Occupy Daily Prompt: Quote Prompt#2
Dreams, desires, ideas, anger, jealousy- nothing puts a heart on fire like regrets. Chand, now an old, weak man, had the rest of his days to spend with such regrets.
While growing up, he had loving parents and too many younger brothers. His mother was a housemaid and was always tired. His father, a truck driver, spent days away from home but when he did return, he taught his kids to be kind and hardworking.
In the clutches of poverty, the brothers became more selfish than anything else. They were strangers now.
It wasn’t dark. He wasn’t drunk. It was a second’s distraction. He took his eyes off the road, didn’t see the green switch to red. It was too late for Chand to avoid it and death stole the girl’s scream. It became his first haunting regret.
He never drove a vehicle again. He left his job, he soon left the country and did labour work at construction sites in Saudi Arabia until he was too old to continue. If someone would have said Chand then that after 40 years, he would take only the second hand, bed bugs infested, 3 rial blue blanket with him when he left his home to spend the rest of days in a corner of a by-lane, he would have taken better care of it.
He didn’t know why some people would drop rupees in front of him. He was never asking for any money. A few vendors gave him food. The rag-pickers and official trash-lifters made small talks every now and then.
His parents got him a bride when he was only 22. He never really got to spend a life with her. Within 2 months of the marriage, he had to move to Saudia. But now, he realises that their marriage lasted till the end because they lived in different countries.
May be he lived in good colony. One man gave him a mattress. One got him new clothes on Eid. One day his son dropped a new blanket before him.
He didn’t ask his father to come back home. What would you become if everyone you called family had nothing to give each other but constant bickering and derision? How would you feel when the only one you could call family- your grandfather dies, leaving you with a mother too preoccupied with complains, jealousy and get-rich-quick schemes to teach you anything valuable? What would you become if you see your cousins flaunting their toys, clothes, education and good jobs when you had 8 letters and a measly money order every month for a father? Could your son treat you anything other than a burden if you skipped 2 decades of his life and never replied to his letters ? Chand threw that new blanket in the trash. His fatherless son his second regret.
Then the by-lane brought Chand a friend. He spread plastic sheet every night for him, and kept 4 stones at the corners. The black dog with his heart-melting humble eyes, soon left his shelter underneath the rusty car, and slept everynight on his new bed. Chand gave him food and water.In return, he never left Chand’s side.
He wondered, if he had even a bit of this dog’s gratefulness and loyalty in him, he could have been a better son. His most painful regret. His father died disappointed in him and his mother died pining for her son. He could have returned and not left them on the mercy of his wife and detached brothers, but he chose to be drunk.
Would Shabana neglect his child, parents and home if he was not standing around and waiting without purpose? Had he not drowned himself in his guilt, would Shabana have talked back to his parents and chase jobs and comforts?
One day, when he wasn’t feeling too weak, he went down the lane where one generous couple put out huge clay-pots of water. It was like drinking from a cool spring.
When he returned, he saw a young guy petting his friend. On seeing Chand, the dog trotted towards him. He let his friend have some water. The young guy realising Chand to be homeless, handed him money. He was gone a good distance but the boy returned and asked Chand if that was his dog.
“He is mine.”
“I see you here all the time,” the boy pointed at the dog and said, “and him too. You were not here about six months back. But he is been here for a while. He is not like the other stray dogs in this area. I like him.”
” He is not.”
“You two look like good friends now.”
And then for no apparent reason Chand poured his heart out to a stranger.
” You look worried, beta. Worrying and constantly thinking is of no use.Treat your parents good. Walk on the path of Allah and His Messenger(saw). I am Mohammed Chand.I left driving when I killed a girl. Then I went to Saudia. I should done something for my parents..”, the boy listened because Chand’s voice showed his desperation, his worries and he couldn’t help but feel sorry for him.
A auto-driver came spurting forward, yelled cuss words at Chand. He screamed at the auto as it swiftly passed them and went ahead.
A moment later, Chand continued, “.. my brothers moved out as soon as they could. They would drop by every now and then which stopped eventually, and sent them some money but my wife had plans. Allah alone knows what she did with all that money. They died. I came back years later to know that my wife diedlong ago and my son was married. He is the local goon, Salim. You must have heard of him.”, Chand would have continued, but the boy made an excuse and left.
The boy knew that the city is filled with such broken families. And eventhough, he could have listened to the old man, he just couldn’t after a while.
After the boy left, Chand had the same thoughts again. He should go back to his house and set his son right and everything right. With anger, with love, with whatever it would take. He went towards the masjid to beg for strength.
But half way through, he saw his mistakes before him. He saw his sins before him. HIs guilt and regrets shrouded his hopes. He bought alcohol with his earnings of that day, went back to his corner at the by-lane and escaped into oblivion.