A Comeback of Sorts

July 28, 2014

"Now here's our little Aadhi, take good care of him hereafter.''

"Now what's it..." asked Swetha coming out and just about seeing her husband's back fade away.

Their son, Aadhi aged 9, was at the door. The time was 7.20 pm. Seemed like as always, Santosh had picked him at 7 pm after his tuition classes and dropped him back.

"Take good care of him hereafter''? It was unusual of her husband to say that, mused Swetha...Did he really?

"Papa hardly spoke to me on the way back, he was in a hurry,'' went on Aadhi once inside. 

"Never hugged me nor asked what happened in my class and did not even kiss me today," he complained.

He did not like being picked up late by his father and was petrified that his father would not turn up at the teacher's every day. He needed a reassurance daily.

Swetha too found it odd that Santosh had left the way he did. 

"What's for dinner?", "What do you want me to bring home today?" were his usual querries after coming home, picking Aadhi. Might have had urgent work, Swetha thought.

Her thoughts for a fleeting second went back 16 years, the day they were married. It would be their 16th Wedding Anniversary on August 15th. The day our country got Independence, I lost mine - Santosh used to tease her often. Theirs was a late marriage of sorts. She was 29 and Santosh 35 then.

Aadhi, their only son, was born 7 years later, not before many visits to the doctors, temples, fulfilling of vows, and in short, great longing. Santosh absolutely doted on Aadhi and had taken on his entire reponsibility. Aadhi initially had problems speaking and the troubles Santosh had taken to bring him on track had memerised Swetha. She had heard of motherly love, but 'fatherly' and of this kind was before her eyes to see. Reassuring Aadhi was his hall mark and he never broke a promise given to him.

Aadhi is lucky and so am I, she thought.

Once in the kitchen, Swetha was thinking of a new recipe, when the door-bell rang.

There was a police constable at the door holding Santosh's driving licence.

Yes? she said.

"Madam, This DL- does it belong to your husband? Bike No- Ka 19 M Z O123?"

"Yes" - Shwetha replied and just about spotted 3 or 4 people from the neighbourhood behind the policeman.

"I'm sorry Madam, there's been a terrible accident near Mannagudda at around 6.40 pm. A lorry has knocked down Mr Santosh and there's absolutely no hope of......your neighbour, Mr Ranganath here is witness....'' the policeman blurted.

"Whaa ...What ?'' wailed Swetha..... Wait......she screamed after a second. He had dropped Aadhi here at 7.20 pm and you say he met with this horrific accident at 6.40 p.m?

"Aadhi, Aadhi" Shwetha screamed...

"Madam - I was passing by and saw this accident happen. Did not take me long to see that it was Santosh. In fact I phoned the police and arranged for the ambulance.....'' Ranganath was saying but Swetha was far off.

''Yes Mamma.... Did you call?"

"Aadhi, Aadhi - Who brought you home Aadhi?" Shwetha barely managed to ask.

"Papa of course! Who knows my teacher's place otherwise to pick me up? but but...He was not his usual self..." Aadhi replied.

Shwetha slumped.

All the local dailies carrried the news of the accident the next day. The accident had happened between 6.40 and 6.45 pm. The doctors had tried their level best to revive Santosh but could not.

The end had come at 7.21 pm.