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Destiny’s Child

June 14, 2010

Team  This post has been published by me as a team member of Tiger Trails Team for the SUPER 5 round of Bloggers Premier League (BPL) – The  first ever unique, elite team blogging event in the history of blogging world. To catch the BPL action and also be part of future editions and other contests, visit and register at Cafe GingerChai

 

 

 

 

 

 

“But you know Probability better than me,” I wailed. “Please, do the exercise by today evening, so that I have time to copy. I need to submit it tomorrow in class.”

Gopal looked apologetic. “I won’t be able to finish it by tonight. But I promise to give it to you early morning tomorrow. Will it do?”

“Ok, fine. But give it to me sharp at 8, ok? I don’t think I will wake up before that.”

I felt relaxed now that my Maths homework for tomorrow had been taken care of. I rushed to switch on the television set. I could not possibly miss a World Cup soccer match for some Maths homework!

Gopal was the best friend I had. He was in the same class as me, but a different school. When my family had shifted to this city, the shy me failed to make many new friends, both in my locality and my new school. Gopal had been my friend since then. I admit that he was more brilliant than me, of which I took full advantage of. He did all my Maths and Science homework for me; in exchange of the English essays and answers that I prepared for him. He taught me how to fly a kite, in exchange of my cricket lessons to him. He also took me to the neighbourhood pond for a swim, in exchange of all my spare stationary. Ours was a perfect symbiotic friendship – a lot of give-and-take. But, in addition to all the favours that we kept doing for each other, we also shared a deep bonding. We trusted each other with all our secrets, always covered up for each other before the elders for any wrong-doing and always shared food. I used to pass on all that I hated, like milk and fruits to Gopal and received churan and hazmi from him. My mother never had a clue why, despite the diet she was providing me with, I remained scrawny as ever!

a bright future

————————-

“How much did you get?” I asked, flushed with excitement. “I got a neat 80 percent.”

He was smiling broadly, happy for my achievement. “You deserve it after all the hard work. I also scored well; 75 per cent overall.”

“How much in Science group?” Gopal was particularly brilliant in Science.

“83 in Physics, 88 in Mathematics. But Chemistry and Biology were not too great.”

I thumped his back loudly. “Well done, my friend. This is absolutely superb.” I was happy for his achievement at the State Board Examinations, as well as for myself. I was very glad that he had done so well. I was also glad that he didn’t score more than me, of which I was really worried of. After all, what would people say if the servant scored more than the master’s son?

Yes, Gopal was a servant at our place. He helped my mother in all the household chores and yet, found time for night school. He had a determination – to battle against all odds and to break the shackles of poverty. He used to tell me, “I do all sorts of jobs only to finance my education. They may be menial, but I need the money. One day, I shall be someone with a different job, some money and yes, lots of prestige.” If there was something he really cared or aimed for, that was not money but prestige.

He had lost both his parents early and was being raised by an alcoholic bachelor uncle. He often used to say, “I wish baba and ma were alive. They would never have let me work at this age.”

I used to admire his grit and determination to challenge his destiny; but at the same time, I was quite jealous of his intelligence and had a secret desire to score over him. I used to dub it as healthy competition, but deep down, it had a lot to do with my fear of “What will people say?" The fool that I was, I never realized that Gopal, with his background would always be at a disadvantage, and always one step behind me. I, never for one moment, gave a thought about how he felt about my life full of support, monetary comfort and loving parents. Did he ever compare our situations and feel unlucky? Was he jealous of my life? I did not know and never tried to find out, either.

Gopal was a very hardworking boy. He used to come to our house sharp at 6 am and start helping my mother in the kitchen. Then he would finish the cleaning, washing and mopping and go to a nearby shop. He would dust and mop its floors and then have lunch at some roadside place. He used to do all other sorts of odd jobs in the afternoon and then go to night school. He had done shifts at a nearby pesticide factory, because of which he used to fall ill often. The poisonous atmosphere there forced him to quit and instead he joined a steel factory. He was good with all things mechanical and was well-loved everywhere for his intelligence and good manners. As and when the expenses for his schooling increased, he used to take up more and more odd jobs.

Just after he took admission in his school after the Boards in the science stream, he requested my mother to give him some more free time in the day. He had by then, taken up work on contract basis as a labourer at a construction site. He was very happy and excited about it. The pay was good and he was getting to learn first hand, how to build homes. He had already found his true calling and set his aim to be a civil engineer. Every night, after a long, tiring day, he used to prepare hard for the Engineering Joint Entrance test.

I often used to wonder whether he would become the first civil engineer who had previous work experience of a mason, too.

construction worker 

————————————

Sri looked perplexed. “Why are you telling me this story, Sumit? What has it got to do with the present situation? Are you saying that you are doing what you are doing because of this servant friend of yours?”

“Sri, please try to understand. I am not trying to be great or something. I just feel that this girl Reena may have a bright future if given the right opportunity. She may have the life which Gopal could not have. She could be the child that we shall never have. May be, I am doing all these not because of Gopal, but for my own sake.”

Agitated, Sri exclaimed, “We can always adopt, but never a poor maid girl! We will go to the adoption centre and adopt a baby. But how can you even suggest that we adopt a 10 year old maid?”

“If I don’t do it, I shall never be absolved of the guilt of all these years. Please, Sri, try to understand. I have never had a moment’s rest since that day. It always comes back to haunt me.”

As I was pleading with my wife, I could see that day as vividly as if it was happening right then and there. Because of his skills, Gopal had been promoted by the contractor from just a helping hand to a full-fledged worker. He used to tell me stories of painting the building wall, while hanging mid-air in the bamboo structures. I was extremely fascinated and wanted to see this feat for myself.

I reached the site in the afternoon, after school. Gopal, in his excitement to show me his expertise, started climbing the temporary bamboo structures. I looked on awestruck, as he nimbly climbed up all the way till the eighth floor and hung his paint bucket. At that moment, a childish thought struck me. I felt he had the best life. He did not have to worry about hundred mundane things in life, except how to earn to continue his studies. Up there, he seemed like a free bird, ready to paint his own destination.

——————————–

I cried out aloud. “Sumit, what happened? Why do you look so pale? You have never shared this particular pain of yours till date. Please tell me,” I looked into her eyes.

“Sri, while the foolish me was busy contemplating whether Gopal had a better life or not, high up there, he suddenly faltered on a wrong footstep and failed to regain control. Then, right before my eyes, he fell on the ground with a deafening thud. One moment he was up there, smiling and waving at me; the next moment he was lifeless, in a pool of thick, black blood, and his eyes wide open in shock. In those eyes, I could clearly see the disappointment at having lost out on life so early. Each night, he visits me and asks how’s life, and each night I say how sorry I am for him. I say sorry to him for always being so selfish in our friendship; for never looking at life from his perspective; for admiring his struggle but never realizing what exactly it entailed for him. When I saw Reena and her brilliance for the first time, I immediately saw traces of Gopal in her. Right now, she is a mere house-hold maid, but with her intelligence, she can grow up to be somebody respectable if we help her.”

With a tear-chocked voice, my wife squeezed my hand. “We shall help her.”

education_child_big~s600x600

——————————–

“Its an honour for our University to have Ms. Reena Basu institute the Sumit Basu Memorial Gold Medal for Overall Excellence. We are proud to have amongst us today, the renowned economist, Ms. Reena Basu, herself who shall now deliver a short speech on her father, her own inspiring life and her work.”

—————————-

More of Gopal, to inspire all

That dreams are but future reality

More of Reena, to show all

That they just need support and not pity;

A bit of help and some loving words

If the society shows them

More and more Sumit will

Turn the wheel of the game;

The menace that is child labour

And lack of education

Will be a thing of the past, if

Each one, just teach one

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38 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2010 2:20 pm

    Nice one. I have already read an earlier version of the story on Indimag Kathasagar contest. The minute I saw the topic I remembered your story as a good one in this category as even then I thought you had captured the essence of the problem without exaggerating and considering the extreme conditions.. You have improvised very well over the KS version and it is reading much better now. Best of luck for the round.

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 14, 2010 3:19 pm

      You remembered my Kathasagar post??!!! I am deeply honoured that my creation was good enough to have left a mark on your mind.
      I incoporated all the feedback I received in Indimag and removed the multiple narrations from that story and wove this new one 🙂 Glad, that you liked it.. Thank you so much 🙂

  2. June 14, 2010 3:13 pm

    Hey the story was really touching!!..somewhat on the lines of my favorite book, ‘ a kite runner’.
    I was guessing till the end.nice read !

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 14, 2010 3:32 pm

      Welcome and thank you so much 🙂 Yes, I have been told that the story kind of reminds you of the masterpiece “Kite Runner”, in points like the background of the two boys, their friendship and the master’s son’s jealousy, but actually the starting point for me was another short story written by me at http://www.indimag.com/2010/03/16/a-bright-future/. But this turned out to be a completely different one after I finished it 🙂

  3. June 14, 2010 5:47 pm

    That was a wonderfully narrated. You have not overdone it and still managed to convey a social message.
    All the best for the contest! 🙂

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 15, 2010 10:43 am

      Thanks, Nethra 🙂 Not to overdo was one of my main aims 🙂

  4. June 14, 2010 7:17 pm

    A very good effort . I think the narrative is smooth and the story is quite vivid.

    Liked it.

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 15, 2010 10:44 am

      Great! My job is well-accomplished if readers like you like it 🙂

  5. June 14, 2010 7:23 pm

    Gopal’s story is a very common story but the way you improvised on it was engrossing. Wonderfully done! All the best… 🙂

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 15, 2010 10:54 am

      I wish Gopal’s and Sumit’s story becomes more common, so much so that we get to meet them in every household. The world will be a much better place to live in. Thank you so much for for visit and appreciation.

  6. June 14, 2010 8:41 pm

    A touching post. Had some real melting thoughts while reading this.

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 15, 2010 11:46 am

      Welcome and Thanks 🙂 I can understand what you mean and am really glad that you enjoyed it.

  7. June 14, 2010 10:10 pm

    This reminded me of some of the afternoon serials we used to see on DD-Metro long back but the way you’ve ended is superb! I wish people get inspired by this post. 🙂

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 15, 2010 12:46 pm

      Which serials, Arif? and I hope your hope proves true 🙂

  8. June 15, 2010 1:10 am

    Lovely and a soul uplifting post..It took me trough a roller coaster ride of emotions..

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 15, 2010 2:20 pm

      Welcome LP and thank you so much 🙂

  9. Sudhakar permalink
    June 15, 2010 8:46 am

    Wow. This was like poetry. Touching, inspiring, engrossing. Read your other story as well. Loved how you improvised on that. Beautiful.

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 15, 2010 2:23 pm

      What to say to you, fellow Tiger, apart from that I am lucky to have you as my team mate 🙂

  10. June 15, 2010 10:09 pm

    That was beautifully written. We do need more Gopals and Sumits. As you say, if each of us do our bit, the problem of child labour would be a thing of the past..

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 17, 2010 1:40 pm

      And more of Reena, too, who will show that everything is possible 🙂 Thank you for your appreciation 🙂

  11. June 16, 2010 3:08 pm

    A very nice story.. touched.. All the best for the BPL.. a nice idea and improvised very nicely…

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 17, 2010 1:41 pm

      Welcome, Bikram and thank you so much for your feedback 🙂 Keep visiting!

  12. June 16, 2010 3:14 pm

    the fial product is mind blowing Debs..really really enjoyed reading it..the inspiration comes out smoothly from the post..loved it..good luck Tiger(ess) 😉

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 17, 2010 4:27 pm

      Thanks 😀 This was the fruit of hard labour (which you know very well)

  13. June 16, 2010 8:23 pm

    A touching story, and very beautifully structured. And I think you once narrated a similar story earlier, based on what you had experienced. No?

    One more thing: I’d could teach kids like these in my spare time. Suggestions anyone?

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 17, 2010 4:30 pm

      Yes, its an improved and a different version of my story in Katha Sagar, which I mentioned above… Thanks 🙂

  14. June 16, 2010 8:25 pm

    Oh, and I did try to work with MAD earlier but the thing didn’t work out….

  15. June 17, 2010 6:26 am

    very nice story… really touching and very well put across… all the best! 🙂

    Cheers!
    Tavish

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 17, 2010 4:33 pm

      Tavish! thank you so much 🙂 Comments like yours make the author feel so humble 🙂

  16. June 17, 2010 8:57 am

    Beautiful, Debs. Loved the narration. Frequent changes in the pattern, et al.
    This seems to be an improvised version of Katha Sagar. 🙂
    It is so well crafted now.
    Sometimes our helplessness becomes our guilt, and it’s very difficult to deal with it. You’ve subtly showed this vulnerability. Kudos, yaar!

    You’ve taken up the same topic. Some serious locking horns here! 😀
    All the best! 😉

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 17, 2010 4:32 pm

      Thank you so much Karthik 🙂 My horns are too small for yours 😉 No competition, yaar 🙂 But then, David v Goliath, anyone? 😉 😉

  17. June 20, 2010 5:25 pm

    I love happy endings 🙂 Or I can say, I like to think positive in the worst of scenarios.
    U have done exactly that in this story, Debo:)
    Deftly dealt with the problem of child labour, and put up a solution, point is it is an inspiring one: I really hope people don’t compare them with others, be happy and aim better, work hard… I hope people take it up and there are more Gopals, Reenas, Sumits (the adult one, not the selfish child!!) and Sris in this world

    Well done and Congrats on the win 🙂 🙂

    • debosmita permalink*
      June 21, 2010 4:00 pm

      Thank you so much 🙂 Lovely to have you here and for your feedback…I also sincerely hope everybody starts a modest beginning – by teaching their household servant/maid (if they are children) so that they can have a better future for themselves and their family.

  18. July 1, 2010 7:25 pm

    Very touching……I liked the happy ending 😀
    To do something for someone who is not your own is indeed great!!!

    • debosmita permalink*
      July 2, 2010 10:47 am

      Thank you dear 🙂 Thanks for always dropping by and encouraging 😀 True, doing something for someone who is not your own needs a very large heart 🙂

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