Gopal - A short story



a short story







*Kanayalal Raina


Bollywood is not that bad as we presume it to be as sometimes it does give us either consciously or unconsciously some beautiful dialogues which have a philosophical implication and thereby represent the reality and actuality of life. But I think we don’t need to particularize this issue of lack of expression and that I simply can’t discuss this with reference to fathers and sons only as love does not only govern the relationship between a father and his son, love is the primary mover of in fact all the human bonds.

The introductory line of Amitabh Bachchan (AB) in the movie Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gum has set me to write this story about Gopal as AB talks about the inability of a father to express his deep love and concern towards his son. This is true and happens too often.

Gopal a musician had one son and he was called Moti. Some unfortunate circumstances did not allow them to be together. Today after twenty years Gopal was now going to meet his son Moti.

Gopal was excited about this and feeling quite warm although it was chilly outside on the streets of his home in a remote town in India . Every now and then he would walk to his home terrace and look at the road on the left of his house to see if the car he was expecting any moment had arrived. Then when he saw that it had not arrived, he would return to his chair and mumble…"Heaven knows why it is taking so much time…they should have been here by now." He would then ask his small handy boy Nandu to go and see. This having been repeated a few times over, he now felt that he must relax…but alas! That was not to be. Again he would go to the terrace thinking that this time surely the car would be there and when he saw that it wasn’t there he would return sending the little Nandu again to see.

Suddenly his attention caught the side table of the bed and he saw some dust on the top of it. It was one o’clock in the morning but today he had to have everything spotlessly clean. He had engaged the Nandu all day long in cleaning. His room looked bright and dazzling.

As he watched the boy dusting the side table in the middle of the night, he heard his sister call out to him. " Here he is Gopal, your son. Don’t you want to come down to see him? Hurry up!"

Gopal’s heart skipped a beat. He became excited and confused. He searched for his slipper…decided to forget it…but went to wear his shoes…then changed his mind and ran down the stairs with one slipper on. There he was his only son standing awkwardly besides his aunt. He rushed to hold him in his arms although he was surprised that he did not really look like what he imagined him to be.

Twenty years ago, his wife, this very son’s mother had died leaving him when his son was just four year old. The child she bore was taken by her father (Nana) after her demise and never came to see him although he was his. Gopal was regularly sending money for his studies and other expenses with out fail. He had sent frequent messages through different sources to his father-in-law about his son when he was in school and later in college so that he could be brought to his house but Moti's Nana intervened and would not allow and that was his condition till he was alive. Nana never informed Moti about his real father Gopal.

His family blamed him and urged him to fight for his rights. They blamed him for not being "man enough". However, they also sympathized with him occasionally.

Luckily he had a love of music and he spent more and more hours in singing and practicing music. He would gathered friends who had similar tastes and everyday he had his music sessions in his house. This kept him very involved. Hence he had managed to keep his mind engaged in matters that could keep him from remembering the deprivations of his life and his child. It was a good defense and it also walled him from the family and protected him from harsh words and remarks. As he went deeper into his music all the sorrow in his heart gave way to a soulful voice and those who heard him sing could not help their tears from flowing. What ever he was earning from here he used to send to his father-in-law for education of the his dear child .... Moti

Now Moti, a young man of 24 years was in front of him. So he looked at this grown up child of his and thought of her mother. How proud she would have been if alive to see her son standing here in front me! Why it was not destined? He searched in the face of his son for the face of his wife and of course he saw her there. Moti was now a full fledged software engineer and had got an assignment in US to work with a leading company.

Twenty four long years! Moti came to know about his real father when his Nana expired and he was handed over a letter where all these facts were explained. After twenty four long years he was here to see his own father! He had created many images in his mind of him. He wanted to see who his father was?

On the other hand Gopal too hand created many images in his mind of his son. All these images crumbled as he saw the real face of his son. The creations of the mind were too fragile to withstand the face of reality. He had built up the moment of their first meeting…but when that moment came it unraveled itself in its own unique way. He read linkhis eyes which were saying:-

My life stretches before me
All my own
To do as I please
I am grown up
No longer a baby
I can make
my own decisions
Decide what I want to do
I am old enough now
To be my own person

That night, Gopal could not sleep at all. It was day for him and his heart unleashed the floodgates of forgotten memories and hopes and desires he had bottled up all these many years. He felt hot and humid although it was so cold outside. His mind was restless, his music had fled…he was amazed! For all of twenty years they were his only companions - now they had fled!

He could not bear to keep his son away from his eyes. He made him to sit beside him all day and pampered him. His son was reserved and talked very little. However for him it was not necessary to converse…he was happy to be with him sitting beside him.

Moti had visited some relations too of his father here during his stay. And then the day came for him to go…as he stayed only for a week and left for US to join his new job.

Time passed. Gopal consoled himself. He will come back I know. He will come back .We will put away everything behind us and start afresh…there is hope". Now his voice had disappeared. His family said " You will never sing again since the reason for all your soulful songs have now come to an end".

No, his son never returned. His family said " See we told you he would not come again. He will never look after you." Gopal refused to believe that "You’ll see, he will take me away to where he is". Everybody laughed.

Then one day after 10 years had passed by since Moti had left for US, Gopal got the message that his son was coming next month during winter holidays along with his wife and two sons. He was elated! He called for his sister and said " My beloved sister, you have looked after me all these years, but today I will say to you that I am feeling so much happiness that really my heart is paining!

His sister laughed…all pain will now go she said. He is coming don’t you know.

On that night, Gopal breathed his last. His heart stopped. He could not bear this painful joy any more and as his life ran out of his breath.

Gopal had gone…far away from both pain and pleasure – painful pleasure that then had turned to pleasurable pain. He was free…free from all. No, he could not have taken this joy; it was too painful.

The day after his passing away, his son read the message that said, "Your father expired on 10th November. Shraddh on 21st November."

Kanayalal Raina is a Brampton based writer who contributes regularly to various Canadian publications. He is working as Executive Director at Canada Hindu Heritage Centre in Canada. An automobile Engineer and MBA (Mktg) by profession he is providing consultancy on Project Management, Financing and Marketing.


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