Romance Fiction Inspirational

The Traffic signal at the RTC crossroads just turns red. It is the usual Friday evening traffic in Hyderabad. Suman, in his black Pajero, was at a high speed approaching the signal. He was coming from the office and not the other way around. Otherwise, he would not have stopped at the signal. 

“Damn!,” he says, looking out of the window at the overcast sky. He had promised to take Swarna and Lili to the park that evening. Just as the signal turns green, the phone rings. He forgot to turn on the Bluetooth of the phone. He looks at the phone and at the signal. It was from Raj, his boss. He clenches his eyes and sighs. The vehicles from behind start honking. The traffic police are at the signal. He had to make a choice. He takes the risk. Picks up the call and starts the car. Luckily for him, the police were busy on their own phones. 

“Hi, Raj!” 

“Suman, you gotta go to Bangalore tonight. Sorry for informing this late.” 

“Raj, but the system will be up by tomorrow anyway. The revised code was sent to the client.” 

“No, the boss wants our team’s presence there. He wants the client to feel reassured.” 

Suman brakes suddenly and the car screeches to a halt. A young boy had come on to the road suddenly. 

“Raj, will call you back.” Suman disconnects. 

“Are you blind!” Suman yells at the boy and the boy meekly goes back to the divider. Driving on, he looks into the fearful eyes of the boy. The boy must be still in his school, maybe about 12, innocent and struggling to cross the busy road. He draws his car to the right and stops. He looks back at the boy and feels relieved to see him successfully cross the road. He closes his eyes briefly, pinches his forehead between his eyebrows and looks at the phone. There is a message from Raj. 

“Told Nisha to book tickets and hotel. Pl call her to confirm” 

Clouds thunder and in seconds, mild rain turns heavy, tapping the roof and bonnet of the car violently. 

It took him an hour more to reach home and it is almost dinner time. Swarna opens the door. 

“Where is Lili?” he asks, sitting down on a sofa and untying the shoes. 

“In her room.” She says, going back to the kitchen. 

“Papa!” Lili, his six year old daughter, fully drenched, rushes out of her room with a gleam in her eyes and clings to his legs. 

“Swarna, get the towel” he yells and furiously pushes the girl away. 

“I told you not to play in rain like this.” “Swarna, why do you allow this? I told you to keep that balcony door latched. She’ll catch cold. And all the hassle that follows. All this is avoidable.” He leaves to his bedroom angrily for a shower. 

The young girl has tears in her eyes but doesn’t cry. Swarna starts to dry her hair and takes her to her room to change the dress. 

Hot shower takes the steam off Suman. He comes out with a cooler head. Lili is in the living room playing with Legos and blocks. He sits down beside her. 

“Hey, do I see a star on your hand!” he holds her hand to see. 

“Yes, teacher gave. I finished all my homework.” She pulls her hand back and continues playing. 

“Thats great! Sit here” Suman takes her into his lap. 

“Khana Khalo.” Swarna calls from kitchen. 

“Come, let's have dinner.” Suman brings Lili to the dining table and seats her beside him. 

He feels glad that children don’t let unpleasantness persist. They ignore things that make them sad and quickly move on to things that make them happy. Unlike the elders. 

Swarna brusquely puts down the plates on the dining table. Even before the clinking of the plates settled down, Lili asks, 

“Papa, you said we will go to the park.” 

“Beta, but it is too late now, and it is raining” 

“Can we go tomorrow?” 

He realizes that he has not called Nisha yet. He had to tell her to book a morning flight rather than the night flight. 

“No, not tomorrow. We will go on Sunday.” 

“No!” she says. “We will go tomorrow” 

“But Papa is going to Bangalore tomorrow” he says. 

Swarna comes out of the kitchen. 

“What? Tomorrow? You said you will take this grinder for repair. For two weeks I have been telling you this. And, next week is Lili’s birthday and we have to buy her clothes and a gift.” Swarna says. 

“Come on! We will do them on Sunday.” 

“Oh yea, like the markets are open!” Swarna slaps the bowl of Dal on the table and leaves the room saying, “Rotis are in the kitchen. Serve yourself.” 

After his and Lili’s dinner, Suman clears up the dining table and takes a plate with roti, Dal and sabji to Swarna who is watching TV in the bedroom. 

Swarna takes the plate and asks him to fetch water. ‘Good sign’, he thought. He gladly goes back and gets her a glass of water. He sits by her side and calls Nisha. 

“Hey Nisha” 

“Hi Suman, will send you the tickets in an hour.” 

“Nisha, please book for tomorrow morning flight.” 

“Of course, Suman, it is already late for today.” 

“OK. Thanks!” 


Suman disconnects the call. 

“See, even I want to spend as much time as possible at home.” Suman quickly realizes that he probably should not have said this. 

“Oh! We are so lucky.” Swarna said. 

“Why can't you be supportive? I am working hard for our own good and for a better future for us.” 

“Yes. I only wish you worked a little harder for our present also. And don’t talk about being not supportive. I am watching a movie now.” 

Suman’s phone beeped. Nisha’s message. The flight is at 0730 AM. 

‘Nisha is so understanding’, he thought, setting his alarm to 0430 AM. 

“Good night.” He said and slept. 

Within 5 minutes, Swarna could hear his snore. She turned off the TV and laid down. Tears rolled down to the pillow as she closed her eyes. 

Surprisingly, Bangalore was hotter than Hyderabad. It seemed to have rained last night, but the sky is clear now and the Sun bright. By the time he reached the client’s office, the revised code was already patched, and the system was up and running. He watches till lunchtime for any recurrence of the issue, but there was none. He informs Raj that the patch was working and that he would be leaving after lunch. 

Suman has another four hours to the flight back home. He comes down from the building and finds that the driver has parked the car on the other side of the road. He waves to the driver to come over to this side of the road. He is glad that he did not have to stay back for the night. He wondered if Swarna needed anything from Bangalore. Bangalore is her home town. He pulls out the phone from his jeans pocket, but it slips from his hand. In his attempt to catch it midair, he slips on the footpath and stumbles on to the road. He lands on his knees and before he can get up, a speeding bike which has just taken a turn hits him. The knee guard of the bike hits him on the head. He stands up for a moment and then collapses. 

A strong light seemed to be piercing his closed eyes. He felt like someone was shooting needles into his eyes with a dart gun. He tried to avoid them but is unable to move his head. He then hears someone shout. A familiar voice. 

“Nurse, he is moving.” 

Suman did not understand. He wanted to go back to sleep. But that voice. He heard that voice calling him. He wanted to hear it again. He did not want to lose that voice. He was afraid that if he did not stay with the voice, it would vanish, and he would vanish. It seemed to be the only string to cling to and walk himself across and out of the abyss that he was falling into. He gathered all his energy in one final attempt and opened his eyes. 

It was the most beautiful sight to behold. A weary but kind face looking at him. Swarna. Tears rolled down his eyes and hers. It was one week that he had been in coma. Doctors had lost hope. But Swarna had not and kept calling out to him. 

After another two weeks, Suman was discharged from the hospital, with an advice to take ample rest. Swarna was packing to vacate the room when Suman saw a card lying amongst the papers. He picked it up. It was from the office, a get-well-soon card signed by Raj and the team. He had not completely recovered yet. He still had a bandage across his head and his head spun whenever he walked. He held the card firmly and slowly walked across the room and dropped the card in the dustbin. 

Swarna was driving him to her mother’s place. Lili was seated at the back. He pulled the window down and breathed in the fresh air. The two weeks that he was in hospital, conscious, he had wondered if he would ever be able to breathe like that again. They were passing Cubbon Park. 

“Swarna, please stop the car. Let us go to the park” 

“What? Recover completely. Then we will go.” 

“No, let us go. I want to relax a bit” 

Swarna stops the car. As he is getting down from the car, it begins to drizzle. 

“Oh no, come inside, let us come again tomorrow”, Swarna says. 

“No Swarna, there is only now”, Suman says and stretches out his hands to the falling rain and looks up at the blue sky. Lili jumps out of the car and clings to his legs.

August 27, 2022 02:34

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