For sat on my back with a

For almost a decade my
prayer went unheard. My heart throbbed whenever I saw other boys enjoying the
company of their sisters.

“Oh Lord listen to my
pleading, please give me a sister!” I prayed.

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   A decade had passed. My mother gave birth to
a beautiful girl child. My joy went rocket high. I saw nothing on earth was as
beautiful as my sister. With pride I would carry and take her around.

 When I saw other’s sisters I would raise my
collar and softly I would say, “My sister is an Angel”.

   Soon, my sister was able to crawl and scream
with mischievous laughter. Anything she did enthralled me.

Her gentleness and her gaze
of bliss made me say to my mother, “Mei my
sister will be a great Teacher or a Saint someday”.

She had begun to utter
few words like Pa and Ma. I went to every nook and corner, to
all the neighbours’ house in proclaiming the great news about her. My joy about
her knew no bounds.

    My relationship with her grew stronger each
day. I would play the part of a horse, galloping and hopping as she sat on my
back with a small stick in her hand, whipping and controlling like a true rider
would. When I halted an outcry was certain. I would talk to her about my aims
and ambitions, “Hey Therese!” She looked at me smilingly.

“Therese you see, I’m
full of aims and ambitions. I’m mad with the desire to be someone great, famous
and to be praised by everyone. But I belong to the hoi polloi. Nevertheless,
sooner you’ll be proud of your Brother huh”. She nodded.

    I decided to unclip my wings. Before the cock
could crow everything was calculated and set. All the family members were up.
Everyone was startled. We looked at each other. There was a complete stillness.
They were too late to stop me. I wished them shongsuk and disappeared.

   My sojourn would be thousand miles away from
home. There were anxieties and nervousness all mixed with excitement

“Courage”, I consoled myself.

I sailed like a sailor on
a sea of great storms and uncertainties. At noon the train departed from Guwahati.
I saw some beggars but for the first time, I met some people of great stature.
Their voices and figures were peculiar to me. It was astounding for my poor
soul.

One of them stepped against
me with her hands clapping, “Hello Ji,
give me something Ji”.

“I’m a student”, I
replied nervously.

She threw an angry
glance at me. A shudder passed through me. I pulled out a ten rupee note and
gave it to her. She clapped her hands and left the place.

“Oh Blei”, I exclaimed with a deep relief.

    It was morning. I was in Kolkata. I decided
to have tea and when I made a move to pay I faced a nasty shock, “Where’s the
purse?”

I searched everywhere
and inquired from the people around; many of them shook their heads. In panic I
ran around the station with tears on my cheeks.

Penniless and alone in a tragic
situation, I had to reconcile myself with the mere thoughts to survive. Though
a boy in age, I wandered around the strange city to make ends meet. Night came;
the stomach groaned and shook like jelly. I saw a real Prodigal son in myself.
At home I felt so special: games, singing and yummy food. It was a little
heaven. In an instant I saw a beggar, he was eating a bun.

My mouth watered, “Please give me a piece
of it I’m starving to death”.

He stared at me, broke the bun into half
and gave it to me. I snatched it like a monkey and ate it. I gave him a big
smile. Rain poured down in torrents. I spent the night under the bridge. It was
stinky and dark, the whole place was infested with mosquitoes. It was awful. Before
it was bright I would search for work; from house to house from shop to shop,
not even a corner was left unvisited. What had I got at the end of day? Sarcasm
and insulting words were the gifts.

When I asked for alms a painful reply
would be, “Rogue! Look at you, what you lack? You are to work and not to beg”.
When I asked for work they turned their backs. I explained to them about my ordeal.

Some said, “You are not the only beggar
in this city.  Pretenders like you always
have sweet tongues”.

I left the place frustrated.

Albeit, hapless I asked myself, “Is
honesty the best policy? Will the truth set me free? Can I do bad things for
good? Can stealing be a crime in this situation? “.

I had to combat with these thoughts. The
hunger didn’t spare me. I had to search for food in the garbage dumps so that I
could go to bed without an aching stomach.

One day, I met an Angel
and with a kind smile I was offered a job as a Dhobi. With excitement I grabbed the offer. It was a first smile I
got as a beggar. With gratitude I worked daily.

    As I walked home from my work, my heart
brimmed with a rush of affection. An impulse stopped me. I heard some noise
from inside the house. I craned and saw some physically challenged people and
some nuns. I watched them closely.

“Jai Jisu, Bhai!” I was greeted by a nun, she invited me inside.

I chatted with some of
the inmates but one girl captivated me. I was drawn to talk with her. Her look
was an expressive means to unveil a story. Her facial, smiles, voice, and
gestures were exactly those of my sister.

“What’s your name?” I
asked her.

“Therese!” she replied.

“What!” I exclaimed with
surprise.

“Therese”, was her firm
reply.

Memories about Therese
rushed like a stream.

“Kya aap mere Bhai ho?” she asked me.

“No!” I replied.

She asked again, “Kya aap mere Bhai ho?”  I was dumb.

The third time she
asked, “Kya aap mere Bhai ho?” I
remained speechless.

Her eyes were filled
with tears glittered like diamonds.

I said, “Therese I … I…”

But she began to share
her story, “I don’t know my parents nor do I have any idea where they are. The
one thing I do know with all my heart; I was abandoned and unloved. They found
me helpless. Now, I’m loved and cared. But I long to have siblings like others
do”, she sobbed softly.

“Give me your hand”, she
asked me.

I gave it but she could
not grasp. She asked again but nothing came to my brain. She was half
paralysed. I blushed; I stooped down and gave my hand. She gently tied a Rakhi .She asked me to wait. She brought
a key chain and placed it on my palm.

It was imprinted, “Bhai”.

She smiled and wished
me, “Happy Raksha Bandhan.

Tears of consolation had
washed off the bitterness that had rankled in my heart.

 

     With a Rakhi
I walked out of the house hopeful and consoled. Now, I have two Thereses.