This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 43; the forty-third edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is "LIGHT"
This post won the Silver Batom....!!!
“Call me as soon as you reach Hyderabad, don’t forget, ok?” said Malini looking visibly concerned.
Sending your 18 year old daughter alone on a night bus to a city 500 kms away wasn’t so safe in these days and times. But who could ever win an argument with Shreya? Once she had made up her mind, no one could persuade her to change it. Malini had tried her best to convince Shreya to study in the city, but the young girl had her heart set on a prestigious college in Hyderabad and had worked hard towards getting admission to the college of her choice. And now she was leaving home to join college in a new city with new people, and Malini grew sick trying to think of how Shreya would adjust to the new environment.
Shreya gave her a shrug and a nod, so typical of girls her age. It was beyond her comprehension why her mom was so ballistic about her studying in Hyderabad. She wondered how her mom would react when she told her about her plans of going abroad for her Masters. We’ll cross the bridge when we come to it, she thought and smiled.
“Bye Ma, you take care, ok? Take medicines on time, eat on time and get some good sleep, don’t fret over me. I’ll be fine.” She said giving her mom a peck on her cheeks.
Her mom was crying now, hugging her daughter tightly, as if she’d never let her go.
“Oh Ma, come on now, don’t do this, we’ve discussed this a hundred times before. Now be a good mom, and give me a smile.” She comforted her mom and wiped away a tear before rushing out. “I’m getting late, ma, don’t wanna miss the bus. Muaahhhh Ma” she blew her mom a kiss just before she disappeared out of the gate.
14A…14A….Ah! Here it is… she found her seat, settled into it, plugged her earphone on and closed her eyes. She could feel the bus filling up, and then someone settling into the seat besides hers. She was in no mood for small talk and chose to keep her eyes closed. Leaving home was an emotional moment for her too but she had tried not to show. Nothing could come in between the grand plans she’d made for herself. Not her mom, not her emotions, nothing. She knew her mom would be all alone now, but Shalini aunty next door had promised to look after her. Her thoughts of her mom and her home coupled with the soft whirring of the bus and the gentle movement soon lulled her to sleep.
Shreya got up holding her abdomen. The pain was severe and she wondered how she was able to actually get up in spite of the pain. Suddenly, what had seemed like a sharp shooting pain had miraculously vanished and she felt just fine. She touched her abdomen where it had been hurting and it seemed like it had been a bad dream. Something bright shone in the distance and she opened, closed and blinked her eyes trying to adjust her vision to the source.
And then she saw it.
A bright blinding light.
Seeming to come from what looked like the end of a tunnel.
Walk towards the light Shreya. A soft voice called to her.
Shreya, obeyed and walked as if in a trance. And then she stopped mid track; her attention diverted as she saw the bus.
The bus she had been travelling in.
Turned turtle, it lay in the middle of nowhere. And then there were people. People gathered around, trying to pull the passengers out of the bus. A girl in a blue salwar kameez was now being brought out. The body looked limp and lifeless. Her earphone wrapped around her neck. Shreya, instinctively touched her ears.
No earphones. Where did her earphones go?
And then she walked closer to the girl. The earphones looked similar to hers. The girl was bleeding at her abdomen. Something sharp seemed to have pierced through. Then she looked at the girl’s face.
Oh God! That’s me! Am I…?. She cupped her mouth with both her palms drawn together and froze even as reality dawned on her.
That’s why the bright light…
She took one last look at her own lifeless body and then turned around and began walking towards the bright light at the end of the tunnel, shoulders drawn in, and her back almost in a hunch. Her heart was overcome with grief at the thought of how little she had been able to achieve and how little she had lived. She thought of her mother, what she would go through, looking at her daughter’s dead body. She didn’t even want to think about it.
God, why me? What did I do to deserve this?
Keep walking child; you are in my care now. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
It was the same voice. But it wasn’t like someone was speaking to her. It almost seemed like the voice was in her head. She continued to walk towards that light. As she emerged from the tunnel, she saw the bright light but now it looked brighter and pulsating with life, the air filled with aromas she had never smelt before and music so soothing that she had never heard before. Someone was walking towards her, and she thought that he looked so much like her.
“My child, my Shreya” he said giving her a hug.
“Who are you?” she asked pushing him away.
“Bhaskar, your father.”
“No, you are not my dad, my dad’s Anil Kumar.”
The man just smiled and walked away. Then she saw her dad and ran to him.
“Dad, I missed you so much. How could you leave us like that?”
Her dad smiled and held her hands in his. “Sometimes, that’s the only option we have, child. Your mom is right about what she thinks.”
What did he mean by that? But she seldom understood what he said.
Then she heard that voice again.
Close your eyes child.
She did as she was told. Glimpses of her entire life passed by like she were watching a movie. The little Shreya, center of her mom’s world, everything her parents had done for her, the fun times, the sad times, her dad’s sudden passing away, her school life, her friends, the times she had hurt her mom, everything. When she opened her eyes, there was no one with her.
“That is it God? I really haven’t got much done isn’t it? I can’t believe you took me so soon.”
What is it that you wanted to do?
“I wanted to get a degree, go abroad do my masters, get a great job, get married, have kids, lead a good life.”
All that is of no use when you come here. As you have already seen, you will not bring anything of it with you. Do you want to see what you left behind? Look there.
She saw herself lying on a bed in the ICU. Bandages running across her abdomen and wires running, literally, everywhere. Then she saw her mom. She was standing outside the ICU. The doctor was talking to her.
“I don’t think we can save your daughter, not even a miracle can,” the doctor was saying to her distraught mother.
What a liar, I’m already dead. Why doesn’t he just say so? She thought.
Because you aren’t...not yet. The voice.
Her mom broke down and there was no one to console her. It pained Shreya beyond what she had imagined.
Suddenly the truth dawned on her.
How she wished she could hold her mom again and sleep on her lap! She meant so much to her mother but she had only thought about herself and nothing more. In fact, she had never thought about anyone else. She had been proud, arrogant, and selfish all through.
I’ll grant you a choice, child. You can choose between coming back to life or going towards death. If you choose life, you’ll wake up in that hospital bed and go on to lead life till you come back to me again. If you choose death, you’ll be free of all your bonds and stay here with me.
“God, give me another chance please, I beg of you. I understood what you meant…what my purpose in life is. Let me go and live that life you would have wanted me to lead.”
The electrocardiograph had started showing signs of activity again, just as the nurse was about to report that it had become blank. She rushed out to call the doctor.
“Maliniji, looks like there’s been a miracle, this is not something you see every day. Congratulations, your daughter is a fighter after all.”
A fortnight later, Shreya was ready to go home, though she still needed to rest for some more time.
“Mom, would you believe if I told you I went to heaven and came back?”
“I’ll believe anything you tell me darling.”
Poor child, she thought, must be hallucinating from all that heavy medications and anesthesia.
As if reading her mind, she asked again, “Would you still not believe me if I told you that I met Bhaskar, who said he’s my dad?”
“And that the only dad I know, committed suicide? You knew that all along, didn’t you? He said you were right.”
“How…? Oh my God… Shreya….” She didn’t know what to say. Shreya couldn’t have known any of this. She had never mentioned this to anyone ever. No one except herself knew. Did Shreya really die and come back? Did she really meet her father? Maybe it was time to tell her everything.
She knew her mother believed her now. “Can I sleep on your lap mom?”
Shreya smiled as her mom ruffled her hair. Life never gives you a second chance, she was just plain lucky. The light at the end of the tunnel had shown her the way.