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I Am Still Here

I Am Still Here……

She should have never let him go in the first place, if only she had not let him go, he wouldn’t have been lost. Priya was completely in tears. Her only son Uday was missing. She had been searching for him from last night. It was all her mistake, she mused over. If she hadn’t been so engrossed in her work she would have noticed that it was time for Uday’s school to get over. Her mother always told her that she had taken her work too serious after her divorce. Work was like worship for her, family was secondary.

It had been five years since she had got divorce from Ravi and from then on life had been a constant struggle for Priya. She was well qualified but she had no experience. She had been married off when she had completed her masters and her in-laws didn’t want her to work and she had succumbed to their pressures, anyway she wasn’t really ambitious in life. SO getting a job after divorce was like hell, she had roamed day and nights, running from office to office, from desk to desk, but no one even cared to give her a look. Finally she joined in as a junior clerk in a company, the pay wasn’t much but for the time being, something was better than nothing. She didn’t have a house, so she stayed with her parents till she could arrange for an accommodation. Life wasn’t easy. She had to work twenty-four hours and even after putting in so much people weren’t pleased. She was neglecting her son, she knew that, but she couldn’t help it, if she wanted to get a good house, pay for Uday’s school fees, she had to slog like a bull. She knew her parents were taking good care of her son, but what she didn’t know was that Uday missed her immensely. He didn’t say anything but one could clearly make out from his eyes that he was lonely. He never said a word to Priya, he never even asked why his father no longer stayed with them. He knew something was very wrong, but he couldn’t bring himself to ask what the matter was. He had seen his parents fight, it had been going on for a long time, he wanted to intervene, he wanted to stop them, but he knew that they wouldn’t listen. Adults never listen to their children. Uday had become so mature in the last few days before Priya’s divorce that he knew that his father would not take care of his mother, he had to do it himself. So Uday started doing everything for his mother. There wasn’t any servant in the house, they couldn’t afford one. So Uday washed his mother’s clothes, washed her utensils, ironed her saree, arranged her shoes and even made food on certain occasions. No one could tell that he was a fifth class, ten year old boy who did all this for his mother. Initially Priya didn’t even notice that Uday was doing all that for her, she was too pre-occupied with her work, but later on when she noticed it, she stopped him telling that she was to take care of him and not vice-versa. But he listened to nothing. He said that she did so much of work for him so it was his responsibility to do all this for her. She was really happy, she was proud to have such a son. She was happy that he had not turned into a man like his father, she was confident that he would turn out to be a fine boy. What she didn’t know was that her son was losing his childhood for her. When all the children around his were playing and throwing tantrums at their parents, he never even talked dot his mother, leave aside throwing a tantrum. He never questioned her, he never wanted anything, no gifts, no toys and no sweets.

His grandmother was really worried about him. He never spoke to anyone and he never demanded anything. He went to school, came back, walked into his room and locked himself inside the whole day. He opened the door when his grandmother knocked to give him his food.
"Have you even looked at your son?", she asked Priya one day.
"Why what happened?", she asked.
"He is so different from other children of his age. He is so quiet", she said.
"That is good, isn’t it? What do want him to turn into a chatter-pox?", Priya questioned.
"No, you don’t understand, children are not supposed to behave like this Priya. He is always so calm, did he ever ask you why you and Ravi separated?", she asked.
"Mom, why do you want him to ask that? I am happy that I don’t have to tell him all that, I don’t want him to know that his father was a good for nothing person", she grumbled.
"Priya, you just don’t understand it, why does he do all that work for you? Boys of his age don’t do all that", said her mother.
"Mom, You are worrying unnecessarily. He is a very caring boy and he likes to do things for me, what is wrong in that?", she said.
"There is nothing wrong in that, but I feel that the boy is keeping all his sadness inside him, he has to let it out. He has to say something, maybe you should talk to him", she advised.
"Fine I will talk to him, let Sunday come, I will have a chat with him", she said and hurried out to her office.

Sunday came and went by, Priya never got a chance to see her son, leave aside talk to him that day. She had to go on tour. So things went on as usual, Uday remained in his world and Priya in hers. Life went on. Priya managed to save money and finally got to buy her own house. Uday and Priya shifted to their new house. This house was even gloomier for Uday, there was no one around. It was a completely remote location. Now there wasn’t even granny who was by his side. He roamed about aimlessly in the house, then he started to venture out to the roads.

Weeks went by and one day while walking all by himself, Uday came across a young woman who was sitting on a bench and crying. He was fascinated by the crying woman, he was urged to talk to her, there was something very over powering about her, that soon he found himself standing next to her.
"Hello! Why are you crying?", he asked her.
The woman looked up and silently whipped her tears. Then after a while she smiled at Uday.
He smiled back.
"Who are you, young boy?", she asked.
"I am Uday, I stay in that house", he said pointing towards his house.
I am Pooja, I stay in that house", she said pointing to a house near his.
"We are neighbours, I have never seen you", he said.
"I never come out, it is only today that I have ventured out", she said.
"Why were you crying? Did someone hurt you?", he asked.
"No, My only son died in an accident yesterday, 11th June", she said.
"I am sorry, what happened?", he asked.
"Car accident", she muttered.
"Was he all alone in the car? You weren’t there with him?", he asked.
"I was with him, but I got saved", she cried.
"You are bleeding, you should be in the hospital", he said.
"No I am fine here", she said.
"I have to go now, my mother will be home soon and I have to cook for her", he said.
"You are a good boy, you cook for her", she smiled.
He smiled back and waved to her and walked back to his house. He reached his house and looked towards the bench. The lady was no where to be seen. He went inside and completed his homework and did all the household chores. Then he patiently wanted for his mother. It was 11 at night when she finally came home. He served her food but she walked into her room without a word.
"Maybe mom is too tired", he muttered to himself and kept all the food in the fridge. Then he walked into her room and saw that she was lying on the bed looking devastated.
"What is wrong mom? Had a bad day?", he asked.
She just moaned and turned to the other side. He quietly walked out of the room. He went to his room and lay on the bed. The room was so dirty. He knew they didn’t have a servant and he had to clean his room on his own. He picked up the broom and soon his room was spic and span in minutes. Happy with his work he soon dozed off.

The next day was nothing new, he came back from school and locked his house to go for a walk. It was really strange at school. Children never spoke to him. He knew that he never spoke to his classmates, but now they didn’t even care to respond to him. He didn’t bother, he could live without them, he said to himself. He started walking and was soon at the bench where he had spotted the lady the previous day. She was there.
"Hi there", he said.
"Oh Hi, how are you today?", she asked him.
"Fine! Are you ok today?", he asked.
"I don’t know, I miss him", she said.
"What is….was his name?", he stammered.
"Sunny, he was ten years old", she cried in a muffled voice.
"I don’t think that Sunny would like it if you keep crying like this", he said.
"Sunny is dead", she looked at him.
"Don’t you believe in life after death? Maybe he is watching you from somewhere", he looked at her calmly.
"How old are you boy?", she asked.
"I am ten", he replied.
"Then how can you talk like this? How do you know about life after death?", she questioned.
"Well, I read a lot of books. You see my mother is working and I am alone at home most of the time, so I keep reading books to pass time", he said.
"Books like these? Does your mom know about the books you are reading?", she asked.
"She is so busy that she doesn’t know anything", he replied.
"Hmm! Why don’t you read books like Harry Potter, those are good books? My son loved Harry Potter books", she said.
"Harry Potter? What is that?", he questioned.
"Don’t you know what is Harry Potter? It is a story of a young boy who is a wizard", she explained.
"Wizard? What is that?", he asked.
"Uday! Will you wait here, I will bring some Harry Potter books for you to read. My son has all the collection, all the six books?", she said.
She walked into her house and soon returned with a bundle of books.
"Read these! You will love them", she said.
"Thank you! Won’t your son mind?", he asked.
"I think my son will love the fact that his books can be used even after his death", she smiled.
"I have got to go, I will return the books soon", he got up.
"No need to hurry, take your own time", she said.
He smiled and walked towards his house and this time again when he turned back she was gone. He did all his chores and finally sat down to read the book. He was so engrossed in the books that he didn’t even notice when Priya came back ...
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