Car

“Father! Father! what a lovely car” said the little one pointing at the dazzling brand new hatchback parked next to their vehicle.
“Yeah sure son, it is beautiful” said father holding him within his palms and putting him down on the ground from the crossbar of his bicycle.

“Why don’t we buy one too? Why do we have to use this bicycle?” asked the little one looking straight into the eyes of his clueless father.

He quickly tethered his bicycle to a tree guard near a car not realising it was partially obstructing the co driver’s door.
“Let’s go quickly else the gate will be closed” he replied quickly putting the water bottle around his son’s neck and the school bag across his shoulders.

They started to walk quickly towards the entrance of this missionary school that allowed few seats in every class to the underprivileged.

“Are you blind?” Screamed someone from behind, “Do you have no sense? Remove this cycle from here”
Father turned around, “One minute Sir, I am coming” he replied gently pushing his son inside the gate and hurrying back towards the car.

The little one could see his father handling the situation humbly from across the school fence while the car owner continued to look down upon him.

A while later father boarded his cycle, apologized and moved on with a humiliated yet smiling face that so many people were looking at, including his teary eyed son.

Father soon disappeared into the traffic.

‘If this is what becomes of people, let us have the cycle only O God, I don’t want the car anymore’, he prayed in his heart wiping his cheeks as he walked slowly towards his classroom •••

Gratitude

An old woman in rags sat by the roadside on a chilly winter morning.
As wind cut though her bones making her shiver uncontrollaby she raised her hand in despair.
“Money for some bread, some food” she begged, looking upto people.
Just like waves in an ocean, her hopes raised and died down as people covered in warm and cozy jackets, woolen mufflers and caps approached near and passed by.
She had not eaten since the last afternoon.
Inside, her stomach seemed to jump towards her mouth like a hungry chick does to a bird.

Just then, a car slowed down by the pavement. Hope beamed from her eyes as the driver’s window rolled down.

“God! This is trash, I cant eat this” she heard as a half bitten burger popped out of the window onto the road in front of her.
She picked it up, looked at the still warm burger, holding it in between her folded hands.
“God, my God, provider, sustainer” she said thankfully looking towards the sky.

The driver looked at her in amazement and as she started to eat it, the car sped away. ●

Prayer

“Bye sweetie, see you tomorrow” said Deepika waving at her colleague as both walked out of the office. She swiped her phone tapping into the app to book a cab. It was late.
‘Not many people are around at this time, hope I find a cab back home quickly’ she thought as the app notification took longer than usual.
‘Dammit’ she said getting annoyed. She quickly tried refreshing the app twice however the outcome was no different.
The day had been hectic and she was already exhausted, ‘Perhaps, a quick sip at Cafè Democa, I might as well book a cab from in there and carry along the coffee’ she thought still trying to check if any cabs were showing.
Chimes sounded as she opened the cafè door, glancing across she realized it was jam packed mostly with men. The place certainly did not offer the best of vibes at this point in time. She decided to walk out with more eyes glued to her now than the number that noticed her come in.
“Care for a coffee” asked one of the three men who were now following her, “We will buy you one” said the other. She paced faster “God! Get me out of this please” she anxiously prayed in her heart.
“Taxi madam….taxi” she heard someone cry from the other side of the street. An elderly man stood waving at her. “Yes…Yes coming” she hurriedly replied. She boarded the taxi “Civil Lines” she said. “I just prayed to God to get me the day’s last ride enroute my home, its my wife’s birthday today” said the driver as they both looked up in gratitude ●

The Imposter

“Why do you not resist?” Chided Sarla.

“Anita di is my elder sister, my guardian since mother passed away in our childhood” he replied to his wife in a low, nervous tone .

“I am not asking you to start a fight, just that you should speak up to put your point across”.

Having said this Sarla kept away the towel she was folding and sat down beside him, “Where will we go from here? Do we have any other place to live?”

He gave her an empty look filled with disappointment and helplessness, then bowed down his head.

Anita, his elder sister had been persuing him to leave the ancestral house and live elsewhere, her family was growing and the house seemed to shrink. He had been ordered multiple times by her to comply until yesterday when matters escalated to a level beyond his control.

That night as his wife and two children fell asleep, he lay staring at the ceiling.
‘Where will we go if Anita di persists, perhaps next time we would be driven out from here, how much time do we have before this happens, how will I bear this sight in front of people?’

He got up, rubbed the back of his neck as his feet searched in the dark for slippers.

He felt an ‘All pin’ pass through his heart and soon the pain grew exponentially.

Next morning, amongst the crowd around the cot that had him on it lifeless, Sarla lay unconcious unable to bear the immense greif.

Beside the cot, on a chair sat Anita di making sure everyone saw her weeping, howling and screaming “Why did you leave me? Did you not realize what would I do without you?” •••

By Asim Jaffri, author of “The Store of Stories”