The Lost Child
Amidst the traffic, driving cautiously, Deepak was speaking on his mobile phone knowing pretty well that he might get caught by the traffic police. But the pressure of work forced him to.
“Yes, it’s done. Please send the document. Don’t forget to attach the file….”
He switched off only to receive anther call. This time it was Pratyusha… “Might be late by an hour Deepu. Will you please pick up Gita on your way back home? Ask the teacher if she has any special information.” Deepak said
“Don’t worry. I will”.
The evening sun was gliding down gradually spreading a crimson cover. The dust of the city never seemed to settle down. Speeding ahead, Deepak’s car came to a halt near Gita’s school. Children were already coming out of the school. Being brought out with care and responsibility, all of them bore an expression of joy to be out of school.
We realize the beauty of childhood pleasures only when we grow up!
Pratyusha always says “There is a child in each one of us”.
Deepak loves Pratyusha playing around with Gita…dancing, singing, jumping…theirs is an endless association.
“Come on Deepu, join us…” is her oft -repeated call. But of late, Deepak preferred to fix himself in the father image’ which he thought was right. A kind of distancing he felt was required. He did involve himself in helping Gita in her studies but it was Pratyusha who took the major share.
Deepak took pride in being a part of the “fierce competition” of the corporate world. An engineering degree coupled with a masters’ in Management from reputed edducational institutions has placed him in a leading company. Owing to his excellence, he has scaled up the ladder of performance and also expected the best from his team members. But somehow, Deepak was not very happy with life and felt has lost something that he possessed in the past.
As a student and a fresher he had faced many a challenge naturally and was happy to win and lose. In fact, it was at a chess tournament that he had met Pratyusha; full of verve and cheer. He won over her but had lost his heart to her of course after many meetings that followed. It was not so much her engineering degree or her melodious voice, but it was the charm of her personality that drew him towards her. He still remembered how she said “I like the way you balance science and tradition Deepak!”
“Daddy”, the sweet familiar voice of Gita broke his thought process. Six –year old Gita; their bundle of joy has given a special meaning to their lives. “Daddy, Kishan drew a beautiful star for me” Gita was quite eager and excited to share her day at school. “How did your math test go Gitu?” Deepak said for which Gita said “I did well daddy…I know I will get my chocolate”…her beautiful wide-eyed expression was filled with glee. “I will wear my pink T-shirt to my drawing class” Pratyusha is particular that Gita attends a hobby class.
Gita does show a promise of artistic skills that she might have inherited from Deepak’s mother. Deepak said” I know you like it because it’s a gift from your grandfather”
Gita continued to talk and sing occasionally while marveling at an interesting site which she saw from the car window. When they reached Pratyusha was already home. There was a week-end surprise…hot samosas and Gita’s favorite noodles. Gita ran into Pratyusha’s arms and the mother–daughter union was always a sight to watch. Oblivious to everything they drown in each other’s love and bond. Gita then wanted to watch her favourite T.V show “Chota Bheem” She enjoys his actions and deeds and thinks that he is her best friend in her lovely small and secure world. And now, Gita wants her “piggy-back-ride” and Deepak is more than happy to do it for her. It was then time for Gita to go and play with her friends downstairs in the park under the caring gaze of Mehmood; the watch man.
Pratyusha settled down with a cup of tea “How was your day Deepu?” she said leaning more comfortably in the chair. Deepak would always wait to share his day’s affairs with Pratyusha. “Somehow Pratyu, I feel a little low…I have shown a good leap but something doesn’t give me satisfaction”. “Are you talking about satisfaction or contentment…?”
Pratyusha’s insightful question made Deepak think. He looked at her but didn’t want to answer. Pratyusha moved to the window sill to have a look at her small garden. Two white lilies smiled back at her. Her fingers caressed the money-plant to adjust it a little.
“Deepu, look at this pink bud. Gita will be excited to have her rose tomorrow.”
Deepak had opened his computer and was busily moving the mouse up and down. That’s when Pratyusha saw Mr. Rao; a retired army officer and a widower. Pratyusha shared a special relationship with him and lent a hand whenever required. His son and daughter-in-law stayed away from him.
“Good evening uncle”, Pratyusha’s voice was filled with natural affection. “Good evening Pratyusha! Thank you for depositing my cheque. We’ll meet tomorrow”.
Deepak who was in a pensive mood started looking at Pratyusha. He was trying to study her…her graceful acceptance of her colleagues’ achievements, her attitude towards her boss, her professionalism at work, her management skills at home and her aspirations make her what she is.
“Deepak, why don’t you play the tabla tomorrow?” Pratyusha wanted to draw Deepak into his passion for playing the tabla. She knew that these days, Deepak was being indifferent to some wonderful aspects in his personality. He used to play it more often in the past and also enthrall their friends during get-togethers. Deepak knew that it was the pressure of work and also knew that some fine aspects of his personality were being neglected by him.
“Let’s see” was his only reply.
A waft of fresh breeze entered through the window and Prtyusha went about her chores humming “ mujhse naaraaz nahi zindagi….heiraan huun mein heiran huun mein…” A meaningful and magical composition born from the artistic combination of Gulzar and R.D.Burman …and Deepak was listening to it ….Pratyusha was conscious of Deepak’s thought processes and was a little worried.
That night, cuddled and huddled together, the bedroom reverberated with Gita’s and Pratyusha’s voices. After singing Gita’s favorite lullaby and putting her to sleep. Pratyusha took Deepak’s hand into hers and started speaking to him. Deepak was listening to her soft voice in the calm of the night. “You have lost my Deepak … bring him back to me. Deepu, I remember how you excelled in crisis management many a time. You did it in your natural way and recognition came to you quite naturally. But now, I feel that you have become conscious of “achieving” and ‘ scaling up’…and a streak of artificiality has set in which has brought some rigidity into your personality. I still remember ... last year when I had a problem in my office…remember. How you helped me face it. You also didn’t like the way I used to react in the meetings. In fact it was your counseling that helped me gradually overcome my weak points.
We do grow and I am slowly trying to understand the importance of inner freedom. Finally that is what we need. At least on the path taking us towards it…being conscious of our greatness all the time may stall our creativity. Be yourself Deepu… like you always were in the past…then we can do wonders together and help Gitu build her personality...”
Deepak was intently listening like a student. He was reminded of his mother and how she would reiterate the importance of education in her own simple ways when she used to get up early in the mornings to give company to Depak while he studied for his examinations. She would sit beside him reading something of her interest. Thinking …Deepak put his hand around Pratyusha and closed his eyes. Pratyusha knew that she had been successful in making him think.
Deepak opened his eyes to the soft moon light visible from the window. The twinkling stars were guarding the still moon. He could hear some noises coming from the kitchen. Pratyusha was up and busy. For a while, he kept gazing at the semi-darkness which was about to burst itself into dawn. When he walked out of the bed-room, he saw Pratyusha sitting in her favorite cozy corner of their drawing room. She looked fresh and beautiful and was engrossed reading Richard Bach’s “Jonathon Livingston Seagull- a story”.
Pratyusha had developed the reading habit from her father who was a voracious reader. When she looked up, she saw Deepak and her face brightened “Deepu…I was just waiting to share these lines with you. She gently pulled the book mark out…the one from the set of book marks that Deepak had gifted her long time ago. Beautiful cards which held artistic depictions from Indian mythology…they made Prtyusha so happy… “Wait till I bring your coffee…”
Pratyusha’s voice brought him back to the present. “How much more there is now to living! Instead of our drab slogging forth and back to the fishing boats, there’s a reason to life! We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!” Pratyusha’s assertive voice were pouring out these profound words…” Deepu, they sound very idealistic but at least positioning ourselves towards this might help us…what do you say Deepu…?” Deepak was smiling at her. A new window was opening in his mind…he was trying to revive the lost child in him…Pratyusha smiled back at him.
More by :
Dr. Madhavi Godavarthy
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||Thank you Poornima for your perceptive comments.Happy that you have liked the story.||
||Wonderful story! It is weaved with realities of life and optimism. I liked the touch of Richard Back's book in the end. ||