Satish

After a brief spring in the remote hills of Manipur, Summer set in with its full might. Dry leaves rustled on the dusty path and a lone Peepul tree swayed in the dry and quiet afternoons. Satish had been thinking for a long time to move out to the city in search of better opportunities. Afterall, the local sugar mill in the village had little to offer apart from a small amount of money to keep the body and soul together. After a lot of thoughts and suggestions, Satish took a bus to the city with a few hundred rupees in his pocket and numerous dreams in his eyes. The bus reached the city in the evening. Satish made his way around the crowded bus stop,clenching his jute bag tightly as people pushed each other hurriedly out of the bus stop. Satish’s eyes lit up against the glittering lights of cars, traffic lights and sign boards. People rushing on the crowded road, oblivious of each other, cars honking repeatedly and the din and bustle of the market. All this was new for Satish. With the evening growing into the night, he began searching for a place to eat. His tattered clothes, dusty slippers and the rugged jute bag on his shoulder did little in his favour. Wherever he went, shop owners looked at him with pitiful and unwelcoming eyes. In the end, he found a small wayside eatery that was mostly occupied with people of his own stature. After having a fulfilling meal, he wandered into a nearby park. Having no acquaintance in the city and little money in his pocket, he sat on a bench in the park, overlooking the busy street in front of him. The hustle and bustle of the market was now replaced with the faint sound of shutters closing and dogs barking on the streets. Thinking about his home and his family, Satish stretched out his legs on the bench and began humming a local folk song from his village, looking at the stars under the moonlit sky. After a long and uncomfortable night, he decided he had to search for a job soon to survive in the city. Many failed attempts later, he finally got the job of a waiter at the local restaurant near the station. He also got himself a small room in a nearby settlement. Things finally started to shape up for him slowly. He woke up at six in the morning, took a quick bath at the nearby supply water tap and left for work before eight. He worked hard at the restaurant and returned only when it closed at ten in the night. After a long day’s work, he finally crashed down on his bed and the routine went on as usual. People were still oblivious of each other, everyone of them talking about their own share of problems and no one had the time or thought to stop and talk with each other. Satish often felt lonely at times in his small room. On the long summer nights, laying on his bed, he missed his home and the laid back nature of the people back home. He tried adopting the reserved attitude of the city dwellers, kept to himself and when every night he returned back to his small and lonely room, he asked to himself “Is this what I wanted?”. Soon, he saved enough money to buy a cellphone for him and yet he had no one to call. His family still didn’t have any means of communication except for the heartfelt letters they used to write to him every week. He collected those letters every week and read them on the lonely summer nights when it was difficult for him to sleep. Everytime he read those letters, his heart grew more and more restless. Time flew by and after the same slogging and mundane routine in the restaurant he was now agitated and tired but his boss always talked of making him a permanent staff and that kept him from leaving the job. His landlord too didn’t allow him to leave the place since he didn’t have enough money to pay back the money he owed him. Satish was now caught in a vicious cycle where he had to slog day and night just to survive, living a dry and mundane life,chasing nothing. The dream was long gone and whatever was left in him was replaced by sorrow and restlessness.

That night, Satish didn’t return to his room. The night was dark and the sky was covered with clouds. The landlord checked on his room. The door was slightly open and the wind made eerie sounds in the alley. The landlord searched the room but it was empty save for a table and charpai. A small envelope was kept on the empty table with a few hundred rupee notes in them. The clouds were brimming and the wind was howling. That night, the city saw the heaviest downpour after a long time. Everyone was seeking shelter from the rain but Satish was nowhere to be found. He had disappeared into the darkness, towards his home and far from the maddening crowd, before the city could kill his dreams once again.

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