Glaring Shadow - A stream of consciousness novel (Part 10, page 1 of 5)


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Part 10

Couple of a Kind

“Don’t they look made for each other,” he said handing me a framed photograph of a handsome pair. “When Nehru was preparing the draft of his ‘tryst with destiny’, my father would’ve been penning his odes to my mother, whom he was courting then; and well before Nehru came to deliver his famous lines; my dad led his lady love to the altar. Yet it was no less a struggle for him to wed her as it was for Gandhi to wrest our country from the British yoke; while his dad had fixed a match for him with much dowry, the father of the bride didn’t think too much of the suitor any way. Why not, he was only nineteen and was some way into becoming a Fellow of Arts, F.A in short; but the way the ‘man in the teen’ could cross all the hurdles in his way was the first sign of his ‘gung ho’ nature and ‘go-getter’ guts. While still in school, he led his classmates in the Quit India movement in disrupting the telephone network by cutting its cabling, and that a benign policeman of the British Raj did not execute the arrest warrant against my father was another story. Well, in the independent India, though he was eligible for freedom fighter’s pension, he did not opt for it believing that the state remuneration might sullen his sense of achievement.”

“What a fall that the well-off of the day subterfuge for the doles meant for the have-nots?”

“While self-sacrifice ruled the yearning hearts of a generation of our freedom fighters, self-interest came to govern the greedy minds of the powers that be in our free country,” he said. “As for my father, proving it right that vivahe vidya naasaaya, his marriage brought his studies to a premature end as he took his bride to his village to live with his parents and that put paid to whatever his career ambitions were.’

“You did better than your dad on either count didn’t you?”

“We were poles apart in every way and so our lives won’t lend themselves for comparison,” he said. “A year after the colonial air was cleared over our subcontinent, I was born, and I have my mother’s word that he loved me the most of all his children; but, sadly as life has it, our adult faculties fail to recall the pristine parental affection in its nascency. And why doubt that for he died worrying more about my future than any other sibling of mine though the last two were yet to settle down in life. Maybe, soon after I was born that he entered into that aborted business partnership whereby he swore never to believe anyone save my mother and his brother-in-law, whose wife saved me from drowning into the tank. True to his character, he kept his word till the very end, and sadly so, for he lived and died without a friend. Well, I fared no better as in later years I distanced myself from all my childhood buddies including Raju.”

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