As usual, it was 9 p.m. when I returned home from work. I work in a corporate company as a sales manager. I was in my car and it was at a good speed. I was exhausted and feeling sleepy. So, I decided to have a cup of coffee in a nearby cafe, which was my favorite place. It was also the most famous cafe in that area. My residence was close by.
After a few moments, a cup of coffee and a few cookies were on the table. I took it, srup—kutuk, srup—kutuk.
I saw a couple sitting next to my table. It seemed that they were a newly formed couple. The girl was shyly looking at the guy and talking significantly less.
I felt nostalgic and remembered my girlfriend.
Almost five years back, I was dating my batch-mate, Arohi Mishra. We met at college. We were doing Bachelor’s then. I found her really beautiful. She had won many locally organized beauty contests too. She was also a great dancer. We were in a serious relationship. I loved her eternally. She loved me too. We were very close to each other.
We met at various places: the college canteen, restaurants, café, parks, cinema halls, shopping malls. We were thrilled about our relationship. We often used to come to have coffee in this shop. Our relation was going well.
But after a few months, I noticed her losing interest in me. Gradually she stayed away and neither called me nor texted. She stopped meeting me often. Whenever I called or texted, she ignored me. She would respond after hours and act as if nothing had happened. She started getting involved in her phone whenever she was with me too. I trusted her blindly.
One day, we were in the same tea shop having tea. I was discussing some serious matter. But she was smiling and texting someone in front of me. I was too anxious. I asked her
“What is being so interesting than me, Arohi? I am talking and I feel ignored. I’ve been observing you for a few weeks. What is the matter?” I asked her.
She did not even speak a word. She told me she’d use the washroom and be back within a few moments. After she went, I thought I would talk to her later privately instead of creating a scene there.
Later, in our next meet, I asked the reason behind it. She kept quiet. She did not even speak a word. She started to cry, and I embraced her and said sorry for hurting and being a skeptic.
Slowly, things became normal. Her habit changed. She again was like my old loving Arohi. I was happy. But I could not know and understand her to her depth.
A year later, on her next birthday, early morning, I thought of giving her a surprise by proposing to her for marrying me. I bought a golden ring, a birthday cake and a bouquet and went to her place.
I rang the doorbell. No one answered. I rang again. Unanswered. I called her. Her phone rang inside. I tried to see inside through the window. The curtains were on. So, I couldn’t see inside. I called her friends. They even did not know where she was. I tried to open the window. It was locked from inside, except one. So, I entered through it and saw her lying down in bed in the bedroom.
“Arohi, Happy Birthday, dear!” I said and went near her.
“Look, dear, it’s your birthday, and you are still sleeping.” She didn’t react. I placed my hand on her shoulder, over the quilt, and shook her gently. Was she acting? Or is something wrong?? I shook Arohi’s shoulder again, this time with more force. She turned upwards, facing the ceiling. Her eyes were wide open.
She was drooling accessively. “AROHI,” I called out loud. I felt nauseous. I stood up. I needed air. My heart was pounding. My heartbeat increased. I started shivering. I did not know what to do. Whom to call.
Arohi was dead. She was no more in my life. I started crying and went out to call neighbors. Later, hundreds of people gathered, police came. They took the body for autopsy. I couldn’t even think that Arohi would commit suicide.
My eyes were filled with tears. I missed her. The waiter was standing beside me and was asking if I was okay. I hid my tears from him, paid the bill and returned to my car. I got inside the car, tied my seatbelt, closed the door, and suddenly, someone outside shouted and begged.
“Sir, please help my sick parents and me.” He showed his bowl with his dirty hands. I felt furious when he put his filthy hands inside my car. I wanted to get rid of him. So, I took Rs.10 out of my pocket, put it in his bowl, pushed him forcefully and said, “So disturbing.” I accelerated my car. I got home at 10:15 p.m.
As I was changing my dress, I saw a piece of paper in my pocket. I remembered. That street boy gave that to me. It was dirty and smelling bad like that boy.
I didn’t open it; I didn’t bother. I just threw it in the dustbin in the corner of my room. I had supper with my family and went to sleep as I was tired. I sat for breakfast with the newspaper in my hand in the morning.
Soon after my breakfast, I was ready for my daily drive to my office. I took my laptop, car keys, cell phone, and wallet. As usual, I completed the work at 9 p.m. and returned home. I stopped at the café. After having coffee, I got into my car. Like yesterday, I met the boy again with a bowl in his hands. I took a 20 rupees note and threw it towards him. He was trying to give me a sheet of paper, the same as last night. I took it, threw it out, and then sped towards my home.
Many days, weeks and months passed. But I met that street boy regularly and he was trying to give me the same paper, but I wouldn’t bother about it; thus, I never tried to open and read it.
One day, I was talking with my friend in my home. He told me about the same street boy I met regularly on the streets. He explained that he was destitute and asked for help from strangers. I asked him about the paper he gave to everyone. But my friend had not heard anything like that. He explained that the boy did not provide any paper to him or anyone else! I was shocked. I ran into my room and took the dustbin out, where I had thrown those papers. It was empty. The whole night, I thought about the boy. I thought about that paper. I thought about what could be written in those papers which the boy always wanted me to read.
As I thought of the paper, I remembered when I found Arohi dead in her bedroom. She had committed suicide by inhaling poison. I still remember the suicide note in which she had written;
“I am sorry. I am solely responsible for this suicide. I have nobody to blame for this incident. I am going with my parents and grandparents to heaven. I was really guilty of what I did. I slept with a guy who is not my boyfriend. I couldn’t forgive myself and ended up punishing like this. I deserve this punishment. This is going to be hard, but let all remain in the hands of God.”
My eyes were thoroughly wet. I missed her. I took our photo frame, which she had gifted me on my first birthday with her. I embraced it like I used to hug her when we met. Later, I knew she was distant from me; she betrayed me. I felt like breaking all things around me. I was angry and upset. At the same time, I was unfortunate and hurt too. I couldn’t forgive her but when she’s not with me physically, what is the use of getting angry and hurt. I was more sick thinking of her behavior. Many things were running in my mind and I fell asleep gradually.
The next day morning, I rushed towards my office. At night, while I was returning home, I waited on the street where the little boy came with his bowl and a paper in his hand. I waited for 3 hours, but the boy did not come. Sadly, I went home. The whole night I thought, why? Why didn’t he come? Why? What was wrong? What was wrong with him? I was so anxious that I couldn’t sleep.
The following day, I sat for breakfast with a newspaper in my hand. Suddenly, my eyes fell on an item in the corner of the newspaper. It gave me a shock. It showed the same little boy’s photo and explained, “a street boy was found in a severe state and is in the city hospital…” I didn’t read more than that. My heart was pounding. I was shivering.
I grabbed my car keys and drove towards the city hospital without wasting a second. When I reached there, I was not allowed into the ward in which the boy was kept. So, I told the warden that I was a far relative of the boy. He let me into the ward.
I was cheated, cheated by the little boy and by God. God had taken the boy away even before I could hear the boy speak. My eyes fell on a piece of paper that was held by the boy tightly in his hands, to say that only I was supposed to take it. I moved towards his body, took the paper out of his death grip and opened it.
“It has been a couple of years that I’ve stopped studies and started begging, just because my both parents are seriously ill and I am still not able to show them that I care for them. For two years, I didn’t come across a single hand that was ready to give even a rupee to me. But see life, sir. Arohi told me to reach out to you to help me financially. That’s why I always tried to give you this paper so that you could help me. Unfortunately, both my parents couldn’t help. They are both dead. I don’t even know when my time is coming because I myself am a brain tumor patient. As long as I can, I will survive with money. I know I am dirty, untidy and I irritate you. But I want to say one thing from bottom of my heart. THANK YOU VERY MUCH SIR…”
I could never read the letter from the bottom of my heart and still am not. What I just read was “AROHI?????” How did Arohi meet this boy? How? I was baffled, shocked and couldn’t even think anything more. I only knew that if I had read the letter that little boy gave me, I could’ve saved his parents. They would’ve got good treatment. I am incredibly sorry, my darling, little champ.
Arohi had sent me an opportunity to help that needy boy with his and his parents’ treatment. I couldn’t understand the importance of understanding others’ feelings. Earlier I couldn’t understand Arohi’s mindset. And now that little boy! I always neglected and hated him for having dirty looks and being destitute. I am helpless now. Even after a couple of decades, this incident is like a fresh imprint on my heart and mind, which is still giving a mild pain to it. I want you all to learn something from this story of my life. But what you want to learn, you decide for yourself.