Sep 10, 2020
It was the month of July, Vinod was sitting alone in a lonely seashore of Mumbai. He was just gazing and gazing at the sea waves. He found some similarities between him and the roaring sea. The sea was not calm and that’s how Vinod was feeling from inside. He had faced some tragic events in his life and after that, the problems in his life multiplied and came one after another just like the waves which came one after the other to the shore. Vinod was a boy of 21, a graduate, who was ambitious to do something great in his life. Vinod lost his parents when he was a little kid. The only person who looked after him was his elder brother Vikaas who put all efforts and sacrifices to fulfil his brother’s dreams and to provide a better life to him.
The sun was slowly setting in the horizon, Vinod spoke to himself – “It has been 6 months! Six long months without you Vikaas! Remember you sat just beside me and we talked and laughed until we both got tired.” His eyes were wet with tears and his hand slowly touched the sand beside him and it was like he felt the presence of his brother. “Why? Why did you leave me alone in this world of sorrow?” Later he slowly got up and walked towards home.
Vinod was studying in a distant place and once in a month Vinod would come to Mumbai to meet his brother who worked in a factory and they both spent their evening on a beachside talking to each other, sharing their thoughts. But 6 months ago, in a road accident Vikaas died and Vinod was so revengeful that he frequently asked the police to tell the name of the person who hit his brother but the police never disclosed the name, because they knew that the culprit was influential and if they do reveal his name Vinod would definitely do something in anger.
Just after 2-3 days of his last visit to the beach he has come again there with some papers in his hands. He sat on the sand and “Look, I got my appointment letter for job, just as we planned to stay together and work together here in Mumbai! Now I can come here whenever I want.” When Vinod was talking to himself he heard a sound from behind and he turned around and he saw a man coming towards him who was on a wheelchair and was about 30 years. He looked at Vinod and said “Hello, I have never seen you here before, where are you from?” Vinod just nodded his head and went away and the man watched him going and disappearing in the crowded roads.
Few days later when Vinod again came there he saw the same man sitting on his wheelchair and viewing the sunset, but this time Vinod started the conversation. “Hello sir. My name is Vinod, I came to Mumbai just a week ago. Sorry, that day I was little upset. So….” The man replied “Hey…no need of apologies, by the way my name is Rajesh and I come here often because this sight gives me peace, the peace for which my heart and soul longs for '' Vinod replied “yeah this sight is magnificent. I never express my feelings to anybody but these waves and breeze appear as if it knows me well and give solace to me.”
“But you can express your thoughts to me if you want” – Rajesh said.
“Thanks, maybe some other day” – replied Vinod.
After that day Vinod was quite busy in his job and he got no chance to go to the seashore but he more often thought about the man whom he met. 2 months later he met Rajesh again, Rajesh was so happy when he met Vinod. After that they met frequently. Now they have become quite good friends. Vinod found his brother in Rajesh and Rajesh found his lost happiness in Vinod. Whenever Vinod got some time he took Rajesh out in his wheelchair sometimes, sometimes far or sometimes to the nearby park. Rajesh has filled some emptiness in Vinod’s heart. One day when both of them were sitting on the seashore and watching the sunset Rajesh asked “Who all are there in your family?” Vinod’s happy face turned sad and replied in a low voice – “Nobody! I had one elder brother but he too died (controlling his tears) but I got you as my friend (pause) Brother what about you?”
Rajesh replied - “My family is in the village, our life was so happy then with caring parents, lovely little brother but……..”
“But what?” – Curiously asked Vinod.
“Everything changed just in a fraction of a second! Everyone believes that I was wrong! Everyone! Everyone has misunderstood me! EVERYONE! (shouts) and they don’t even want to talk to me !”
Vinod was astonished with this sudden change in the mood of Rajesh and he tried to calm him down – “Okay okay…. It's alright don’t take too much stress. Everything is gonna be okay? Let me take you home.”
Days passed and it was September 13, Vinod took leave from his office that day. He was so sad because it was Vikaas’ birthday but he was not with him. Tears were flooding from his eyes and the more he tried to control them the more they flowed. He decided to go to the beach to spend some time alone. Rajesh lived in a slum area near the beach and he saw Vinod sitting on the sand earlier than he usually does. And he decided to go there. When Rajesh reached there he saw Vinod’s eyes were swollen as if he has been crying for a long time. Rajesh slowly kept his hand on his shoulder and spoke – “hey… what happened? Is everything okay? “But no reply from him. “ Talk to me, Vinod. Please say something…. I already have enough silence in my life and I can’t bare yours too.”
Vinod started to speak in a sorrowful voice, - “September 13, its September 13 today, the only day I felt, I too have happiness like others do! The day I kept all my sadness apart and laughed with my brother! I remember how happy he was last year when I bought him a new pair of shoes from the money I saved, because he was wearing those torn slippers while he worked in the iron factory! I had seen how his feet suffered by walking on the rough surface of that factory…. I was so happy when I saw that sparkling smile on his face….I was so happy….. Then came the New Year…. It was the second week I was in college and a call came to my college office. Someone asked me to come to Mumbai as soon as possible and he said nothing except that. I don’t know who that person on the phone was, he just told Vikaas gave this number and he was asked to inform me.”
“What happened to your brother?” – Rajesh asked.
Vinod started to narrate the incident - “When I reached Mumbai I came to know that Vikaas was in a hospital… some car rushed on him in a narrow street while Vikaas was returning from the factory and………and it (cries) . I met Vikaas in the ICU, his condition was critical and he could hardly talk. I held his hand, he looked at me, and I can still remember how his eyes looked at me and……. Within a few minutes the hand which I held was lifeless! I visited the street were the accident took place and…..and I found the same shoes lying in a corner covered with blood… I couldn’t bear this pain. I heard from police that they have arrested the person who drove the car madly after consuming alcohol and he too got admitted to the hospital. I will definitely kill that person if he comes in front of me but the police didn’t disclose his name”– Vinod said, “I have to go now. I need to be alone. Bye Rajesh,” and he left.
After listening to this, Rajesh’s hands felt numb and he remained there spellbound. He couldn’t utter a single word and couldn’t even move the tires of his wheelchair. He looked at his legs, and now his face has turned pale and gloomy! Somehow he managed to move his wheelchair towards his house.
A few days later, it was a Saturday but Vinod remained in his office till 6 pm because he engaged himself in doing some overtime work and after travelling in a crowded local train he reached his PG at 7pm. It was already dark and when he was about to open his room door he saw something near his foot. It was some envelope and he picked it up. There was neither the name of the sender nor the address. After entering the room, he kept his bag and other things on the table and opened the envelope which contained a letter in it. He took it out and began to read it:
Dear Vinod, it's me Rajesh. I know that you must be wondering why I wrote a letter to you when I can directly call you. It's because I found writing easier than telling on the phone. IT WAS ME WHO DID THAT ACCIDENT! Please… please forgive me. That day when you told me about your brother, the street, that day only I realized that it’s your brother whom I………..because of me you lost your brother but honestly I tell you I was not drunk that day neither I did it intentionally.
I never told you this before but I was working as a driver of a car and just like your brother I too had the dream of sending my little brother to a good school, building a house for us and also so many other dreams. But that day my owner told me to take another car to pick up somebody from the airport. It was strange because the owner gave me a car which was kept unused for a long time. It was not that car I usually drive, it was the car which was taken out of the garage after a long time. But after driving it I got to know that the brakes are not working and it was pre-planned, to kill me! Because I knew something about my owner which I shouldn’t reveal. In that accident I lost my legs, my owner with the help of money twisted the whole case and made everyone believe that I was drunk. They left me alive just because I
acted as if I have lost my memory but they put me in jail. Everybody thinks that I’m a murderer, a killer! Even my parents! My brother hates to see my face. I tried thousand times to convince them that I’m innocent but they were not ready to believe, I know that you too think in the same way and you should because, even though it was done unintentionally, I caused the death of your brother and no one knows better than me how you would feel when you have nobody whom you can call as a family but luckily I have my family alive and I’m sure that one or the other day they will realize that I am innocent!
It's Saturday and I know that approximately at 2 pm you’ll return and if you truly forgive me and ready to talk regarding this I’ll be waiting for you near the shore till 7pm and if you don’t I will understand that you still hate me and didn’t forgive me. You are the only person whom I should really apologize to. I always saw you as my brother and I will! and if you think that I’m not forgivable that’s also fine, I deserve that but please inform my family that I am innocent and as their wish they will never see me again !! Good bye Vinod.
Your Brother Rajesh
Vinod was petrified when he read this letter, he suddenly turned towards the clock and it was already 7:30 he rushed out from his room and ran towards the beach. From a distance he could see an empty wheelchair. When he reached there, the beach was empty. He called out his name so loudly that it echoed after hitting the rocks – “Rajeeeshhhhh!!! Rajeeeeshhhhhh!!!! I’m not angry with you!!! Rajeeeesh…….” But there was nothing but deafening silence. He went to Rajesh’s house but there too no clue of him. But he saw some family photographs there. The days when Rajesh and his family were together. Later he deeply thought of Rajesh and realized that Rajesh was really innocent and felt guilty for pouring so much of anger on him without knowing the truth. He returned home in despair.
The next day Vinod went to his village and met Rajesh’s parents and showed them the letter and somehow convinced them the truth, which made them cry and he promised them that one or the other day he will prove to the world that Rajesh was innocent. He assured Rajesh's brother of a good school. He did exactly what he promised. Every month he sent money to them, bought them new clothes, celebrated special occasions with them and every time he met them he missed Rajesh too, it’s mainly because of him he came to know about, what family really meant.
A year passed, it was September 13, again. He took leave from his office and sat on the sea shore but today he was neither sad nor crying but he had a smile on his face. This time he was not the same weak broken Vinod but a strong responsible brother and a son. Gazing at the waves he spoke to himself – “Happy Birthday Vikaas. I don’t know how to describe it, but now I feel exactly the same how you felt – when you found huge happiness even in small things. Every time when I visit Rahul (Rajesh’s brother) the joy on his face reminds me of myself, when we were together. Now I don’t have to see your picture again and again……. You know why? BECAUSE NOW I CAN FEEL YOU WITHIN ME…. (Placing his hand on his heart) every time when I stand in front of a mirror I can see a glimpse of you in my eyes. Every time when the cool breeze gently touches my face I feel your presence as if you never left me. I miss you Vikaas, I miss you!!”
At that moment he hears somebody calling his name from behind – “Vinod Bhaiyah” It was Rahul, who every month somehow managed to come to Mumbai to spend some time with his beloved brother. Vinod closed his eyes for a moment and let the cool breeze pass through him.