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05 December, 2009

50 days ... a short story

“Appa, Appa!”, he could faintly recognize a distant ramble. The sound neither raising nor rescending.But it went on and on. He tried concentrating hard. “Do I recognize this voice?”. “I am not sure but I have heard it before”. He neither had the strength nor the will to open his eyes, turn his head and look at the little girl now seated comfortably on the chair beside his bed, continually trying to wake her dad. She had been adamant about this for almost an hour now. She wanted her dad to open his eyes, look into hers and grin broadly as he did everyday before seeing her off at the school. However hard her mother tried to stop her, the girl wont budge. Tears were rolling down her mother’s eyes. She was confused initially and now worried that something was wrong for she had not seen her mother cry for long. Her elder brother sat on the floor, his eyes gazing between his toes; never lifting his head to talk to her, to stop amma from crying or to awaken appa, who had been sleeping for two days now; not in their thatched hut, but in a crowded building on a bed in a shabby corner of a room troubled with double the number of people it could normally accommodate. Unaware of all these, lay the man on a government hospital bed, Half conscious with all the pipes, wires and needles that traversed in and out of his body.
Given the alcoholic and drug addict he was, doctor had the faintest of hopes tht he would leave the hospital alive.But then, he had survived, fought against death; just to realize that the eventuality was merely deferred by 50 days. Both his kidneys had failed.His lungs had fought valiantly but  the cancer overpowered them.He just had to open his eyes and start the countdown.
He started recuperating and was released two days later.His family was unable to afford the costs of his treatment any longer.
It was his third day since they had shifted to the their hut and he ws still unable to open his eyes.The same voice started to ring in his ears “Appa,Appa”.This time it was not a happy one but sobbing.He recognized it was lakshmi, his daughter.He forced his eyes open and there was nothing but silence, he was gazing at those grey eyes and it felt like eons pass before he could manage to grin at his daughter.A crackle of laughter burst out from lakshmi who was now clapping in sheer joy. Though he felt better as he continued to grin for his daughter, he knew something was wrong.
Lakshmi said “Appa, amma told me  that  you will be going to swarga and wont be back soon.Please take me with you. I want to be with you, be it the next 45 days here or when you go to swarga so that we both can come back soon”.
He realized at these words that his days were numbered.That he will not be buying a saree for his wife for their next anniversary.That he will not be able to gift his son, the cricket bat he promised.He cannot celebrate deepavali with his family.Above all, he cannot watch his dearest lakshmi grow, marry and have her own family. He  also realised that he had left no reserves for his family to carry on with after his death..He repented for all his foolish muses and the wrong group of friends he had been with.He was ashamed of himself . He wanted to cry but his train of thoughts was disturbed. Lakshmi asked “ you will take me with you appa? Wont you? Wont you?”
He managed to grin again and feebly said “I am going no where. I will be with you”. Lakshmi brightened up on this prospect and after some thinking she said. “I don’t believe you. You had said the same thing last time you were gone. If you promise me that you will be wth me 46th day from today, I will believe you”.He replied “Pray to God that he let me be with you and I am sure he will”. He promised to himself that he will try to make his family as happy as possible in whatever time he had and uttered a silent prayer asking god to give him one extra day on earth for his daughter’s sake. When he turned his head to see where his daughter was, she was already kneeling near the lord Vishnu’s photo asking him to give her dad the 46th day on earth. She turned back and replied “Appa, I will pray daily asking God to let you be here”. He grinned and she clapped her hands again.He turned towards heavens and was uttering to himself “Atleast for Lakshmi, atleast for lakshmi…”.

Part -2

It was her brother’s birthday and dad had somehow managed to gift him a cricket bat. Everyone at home was happy.
He approached Lakshmi and said “Thank you lakshmi, It is your prayers that I am still here on 46th day as I had promised to you”. He kissed her on cheek and grinned at her grey eyes. She started laughing and clapping again. He slowly moved away to talk to his wife.
Lakshmi turned towards Lord Vishnu's idol, knelt down and prayed, “My dear God, If you can give dad another 45 days of permission to stay here, I am ready to part with my chocolates for 45 more days…please”.