A sleepless nightThe rain was getting heavier followed by the hailstorm. Despite the turmoil in the background, Krishna was lost in silence
"I’ll drop Suju to his boarding school on my motorbike. Reema will assist me in running our grocery shop."
Krishna was lost in his thoughts lying on the cemented chautari. The sun was slowly setting down the horizon. He had not yet managed to procure the eggs and pulses which Reema had asked him to get for Suju, their only child. The chirping of the birds returning to their nests distracted him. Krishna was sad this evening.
It had just been a week since he received his salary. But it was already consumed. He had bought Reema a new sari and a cycle for Suju. The amount he had yet to pay to the shop had already exceeded and the shopkeeper had warned Krishna he would only give him stuff for cash now. But Krishna didn't have enough money to buy what he was supposed to. He only has Rs 50. When he reached the shop, which was near his home, he asked the shopkeeper to give him a kilogram of pulses and five eggs, showing the 50 rupees note he had. The shopkeeper grumbled that the money wasn’t enough for what he wanted to buy. Krishna requested the shopkeeper to add the remaining money to his account. The shopkeeper denied. With a heavy heart, he reached home with just a couple of eggs and half a kilogram of pulses.
There were only two eggs for the family of three. It was Krishna who didn’t eat. Maybe his paunch was packed with some other things. Maybe it was poverty?
That night, Krishna’s mind went wild. He asked himself a lot of questions but in reply, only silence came, followed by tears. Krishna used to console himself, "Good days will come". But when? Had his father saved some property, he might have been spared this suffering. His father died of liver failure a few years ago due to excessive consumption of alcohol. What little savings he had were spent on the treatment of his alcoholic father. That was the money he had saved to pursue the dream to fly to Qatar and earn a decent living for his family.
The night passed miserably for Krishna. Tomorrow, he had to buy healthy food, full of protein, for his little son, Suju. Suju was not as strong as other kids. Krishna's promise to buy his wife a necklace seemed to fade from his memory. It was on her last birthday, he had promised. But he could only afford a sari with his money.
11:43pm. Krishna took out a Khukuri cigarette and walked out into the balcony. The first puff of the cigarette warmed his cold heart but it did not last. The last smoke mixed up with the clouds, anguishment recurred, making him heartsick. He used to hear clattering on the first floor but it was not quite enough to distract his mind, which was full of frustration. Suddenly, he got lost in his thoughts.
“What about my dream of going to Qatar and opening a grocery store after I return? What about my dream of buying a motorcycle and dropping my son to his boarding school on the motorbike?”
One after the other, these questions arose in his mind. And they seemed to never end. His alcoholic father had sold away all their land to pay away debt. Given he was only educated until the sixth standard, a decent job was hard to come by. He had been earning meals for his family by splinting logs in a furniture shop. Neither Reema was literate enough to earn more money. She had been working as a peon at the school near their house. She somehow manages a little money by working all day to assist her husband, Krishna.
The roof had given up on this small family too. As it started to drizzle out, rain made its way into the small house. A drop of water splashed on Krishna's wrist. He pulled himself back to this reality to get rid of those water droplets. It was 1:10am already. By that time, the whole world was supposed to be in a pleasant sleep, dreaming with their eyes closed. Checking a cigarette in his pocket, he rested himself on the floor. The little drizzle was turning into a rainstorm with time. It had been five years since he last repaired his house. Every summer, their family of three shared a single bed on the ground floor to avoid the disturbance caused by the rain and the hailstorm upstairs.
The rain was getting heavier followed by the hailstorm. Despite the turmoil in the background, Krishna was lost in silence. He drew out the last stick of his cigarettes from his pocket to ease his annoyance. But how would a cigarette help? The water drops falling in front of him fuelled his trauma, increasing his urge to repair the roof. "How can I manage to fix this rusty house?" He raised this question, but another question arose in the nick of time that overshadowed the previous one. How can I think of repairing the house when there’s no food to eat tomorrow, he mourned.
The cigarette had already died up but the questions in his mind never stopped arising. "Suju will grow up one day. He must have a good education to compete with the people around the globe. He may even demand a motorcycle when he grows up."
One after another, these thoughts bothered him.
The clock struck 4am. Krishna, wiping the tears with his old muddy shirt, stood on his feet. Lights were getting turned on all over. He trudged towards his bed. Now, he has to sleep well and strive in the early morning in order to feed his son, Suju and wife, Reema.
7am. Myna’s chirping served as an alarm to him. The Sun has risen along with his hope. Krishna strides towards the furniture shop, as usual, bidding a good-bye to his loved ones.