Rajesh would have been a handsome man had he not been physically deformed due to a major accident. Yes he had wide and expressive eyes and a beautiful
smile with a firm look. But not now.Now he had just a semblance of human look on his face. His eyes were the only organ that escaped a fire mishap that occurred due to a slight carelessness of his mother..
When any one asked him about that incident, all he would say is that "my mother was lucky .She still looks the same "nothing else .So no one was able to find out whether his mind was full of remorse or venom. Some came to the conclusion that he was a recluse all because of his appearance .It was hideous from one angle and pathetic from another .Rajesh bore it all in his stride .Because he was afraid to kill himself!!!
Rajesh was a very intelligent man . He had inherited that too along with his bad luck .His mother was a symbol of strength for him whenever he would feel down and out.Now she was no more thus. She was always complaining and cursing.Something happened to her mental state after that incident. That was the main worry for that poor young man..Whenever he was not thinking about his bad looks, he would curse his fate that landed him with that hideous appearance and an indifferent mother.
It was a rainy day and mother was busy making some food in the kitchen. It was then that she called to him "Raja what will I do now as the gas is over and the delivery man has not yet brought the second cylinder. See, I had asked you ever so many times to go and enquire. As usual you have forgotten it this time too" Now she would not stop.Rajesh knew that .Yes, he was at fault .Because it was his mistake that he had not enquired. So he went in to the kitchen and mother was fuming there with anticipation of something unknown "I know you had told me that amma .However, I forgot about it in my tension in the bank .There was some kind of embezzlement there and we were all questioned. I was completely in that thought process …""Now don't tell me some lame excuses to support your absent mindedness. Now a days I have seen that you are more of a recluse than an active person, it is high time you decided what you want to do with life".Mother was talking to him as if it was because of his mistakes that he was a recluse.Nevertheless, it was not so. She knew it too .But being his mother she was trying her maximum to divert him from that bitter fact. They were indeed so bitter that she was not at all in a state of mind to relive it all. …….
That day was a Tuesday.That was the cursed day that had changed her son's life forever.. It started off as any other day. By 10 'o'clock in the morning Janaki realized that she had run short of gas and they were having some guests too for lunch as Rajesh had got a job in the bank .To celebrate the occasion, Rajesh had called some of his close friends for lunch .Theirs was not a very affluent family .Infact janaki was finding it very difficult to run the house with the meager salary she used to get from her small time office assistant job in a private firm ..So Rajesh 's job was welcome change in to their family. They had so many loans to deal with and so many hand loans too .
Rajesh was a handsome young man, with equally good habits and nature. Janaki often blessed her stars for gifting him to her.But that day changed everything for both of them..
Janaki called out to Rajesh in despair."Rajesh..What shall we do now? We have run out of gas. And I don't have spare one either..I think we better take out that old pressure stove " ok mom' was Rajesh's prompt reply .While he was in the process of taking out the stove from the top shelf, he asked his mother "mom, are you sure you would be able to prepare all the dishes with the help of this stove alone ..?' no Raja .I would have to light up the fire woods too .Not that there are a lot of that here. But I shall do with that for the time being.Just don't worry son.You just get that stove well pumped and oiled. Then rest assured.ok? "Rajesh was happy that his mother was positive about the impending lunch ..Because it was not often that she ever complained about anything. That was also another reason why she was able to see them through all the turbulent situations.
The pressure stove was quite dusty and unused.Still Rajesh cleaned it well and filled it with the available kerosene..And he started to pump pressure in to it.After a few strokes he felt that was enough and so he lit the wick. All of sudden the flame started to dwindle. He was wondering what ever was the matter with the stove .So to make things go smoother and faster .He started pumping pressure in to it .The flame slicked once, then started to grow up. But the next thing that occurred was unforeseen…That was doom in all its glory .The stove exploded with a huge sound..Probably the stove was not able to take so much pressure or may be it was the unused state of it that was playing the cruel game.Whatever it was, the flame that shot up consumed the entire face of Rajesh…He was bent up on the stove when disaster struck..The flame shot up and caught Raja on his face.. He remembered just a shout that escaped his throat Then he lost conscience.
Later he found out that he was in a hospital…And he was disfigured…
Rajesh broke from his miserable reverie and started on his daily chores..Always he wished he had a woman with him attending to all his needs.. Moreover he was in an age when every man yearned for the company of a young woman.A woman ,whom he could love and care for and who in return would love him and make him happy .But Rajesh neither had that pleasure nor a hope .."Oh God, he often mused..Why did I survive that mishap.. Is it to suffer alone?
That day he reached his office early and there was a lady sitting at the corner bench.She was so pretty that Rajesh was unable to take his eyes off her.She was so innocent looking too at the same time. But she was not at all paying him any heed.She behaved as if he did not even exist..But since Rajesh was the first to arrive at the bank, he had an advantage of approaching her for enquiring.She slowly got up and said in a sweet voice "Sir, I am new to this place .I would like to start an account in this bank .I am also an employee. I am a school teacher …"With that she looked searchingly at his face..Hoping to get a positive answer. Rajesh was so struck by her physical beauty that he found it hard to speak for a moment. But when he found his voice ,it was quivering .She just smiled at him and moved to the next counter with a kind of sympathetic look. God she must have thought that he was a spastic. Rajesh smiled at his own sense of humor.
This was all due to his craving for a woman's company.. He was used to so much adulations from the female crowd not so long ago.But now since his mishap, the world had reduced to a dull and lack luster existence..How much he craved for a female company…Why was God so callous to him .He burnt with such desponding thoughts.But what was the use.May be he was destined to just dream. But he hoped that somewhere on the planet, there was a woman meant solely for him . There was a pleasure in thinking about it all.Rajesh was a lady's man before the calamity .So it was not an easy task to condition himself to the fact that he was now an object of ridicule physically..With such depleting thoughts he spent his days.
He was finishing off his life span with utmost patience.But even amidst his pains, he nursed a sweet dream.A dream in which there existed a lovely looking girl with a lovelier smile specially meant for him ….He knew it would always remain a dream ,whether he wished it or not .. But what is the harm in dreaming even if he knew that it was a dream .Things that brought joy to one's heart was always welcome.The girl he saw that day in the bank had a semblance to his dream girl. So he started d to get a little more hope full.It was just a shot on the black, that she would ever turn his way with such inclination.
Every evening he went for a walk through the streets of that area. He loved the smell of earth during dusk. It had a kind of enigma. No one noticed him .But he noticed everyone..How happy the world looked from his view point. Every single person he came across was good looking .They had a family and there was a woman and child waiting for everyone..Why not him.Why did he have to become a sore thumb in this world The fruit vendors and flower women were trying their maximum to rush up their sale..The smell of jasmine flowers emanated through the atmosphere and gave the area a very erotic sensation.. No one sensed the sweet scent .Everyone was busy .He had no place here.
His world would exist in his dreams. There he would have people extolling him, loving him and tending to all his needs..There would-be a girl, who would smother him with enough passion to liven up his dreary vigil hours.That was the panacea he resorted to spruce up his wakeful hours .That was exactly what he was going to do now. Sleep was his only solace.
He had an early dinner went to bed. Tried to sleep. There was a knock at the front door. He listened. Yes it was loud and clear. Who would it be at this uncanny hour? Probably someone from the bank! He got up groggily and went to the front door .There was a girl standing there, smiling at him.. She looked very familiar. Yes. She was that same girl from the bank.The very same girl who had asked him about starting an account in the bank "oh, it is you. What brings you here? Please come in. It is so late ..And I suppose it is going to rain too .I heard the rumble a few minutes back.She entered the room..There was an intoxicating smell of jasmine flowers. He looked further. She was, wearing a few jasmine flowers in her hair..But why so much smell from them .Then she stated to speak.
"I am Neena…I am very impressed by you Rajesh…I don't know how to put it in to words .I might sound very silly if I tell thus.. But I have seen you since long time even when you were a handsome guy.But your present look and the comparison with the previous look is only adding to the passion I feel for you .Because I had already fallen in love with you the first time I saw you ..I can't pin point exactly what I had loved most about you.It is definitely not your looks alone. Otherwise I would not have been here now. But I love you badly and, madly " She stopped speaking.
Was he again dreaming, he was not able to believe his good luck. The girl, whom he had visualized in just his dreams, was standing before him in flesh and blood and was confessing to him exactly what he had wanted her to confess." You know Rajesh. Looks are just a passing phase. It is the character that needs to be taken in to consideration . I feel I have known you since long time. You have that kind of an effect on me …'She stopped ... They were like honey drops in his ears .But he had his own doubts about what she knows about him.Or how can she be so sure about his nature. It can be a vile one too .But she sounded so confidant.This must be what poets call as poetic justice .Anything and everything was licensed and true. Her feeling for him must be genuine.
Neena slowly came to stand so close to him that she was breathing in to his shoulder. Her smell was intoxicating him…One side of his face twitched…As if he was trying to control a lot of his emotions .What a fantastic feeling it was all. He slowly caught hold of her and kissed her to his heart's content. She moaned ever so softly in to his ears .As if she was reveling in the glory of her passion .Time stood still. Just they both existed on the earth.. A thunder reverberated somewhere in the distant and the lover's found the sublime bliss in each other 's arms .
He was moaning and groaning and was repeatedly calling to her "Neena, neena .Slowly that call became a cry and finally a roar … And he opened his eyes hearing his own sound aloud. What was happening? Sunlight was seeping in through the drawn curtains .He sat upright .Like someone who was hit with a boulder. What had happened? Where was Neena? Oh my God! Not again..Was it another dream?" He started weeping. It was not out of remorse but out of self pity. What a fine feeling and a sense of belonging that had developed in him .It was all like a line drawn on the water.Gone as fast as it was drawn. Tears flowed uncontrollably down his cheeks. All a dream and just a dream ..
Slowly he got up..The day was starting and so were his mundane chores…A life that is the reality. A life that is a dream turned sour. Rajesh started making his bed. He placed his pillow in it's place and while he was folding the sheet properly. Something felt under his fingers. Something feather like and delicate. He slowly took it from beneath the folds of the sheets…. It was a dried and mangled jasmine flower!