gave up fighting her disease. I never told her about my job. She never asked either. I thanked her for all that she ever did for me. Before she started walking towards her stairway to heaven she made me make a promise. She told me to move out of town to a new place. A place that would be more appropriate for Sam. I already had that in mind. There was no way on earth I was going to raise my child in that hell hole of a neighborhood.

After Samantha passed away, I took Sam and shifted to a new town. A town which was safe and filled with good people. I had raised enough money to pay for Sam’s new school (I got him into the best one). His education was always one of my top priorities. I got a decent job as a cashier at a supermarket and finally started living the dignified life I always dreamed of. Whatever money I had saved from that old rotten town, I put it in Sam’s college fund account for when he would grow older. When Sam entered his teens, we became good friends. I had to play good cop/bad cop to ensure that he doesn’t make the same mistakes that many teenagers tend to make and at the same time doesn’t distant himself from me either. I think overall I was an ok mother. When Sam turned 18 and was ready to leave for college, he asked me a question that I always dreaded he would ask. Where did all that money come from? I looked him right in the eye. I was a good liar but not to him, he always caught me. I told him the truth. Everything. About Samantha, the old town, everything. He looked at me like I was some kind of a criminal. He was furious. I thought I would get a slightly sympathetic reaction but it didn’t go down like that. He grabbed his luggage and stormed out of the house without saying goodbye. His last few words before he left were “How could you live with yourself? How could you stoop so low?”

I guess I had failed to explain him that I could not let the woman, who gave us everything she had, die like that. I did it for her. She was the angel who was there for me when all doors had closed on me. I did it for him too. I had to raise a baby all by myself when Samantha got sick. And I did it. I am not proud of how I raised the money but if I had to do it all over again for him and Samantha, I would do it with a smile on my face. My son is mad at me. I cannot blame him. Any normal person would be repulsed by me, including him… if only he knew what I had truly been through.

The doorbell rang. I opened the door. It was Sam. He dropped his luggage on the floor and rushed towards me. He hugged me so tight that this time I actually felt the words even though neither of us said them – “never let me go”. We both wept like never before. He softly whispered in my ear “I love you, mum”. That was the longest and the best hug I ever had. All my pains are history now just because of that one giant hug. What kind of life did I live, you ask? I would say the one with the happy ending.

~KK

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Story

My Star

This is my story. It is story of how life has always given me enough to live with. There has
always been hope even in the worst of times. And even if I could, there is not a single thing that
I’d ever change about it.
I was little when my parents died. Like my saviour, the old man next door took me in. He would
take me to construction sites. But his intention was always to simply keep an eye on me while
he worked. I used to call him bapu and he always let me.
Slowly I learned the work and started helping out at sites. The construction manager had also
just started working at that time and he took a special liking to me.
He would give me simple chores and would pay me a little amount at the end of the day.
It used to make feel important, like a proper grown up cause I was contributing towards running
the home.
I grew up in these sites. Working as a daily earner and taking pride in the buildings completed
by us.
I know it doesn’t sound special or exotic, but to me, my work has always been like a religion. I
have full faith and pride in it and never believed it to be small or menial.
It was through this work that i found Mimi. My little miracle.
After completing another day’s work, I was returning home when i saw a little kid scavenging for
food near the trash cans. I called her and offered her whatever i could spare, but she refused it
by saying “can’t accept it as i haven’t worked for it”. Looking at her innocent face, i knew i just
couldn’t leave her behind. So i brought her home with me.
12 years later, my Mimi had grown up to be a really intelligent girl and was appearing in
entrance tests for engineering colleges. I had been promoted to the position of site coordinator,
so my income was enough to support her studies and our lives as well.
We were a team and we always planned ahead. We had two special funds. One for Mimi’s
college fee and another for operating on the slowly developing cataract in my eyes. And we both
were relaxed knowing that we were safe for future.
Then the results for college entrances came in. My Mimi was selected in the best college in the
country. She was going to study civil engineering and build the monuments for her dad.
I was just too overjoyed but Mimi was not happy. “Our savings aren’t enough to support this
college’s fee. We will not be able to afford it”, was her reasoning.
I told her that I’ll talk to the college people and see if they can help us out. She wasn’t satisfied
but let me go anyways.
I went to the college (it was in another city) and talked to the admissions in-charge there. They
said that they can’t do much as it is a private institute. Though if Mimi scores high enough, they’ll
give her a scholarship from next year onwards.
That re-assured me. Both my saving funds added together were enough to cover the admission
fee and i knew she’ll always be the best and will definitely get that scholarship next year.
So i paid the entire amount and confirmed her admission.
When i came home, i told her everything but instead of being happy, she was furious.
“You’re going to lose your sight baba. And i won’t be able to help out at all. How are you going to
survive? What will you do?”she kept on being stressed.
That night she cried for hours on end and there was nothing that i said which would comfort her
in any way.
Next morning she woke me up with my cup of tea. I noticed her puffy and red eyes and hugged
her tight.
I made her promise to go to the college. To do her best while there. To become an engineer. In
return, she made me promise that I’ll always have faith in her and that she’ll return and we’ll
build not just structures but our life again.
Now she’s gone. The light in my eyes has waned almost completely. It is like an eternal night
and the only source of light is Mimi. She’s my star, the star that I stare at all night, every night.
And wait for the day when she’ll be back and bring sunrise with her.

~P

Story

The Crossroads

I feel it’s good to be dependent on someone or some people. It’s good to be needed but it’s also ok to need someone at times. The problem starts when you become over dependent. We make so many life decisions based on our dependency on others without realizing that those “others” may be just as lost as we are. When I was 18, I reached that point in my life where in I had to make a decision that would practically shape the rest of my life. I came across that famous three way road that we all do at some point in our lives. Now the question was which one of those three ways would I choose. To be honest, at that point the choice seemed obvious and easy, if only I knew.

FOLLOW YOUR PARENTS
The easiest way out. You know your parents would never wish bad for you although that may not necessarily mean they know what’s best for you. They defined an entire career path for me. I was not even sure what the hell it was but I followed it. You know why? Because deep in my heart I knew they would never wish anything wrong for me. My career turned out to be more than fine. I became rich and successful. I got the most beautiful prettiest lady to get married to me. I was working 14 hours a day and making more money than anyone else I knew in real life. And believe me, money can buy a lot of stuffs. Money can buy happiness. I was happy with my achievements and accomplishments. Then finally the day came I had to wrap it all up and retire. I was excited because I could now spend time and do things that I never had time to do. And plus, I had made enough money. I wanted to travel and party and travel and party. There was just one problem. I was too old, weak and tired all the time. I guess my physical age finally caught up on me. I was too old, and I guess too late, to try all those stuffs I wanted to. So I decided to spend time with my wife and children only to realize that we barely knew each other. If only I had spent more time with them. I finally decided I was going to spend my days of retirement with my friends sitting in a lawn playing cards. However, that did not work out either since I didn’t have any friends. That’s because I never made any. It only took me a few days before I realized I actually didn’t know how to make one. I did not know how to make friends. I guess my personality and my style didn’t go too well with the world. But how the hell could I not have one single friend? This always seemed to me as something that comes easy to most people. Not a single friend. And that’s when I started to feel lonely and depressed. I started to spend most of my time staring into blank space with slowly running out of thoughts in my head. Then one night an angel visited my dream and she only said one thing “I will give you another chance.”

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FOLLOW YOUR FRIENDS
I woke up in my bed. I was 18 again. I felt and young and excited again. I closed my eyes and silently thanked that guardian angel (or whatever she was) for giving me another chance to be at the three way road again. I was damn sure I was not going to repeat any of those mistakes and I was definitely going to ensure I don’t end up sad and lonely. So I decided I was going to give myself and my happiness more priority than anything else. I started hanging out with my old friends more often. Along the way, I made some new ones too. Drinking, partying, late night long chats, pranking the hell out of each other etc. became my daily routine. Life was full of fun and I was insanely happy all the time. I also made sure to keep an eye on my career and my family at the same time but my close friends, my gang became my world. By the time I turned 25, the gang started to split up. Some relocated for new job, others went for higher studies and few got married early. By the time I turned 30, all my friends got married. It’s not like that they had forgotten me. They were there for me whenever they could. But it wasn’t the same. By the time I turned 35 I realized that the younger crowd didn’t want to hang out with me anymore and I had to give up on a lifestyle that I had stuck around with for nearly 20 years. It was weird. I didn’t know how else to live my life. I still felt young and energetic but I just couldn’t seem to find a purpose in life. Before I even realized loneliness slapped me in the face so hard that I could barely breathe. I had a job. I made decent money. But nothing left to live for. The guardian angel visited me in my dream again and this time I begged to her to take me back in time. At first, she was reluctant but soon enough she agreed.

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FOLLOW YOUR LIFE PARTNER
I woke up. 18 again. And this time I knew I had to find the right balance amongst all my loved ones – friends, family and others. I was at the three way road again but this time I felt more confident. The first two ways that I chose didn’t buy me long term happiness but now I was going to try out the third way (the only one left). I thought I finally understood what I wanted from my life. I spent time with my family, hung out with my friends and made it good with my career. Life was finally good. I couldn’t complain. I met this girl at a coffee shop with whom I somehow clicked with instantly. She was everything like my ideal dream girl.

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By the time we were done with coffee I gathered courage and asked her, “So when can we go out on a 2nd date?” She gave me that look, that stare that ensured me that she was impressed. Before you know it, we started dating. The first few months of our dating were just awesome. All that late night chatting, doing couple’s stuff together, holding hands, the way she kissed me (passionate yet soft), the sex… Oh my god! The sex. She was incredible in bed. Too damn good. I started to feel like the luckiest man in the world. I even starting making her breakfast in bed, not because she was so good in bed (ok may be a little bit) but mostly because I was falling in love with her. She was perfect in every freaking way. I realized that I was slowly drifting away from my friends and family. But I didn’t mind. I knew the time was right so when I proposed to her, she said “yes”. We got married way too young probably but the first few years were simply great. Our honeymoon phase lasted longer than it does for others. Everything was just fine. But just like every other couple, the honeymoon phase came to an end. It not only just ended. It ended real bad. I eventually started to struggle just to get a few words out of her. She made a new gang of friends with whom she would party most nights. Forget about talking, I barely got to see her at times. I tried to fit in her gang but they were too annoying to hang out with. A couple of years passed and I realized that our marriage was over. We didn’t divorce and we never talked about getting divorced either. But we knew deep down that it was over. With her permission, I decided to have an affair. I had my needs, both physical and emotional and I saw no reason to suffer anymore. I learnt it the hard way but I did not have that style and charisma anymore. Being lonely and depressed sucked all the fun out of me. I was officially a woman repellent. I realized there was only way out of this mess now. Coke and weed! I knew a guy who knew a guy who knew another guy to get me that stuff for cheap. Right when I was going to get out of the house and get that stuff, she came up to me and said, “I am pregnant.”
Pregnant huh? I was so not ready for that. I wasn’t even sure if the child was biologically mine but that didn’t really bother me. I was just focusing on the part that I was going to be a father. I took good care of my wife during those 9 months. We became good friends again (even though we never loved each other romantically again). I started feeling better. My life seemed to have found a new purpose. I took care of my wife and I started spend my free time with books. I got addicted to books rather quickly. I read all kinds of books but fiction was always my favorite. Creating a whole new world that makes you forget your own real sucky world was quite a feeling. Then that day finally came, we were blessed with a baby daughter. She was the most beautiful thing in the world, except when she was crying or pooping. But we were all very happy. That little angel meant the world to us. There was this moment, when she fell asleep on my lap. I was holding her with one hand and holding a book with another. Then it struck me, I have read so many books on leaders and artists. How come their lives have never been the same as mine? I mean, I have practically lived three different lives thanks to my fairy godmother (or guardian angel or whatever she was). What if the three way road was never actually a “three” way road? What if there was a fourth way too? What if I never saw the fourth way because I was too blind (or dumb for that matter) to see it? These artists and leaders never lived a conventional life. They never depended on anyone except for themselves. What if I could have done that too? I thought about my guardian angel and asked her if I could go back in time one last time. This time she neither responded nor showed up. I guess I knew why. To be fair she gave me two chances to make better of my life. May be she was there for me more number of times than I truly deserved. There was a slight little jerk and it woke up my angel. Surprisingly she did not cry. She just stared right into my eyes and for a moment I felt that our souls were looking right into each other’s. I felt as if she was saying “It’s ok dad. We are going to be alright.”
And you know what? We were.

~KK