This is a story about finding true compassion in a bond developed by the universal language of love.
Sun was up at 5 a.m.
The green fields were shining bright, smiling after yesterday’s rain. Sky was partly clouded and the magic of the morning rays spread all over the place.
Monsoon had finally in Bihar.
It was a fresh new day but for Vikas’s family it was going to be just another day of backbreaking work in the fields.
A large proportion of Bihar’s population is poverty stricken and Vikas’s family is one of them. Earning two meals a day for a family of 7 people with 4 children was no less than an uphill battle.
But besides all the constant problems, today was going to be different.
“C’mon! Wake up dear” Mother said, patting Vikas on the back, dragging him out from his dreamland.
“Just a little more. Please!” said the ten year old, hiding back in the blanket.
“No, get up now!
Madam would be here soon. She said she will be here by 9.” Mother insisted.
Vikas glanced at the broken clock hanging by the wall.
It was 6 a.m. now.
He had to get ready fast, Madam would be here soon.
Since the last few years sustaining a family of 7 was becoming tedious.
His father passed away 2 years ago and his mother and grandmother were left with the task of managing four children. As the sisters reached teenage they too started working as housemaids, to contribute in family income.
But the situation ceased to change. Hence the family had to take the decision of sending Vikas to Delhi with Madam, the landlord’s daughter, as domestic help.
This they thought would ease the burden of finances and at least proper meal during the day for him will no longer be an uncertainty, like it was here.
They trusted Madam. They had been working for them for a long time. Safety was not an issue. It was the pain of watching a child go way which was agonizing.
Such is the wrath of abjection, when it eventually starts suffocating one’s most basic freedom, the freedom to be with the people you love.
Time was passing. It was time to pack things up.
“Where is my radio? asked Vikas.
“Why do you need it? Don’t take broken items there.” advised grandma while gulping her medicines.
“It’s not broken. It works!” Vikas exclaimed.
“You packed your things? She will be waiting outside in the car.” mother said while checking the items.
“Yes but where is my radio?” asked Vikas
“Forget it now. Don’t make me nervous.” mother said.
“But…” Vikas tried to explain.
“Shh…” she interrupted “listen now, you are going to be very obedient there .Help Madam in house work and don’t be too sleepy all the time.
Talk nicely. We will be meeting in diwali now. And Delhi is a big city, don’t roam around just like that. Get it? ”
“But…” he tried to say something but stopped as she spoke again.
“and remember always that we will miss you. Always. But we have to do this for our sake. ”
“I hope diwali will come soon.” Vikas answered dispirited.
A car stopped at the gate. Madam opened the window and smiled.
“Ready to go Vikas!” she said.
The smile was pretty but not warm.
“Yes” Vikas said in a desolated voice.
It was going to be a long journey from Bihar to Delhi and he is going to have plenty of time to dream about his new life.
It was 9 p.m. now. The train arrived at the New Delhi railway station.
Atmosphere was grey with thick monsoon clouds.
Delhi was bathing in July rain as they walked out of the station.
“Cab will be here soon.” Madam said, looking at her phone.
Vikas was familiar with Madam. She was not like a complete stranger to him.
But there was just one thing going on his mind throughout the journey; how will the rest of the Madam’s family be? How will they take his arrival?
The questions seemed useless. He knew the answer.
He looked towards the sky and felt rain drops on his face. It felt like the heart was crying to go back to his family, to his mother, but the burden of poverty just wouldn’t let him.
Delhi seemed all the more chilly and gloomy now.
The cab finally arrived. They headed towards his new home.
It was a 1 hour drive. The car stopped before a gate.
As Vikas came out of the vehicle he was astounded to see the sight before him.
Here he was, standing in Gurgaon, one of the most developed metropolitan areas of the country, a concrete jungle of 20 to 30 storey towers and this place was going to be his home for many years to come.
There was so much he wanted to say, to express his amazement, but who was there to listen.
He kept quite. The jungle seemed more like a jail now, a jail for him woven out of poverty.
He kept looking around.
They entered the elevator of one of the buildings and landed at 12th storey.
1204; the wooden plate hanging by the door read.
Madam pressed the door bell.
“I am back! Had a long journey” she sighed as a man opened the door.
He must be the Sahab, Madam’s husband, Vikas thought looking at the man with a frail smile.
It was a small family of 3 people; mother, father and a 17 year old son. Vikas was a new member now or at least he hoped to be.
“Where is Yash?” said Madam, asking about her son.
“Went for a walk.” Sahab answered from the kitchen.
“This should not be the time for a walk. It’s almost 10.” she shouted going towards the kitchen.
It had been barely 5 minutes since they entered the apartment and Vikas was already feeling choked up.
The tik-tok sound of the clock was resonating in the silence of the room, a silence too aggravating for him.
There he was, sitting on a well furnished sofa, with the kind of comfort he could have hardly imagined and yet the absence of compassion seemed more powerful than anything else right now.
He missed his mother. Waiting till diwali would be too hard.
Door bell disrupted his thoughts.
“Vikas, open the door. It must be Yash” Madam shouted from the kitchen.
“Okay Madam” he said going towards the door.
He opened the gate.
Before he could run a brown Labrador about half his height jumped over him.
He wanted to scream but the animal was licking all over his face.
“Buzo! No! Get off him.” ordered Madam’s son.
He pulled the dog back, tying him up this time.
Vikas got up, shocked and surprised, rubbing it’s saliva off his face.
“Whenever he meets new people he gets excited, especially with children.” Madam said.
Vikas went closer, patted Buzo on its head, this time being careful about his jump.
The dog was breathing fast with mouth open, wanting to lick his face again.
Buzo raised its paw to shake hands.
Vikas giggled, he held his paw in his hand and started playfully shaking it.
“Hello Buzo” said Vikas, with a broad smile.
Buzo responded with a rising bark.
…and the silence of the room subdued amidst barks and giggles.