Red Chillies

His Last Wish

Short Story by Stan Ageira, Mulki  

March 17, 2011
         
Francis picked his scooter key and switched off the ceiling fan on his way out from apartment. A visit to market was a part of his morning schedule. He had been living alone from last five years after the death of his spouse. His only son was making a livelihood with his family in Bahrain. Being lonesome was frustrating and confusing ever since the initial stage of his wife’s demise. Preparing a meal for one person was always an awful task. He had undergone the challenging times of grieving process. Financially he didn’t have a great run in his life. All along he had remained as accounts clerk in a local Parish school until his retirement. They had lived in a dingy house in a crowded downtown and always wished a financially stable environment for his son Denzel. Quite recently he developed the desire for a car was an aberrant issue.
 
Denzel found a well paid job in Bahrain after his post graduation. An apartment in a posh locality was bought and he asked his father to move to high-rise residence. Funds towards the necessities of life were moderately taken care. The empty spaces of isolated life continued to bother, however he had learnt to live with them. 
 
Francis stepped out and locked the main door. He remembered the chores that included, visits to doctor, bank and market. The errand also comprised cleaning and cooking. Lunch and siesta were parts of his routine. He walked down from staircase and reached car park area. Though he was not the owner of any car, Denzel had reserved a parking space while buying the apartment. Additional fund was shelled out for the set aside square.
 
As he reached closer to his scooter he was left disturbed by a car that had blocked the exit. The area on right and left too was occupied by parked sedans. The car that obstructed the way out belonged to Jerome the secretary of residents association. The third floor resident Jerome had spent most of years in Kuwait before locating back to home country. He owned two cars, second was used by his wife. His wife would park her car in allocated parking space, where as Jerome would brashly leave his car at unauthorized spots. Francis’s parking place was his easy pick and prey.
 
Troubled by the incident Francis looked around for Venkat, the watchman. Venkat was a puffing outside the gate, dropped his cigarette and came running at him.
 
“Were you sleeping?” Francis frustratingly uttered. “How can you allow people to block the exit?”
 
“Sorry sir.” Venkat was apologetic. “I will call Jerome sir right now.”
 
Jerome took ten minutes to come down.



“How can you keep your car at my parking area?” Francis conveyed his dissatisfaction.
 
“But, where is your car?” Jerome teasingly taunted him.
 
“How do you expect me to take my scooter out?” Francis argued.
 
“I am sorry.” Jerome pacified him. “You know, we returned late last night and I left my car in a hurry.”
 
“You could have kept it somewhere else.” Francis was upset. “You seem deliberately annoying me. This has happened more than once.”
 
“Come on.” Jerome feigned in his attempt to smile.   “Take it easy. How much space do you need for a tiny scooter?”
 
“The question is not related to space.” Francis firmly replied. “My son has paid for this place. You have no right to bother us.”
 
“How is Denzel?” Jerome diverted his attention. “Is he planning his vacation? I want to meet him.”
 
Francis remained silent without response. Once Jerome moved his sedan away from the place, he kicked the ratcheting lever. The quiet reaction of the engine made him to tilt the scooter and then kick again. Now the engine reacted. He drove away towards the main road. Majority of the occupants of that building had cars. Francis was one among a very few who didn’t own a car.
 
Going by the life style Francis did not have great passion for materialistic objects. However Jerome’s taunts had activated the requirement. Jerome’s conceited behavior had its reasons. He was swollen with pride by possession of two cars.
 
“My scooter is not in great condition by the prolonged use. It’s time to change. I think we should shift over to an economical car. Nowadays low cost cars are available.” Francis had appealed his son during last telecom.
 
“We will decide during my next visit.” Denzel had wrapped up without much enthusiasm.
 
Francis had never thought of driving a car at least until his retirement. Jerome’s constant gibes had paved way to this hidden desire. The necessity was triggered while living in the midst of upper middleclass neighborhood. About six months back he had managed to earn a driving license in his sixth attempt after enrolling in a driving school.
 
“Francis, I saw you driving a car beside an instructor. Do you plan start cab business?” Jerome’s funny remarks had annoyed Francis. The attempts to ridicule his status had led to the obsession of placing a car of his own in his parking space.
 
“The pay cuts have become common after recession. I think India is a much better place to live than Gulf countries.” Denzel had put across his opinion during last summer vacation, about a year back.
 
He knew if his son returns back for good, the possibility of buying a car was much higher. Francis wanted to enjoy some kind equality and self respect in front of Jerome and other neighbors. A tinge of urgency was mounting to foster the feelings of pride of owning a car.
 
He filled fuel on his way to bank. The bank statement did not show the usual fund transfer from his son. Denzel had turned disorganized in sending the monthly allowances. He withdrew some amount, settled electricity and telephone bills. The clinic visit was made for routine health check up.  While returning from vegetable and fish market, he changed his mind and drove towards a car showroom. Their low cost car advertisement had recently appeared in newspapers.
 
The salesman was quite pleased to make a presentation in front of fleet of cars. Francis was engrossingly excited while stepping across sleek and shiny models. He was overwhelmed with urgency and anxiety to the point of owning it as early as possible. A brochure and application form was given before he stepped out of car showroom.
 
The exhilarated zeal dipped into exasperation as he stopped his scooter close to car parking area. Jerome had parked his car at Francis’s allocated parking square. He was irritated by Jerome’s bloated behavioral pattern. Frustrated by the incident, he called watchman. Venkat was not around. Infuriatingly he walked into elevator to meet Jerome.
 
“Hello. Now what happened?”  Jerome opened the door and ignorantly questioned him.
 
“What’s wrong with you Jerome?” Francis was visibly upset.
 
“You seem disturbed. Why not join for a cup of coffee?” Jerome’s contrived attitude continued.
 
“I don’t know how to make you understand. I am pained by your repeated acts of nuisance.” Francis pleaded.
 
“Come on, there seems to be some mix-up.” Jerome theatrically replied.
 
“Why did you park your car at my place?” Francis raised his voice.
 
“I have left some space for your scooter.” Jerome clarified.
 
“That’s not the issue.” Francis argued. “Please stop bothering me. Would you please remove the car?”
 
“Take it easy. So much of stress is not good for health.” Jerome advised. “Just give me ten minutes. I will make the place clear for you.”
 
Francis turned his back with the loss of energy.
 
“Please keep me updated on Denzel’s next visit schedule.” Jerome loudly reminded.
 
Francis didn’t show any eagerness to react. He came down, collected shopping bags from his scooter and reached his apartment. His desire to drive a car had intensified perhaps stimulated by Jerome’s demeanor. Jerome’s assurance to remove the car within ten minutes went out of his mind while absorbed by domestic chores. He noticed the empty car space as he came down at 5 o’clock for evening walk. Jerome’s car was not in sight, perhaps gone for a drive.  Francis rushed back, picked his vehicle key and moved the scooter rightly at his legitimate square.
 
Subsequent Friday, Denzel called from Bahrain. He informed his next month plan to visit for fifteen days.  Francis was thrilled by the news. The agenda was prioritized. The list in order specifically contained the procurement of a car and to pass on a warning to Jerome to rein in his ways. He didn’t understand how anybody could be as immodest as Jerome? A word from Denzel could bring the required change.
 
By mid of following month Denzel landed without his family.
 
“Why did you leave your family behind?” Francis inquired. “I am longing to see your kids.”
 
“The summer holidays are not due yet.” Denzel explained. “You know, we are planning a visit to Canada during coming summer. Hence I decided to drop in.”
 
“Denzel, I think we should go for a low cost car.” Francis showed the brochure.
 
“Why do you need a car?” Denzel insipidly questioned. “Your existing 2-wheeler is more than enough.”
 
“It’s old and not in driving condition.” Francis persisted. “Shall we visit the car showroom tomorrow morning?”
 
“………….” Denzel remained silent.
 
“You will have to solve one more problem.” Francis expressed his discontent. “I told Mr. Jerome several times, not to park his car at our allocated place. However the guy is absolutely stubborn and obstinate. I would appreciate if you have a word with him.”
 
“I will speak to Uncle Jerome.” Denzel smiled and comforted. Francis didn’t understand if his son really comprehended the seriousness of the problem.
 
However he decided to settle both the issues conclusively before his son’s departure back to Bahrain. By evening Denzel visited Jerome’s home without asking his father to join. His son’s failure to return within expected time left Francis worried. He called Jerome by landline.
 
“I could be late. Don’t wait, you may eat.” Denzel advised.
 
Denzel appeared at the door by midnight. He felt the smell of liquor from his son’s breath. A disheartened Francis did not bother his son with any question; however a question did bother him. Did his son visit Jerome’s place to rein in or to develop an emotional chord?
 
Next morning, father wanted his son to accompany to car showroom. Denzel had different plans for the day.
 
“I could be late, may have to visit some friends. I will join for evening meal.” Denzel informed.
 
The mystified condition was beyond his ability to understand or assume. It looked as if Denzel was refusing to reveal something. He hoped his son would open up after couple of days. The constant state of worry and urgency had to be avoided. He decided to press his agenda through a slow and steady process.
 
By evening 6:30 pm Denzel was back at home. He looked far more renewed and freshened up than normal. He joined for rosary after the shower and uncapped a bottle of whiskey soon after prayers.
 
“You must have had a long discussion with Jerome.” Francis probed while picking his glass. “I hope henceforth he will stay away from our parking place.”
 
“………” Denzel remained tight lipped.
 
“I think we should plan for the car before you fly back.” Francis pressed his point. “It will give a sense of value to our car parking place.”
 
“Cheers Dad.” He sipped his drink.
 
“Why don’t you speak up?” Francis experienced the uneasiness.
 
“Why do you need a car Papa?” Denzel replied softly just audible enough to be heard. “You are not aware of the nuisances of maintaining a car. It’s no joke. Owning a car is like having an additional family member. It adds up to cost of living.”
 
“It looks like you have no issue with Jerome.” Francis’s jaw dropped.
 
“How much space do you need for a tiny scooter?” Denzel sounded like Jerome. ”you are burdened by unnecessary and unwanted worries. I have solution to your problem.”
 
“What kind of solution?” Francis was riddled.
 
“I can understand. It’s not easy to live all alone in an apartment. It could lead to depression and despair.” Denzel explained. “Life is taking a different turn at our end. This is our last season in Bahrain. As summer comes, we would be migrating to Canada. Financially I am short of funds. I have no other option, but to sell this apartment. Luckily the buyer is ready.”
 
“Who is the buyer?”
 
“Uncle Jerome.” He revealed. “He is paying a good price. Moreover his son in Muscat will transfer the funds to my account in Bahrain. No issue.”
 
Francis sensed the faintest inkling. Perhaps his son wants him to join in their process of migration. Conceivably the proposal of living in Canada wasn’t really harsh. Life could be fascinating while breathing alongside of his son, daughter in law and grand children. The very idea stimulated his quiescent energy to stir up the exuberance.
 
“Now tell me, when do you want me to relocate to Canada?” Francis sounded jubilant.
 
“What would you do in Canada?” Denzel hurriedly replied. “You will stay here in a local senior citizen’s home. It’s managed by Catholic nuns. I have spoken and you will have to shift by next week. They will take care of you. I am sure you will enjoy a peaceful and trouble-free life with many others of similar age.”
 
Francis failed to figure out the status of his existence. He was almost knocked down by an object emerged from darkness. The course of his future was about to be locked in a square with hardly any options open.
 
“Isn’t it a great idea?” Denzel slanted the bottle for one more drink.
 
“I have a last wish.” Francis replied with deadpan expression.
 
“What’s your last wish?” Denzel withdrew his stretched hand at the glass and looked at his father.
 
“Before I leave this place……” Francis paused, kept his glass down and innocently pleaded. “Could you please arrange a rental car for about one week? I want to experience the pleasure and pride of placing a car at our allocated parking area!” 


Comment on this article

  • Elveera, Mulky / Kuwait

    Sun, Apr 19 2015

    Awesome story Stan really nice one. Old poor fathers feelings expressed very well. thank you

    Agree [1]

  • Veekshitha devadiga, mangalore

    Tue, Sep 9 2014

    awesome story stan your story almost made me shed of tear...

    Agree [2]

  • Nazia, Mangalore

    Sat, Jul 28 2012

    I agree with Anthony Herbert Crasta.Whats the harm in a senior home? make ur future secure like how u made ur son's.its his life.u put him to school, sent him to hostel for his good.Now its ur turn.

    Agree [1]

  • Siddesh B Gaunekar , Goa

    Wed, May 16 2012

    A beautifully written piece.A very emotional and touching story of the changing times.

    Agree [2]

  • Anuska Pinto, Mangalore/Duabi,U.A.E.

    Mon, Mar 19 2012

    Indeed a very heart touching article...Francis was heart broken by his son's idea of shifting to a senior citizen home...but he showed immense patience and expressed his last wish!!!

    Agree [1]

  • Ajith Dcosta, Halealve/Muscat

    Wed, Jul 6 2011

    well narrated, beautiful story

    Agree [2]

  • common man - CM, World

    Tue, Mar 22 2011

    My observations were similar to the ones writen above but I have more.

    I hope I don't meet a person like Jerome (taunt a old man...)
    I hope we are not like Francis, buy a car just to use the parking and to show Jerome. (why?)a car for a single person with the life style like Francis doesn't make sense.
    Denzil not wanting to take his father, well 'Stan' might have given us something to think about here, why take a old man to live in a new country with no friends and a cold lousy weather OR a senior citizens home is it that bad, is it not better to be in some company than be alone.

    Why do people live life to prove to others, why worry about what people will say?

    Nice one Stan...

    Agree [1]

  • His last wish, MUMBAI

    Sun, Mar 20 2011

    IN TODAYS WORLD WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE WORTH OF OUR PARENTS. WE WILL HELP THE WHOLE WORLD BUT WHEN IT COMES TO LOOKING AFTER OUR OWN WE TRY TO AVOID THE RESPOSIBILITY. THERE ARE MANY FAMILIES WHO ARE GOD FEARING AND SAY THAT THEY BELIEVE IN GOD AND ARE OBEYING THE COMMANDMENTS BUT HAVE THEY FORGOTTEN THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT.
    EACH ONE OF US HAVE A SHARE IN THE RESPONSIBILITY OF LOOKING AFTER OUR AGED PARENTS SO LETS MAKE UP OUR HEARTS AND MINDS TO DO THE BEST WE CAN FOR OUR PARENTS BECAUSE THAT IS THE LEAST WE CAN DO FOR THE SACRIFICES THEY HAVE DONE FOR US.

    Agree [2]

  • His Last Wish, Pune/Dubai

    Sun, Mar 20 2011

    This is in fact very true. I too would request all children to respect their parents, grand parents and senior citizens as well. Remember one day we too will go through the same stage. Moreover, you will not know the value of parents un till you miss them.

    I lost my father in 1991 and my mother in 1994. Today I have everything in life but not them. I have 2 girls and a very supportive wife who balances both our families. How I wishes my parents were alive to witness the good ness of their children. Nevertheless, I pray that their soul rests in peace. Mamma and Papa we all miss you and love you more and more. You will always be with us un till eternity.

    Agree [2]

  • Vincy Pinto, Angelore/Dubai

    Sat, Mar 19 2011

    One of the clasic from Short Story Usthad. Well narrated.

    Agree [1]

  • Joyson, Udupi

    Sat, Mar 19 2011

    Alex d'Mello, Mumbai, in some or most of the cases it is wives who are responsible for this.

    Agree [1]

  • hillary d silva, niddodi / mira road

    Sat, Mar 19 2011

    True to life story Stan...
    this is our life after 60....What u find today in India only single or old couple abandoned by their grown up children....

    Agree [1]

  • Sandesh, Mulki

    Fri, Mar 18 2011

    Very nice story from Stan. Francis is so patient with his son and adjusting himself to the situations. It is not good to leave parents in grief. What you do to your parents same will be done to you. Wives also should encourage husbands to take care of his parents. Please do not spoil the son and parent relationships.

    Agree [3]

  • Alex d'Mello, Mumbai

    Fri, Mar 18 2011

    Wonderful story and good comments.Is there is any way to stop such things happening to our fathers & mothers? Why their children leave them behind in an orphanage & enjoy life with family abroad? Are they not looked after/educated by their loving parents? This saddens me and I am sure that if you give pain & misery to your parents their cry & agony will definitely reach God and may be only time will tell whether you prosper or die in the same way they did.

    Agree [2]

  • Dr Gerald PintoKallianpur, Kallianpur

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    Interesting story. eye opener to many mangaloreans.

    Jerry Niddodi

    Agree [2]

  • Antony Herbert Crasta, Mangalore/Sydney,Australia

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    M. Bhat/Mumbai: Thanks for your query. I wrote one article only last month (dated February 10) on the subject "Attacks on Indian Students Down Under - an analysis", which, apparently, you missed it.

    Agree [2]

  • Ravi Lobo, Kinnigoli/Wisconsin

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    The story has a single theme and all the narration nicely gels with the central idea. It is something difficult to achieve. Specially, new writers, stray from the central theme so many times.

    The story depicts the views of the current generation: A nice story.

    Agree [1]

  • Felix F., India/Ksa

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    These things, like, children sending parents to old age/senior citizens home is common in families living in India.

    But for, Indians working in the Gulf, the Reality is, the Father, who spends his life time working in the Gulf, upon return to India, finds all his savings are in the possession of his wife and children, and he has no other way than to seek refuge in Senior citizen homes.

    My personal opinion, is that, it is better, to plan and keep aside some savings, to live a degnified and indipendent life in a senior citizens home, than be a door mat/thrash bin, in the family house, with no income and being looked after by children and un supportive wife.

    Agree [1]

  • Andrina Pais, Singapore

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    That was a great eye opener Mr.Stan.I have worked with a few old age homes in B'lore.It was an heartening sight for all of us.The old people would wait for a glimpse of thier loved ones and many knew that thier kids would never come to meet them.

    Agree [1]

  • Fr. Gandolf, Switzerland

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    Very true to life. An ageing man trying to cope with life and unfulfilled ambitions, lack of concern of the next generation thinking of their own interests first. The end is good: just as a child settles for a sweet, so the old father for the experience of one week as a car owner.

    Agree [1]

  • Clevin D'Souza, Pangla/Dubai

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    Nice Story from Stan Ageira. This is the very reality of our society...Stan has narrated it in a beautiful way.....I am mad reader of short stories....keep writing sir...

    Agree [1]

  • M.Bhat, Mumbai

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    Nicely written. Feelings frustration of an aged father is well brought out here. Thanks.

    Mr.Antony Herbert Crasta, Mangalore/Sydney,Australia

    sir, Now its your turn to write something as its been long time since you last wrote some experience here.

    Agree [1]

  • Alexander P Menezes, Dubai/Karkala

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    Dear Stan, I must commend your abilities in narrating every small bit in the story to generate interest of the readers. For example, your effort to let the reader know “starting of the scooter by tilting it to one side and then kickstarting the engine” is just superb. It reminded of my Bajaj Chetak that I had during my college days.
    On a serious note, this story sends out a strong message to those children who have abandoned their parents and put them in the old age homes. My last visit to St. Antony’s old age home during September 2010, brought tears in my eyes seeing those old people longing to see the outsiders. My heart still cries for them whenever I think of them, but I only pray to god to give a change of heart to those children to take back their parents and care for them.

    When I was young, I was made to believe by my parents that, Parents are like living Gods whom we can see through our eyes, who deserve the best attention, care and help. From the time of the birth of a baby till it grows into a man or woman, parents undergo a lot of difficulties both financially and mentally. Unlike other animals human beings cannot abandon their off springs to their fate after taking care of them for a short time initially. Most of the animals can fend for themselves, but it is only the human beings that depend upon their parents till they grow up.

    But today we see an increasing trend, of children putting their old parents in to these kinds of old age homes. The worst of the lot are children who take up lucrative assignments in foreign countries and earn enough to lead a luxurious life but leave their parents in the old age homes and do not mind spending any amount of money on them. They do not realize that the old parents would be happy to share any adverse circumstances with their children than lead a comfortable life in the old age homes. In the olden days, families used to remain united and joint families ensured that members and family in all age groups were taken care of. It is a fact that more than 80 percent of the elderly parents with no income of their own are being humiliated and are leading a life under sub-human conditions. The time has come for us to take care of our parents, but how many of us can really do that?

    Agree [1]

  • Antony Herbert Crasta, Mangalore/Sydney,Australia

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    Wonderful story. Stan has nicely brought out the actual things happening in the apartment living when it comes to parking and related problems. I had a good laugh at Francis`s last wish - it`s the true reflection how most of the oldies think and act in that situation. It was sad though that in the end he had to leave for Seniors`Home. It`s a wake up call for so many elderly parents. Once they have brought up their children and see through their education etc, they should plan in advance for their own retirement living in order not to depend upon their children in their twilight years.

    Agree [1]

  • Antony, udupi

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    Very nice article Mr.Stan Ageira, it touched my heart.All the best

    Agree [1]

  • bharath raj jain, mangalore

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    Good going it is not at all a story it is a fact of life

    Agree [1]

  • Ajith, Aldona

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    Really this is not a story but todays facts, hope we all fulfill our parents feelings with love.

    Agree [1]

  • Nilesh N- Dubai , Goa

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    Thank you brother Stan for your lovery story & message to all NRIS,
    one thing i want to say to all that if you can fulfull our parents wish, pl do it immedaiately before it is to late,dont look at money & saving, our parents itself are big saving& precious than any other thiings in life. iam proud to say that i always & i will provide best possible to my both parents & full thier all wishes & iam doing it

    Agree [1]

  • Mrs. Rodrigues, Dubai/mangalore

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    A real touching story...very true that children forget their parents desires...hope ur stories help the children to realise their mistakes. kep writing

    Agree [1]

  • CHARLES SALDANHA, MALAD MALWANI

    Thu, Mar 17 2011

    VERY INTERSTING STORY.DENZIL SHOULD FULFILL HIS FATHERS LAST WISH.HE SHOULD FOR THE REASON THAT HIS DADS WISH HAS NOT BEEN CHANGED INSPITE OF THE FACT THAT NOW HIS DETINATION IS NOT CANADA BUT SENIOR CITIZENS HOME.CONGRATULATIONS STAN FOR THIS OUTSTANDING STORY.

    Agree [1]

  • Vidya, Mangalore

    Wed, Mar 16 2011

    Nice Story Stan. Very nice ending as well.... Kids today will not understand the feelings of their elderly parents...I promise that I will never do such an act towards my parents.. Keep Writing Stan.. All the best

    Agree [1]

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