The Soulful Clemency

The sweet corns were slowly and steadily turning from white to yellow. The maize placed on the black charcoal was being constantly fanned by Lalita, a 10 year old under the watchful eyes of her mother. Lalita was a bit timorous in rotating the maize on the pot since the occasional flares emanating from the charcoal pot would scare her. Lalita’s mother constantly wheedled her to continue the rotation since her efficacy was the key factor in the profitable selling of the mazes. A middle aged couple was waiting for their sweet corns. The scorching summer heat was assuaging the efficiency and the perspicacity of Lalita.
It was a typical blistering summer month of May in Delhi, the national capital territory of India. The warm breeze known as loo began to encompass the entire Preet Niwas with the temperature peaking to 45 degrees Celsius. The trees began to sway a little as the sedate breeze turned into a short bust of storm. Lalita tied her torn yellow scarf around her face and continued her onerous task industriously. She was unable to focus on her work as the dust would sporadically blind her eyes. She rubbed her eyes with her yellow scarf while the other hand would continue to fan the burning charcoal.

Finally, the half an hour long vigil ended as the oppressive and stifling heat sapped Lalita of her exuberance and vivaciousness. Small drops of sweat formed a string of beads around her forehead as she gave the sweet corns to the middle aged couple in a foil. The foil consisted of peels of the maize. The ten rupees that she got from the sale of two sweet corns quickly slipped into the small earthen bowl placed on the pale wooden framework set on a wagon. The penurious condition of her family had quickly elevated her to one of the bread-earners in the family. She was forced out of school in the previous year as her family was unable to bear the expenses of her education. Her father, a rickshaw puller had been bed ridden from the past three months. A habitual drunkard, he used to beat Lalita’s mother on a frequent basis. Lalita would watch the pounding from the other room behind the rickety bamboo bars covering a small window in a shanty thatch of mud hut located at the outskirts of the city. A cold fear used to grip her as the sufferings of her mother cut a deep trenchant in her young heart. As she grew up, she would vociferously tell her mother to separate from her merciless father. However, a few months ago, Lalita’s father was diagnosed with tuberculosis. The responsibility was taking its toll on the young and the inexperience Lalita. But the unyielding Lalita didn't complain a wee bit and took everything in her stride with a smile.

Suddenly a loud noise of an aeroplane zooming past above her head began to reverberate in the entire surrounding. “Wow!” shrieked Tanmay, a 12 year old boy, still in his school uniform. He would spend hours in his balcony waiting for a dash of the white streak across the sky. Since his childhood, airplanes have dazzled his conscience. The son of an air commodore, Tanmay, developed a predilection of skies through numerous models of plastic aeroplanes that used to adorn the shelf of his palatial flat in Preet Niwas. Tanmay used to buy sweet corns on a regular basis from Lalita. He would ride his bicycle in full gear and halt just in front of Lalita with a pulsating noise of the screeching brakes. He would get impatient for a slight delay as Lalita would try her best to placate each customer. Sometimes, he used to ponder about the paucity of Lalita and her mother. He would take pity on her and generously give more money for the sweet corns. But today, Tanmay was in a virulent mood. The class teacher chided him for getting involved in a brawl with a fellow student and not completing his class work. As he bought his daily sweet corn, the serene face of Lalita in front of Tanmay couldn’t do much to alter his petulant arrogance. Soon Tanmay’s friends began to knock at his door and he dashed to play basketball with them.

Just opposite Tanmay's house, Lalita was busy in her chores under the tutelage of her mother. She gave a cursory glance at the boys as they sped their bicycles towards the verdant playground. There were loud cheers and whistling as the boys got engaged in a frolicsome play. Within no time, Tanmay got involved in a bitter quarrel with his friend Naresh. In a fit of rage, he threw the basketball at Naresh. The basketball was hurled at a great pace and it just missed Naresh as he took evasive action in time. Suddenly a loud clamour took everyone by surprise. The basketball crashed on the earthen pot of black charcoal. Lalita fell unconscious and her mother was taken aback by this sudden development. She was busy in her daily dose of afternoon nap and the sudden pandemonium startled her. She began to wail loudly and a large number of people gathered around the scene. The loud cries of Lalita began to grow in the entire Preet Niwas and the naked afternoon soon turned into a crowded fish market surrounding the sweet corn seller. Every one in the colony began to pour their respective suggestions as people from all throngs of the communities came to the succour of Lalita. Some of the people called ambulance and took Lalita to the nearby Apollo hospital. All this while, she was covering her eyes with a water soaked black cotton cloth. Her eyes were badly damaged from the accident and the hope of a beautiful world turned upside down. After that accident, Tanmay could never find Lalita opposite his house.

Many years later, Tanmay rose to become the chief pilot of the Air Force. He was the star performer of the Republic Day parade with his breathtaking stunts in the sky. He was vouchsafed with lots of accolades and awards for his distinguished performance in the Air Force. Every single individual in the Air Force respected him and the eulogies of his performance began to circumvent amongst the senior ranks of the Air Force. Within a short span of time, his hard work coupled with a burning passion in his chosen area of field shot him to dizzying heights. On the fateful day of Republic Day Parade, destiny played a cruel game with his phlegmatic visage. As usual, he careened his MIG fighter plane, up and down, left and right, impressing the audience with some brilliant moves in the sky. Every now and then, a huge euphoria greeted his antics in the mid air. But today suddenly, he lost control on his MIG fighter aircraft. The aircraft began to swerve violently but he was unable to control the trajectory. He tried to push the emergency button below his seat but the intractable MIG aircraft failed to respond.

Since Tanmay was left with very little option, he chose to jump from the aircraft with a parachute. In the meantime, the MIG caught fire and soon his cockpit got engulfed in large flames. Everyone in the audience was left shell shocked. The horror in the sky was unravelling at a breakneck speed and even the bravest of the hearts couldn’t bear this site. Tanmay landed with a thud on the virgin piles of the garbage dump adjoining the parade ground. With in minutes, Tanmay was rushed to the nearby Apollo hospital. He was immediately taken to the operation theatre since his vision was deteriorating with each passing moment. The operation lasted nearly 7 hours. All his near and dear ones rushed to the hospital and prayed for his well being.

The sombre atmosphere was broken by the arrival of Lalita, the DOCTOR. She amicably interacted with each family member of Tanmay’s family and reassured them of the success of the operation. He was shifted to ICU after the operation as the doctors decided to monitor the patient’s condition for a few days. Soon, Tanmay began to show signs of recovery. After few days, Tanmay’s bandage was removed from his eyes and he was delighted to see his mother in front of him. Every one congratulated him for the speedy recovery and heaped praises for Lalita, the doctor. Tanmay was dying to meet his saviour. In spite of such a horrific accident in the sky, Tanmay displayed a lot of character and was soon leisurely strolling in his room filled with an air of assurance. As the doctor Lalita arrived to monitor the condition of her patient, Tanmay was taken aback by her countenance. He knew he had seen the face before also but couldn’t remember it. On the other hand Lalita couldn’t stop smiling. “You are Lalita right!” exclaimed Tanmay. “Yes I am and I think you are Tanmay. How much are you going to pay me today for the sweet corns?” asked Lalita with a smirk. “Please don’t embarrass me. I still feel guilty for the tantrum that nearly cost your eyes. How come you are here?” asked Tanmay still looking at Lalita with a sense of awe. “After my accident, I was brought up by an NGO since my parents were unable to bear the expense of my operation. That day I decided to become an eye surgeon and serve the poor and the downtrodden. I was lucky to regain my vision with an operation and subsequent treatment which would not have been possible without the help of the NGO. So, Mr. Tanmay! How are you feeling now?”

“Nice and thanks for saving my life”

“It was my duty and by the way you were lucky that you came in time otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to see the light of the day. Take rest. I will come in the evening for a mandatory check up.”

As she left the room, Tanmay closed his eyes and realised that the meticulousness of Lalita had provided him with a new vision, a vision that will be indebted to Lalita’s soulful clemency.

A Post by Sushobhan who blogs at Read to enjoy

comment 1 comments:

Dr. Chandana Shekar on August 18, 2010 at 1:34 AM said...

nice :)

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