Veeresh returned home after 15 days!
15 days of uncertainty and agony! Of suffering and anguish! For himself and his family members! He felt like he was here in another lifetime! Fate gaven him another chance at life. He would face life’s challenges with fortitude and confidence. More importantly, he would never leave Tara to fend for herself. He had promised to look after her like a queen and that, he would, come what may! He couldn’t think of what got into him, running away from responsibilities the way he did! He entered his home and it felt like the warm embrace of his mother, ever welcoming!
“Dad!” Cried Arjun when he found his father on the hospital bed. He was shocked to find his father there, swathed in bandages. His father had not come home for the last several days. He did not know why. He tried asking his mother, but couldn’t get any answer. All she would tell was that he was out on work. Of course his father went out on work frequently for days together. But this time it was somehow different. His dad took him into his arms and smothered him with kisses before he left and murmured something about taking care of his mother and sister. He thought it was a silly thing to say. After all mother took care of everyone. She didn’t need to be taken care of!
Now, seeing his father in this condition, he was bewildered. “Why was his father like this? When will he come home?” His tiny mind wondered. “Uncle! What happened to my dad?” He asked Puneet, tugging at his sleeve. Veeresh slowly stirred as if in response to the familiar voice of his son. He opened his eyes slowly trying to focus on the source of the voice. His gaze rested on the face of Arjun. A flicker of recognition lighted up his eyes. Now Arjun could not stop himself. Before anybody could say anything, he bounded up to his father and shook his arm. Veeresh winced in pain but his lips widened into a smile as memory came flooding back!
The call came from the hospital to Veeresh’s home. The person on the line said that there was a patient admitted in their hospital, who could be Veeresh. The hospital authorities traced him from the adhar card that Veeresh was carrying in his wallet. Puneet, Veeresh’s childhood friend, noted down the address of the hospital. He then set out to fetch his friend home.
As he was leaving Veeresh’s hometo go to the hospital, he found Veeresh’s son Arjun sitting in one corner, anxiety writ on his face. He sought Tara’s permission to take Arjun with him. Although Arjun was hesitant at first, he brightened when he was told that Puneet uncle was going to find his dad.
Puneet responded immediately to Tara’s call for help. While on his way, Puneet’s thoughts went to his association with Veeresh, who had been his friend, philosopher and guide in life in more ways than one. Veeresh and Puneet went back a long way, Having studied in the same school and then college, they. were the best of friends ever since, even though they went their separate ways after finishing their studies. . They had kept in contact and took pride in each other’s achievements. He thought of his frequent visits to Veeresh’s place and their warm hospitality. He reached Veeresh’s home, listened to an account of what happened from Tara, about how Veeresh did not return
when he was supposed to and there was no word from him either, how Tara started to get worried, and tried all avenues to trace Veeresh, but to no avail . Tara had reached out to Puneet because she was at her wits’ end. Puneet tried to reassure Tara as best as he could, although he himself had no clue as to how to go about finding Veeresh. ‘Should they involve the police? It might make the hunt easier. He should take Tara’s opinion on this’, he thought.
Veeresh lay in his hospital bed. Presently he came to consciousness. He opened his eyes slowly and surveyed his surroundings. He was lying in an unfamiliar room in an unknown place. He looked around a little. It looked like a hospital room. What could he be doing there? He tried moving a little in an attempt to readjust his position. A twinge of pain pierced his body. It was so strong, he felt as if lightning struck him. He wanted to call out to the nurse but no sound came out. He was terrified! He could not remember how or why he landed up in this strange place. In fact he could remember nothing about himself. Did anybody know he was here? Did his family know? Did he even have a family? Where was his home? What happened to him? He felt helpless. He wished someone would come to him, talk to him and tell him. Veeresh felt lonely. In fact he never felt so lonely in his life. He had nothing but his own thoughts to keep him company!
Veeresh was agitated. He had lost heavily on all his investments. The stock market had suddenly come tumbling down and his investments reduced to practically zero value. He still had his children’s education to look after, their marriages to be performed. His ailing mother to take care of.. He felt sorry for his wife Tara. She had been always devoted to him and put his interests ahead of her own. She had nobody from her parents’ side either to calm her own. Just a handful of distant relatives with whom she couldn’t maintain any meaningful relationship because she was so caught up in fulfilling the demands of her own family . It would be cruel to inflict this upon her. It was a cowardly step that he was going to take. But he had no other choice either. He had invested all his money in stocks because stocks would yield good returns. He had become greedy. He had borrowed heavily too for the purpose of investing And now he was reaping the results. But what would Tara do when he was gone? How would she take care of his family without any financial support? It broke his heart to even think of the consequences. He was being selfish. But he should not become weak or he will not be able to carry on with his plan. He could not face the world with dignity anymore. Death is better than a life without dignity. So thinking, he jumped off the balcony of the hotel room in the middle of night when it would not be noticed. He felt an unbearable searing pain and then fell unconscious!
Veeresh wanted to make money. Pots of money to elevate him from his middle class existence. And he wanted it quickly. He had no time to waste or wait. He had been advised of many things that he could do to make his money grow, like fixed deposits, gold, ppf accounts and so on. Of all these, he was impressed with the stock market. The sensex has been growing steadily and yielded much better returns than all the secure methods of investment. Although it was somewhat risky, if he studied the markets well and invested wisely, he would surely multiply his money many times over in a short span of time. He could then provide the best of education for his children in the best schools, in India or abroad! He could also buy a flat of his own with all amenities and security. His wife Tara could buy the most expensive sarees if she liked. He would cover her from head to toe with jewelry. As for himself, he would rub shoulders with the high and mighty of the society, play golf with them in smart clothes, looking suave. And for all these dreams to come true, he had to earn money quickly and he decided that investment in shares was the best solution. to his problem. So he tried to follow the stockmarket, learn to read the balance sheets of companies, took tips from various sources and then draw his own conclusions and take decisions based on these. The stocks were very buoyant and the net value of his shares made more than 30% profits within 3 months. The experience was heady and he wanted more and more of it. He started borrowing money and investing in stocks. As the inflow of funds increased, he became more hopeful of higher returns on his investments, until he did not realize when hope turned into greed and he put every paisa that he could lay his hands on, into shares. He became more adventurous and started putting money into newer companies.
Then suddenly one day the bubble burst!
A huge scam was uncovered in the stock market and the castles in the air that he had built suddenly came tumbling down with such momentum that he didn’t know what hit him! He was dumbfounded when he first heard the news. He refused to believe it and lived in denial initially. Then as realization dawned upon him and he came to see the hopelessness of his situation, he felt helpless. He tried to raise a loan to tide him over the immediate needs but none was forthcoming. Everybody seemed to have financial troubles all at once.
Veeresh was elated! He was going to become a father for a second time! He fervently hoped that it would be a girl this time. There were very few girls in their family. Although it was nice to have a son, the joy of having a daughter is an entirely different experience. So, as he paced the corridor of the hospital to and fro, in anticipation of the good news, he felt restless with anxiety. He prayed that all should be well with the mother and child. Then, after what seemed like an eternity, a young nurse came to give him the news! And it was a girl! He was overjoyed. Lakshmi had come to his house. Now everything good only will happen to him and his household. He doted upon his little Lakshmi and like he had anticipated, lady luck seemed to be smiling on him! He was promoted in his job, the house he was living in, came up for sale, the bank loan was approved for purchase of the flat, and other similar things happened to give him great satisfaction. Now all he had to do was to invest his money wisely and they would be rich one day. Really rich to the envy of all his friends, neighbors and family.
Veeresh watched his son Arjun grow into a bright boy of 7. He was a fast learner and his milestones were all a little ahead of the usual.
He started to walk at 10 months and to talk soon thereafter. He was hyperactive and was a handful. He had put him in nursery when he hadn’t yet turned 2. He was very proud of his son’s progress and talked about it to anybody who would be willing to listen. ‘He had a relatively late marriage and Tara didn’t conceive in the first 2 years. That got everyone worried in the family. He wanted her to see a gynecologist but she was reluctant at first. When he was insistent, she revealed that she had been using a contraceptive! What a huge fight they had then! Finally he was successful in convincing her and she presented him with this bundle of joy! One look at the baby and all fights were forgotten. Parenthood was such a joy! Of course it had its moments of anxiety, like the time when he fell sick and the fever would not come down for more than a week, after which it was diagnosed as malaria and he responded to the treatment. Or the time when he was left in the school playing and the bus driver didn’t count the children properly. They had to run from pillar to post to find him. As a last resort, they had gone to the school to check once again. The school authorities had already checked and told him there was no child left there. Still they requested them to open the gates and check once again. And there he was sleeping on the landing of the staircase, his cheeks streaked with tears rolling down. How terrified he must have been! He shuddered even to think about it! But as they say, all’s well that ends well. But they got a lesson from the incident. Your home should never be that far from the school. The next month, they rented a flat within walking distance from the school!’ He reminisced
Those were the heady days! Days of youth, days of romance! He had been married a few months back. He lived in one city and his bride in another. Both were yet to complete their studies. The plan was that they should stay in their respective places and complete their respective education. He would then look for a job and the two would set up home then. The plan was sound and foolproof in mind but after marriage and after having spent a few days with his bride, all his plans turned topsy-turvy. He could not bear the idea of being separated from her even for a single day. So he started to try and convince her into shifting to his place at the earliest, immediately if possible. She at first put up a resistance, albeit a feeble one. It did not take her too long to fall in with his suggestions and join him. What a wonderful moment that was!
Veeresh did not want to get married just yet. He wanted to settle down, make some money before he would marry so that the married life would start on a comfortable note. He had seen enough deprivation and compromise while growing up. He did not want a continuation of the same in his marietal life. His parents were anxious that marriage should not be delayed too long. He put up resistance when his parents started looking for a suitable match for him. In one such case, however, his father put forward a counter argument. He said it would be a perfect match and if everything worked out, they could persuade them to have an engagement ceremony and wait for a couple of years before performing the wedding. He showed him the photo of the girl. He now understood why his father was so insistent. The girl was beautiful and from a cultured family. He would know more when he actually met her. So they went to their house and met them. The moment he set eyes upon her, it was love at first sight! He simply adored her! But then things did not go as anticipated. They did not agree to the long engagement. It was either marriage or nothing. He was disappointed but he had no intention of letting her go! He was young and ambitious!
He would certainly be able to look after his bride like a queen. So Veeresh and Tara got married, set to live happily ever after!
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