It was a sunny morning started with the chirp of birds, someone humming Kishore kumar, Suprabhatam heard from a temple nearby and neighbors hurrying to catch up with the honking cab driver at the gate. Amidst these noises there was someone who was still asleep in a lonely corner of a room. Bunch of soiled formals, jeans and Ts lying haphazardly, books thrown here and there were a about to tell a different story altogether.Although this scene was uncommon for his roomies earlier and felt something is really wrong, they could not gather enough courage to speak it out. Thus, one time top performer awardee was lying silently in some PG of an IT city unaware of the surprises which were waiting to unfurl soon
Ram was a young lad from a remote village of the state where finishing tenth was a big feat. Ram was one among those Gen Y guys who struggled a lot to pursue their dreams and completed his Engineering. He was very sad when he had to leave his mom to join an IT firm which has hired him during campus recruitment. She was the one to console him with the fact that he has lived 4 years without her and they can still be in touch via daily phone calls and can still meet each other once in 2-3 months,if not in every week which they used to earlier.
Ram was talented, ambitious and hardworking lad who was willing to take any responsibilities in his quest for knowledge. As the days passed, his polite nature and ability to gel up with anyone made him quickly likeable by the colleagues of his age group even though it raised eyebrows of some skeptic seniors. Thanks to the efforts, awards like Top Performer, Star of the month followed him within first few months
With great responsibilities, there arrived the great pressure. The thought of deadlines would tense him so much that every day he would end up extending his working hours. He just wanted to continue receiving appreciations for advance completion of his work and started sacrificing weekends for it. But slowly these sacrifices also did not help to finish his work and he would oftenend up in a pile of things to do and no time to do any of it. It increased the tension further.
One day when he accidentally happened to visit the terrace of his office, he saw the “smoking zone” As he was from rural background it was quite uncommon for him to imagine a separate area in a building where people could go and smoke freely!. Throughout his engineering days he was never tempted to smoke in spite of numerous offers by his dearest classmates. Might be the way he has seen his brother battle for life after becoming addicted to smoking and tobacco might have touched him.
In initial days he felt that this is not as good as the happiness given by early morning jogs or Pranayama during evening yoga. But slowly his thought started to change. He used to think "where is the time for morning jogging or evening yoga now? In that time i can stay back in office and reach my milestones earlier. Aren’t these waste of time! Instead, cigarette seems to be a better option" . Days went on and a strong feeling deep rooted in his mind that cigarette is the only option. Thus one more chain smoker was added as permanent member of the smoking zone.
Although tension used to relieve temporarily with couple of puffs,it did not solve the actual problem. Suggestions like watching movies every night or engaging more in social network did not help out to come out of his tension. Gradually he started losing interest on everything. Neither his work nor people around him could console him except the senior most colleagues during his bad mood. Days were getting difficult for the colleagues to work with him and his performance decreased alarmingly. He could not give time even to the calls of his mother. One could only see tension in his red eyes which started filling up with dark circles due to lack of sleep.
Coming back to present, Ram is lying in his PG all alone after his friends missed to notice their beloved roomie catching fever and lying in a poor condition. As they had to leave for their work anyhow, they could not care much about the guy who rarely talked with them in last couple of weeks. Nobody knows how long he was lying like that until the continuous ring of a call waked him up. With lot of difficulty of his half opened eyes he could observe that it is his Mom who is calling him. By the time he woke up, call got disconnected. He woke up wondering why she has called so early in the morning. When he noticed the phone, he was shocked. Alas it is not early morning. It is 10 Am already!! And there were 9 missed calls.
All 9 were from mom and none from his colleagues! Motherly conversation begun as follows.
Mom:I am really sorry sonny. Sorry for calling in your busy working hours. I tried to call you early morning. But could not reach you.
Ram: Oh is it? I am really sorry mom. By this time, thoughts started flowing in his mind about how lonely she might have felt as he did not talk to her properly since longtime. By the time he could speak more, his eyes were filled up with tears.
Mom: Hey, It is ok Sonny. I guess you might be quite busy nowadays. Just wanted to wish you happy B'day. Let the god give my age also to you as well. Live happily ok?
Ram silently started crying at this listening to her. What a pity! A mom has to try 8-9 times to reach her own sun and she has to even apologize for calling him!!
Mother was getting tensed at the other end not getting any response from here.
Mom: Sonny, are you OK?
Hey Ram, what happened? Her questions seemed to reverberate in her own ears.
Mom: Hello Ram, are you there?Is everything OK? Please talk something. I can’t resist this silence. Not getting any answer for this as well, she started crying.
Ram came to his senses hearing his weeping mom.
No mom, I am Ok. But he was poor in hiding emotions and motherly heart could feel it. She sensed something is wrong. But it may not proper time to ask. Let him tell it on the right time.
Ram continued after sometime wiping his own tears: Mom, why are you crying? I am just having some cold and fever. You should not cry on my b’day. Come on, laugh a bit now. OK?
Mom could finally smile wish him to get well soon and hung up as he was already getting late to office. He promised to continue their talk in evening. He picturized himself in place of his brother who has battling for life due to smoking. He could already feel his health deteriorating due to smoking. At any cost he could not let his mom suffer seeing the second son committing the same mistake as of first. So some strong resolution was being formed in his mind.
Although he was still feeling giddiness, he did not want to take leave as he expected some celebration at office for his b’day. Surprisingly there were no wishes or questions about him coming late as there was no deadline to worry about. Whole meaning of life seemed to change all of a sudden. Life is how he leads it. He is the one who should lead it not the other way round. Although the desire to have a puff was driving him towards smoking zone, he controlled himself with lots of difficulty. Tried interacting with others via talk or chats . Colleagues were bit reluctant initially. But gradually accepted the old Ram coming back to form. Each second avoiding smoke was paining him like hell and it was even difficult to resist even someone offered to join for smoke. He just kept one thing in mind. A Single smoke could make him a chain smoker again. He should not let it happen. Finally the day passed on and he was back to PG in time.
He saw the sunset over a lake nearby, enjoyed the shapes made by birds retuning home.Washed the pile of clothes and dusted the books which were very happy to see their owner back in form. Pair of jogging shoes and yoga mats were very keen to see the next day as one story was about to unfurl and next one was about to begin.The call of mom and resolution made by it made him take a very important decision in his life. It was the day which made him see the day.
--> This story has won first prize in TCS literary uproar contest under the "short story" category on 26/09/2014