Its 8:00 AM in the morning and I could still sense the drowsiness dripping around. The fake scream of self contentment of surviving and flourishing in this gruesome job of a proud plot surveying inspector could kill me at times. But yet I’ve survived and been around in this scene for quite sometime now.

I had a strong look around the room full of my orderless belongings scattered all over, pile of files still unattended on the table beside me. The mobile screen was flashing in some inconsiderate manner. Alarmed by my surrounding disarray, I got up on my bed at once and began to scan everything. It took a while to realise that today was another day of yet
another unaccomplished survey. Another tiresome scanning job on hands.

I was pretty excited when I learned about the latest papers in hands. It was some orphanage which unfortunately got closed few years back and our construction company felt the land was in perfect shape for a 4-star hotel. The word orphanage took some time to sink in within me. It was a place where few lonely souls used to reside and for some troubling reason I was lonely in this cruel world too. I lost my son, my daughter-in-law somewhere amidst their adoration of life and my rejection triggered by my pride. Though it was a cold accident and they’re no more in this world, but this is my perception of looking at it.

‘Good Morning Shukla Ji’, said my car driver. His rough voice brought me back to the real world. I rushed inside my black Ford Fiesta without a word. I was in a hurry. It was a late, drowsy morning. Naresh, the driver directed the car straight to our location at my order.

Parking the car a mile away and walking that long to visit a closed orphanage was awkward indeed but I managed. I took Naresh with me. He followed without complaining.
The entrance seemed like some burried archaelogical site hanging on. The door creaked opened with a small push which was unexpected. As I entered the first room of our surveying plot, some strange feeling of solitarity reoccured within me. I could virtually hear few cries and see some blurry, curious eyes ahead of me. It was the common room where the little souls used to dine together. Being unable to find anything catchy, I entered the next room. It was the cabin of the manager of the orphanage. The place was messy indeed, very much similar to my own backyard. Amidst the dusty floor and unorganised concrete furnitures around, lay a lot of torn and disorderly papers and portraits. I tried to open a wardrobe which seemed unused even during the running period of the institution. But to my utter disapointment, it didnt open regardless of my continuous trials. Meanwhile Naresh who was quitely following me seemed like he found few stuff he couldnt take his eyes off. I went to him at once and saw a stack of few pages. I took them over from him and started shuffling them around. I found three letters among them to my sheer amazement.

Something drew me towards the scripts I had in my ageing hands. I found myself a seat and took a sigh. Naresh was heading outwards when I asked him if he could get me a cup of tea. He obliged.

It didnt take much longer to realise that the letters in my hands were written by some kid of the orphanage. I tried to read the first few lines. It read somewhat like this:
‘Dear Mama, today I met Roshni. You remember Nisha? My friend from our neighbourhood? You used to love her. She was my best friend. But I hated her you know, she took away my teddy and never returned. I never said this to you. And I hate Roshni too. She’s just like Nisha in some ways. Today she took away my chocolate. I even hate the stranger who often came to our home and shouted at you.’

It was naive, childlike all over and I almost ignored few lines of the script but it was honest and right from the heart. Some part at the end drew my attention and I couldnt resist myself from reading the next one even though I had a lot of work to do. The kid wrote something like ‘I miss you Mama, I am coming to you, gonna see you soon.’

The next letter began: ‘Sorry Mama couldnt write you for few days. Today I met a couple who were here to take me away. They say they were here to adopt me. But Aunt Carla refused to send me away. But you know, I think I remember the man’s face. Seen him somewhere. He wasn’t a stranger. Mama, my piggy bank collection looks good now. I have saved a lot. I save every other coin I find anywhere. One day I will save enough coins which would take me out of this place and near you. I dont like it here. Miss you Mama, see you soon.’

The third letter began: ‘Mama please come and take me away. Today the man whom I saw the day before was very angry at Aunt. He kept yelling at her pointing towards some papers in his hands. Two other men in uniform also followed him. I am very afraid and there’s nobody here who would understand or hear me out. I dont think I have enough coins as of now which can take me to you. So please come. I want to go to you. I need you beside me. Its been way too long and I cannot bear it anymore.’

The words of those immature letters refused to surrender. They came back again and again and drove my mind towards a puzzle of confused patterns and it was hard to arrange them. I could sense the bitter truth of the strain a mind undergoes when it is lonely. I have come a long way ahead since the night I lost my son. That melancholy feeling still aches somewhere beneath and moving on ceases to become an option.

That wasn't it. That wasn't the night I lost him. As far my perception goes, I lost him way before when I rejected him and his proposal of starting a new life with the one he loved. I was the one at fault but why is it always late when you realise what you’ve just done can cost you a lifetime of discontentment regardless of how hard you try. It is just another bitter truth of life.

For the next few moments I was lost weaving thoughts. Naresh woke me up yet again when he was back with the cup of tea. I took a sip of it and decided to call up the ex-manager of the orphanage to inquire about the fate of this kid.

‘Her name’s Riya Shukla, she ran away from the orphanage a month before our institution got closed, another reason of our orphanage’s current fate’, the manager said in a cold tone. I found it hard to believe. This was ridiculous. An orphanage of such inspiring reputation couldn’t prevent a little girl from escaping out of its walls. I asked if anyone else inquired about her too. He gave me a name. I was awestruck. I knew this name, I knew this man. He’s my in-law. My daughter-in-law’s father Pawan Sinha. The Manager said he visited the orphanage on several occasions to adopt the girl but failed due to documentary mismatches.
I looked at the common address written at the back of all the three letters. Immediately I made my mind to rush to that place.

Naresh drove the Fiesta downhill straight towards my new found address. I cannot describe how I felt at that moment. What was that supposed to mean? Riya Shukla? My in-law? Did my son had a daughter? Queries came trumbling like a heavy downpour and I wasn’t in the position of arranging my speeding breaths. I felt disgraced, annoyed and complacent at the same time. How was I supposed to feel anyway? I had somebody own in this world and I didn’t have any idea of it?

Naresh pressed his feet hard against the brakes. I was there. Am I going to meet somebody own finally in this world? But to add to my disapointments of this amazing day, all I saw ahead was a old weathered house. There was nobody around. I broke open the door of the entrance. Amidst the rattling sound and creepy environment all around, came flying few sheets of written scripts out of nowhere. I picked them up and hit a side table while standing which contained a stack of coins. It fell on the floor near my feet. I felt lost and stunned. Being unable to think of any other alternative, I scanned one of the sheets. The last line on the page read: “I miss you Mama, I am coming to you, I have the coins now.

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