The Howling wind at the lonely dusk carried the memories of the past, the dusty interiors of the age-old taxi reminded me of my first visit to the city that I was about to visit.
The city of true humans, and in that city I had gained my enemies, those kind who would never think twice before putting their swords across my neck but then it was here I first fell in love with people.
Born under the spell of utter poverty, I knew only how to steal, my only means of bread and butter was from pick-pocketing.I smile as I remember those wretched days of uncertainty,running,swift like an elf, walking at the pace of a clever leopard, ready to pounce any time, with foot acting like the hushing paws.
I was popular in my community, the master of disguise, the master of vanishes,I was hailed, I was loved and provoked to land in bigger projects, now I wasn’t the same shy kid capable of only tolerating my wretched life but a strong mastermind of the blunders in the city,series chain-snatching was an adventurous sport, the cries mattered little and everytime my conscience hit a low, I used to reminiscence the torturous childhood I had lived, eating from the gutters and sleeping with the dogs.
Let the people also understand what I went through,let them feel the pain of rippling blood, let them know the tears of losing ..let them live my life.
Such was my audacity and blunt thoughts until one of my own betrayed me one moonless night, stabbing and throwing me into the rivers.
I reached Rampur, the city of humans (I named the city so) when I was 24, an young man penniless, fatally bruised with the suspicious handling of the revolver in my trousers ,by a power above I had survived.
“Sir,We are at rampur, where do you want me to drop you?” The taxi driver questioned as he halted at the crossroads.
“Just here” I smiled and payed him, I wasn’t like this five years ago, I would have planted a gun on his forehead forcing him to pay but then times have changed and so have I, more prominently Rampur had changed me.
I stand in front of the dusty roads, bullock carts and woman carrying pots on the backdrop of the orange smeared skies was the definition of new life to me, I was re-born here as a new human being .But the transition wasn’t easy.
I was rescued by a family, a home that I plundered all the wealth from but I never intended to till the three years I stayed with them.
The sahukars, it was in their family that I took shelter in, the family head Raja Sahukar owned the rich lands, his timid wife Haseen Sahukar was a mother that I have never know and their extended family of five more people stayed there but the only feeling that the family wept over was of not bearing a child and miraculously they had adopted me, a stranger who was pretending a gentle man, they trusted me, they fed me and made me their heir but still I betrayed them.
“Neeraj? Is that you?” A familiar female voice stood in front of me ,tears welled up.
“MA..” I cried and hugged her, she was Haseen sahukar, my mother.
“Hide my son, hide before anybody else knows” she covered me with her pallu of her cotton saree,it carried with it the aroma of her love for me, for the traitor.
“Ma..I’m sorry, I’m so sorry” I wept in her arms under the banyan tree of the temple she just and visited, nobody would find us here. she had promised.
“I know..dear..I know” she kept comforting me while I apologized for what it seems to be an hour.
“Where do you stay now?” I whimpered
“Where else? In the same house” she wiped my tears
“You sleep in the garage right?” I growled as the black smeared her saree at too many places while her jewels were gone, so was her beauty, she must have been living on morsels.
“Why did you support me, I was the one who killed Raja SAhukar” I broke down,
“No …You didn’t Neeraj, you didn’t ,it was an accident and I know it” tears flowed down her cheeks reminiscing her beloved husband, she was mother of sacrifices, an epitome of calmness.
“Maaa…How can you say that…I left all of you after that, taking away all the wealth from the treasures” I closed my fists
“But before that my lad, when you slept on my lap..you mumbled in your dream that you would repay the money stolen” I couldn’t make out then but the truth couldn’t be hidden.
I smiled, she believed in me, she knew me..why was I not the son lucky enough o be born in her womb, but the lord had heard my prayers, here I was meeting the only person who trusted me, who believed me…I wouldn’t run away now.As her son I would give her the place in the mansion, as her son I would repay twice the amount that I stole…I am rich now,I will look after her and for my father who died in the currents of the river, was an accident which nobody believed in…all the family plotting against me..but I would regain my mother’s position and surrender my wealth to her feet……….
“Have you eaten?” she questions and before I answer there is a morsel of prasadam in my mouth…my life had changed,this time for real!The Blunders of my past was now washed away, with her pure love!