Sunday, August 5, 2012

Yesterdays and Tomorrows


This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 30; the thirtieth 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.

Was it only a year back that life had looked so rosy? He had everything then – a loving wife, a son to rejoice in and work that he was passionate about. After a decade of working for others he had embarked on his own venture full of optimism and hopes for tomorrow.
It took such a short time for dreams to come crashing down and to lose everything that you had slaved for to get. Rohit looked across at his wife, who was busy managing his fidgety son. She had warned him to close shop and look for a job. Why had he not listened to her then?
One year was an eon in his profession. God knows he had tried everything at his disposal to find a job after his venture crashed a month ago. If his wife had not been working, they would have found it difficult to make both ends meet. As it was, they would have to take a drastic cut in their lifestyle. The future he had dreamt of for his son had vanished like a mirage.
“Mom! I want to play in the water”
“Shh!”
Rohit looked around. There was the elderly man, who had carried out all his responsibilities and was serenely watching the sunset. The well-to-do slender man in designer shorts with his son was enjoying the beach.
He had come over to the beach to escape the stifling feeling of claustrophobia at home. Now, the deepening sunset only highlighted the gloom that had descended on his life.
* * * * * *
Geeta! The word was a moan of anguish in the depths of his heart. His wife of forty years and the beat of his heart! In the symphony of his life, she had been the basic harmony. Now that she was no more, there was no music in his life or in his heart.
Three months! Three long months since she had gone to sleep and never risen again! Three months since he had forgotten to live and merely existed like an automaton. His son and daughter-in-law had resumed their normal lives. They took care of all his bodily needs but it never struck them that he also needed someone who would find the time to talk to him – merely because he was loved and not because it was their duty.
When Geeta was around, he had never felt the lack of company. It had not always been so. Their marriage had been an arranged one and their initial days very acrimonious. She had always been feisty and would not knuckle down to social conventions. But, how compassionate, how caring! It was the basic generosity of her heart that broke through his conventional expectations and he found himself, almost unwillingly, head over heels in love with her. Loneliness had merely been a word to him since then and not the bone-chilling, soul-sapping reality that it was now.
Now, she was gone. Forever! That word rang with hollow hopelessness and opened up a vista of endless gloom in front of his unseeing eyes. A gloom as deep as the one presaged by the sun setting across the sea!
He looked at the family of three sitting together in silent companionship and at the slender man bonding with his son. The gust of bitter envy that shook his being shamed him but the shame could not shake the chill despair rooted in his heart.
* * * * * *
“I am going to die, am I not, Dad!”
Tears prickled at the corners of Atul’s eyes. The boy’s high-pitched voice had attracted the attention of the people around him but Atul was oblivious.
He looked down at the solemn face of his son. He was so young. His was the age to be running around with exuberance; an age where he should have been with his mom fighting for the TV remote or for time on the PC; an age where sorrow was a loss in a video game or a poor test performance and everything else was ecstasy; not the age to be talking solemnly about death.
“Cancer is curable, Vinay!” the words came out strangled by the lump in his throat that threatened to suffocate him.
The thought of losing his son almost unmoored his reason. This was the child, whose smile had filled his heart with unbearable joy as a babe-in-arms; the child whose first steps had made him prouder than when he had made his first million; the boy who could break a priceless vase and blow away his anger with a woebegone look and a whispered ‘Sorry’; the boy whose unexpected embraces and happy smiles made all his other achievements pale to insignificance.
Was it just a shade more than two years ago that Vinay had been a mischievous boy, who could hardly stay still for a second? Every day when he had returned exhausted from work it had taken him barely fifteen minutes with Vinay to feel like he was brimming with energy. The lovingly drawn pictures that Vinay presented to him for his birthdays; the infectious laughter; the merry romping on the bed and the silent loving hugs – all would be gone, drowned in a raging torrent of cancerous cells coursing through Vinay’s blood.
“I am glad we came to the beach today, Dad!”
Tears sprang unbidden again. So young, so young! Was this the time for a boy to be whimpering with pain as chemicals dug with sharp knives inside his body? He could not bear to remember the sobs from Vinay’s room, muffled because Vinay had not wanted to distress his parents. He thought of his wife, devastated with grief, when the doctors had given scant hope of a cure.
They should not be here on the beach today. Vinay was susceptible to infection and he had refused the boy when he first made the request. The disappointment on Vinay’s face tore at his heart and, when Vinay closed up over the next few days, he had given in. God! With all his wealth, he could not even readily give his son the simple pleasure of playing on the beach! Atul found his tears flowing out unbidden.
“Dad!” The hint of exasperation came out incongruously from the boyish lips. “I know I may not live for long. Must I spend all that time moping? I know you and Mom are sad. But can’t we have some fun every now and then?”
Atul was ashamed. Why was he ruining his son’s days with his distress? Yes, he may have only a few days left but they did have those few days! When his son wanted to take as much joy as he could out of his life, why could he not enjoy those days with his son?
“I do not know how many tomorrows I have, Dad. But, today, the dusk is beautiful!”
* * * * * *
The old man was jolted. What was he doing, moping around for his lost yesterdays? He had had a wonderful life with a wonderful woman and, instead of celebrating it, he was tainting her memory with bitterness.
His son and daughter-in-law still cared for him but they had their own lives to lead. Why could he not enjoy the time that they could give him instead of bemoaning the fact that they could not give time when he needed it?
Yesterday was gone and what he had rejoiced in yesterday was no more. But, today and tomorrow would bring their own joys - if he was open to them - instead of enshrouding himself in bitter grief.
The boy was right. Today the dusk was indeed beautiful!
* * * * * *
Rohit looked across to his wife. Her eyes were brimming with tears as, indeed, were his own. Life recently had been acrimonious between them but for this moment they were in accord in their sympathy for the boy.
What were they fighting for, anyway? As far as he could recollect, even in the bitterest of their fights, she had never once blamed him for stubbornly sticking on with his venture. Nor had she verbally belittled him for being dependent on her currently.
Was his fear of his tomorrows – the thought of never finding a job and being a hanger-on – embittering him? Was he taking his wife’s every little act and converting it into an unstated insult? He had a caring wife and was he jeopardizing both his and her happiness today out of the inchoate fear of tomorrow?
“Sorry, love!” he said, impulsively. “I have been a grouch this past month. Never again!”
Tears fell unhindered from her eyes as she snuggled close to him. They looked out at the beach.
The boy was right. Today the dusk was indeed beautiful!
* * * * * *
Two boys ran towards the water shouting in glee. Vinay looked at his dad enquiringly.
“Go ahead, Vinay!” said Atul.
Vinay jumped to his feet. He turned to his Dad.
“Coming?” he said with a trace of his old mischief in his eyes.
It seemed as though he had invited everyone. The old man found himself on his feet. Rohit’s son had taken off towards the water in his own direction. Rohit and his wife rushed after him.
Atul got to his feet. His heart seemed lighter than before.
“Come, then! I will race you to the water”
A dying child had taught them all how to live! Yes, today, the dusk was indeed very beautiful!

* * * * * *  
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. I’m thankful to The Fool, who introduced Blog-a-Ton to me, and I debuted in 27 edition.
Credits Image - Shades of Orange by Harsha Chittar Courtesy - Curious Dino Photography via www.blogaton.in

122 comments:

  1. Nice story Suresh. You write touching short stories

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    1. Thanks! Not all of them are touching - Most of them are intended to be tickling :)

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  2. my comment here would probably degrade the essence of this post. when someone writes a piece like this, everything else looks pale in comparison. what you wrote was just phenomenal!!

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    1. Wow Debajyoti! That is praise of the highest order! I love to hear it even if I don't deserve it.

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  3. Suresh, you filled my heart with tears. The back-and-forth moving story has choked my stream of consciousness to a near-death.

    ps: Have mercy on the poor old hearts!

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    1. Hey Uma! I'm afraid you are responsible for this..you were the one to ask me to write more when I previously essayed an attempt.

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  4. Superb write! outstandingly poignant! A great work indeed!
    All the best Suresh:)

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    1. I can always rely on you to make my day, Amit! Thanks!

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  5. Great Story! but really touching :'(
    my last comment had a silly mistake so I had to delete it.
    Good luck for BAT30 :)

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  6. B E A U T I F U L , amazing story. you know what the best part is, the fact that you have so effortlessly given us a glimpse into the life of the silhoutes in the picture . I loved your Post ....

    ATB for BAT

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  7. Nice storyline covering the sadness in the life of the different folks. Good moral too. Liked it overall . But having multiple characters diluted the intensity this being such a short piece.

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  8. Awesome Suresh. You had mentioned that humor was your favorite genre. But you ROCK in these emotional shortstories....God I know its fiction but my heart went out to little Vinay....Superb Suresh...Loved it!

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    1. Thanks Jaish! Yup Humor is my favorite genre since it comes relatively easy to me so praise when I venture outside my comfort zone gives me more joy!

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  9. Touching story! It is the vision of death that makes life beautiful. Great writing.

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    1. Thanks aativas! It is the closeness to death that makes you realize what is important in life, as well :)

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  10. बहुत मार्मिक रचना सुरेश जी बधाई स्वीकारे

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  11. You remember in one of the BAT I commented on your post that,"you could have done better".. well, YOU HAVE DONE THE BEST!!
    FANTASTIC STORY!!!

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    1. Thanks! But I'd advise you to keep comments like "You could have done better" to yourself unless you can take the time to also say exactly what could have been done better. Just saying things like that may make you feel great but does not help the writer improve in any way!

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    2. o_0

      You could have done better!!

      but then i doubt if you did, will they make your birth day a bank holiday (as an honour)

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    3. Yatin! The problem with that statement is that you could say that to William Shakespeare as well as to the worst dud who cannot string a sentence with equal truth - since no one can claim to be perfect :)

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  12. That was an intense piece, CS! A moving story that touches the nuances of life n death so beautifully! Death is an inescapable fact, but,to see someone waiting for death is traumatic!Touching story...
    All the best!

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  13. Though you keep saying that emotional writing is not your forte but you keep churning out pieces like this!! Wonderful read!

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  14. Beautiful CS. Very heartfelt! Multiple stories linking through - sweet!

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  15. Very touching, 3 stories intertwined to give out a beautiful message that is very much the need of the hour in the rushed life of today! Great going, CS! Kudos!

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  16. as they say whatever happens life moves on
    lovely write

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  17. //He had come over to the beach to escape the stifling feeling of claustrophobia at home. Now, the deepening sunset only highlighted the gloom that had descended on his life.//

    // So young, so young! Was this the time for a boy to be whimpering with pain as chemicals dug with sharp knives inside his body? //

    //The boy was right. Today the dusk was indeed beautiful!//

    Oh man! Suresh! you have written SO beautifully! ATB!

    Do stop by my blog! Cheers - Kappu

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    1. Thanks Kappu! I have visited and commented, too, if my memory serves me right :)

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  18. Loved the way you sketched a story for all the individuals preset in the picture. A lovely story :)

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  19. lovely story..... :') who knows where life's lessons can come from, we all must keeps our minds open!

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    1. Thanks, Ash! Not only Life's lessons but Life's joys too need an open mind to appreciate :)

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  20. Dear Suresh Sir,

    Mahesh from Chennai here - it was a great honour to meet at the Indiblogger meet on Saturday and your jokes were infectious :)!

    This post by you reminds me of Anand the movie and the message that it conveyed - Saare dukh apne dil me liye woh sirf doosron main anand battha chala gaya!

    Great post sir :)

    Do visit my blog and share your thoughts!

    Thanks,
    Mahesh

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    1. Hey Mahesh! Great meeting you guys too!

      Sis and Nephew around - will surely take the time to visit yr blog after they have gone on Aug 25

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  21. Interesting how we look at strangers around us and form impressions, or, judge them instantly. Never considering that each of those people is so much more than just the image we are seeing at that moment.

    I came looking for a funny story, but discovered something meaningful and emotional instead. Great storytelling!

    (Humour, of course, you can do spectacularly well even in your sleep!)

    Cheers, Suresh!

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    1. Thanks Rickie! That particular part about how we view people from the prism of our own current problems was, I thought, too obscurely written since most did not notice. Glad to know I did it well enough for one person to see!

      Humour, I find, I do decently but I can think of quite a few, including present company, who make my humour posts look insipid.

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  22. I came here from Jaish's post, she said she highly enjoyed your story and I second it. All the best :)

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  23. It's amazing how a chance conversation or image can change one's perception and perspective of things. Fantastic story, Suresh.

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  24. Loved the message that resonated all through the post. Beautifully blended.

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  25. Beautiful post with a resonating moral.. You becoming famous for all types of short stories, CS. Humor or emotional..

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    1. Thanks Leo! Famous? I don't know if anyone but a handful even know I exist :)

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  26. I fell in love with your idea of describing 3 people from different perspectives. But the ending kind of lost the poignancy for me. I lapped up the describing words that you wrote for pain and suffering- they were sharp-but I have to honest with myself- The ending felt disconnected.

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    1. We all look at life from our own perspectives! You have a right to yours and I to mine! I have lived long enough to see that people rethink their own ideas of personal suffering when they see someone in more trouble looking to enjoy life. Looks to me like you feel that people will not!

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    2. No... not exactly. Yes, I agree with you. People are certainly inspired by looking at others enjoying life and having problems bigger than the. There is reason movies like 127 hours move people.

      hmhm... Since the starting of the story was so heart wrenching, I was expecting the same kind of ending. I thought that, an ambiguous ending like all the 3 pairs thinking that the other one is well off would have been striking.

      Its just the suddenness of the good will flowing, that I find it a bit hard to digest.

      hmhm... yeah, i also agree that -- all epiphanies occur suddenly but I just find it a bitter pill to swallow. And I do get the point that -- The way i see things is not exactly the best way, but that's just I see it.

      honestly, I love your story to bits - its just that I like ambiguous ending better. And I respect your view points, your perspective and your ending. Its just that -honestly- i wanted the ending to be like that.

      I must have been more detailed and precise in my earlier comment. The ending did not work for me alone. I respect the fact that the alternate viewpoint exists and it has its own validations. But I am sticking with mine.

      (I am sorry for such a late reply. From now on, I will follow up my comments with definitive terms rather than being vague)

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    3. And sorry for the bad grammar and the typos. I was trying to out up the comments when the power was out and My UPS was slowly dying on me.

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    4. I truly do not see the point in your letting your personal tastes flow out into anyone else's blog posts. For example, in your post for this same contest, I did not like the fact that a realistic opening and a moving narrative about the little girl ended up in what, for me, was a farcical fantasy type of ending. I could not see what a real life father would tell the little girl back home, after promising to go to the other end of the world to save the sun.

      Since I knew it probably was only my taste speaking there I preferred leaving without commenting rather than vomiting out my point of view there.

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    5. And if everyone wrote stories the way you would write, fiction would become very monotonous indeed!

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    6. hmhm... Wow. Honestly that farcical comment hurt me. hmhmhm. Yes, I get your point. Yes, the comment section is no place to let personal tastes flow. And no, I did not mean to vomit out my Idea here. I am sorry for that.

      hmhm... And no, I would not like everyone writing and thinking the same way.

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    7. Good! We are in agreement then! And I am sure you will agree that the 'farcical comment' is better here than on your post. It would not have been anywhere but for the fact that you still seemed to be thinking that imposing your tastes through the comments section - more concretely - was all right!

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    8. hmhm.. Wow. Today I will remember learning more than I had ever bargained for while commenting. It would be a lie if I told you I enjoyed this exchange between us. But I think that, I needed a change of perspective and those things don't come candy coated.

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    9. Good of you to take it like that!

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  27. hi- just went thorough your other posts- nice- following you!!

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  28. Hi Suresh,

    Amazing piece of writing with even more amazing ending..

    How a cheerful person can infect everyone. And how we miss making new and wonderful memories in present when our mind is living in the old and wonderful moments in past. Sometimes I even wonder how better life would be if memories did not capture moments and rather just knowledge and lessons. Then we would be truly happy for each moment without spoiling it with comparisons

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    1. Sanity Personified! That, in short, was what I was trying to say...that we live with memories - lost happiness or bitterness - of the past and the fears/hopes of the future and fail to make the best of the present. And, consequently, we may ourselves poison the future for ourselves and those around us.

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    2. I hate how people stop themselves and others to do the right thing by questioning their sanity. So Insanity Personified please :) My signature line(and life's funda)-
      Sanity is just an excuse to curb your instincts, lower your ambitions and aim for mediocrity. So here's my plea to insanity.

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    3. What I should say then is that Insanity is the only true Sanity :)

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  29. loved your story. From the comments here I gather that you consider yourself more of the "humour" genre, but you write emotional stuff so beautifully too. This post was also special to me cause we've both tackled the prompt similarly, merging stories! Of course, my attempt is not polished as yours, but I like the fact that we had similar takes :)

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    1. Yup! I normally write humour and this is only my third attempt at an emotional story. As I keep saying, it makes me ecstatic to hear good stuff about these posts!

      I did enjoy your post and you had left it intriguingly poised! Yours was one of the few that actually wove a story around the people in the pic. In a contest involving a Pic, the challenge is to weave the tale around at least one of the people in the pic. Using the pic as a mere prop - to me - is not a responsive entry to the contest. Your entry was a beautiful response.

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  30. Amazing story and extremely well written, one of the best posts I have read. Good luck :)

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  31. its an amazing connotation of the pic.
    Indeed a wonderful read!

    all the best :)

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  32. Reading the post gave me goosebumps..Such a lovely message it held..A wonderful read Sureshji..

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  33. Among all the fiction I have read in the last few days, this one is the best - sure to remain in my heart for a long, long time!! Superb.

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  34. AAH i always love this theme

    "to enjoy life up to the fullest, especially when you know death is around"

    to be frank, i first thought of skipping this. (it seemed lengthy, and i lacked time (?) )

    but, mnow i don't regret reading it.

    in fact i read it twice (seriously !!)

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    1. Mmm! That is huge compliment, Yatin! Thanks.

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  35. Now you can add emotional/touching to your forte too !:)

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  36. Wow !
    Not just d different stories,but d way they related to each other later then.Very nice....:)

    Do stop-by to read the CHIAROSCURO OF LIFE - Clouds

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  37. That's how little ones are.. Beautiful Story Suresh.. Best wishes for you to win this BAT..

    Someone is Special

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  38. I get the point :) and that's what the post is for. I liked the way you tried to come up with multiple characters to show multiple facets of life. Many stories in one :) Good job buddy.

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    1. Glad you managed to get the point, buddy :)

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  39. Awesome, Brilliant and Fantastic!!! Though I didn't took part in BAT this time, definitely I would have voted for you.

    Live life as it comes and whole-heartedly.

    And kudos for winning the Gold baton!!!

    And do keep writing such wonderful posts!

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    1. That's lovely to hear, Rohan! Hope i can!

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  40. Your story touches the heart,it has lessons for all.

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  41. Congratulations. I absolutely loved this post. All the stories are woven so well...
    It teaches you to live in the moment.

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  42. OMG this was lovely. I loved the way you connected the stories of their individual lives to that one incident that makes them revisit their lives again. Vinay's part was written SPLENDIDLY; really hat's off to you.
    and to think you always say you cant do emotions well!! you must have been kidding me :D
    "A dying child had taught them all how to live" your story really brought this aspect to life :)

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    1. Thanks Kirti! I was not kidding you at all - if you remember right I said that I had not attempted emotions before and was not sure how well I could handle them and that much is true.

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  43. What a beautiful story, CS. I was choked with emotion but in the end, I was smiling through my tears.

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    1. Thanks, KayEm! Wish I had thought to refer "The Gates of Hell" as well to you :) I do love praise :)

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  44. That was truly beautiful. Loved the way all the stories criss-crossed and finally fitted in together so beautifully.

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  45. Excellent writing. I was really pleased to discover that you are as much a master of sad emotions as you are of the lighter ones.

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    1. Thanks Sandy! Long way from mastery anything but good to know you find me competent.

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  46. I am reading this now!!! Oh what a piece of narration! Indeed the dusk is beautiful!!! You are rocking sir!!!

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  47. Loved the way you narrated and how all the pieces fit in at the end. Awesome, as always! :)

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    1. Thanks Akanksha! Great that you found time to read and comment on this!

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  48. Not just the dusk but everything around us is beautiful when we live every minute of our life counting on our blessings...Your skill is amazingly beautiful Suresh......congrats !

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  49. That was indeed the pith of what i wanted to say, Manimala! Thanks.

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  50. This truly is a story that touched my heart. Why do we do this? We form opinions about our lives, our situations seeing others whose existences are just as flawed as our own. Indeed positivity can be found in the worst despair. This post was sterling. Thank you for writing this and sharing its link on your page.

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    1. This is a story that is very close to my heart as well - and I am glad that you found it good too!

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  51. A tender and deeply touching story, Suresh! Brilliantly told as well. And of course, quite unlike everything else I have read on your blog so far.

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    1. Thanks Beloo! Yes - this part of me rarely gets exposure on my blog. In part because blog readers do not read long posts and THAT means that the effort in communicating it bears little fruit (As you can see, I cannot yet live the 'Karmanyeva adhikaresthe maa phaleshu kadacana' way :) )

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  52. Hey man! Hats off to you. It talks a subject very close to my heart. Only recently I was deeply thinking about it. Thanks for reminding me again through this story.

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