“ We are done with you Raghu . Now its your turn little Vichu ”
Raghu watched as his three year old son approached the seat , his face contorting in shyness . The crew belonged to a prominent television channel who had come to cover his family as part of their ‘ Life in the slum ‘ live documetary . As a dozen sympathetic eyes focussed on his son , Raghu heard the lady who anchored the show reading out a short account on his son from a file of papers – his son’s patient manual .
” This innocent kid , who yearns with every inch of his mind to go out there and play with his friends is chained to the four walls of his house by the cruel tentacles of a gnawing disease . ” The lady went on with her compassionate speech , an air of exhuberance dominating her demeanour .
Raghu recollected the doctors words as he watched his little son settling on the seat reluctantly .
‘ Your son is suffering from a very grave heart disease , Raghu . If not operated in a month’s time , the situation would turn even more bleak . If you could atleast conjure a small sizeable amount , we would admit him . Otherwise you will have take him to the Government Hospitalin the nearby town ,where the facilities are bare minimum , i have heard ”
Raghu was jolted up from his thoughts as the crew members started wrapping up their show . Raghu checked his watch and realised that it was almost time for him to return to the shop for his night duty .
Reaching hastily at the shop , he noticed that the shop owner was still engaging a client . As he was locking his bicycle chain , the shop owner along with his client walked out of the shop , laughing over some trivial joke .
” Aah Raghu , here take this key . I need to be away from town for the night . Incase i am late , make sure that the first worker to arrive at the shop tomorrow morning is let in . Keep the key safe . I trust you . You are my most dedicated employee ” . The owner said patting his shoulder .
Raghu slipped into his usual shoddy cubicle outside the shop once the owner left the place . He sweared in pain as the mosquitos started bititng his legs as if in a bout of revenge . And that was when what the owner’s grave reminder struck him deep . “ Raghu , keep the key safe ! “
Fumbling inside his pocket , he slid the key out . ‘ What if it was God’s way of opening a window to help him out of his misery . Will the saab know if I steal something as unnoticeable as a gold ring .I could get a good amount of money as loan from the lender couldn’t I ? ‘
Raghu , after dissecting the thought over and over in his mind , decided to put it to action . After having admitted himself inside , he scurried past the counter to the wooden rack accommodating the gold rings . He hurriedly snatched a petite ring from the rung and scampered back to the door .
‘ Are You doing the right thing , Raghu ? ‘
Raghu stopped in his tracks as a voice rumbled from somewhere near him . He realized regretfully that it was his own tainted conscience which just spoke to him . ‘ But I need the money . I cant lose my son . Its no fault of his ! ‘ . He retorted in agony .
The grief striken face of his wife dawned on his mind . She would blame him with harrowing words for letting their son die if he failed to procure the required amount of money . As the gasping state of his son flashed across his eyes , Raghu strengthened his clutch on the ring . His heart was pleading him to go on with the act while his head threatened him with a ‘ No’ .
When Raghu returned to his seat after a few minutes , his cheeks were soaking in tears . He carried no ring in his hands .
Raghu waited impatiently for the sky to break open , sprinkling the first shower of morning rays to unveil the subtle details of the earth which remained hidded beneath the dark shroud of night . He wasnt feeling good , let alone relieved that his duty for the night was over . The gay chirping of the morning birds failed to paint a pleasant shade on his dreary , dejected life . As the floating bundle of clouds changed shades from crimson to bright yellow , the first worker approached the shop . Raghu was partly relieved of the thought that he could atleast let go off the key , which was threatening to be more and more sinful by each tick of the hour . He slid onto his bicycle and started pedalling slowly towards the tattered lane which led to his house , rather a shack . Emotions and principles were at loggerheads inside his head as he harked back the distressing incident of the previous night . Stealing was never a solution for any extent of adversity . He concluded . He felt a heaviness clogging his heart chambers as the thought of his son drilled through him . He sighed deeply as if his sorrows would be expelled out of his body merely by the act .
As he walked into his house , his wife came running to him , panting , her face flushed with joy . She handed him an envelope urging him to open it . It contained a letter , rather a small note with a few lines scribbled on it , which read :
‘ Raghu , I am hereby attaching a cheque for an amount which , i suppose , would be useful for your sons’s surgery . I am a businessman who intends to do charity with part of my monetary assets . I hope your son lives a long happy life ‘ .
“ We are blessed ! Do you think it was the documentary ? But i thought , being of a local channel , nobody would even care to watch it “ . His wife was almost shrieking out as she enquired curiously.
Raghu failed to hear her rapturous words . He saw the letters smudging in his tears as his mind swelled up in pride . His conscience was rewarded . He knew just that .