Wednesday 7 October 2015

Short Story- Gratitude

The first day he alighted from the Suvidha Train, his long term ‘asuvidha‘ began. His pocket was obviously picked as a hospitality gesture by the pickpockets at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal. He found that out when he reached in his pocket to pay the roadside drinking water vendor. As he had already drank the water, the vendor was gracious enough to slap him on his temple in lieu of the money.

He thought it was just a bad start and things would get better. He first thought that it was just a coincident that the water-seller was a MarathiManoos. But then slowly things started getting clearer. His sudden realization came about when he tapped one gentleman on the shoulder to ask what the time was. ‘Bhaiya, time kya hua hai?’ he innocently asked. ‘Bhaiya hoga tu!’ pat came the reply. This was when the ambiguity was cleared. It wasn’t just his luck. He was genuinely hated.

He tried to rub away the ‘Bihari‘ tag on his forehead but, it kept creeping up. He had come to the city to make a name for himself. He had read and heard stories. After his father’s death in the village, he had no one to go to. He was almost thankful to his father for never getting him married. ‘One baggage less’, he thought.

Eventually, he soaked in the hatred and locked it inside. With all the money he had, he bought a small stall and started selling tea. Business started picking up. Most of his clients were Bihari day wagers. One morning, he found his stall ransacked and saffron flags all over the street. He felt a small saffron flag-shaped lump in his throat. He sold off whatever was left of his stall. He now had less than half the money he had come with.

Sitting in the unreserved bogie of Suvidha Train, he counted the only four 500-rupee notes he had. A few coins fell from his pocket and rolled to unreachable corners. He stood up, knelt down and found those one-rupee coins and chained them back to his destiny. He even fought with one passenger over the custody of a two-rupee coin. He had to suppress a strange urge to pick up a sharp object and slit the throat of this person. He felt weird about the violence growing in his heart.

A few years later, he was running a successful vada pao shop in a busy market in Patna. His signboard read- ‘MUMBAI VADA PAO’

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