I, the darkness have stepped in to shadow the day and carry its riders to the engulfing moment of fear and flight by blanketing the night and donning its sleepers the vast world of dreams. Today is February 21, 2028. As I walked through the streets of Yeshwanthpur bungalow and blanketing them with my shadow, my legs stopped right in front of a three-room bungalow. I think I heard a sound of a wailing male. I gestured my hand and found out to be 2 o’clock in the morning. My darkness has already shadowed everyone to deep slumber carrying them to the world of mesmerizing melody. Actually, I was shocked, “How come my encompassing blanket lost its galore that I could hear the yell-bell????? How could I fail………?” I said to myself “Who the hell is yelling?”
Quickly I took a right turn, through the green meadows I finally reached the entrance door. The yell has become more piercing as if someone is bound in dark dungeon for years all alone- no one to speak or share, nothing to see but two feet by two feet wall area and my magical presence. My curiosity grew further as my thought fathomed, “How and why would someone wail from such magnificent mesmerizing dream bungalow?” “Why? Why? Why? Was echoing like a tuning fork and igniting my oddity.” Completely under the hypnosis of my oddity, I lifted my right leg and put it through the concrete walls frontiering the bungalow. Slowly I pulled my body in through this invisible entry and peeped into the enchanting dream bungalow. I saw all as I have commanded my shadow to don as. All perfect! I love it, but Ah! This wail is sickening. I just cannot stand it anymore. It is reminding me of fearful, brokering wails that my shadow generates amidst all. But I don’t feel good with this wail as I usually get, because the brokering wail is associated with deep unattended agony……., and I want to know it. So I finally pulled my rear foot in, bringing my whole body in. The hall is all clear. I could hear the sound from the upstairs. I chased the waves amidst my shadow leading me to that corner isolated room. My feet are fleeting towards the sound…. I twist the nob and slowly peeped in. I ran my eyes from left to right in one glance without a wink and over there, at the corner to my right; I found a man down on the floor with these knees scumbled and his head deeply embedded between them wailing. The torment was such unbearable that the depth of wail made me picturise some bloody dreadful accident killing his dearest one or some frightening event harassing his dearest one in front of his very eyes and he could not do anything to save but to see him broke and strew…….. or maybe….. I advanced towards him to curdle him into my arms and comfort him. I wished to say to him “There is no more pain. There is no more hurt. Trust everything is alright.” (Hears some footsteps advancing towards the room.)
 
{Enters a tall, slim, lady in her night gown}
 
The lady took two more wide leaps and piercing through me she reaches this boy and embraces him into her cozy comforting arms. The boy resists as if someone unknown has embraced. The lady says “Abhi it’s me Anu.”
 
Anu lifts his head with her two soft palms and says, “Look into my eyes Abhi, it’s me Anu.”
 
Abhi(raising his eyebrows) clings to her tightly and wails even louder echoing like a ringing bell in his bungalow.
 
Anu quietly and compositely pats Abhi’s back making him fell the togetherness.
 
Abhi with tears still rolling down says “Again I failed Anu. (crying bitterly) I just can’t bring myself out of the horrible night of February 21, 2013. Every night since then I haven’t slept. ”
 
Anu says “I know baby. That’s why the moment I find the bed empty I jump up to find you. I know dear, that day’s blast nearly blew you up but that narrow escape has now become a nightmare for you.”
 
“That day was my birthday,” says Abhi. “I was very happy that I was born on that day. My beloved sister has sent me the best fast track watch, my favorite, for my birthday. When I got up that day, with my eyes still closed I donned my fast track watch and first saw the beautiful timing my beloved sister has preciously preserved for me forever.” “Love you sister”, mutters Abhi with a sweet kiss on the face of the watch.
 
Then he dances to his wardrobe and opens it and takes out a beautiful lilac color van Husain full sleeves shirt. Dancing to the morning tune he dons his shirt and stands in front of the mirror to completely enjoy his beauty at the bronze jubilee. A big smile was there on my face when I saw myself standing in front of myself. A sense of satisfaction. (Deep breath) Ahhhhh! When my eyes fell on the image of the clock at the top corner of my mirror. It was quarter-to-nine. Aaaaaaaaaaa! I screamed and ran all over the house only to be out of the house completely dressed and donned. I ran to ICAG Dilsukhnagar for my class. More of prank and enjoyment I did, and least of studies for that day. As the final bell rang, I was the first one to be out on road in the fresh air.
 
Ahaa! What a smell of breeze. It was six fifty in the evening and I was to reach Konark for seven show of “A glimpse inside the mind of Charlie Swan III.” So I ran to my full strength to catch up the bus just about to pass the stop. I managed my way on the bus. As the bus was speeding, I was inching to my glimpse of Charlie Swan III. My heart was pounding and slowly, slowly nearing the show. When I saw route 107 bus stop right in front of me, I looked into the watch and it said seven. Ah! A sense of relief filled me that I am there on time.
 
Then I heard a loud boom. I saw things and men flying in the air with dusty grey smoke around and a loud BOOOOOM sound. The feet of the driver immediately pressed the breaks. With a sudden sharp jolt, the bus came to a halt. All of us were shaken and I remember my head banged to the iron pole of the bus and thereafter I remember nothing.
 
When I opened my eyes I could see the white ceiling with a white fan and myself on a bed with a beeping monitor next to me. “What happened to me that I am here?” questions Abhi to himself. “Why am I here?” I heard the noise of the door hinge and I turned my head towards it. It was my mom. I said “Mom.” A big smile filled the brooding face and she said in the same sweet voice “Son how are you?” “I am good, momma. What happened to me? Why am I here?” I enquired. Tears rolling down my mother’s cheek she said today is February 21, 2023, Abhi and today you have become thirty- three years old. Happy birthday beta and she kisses his forehead. You recognized me for the first time after so many years. “Why what happened Momma?” asks Abhi innocently.
 
(Enters Payal) Seeing Abhi sitting on his bed filled her with new delight and enthusiasm. Leaving the door handle she ran and clanged to Abhi crying bitterly. “You gave us the best birthday present bro. It was years that I wished you a birthday wish. Happy birthday, bro.” Says Payal. “Hey Pai! I loved your fast track watch and Momma your lilac shirt made me look gorgeous. But that was 2013 I think and now it is 2023. Ten years. ” says Abhi. Confused Abhi says “I cannot recollect what happened yesterday or a year before or so. Closing his and straining to remember what happened Abhi says “As far as I remember I was in ICAG Dilsukhnagar Hyderabad, doing my animation degree in 2013 then………..” With enquiring eyes, he looks into Pai and Momma’s eyes, “Why these ten years are blank to me?” Thinking hard Abhi says “I was going to Konark on the bus and …. I think something happened…… and I feel I hit something hard and …..”
 
Enters Anu and Simran five-year-old daughter of Abhi. Strangely looking at them, Abhi again looks towards Pai and Mom for an answer. Simran seeing his father sitting exclaims papa…. And ran towards him and clings to him. “Happy birthday papa,” says Simran. Abhi holding her in his arms replied smiling “Thank you beta.” But looking towards Anu says with a low voice “I cannot recollect you both from my memories.” “Sorry but I do not even know your names,” says Abhi. Pai went out and called the doctor. The doctor reviewed Abhi and said now he is completely fine and back to his memories. Now you all can take him back.
 
Coming back to home Abhi sees his house the very same music system that he bought fighting with everyone is right there. He goes there and plays his favorite “”. Sees the 44” LED TV and says, “So finally papa abandoned his 1942 love”. (Everyone laughs.) “But where is he? He never turned up to me. Is he still angry that I chose animation and not engineering?” (with a sarcastic tone). Pai with her head down says in a low tone “He is no more to counter-reply you with much better poetic lines.” Astonished Abhi falls on the sofa. After a moments pause, Abhi breaks the silence, “As far as I remember he was well and fine. What happened?”
 
Moma wiping her tears says in her quivering voice, “On 21 February as usual just before calling you he switched on the TV and there was news flashed about the Bomb – blast at Dilsukhnagar Hyderabad. He was shocked and his eyes were enlarged. He quickly called you and you did not pick up the call.”(pause). “He just did not mention anything to us but picked his small bag told us that he is going to Hyderabad.”(pause). We came to know about the blast from TV.”
 
He began his search from your institute. He went to every hospital and every place where he could find casualties and found you in one of the places with mild injuries but no memory and completely broken and shocked and mute. Seeing you in this form was a setback for him but he patiently delt the situation. He brought you back here and tried everything that you remember but nothing worked. It was heartbreaking for all of us. But he never gave up. This time he began with animation. You started showing interest. You finally broke your muteness and you did quite well. Now you were looking good. Then Papa took you for interviews and you finally became a synthetic environment developer at Rockwells and Collins Company. You were doing well and kept going. Then he brought Anu to you. You liked her and finally, you both were bound with vows. All these years we all were so much absorbed with you that we never saw the falling health of papa. In 2018, he had a fever and then he never recovered back. Doctors said his immunity has fallen down drastically. Saving him is difficult.”
 
Hearing these all filled Abhi with much more grief and pain. His father was his life and he is no more. Fighting with this hour was difficult for Abhi but he was doing it.
 
Anu standing at a distance watches Abhi playing mischievous pranks with Pai and enjoying the hour. He will purposefully go and loosen the hairs of his mom when she is cooking and she will scold him and he will laugh. He will ask for meals and if it is late for one second he will start playing with his spoon and plate filling the house with the irritating noise. He will wash his hands and sprinkle water on Pai and they both will start chasing each other. He will go and try to open the eyelids of Pai when she has gone for a nap and he will get a kickback. He will hold her leg and start tickling it till the time Pai doesn’t sit back. Then he will laugh. It was fun to watch Abhi in this form again. I wished to see Abhi in this form. My soul is satisfied that the family reunion is really beautiful. My half work is already done says Anu. Now my work is to introduce new connections of Abhi with family and Simran and Abhi, family and myself.
 
Small kids had been the charms of his life. So even if Abhi doesn’t remember anything about his past ten years, he enjoys the company of Simran. Slowly Simran would creep into Abhi’s lap and make herself comfortable and say “Papa please tell me the story of Alice in Wonderland or Mogli.” And Abhi cuddles Simran amidst his two robust manly arms and rocking he begins “So Alice was getting bored seeing her sister read. She was about to tell her sister that she was getting bored when she saw a white rabbit with red eyes advancing towards his rabbit hole. Alice found it very interesting and she followed the rabbit……..” and so Abhi was quite comfortable with her. One day Simran was fighting with Abhi to play games on his mobile and Abhi was adamant to give. Abhi would never allow anyone to touch his mobile. Simran said “Papa you have changed. You never said me no for anything. Every evening you use to teach me new tricks to cross levels in the game. Papa you have changed…..”(And she sobs). This pinched Abhi that he is acting normal towards Simran but actually she is a stranger to him too. But above this, the tears of Simran compelled Abhi to focus on her and not his wiped out years and brood. Abhi just doesn’t want to share his mobile he was adamant but still, he went to Simran and sat right next to her. Simran would not see him. He made faces but of no use. He trickled her but no luck. Finally, he said, “Ok baba I am sorry. Come let’s begin the game.” That brings the smile back on her face and finally Abhi succeed to patch up with Simran. Abhi has to face almost every day such awkward situations but he has succeeded a lot in dealing with them by now.
 
Abhi is senior environment developer in Rockwell and Collins Company now. Everyone there understands that it is hard for Abhi to work with new memory. All old memories washed away. They all accept him in this new form too as they have accepted old Abhi.
 
All these areas I have succeeded to connect back but in the night when I lie down with you in the bed it’s a foreign feeling. I fail to connect with you as I succeeded with others.
 
“Why is this Abhi? I know now I am a foreigner to you but you patched up with Simran too then why not with me.”
 
With great pain in his eyes, he looks straight into Anu’s eyes. Quietness fills the darkness for a while. What is it Abhi that is troubling you so much? What is draining you out? Still, quiet Abhi leans back on the sofa. You know Anu, Mahima and myself have decided that on the evening of my twenty-fifth birthday I will introduce her to my parents. So on February 21, 2013, after the movie, I was to introduce her to my mother’s family, but that evening never came into my life. Every time I touch you, or kiss you…. Mahima’s face comes in front of me as if asking me “Why have you done this to me, your very love? Why have you done this to me?” Every night I lie down with you on this bed, the promises which we made to each other echo in my ears making me feel how mean and selfish I became that I gave up in the hands of fate to write my life. The moment I feel to make a new beginning with you, all the dreams Mahima and myself saw together question me why did you not fulfill them all? The dreams to build a sweet little home with her. The house where she wished to put green curtains, glass top center table. The fern in the corner and those brown leather sofa set. Those glass flower vase, those string beaded curtains, and those big Italian wall paintings. The perfect was our planning. The best was our imagination. Life could be no better than what we dreamt together.
 
Abhi crying bitterly over the shoulder of Anu. Anu cries bitterly and pats Abhi’s back. Abhi continues “Why did I choose to go to the movie? Why didn’t I miss the bus I boarded? Why this thing happened to me?” There was a brief pause. Abhi continues further that blast has blasted my life. My life is fragmented….. My life is fragmented. The melody of life is all charred in the explosion. All my dreams, all my imaginations, all my life, and everything……… Lying flaccid Abhi says I am ruined.
 
Anu wiping her tears and taking a deep sigh says “Even though you took five years to share your pain, I was waiting for it to come out.” Hearing this Abhi looks straight into Anu’s eyes with the question, “Do you still see me as you saw me before?” And Anu with a small smile nods her head and says yes. I know what happened with Mahima was not fare but I don’t want it to happen for you too Anu, so I was trying to act as much normal as I can with you. And by now I am tired of the struggle between Mahima and you. Mahima gave me one of the best life I could ever dream but you have walked with me all through my life good or bad which I do not remember, but the way you treat me even though you know I am not justly behaving with you. I just cannot ignore this. Mahima is my past which is what I remember now and you are my present which is totally wiped out. My struggle between Mahima and you are now unbearable and I broke down. Anu says “I understood that you need time and space, so I chose to wait until the time you yourself bring it out to me. It was difficult to see you suffer in pain but it was unwise to touch your wounds without your permission. Why did you take so long Abhi? Where I was less than you took so long?” Abhi holding both hands of Anu and says “No you are not less. I did not have the courage to share with you this part of my life. I had no idea how you would react if I present this part of my life to you. I already have lost Mahima and I did not want to lose you?” Anu says “Abhi Mahima is your past and I thank you that you did not reject me and neither did you choose to keep me in darkness. Even though you could have chosen your part but thank you for beginning with me again.”
 
Thank you, Anu for understanding me when I needed it the most and they both embrace each other. Seeing this, a drop of tear fells over the hand of darkness and he touches his cheeks and finds them wet. Wiping his tears and taking a deep sigh he says “Heaven and earth appear to meet together at a distance but it is illusion so is with past and present which appears to meet together at some point but it is illusion. What has happened can never revert back but what is happening is always in our hands to give the right shape. When life gives you no opportunities just create one to go on because life never stops…….” And he quickly runs through the walls and up into the horizon as the dawn breaks in.
 
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