[Vhridhashram is derived from two words, Vhridh meaning old or aged and ashram meaning hermitage or a place to dwelling in simpler terms. Vhridhashram thus translates to ‘old age home’.]
[I wrote this story almost four years ago! I am posting the story as it was, four years ago. Please forgive me for any errors that might have crept in. Hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.]
Read part I here
A couple of years later in Hyderabad
Jyotirmoy was successfully working at Infosys, a renowned software giant where he met Vridavani. She eluded him, made him run after her. Vrinda, as she was called by her friends, had no father and her only family was her mother who was also like a father to her. They loved each other dearly and hoped to get married soon and start a family-and married is what they did.
Sujata: Bablu, your father is sick! Come home early beta…
Jyoti (rather harshly): I cannot come Maa, there is a lot of work here…
Sujata: But your father…
Jyoti: Aah! MAA, why don’t you understand? My office won’t give holidays now, and I cannot come home to trivial issues like this!
Sujata was going to speak something else when Ashok took the phone from her.
Ashok: Jyoti, how are you son? I haven’t seen you for such a long time! Please come home, baba…
Jyoti: Dad! Spare me, I cannot come now, I am burdened with office work, by the way, I have married someone.
Ashok (gasping, almost out of breath): Whaat! You did not tell us?
Sujata was conveyed the news by her dubious husband and she too got excited as well as sad at the same time. It was their own son’s marriage and neither had they been invited, nor could they attend. Sadness soon set in, they wanted a grand celebration for their son’s wedding right from the day Jyoti could walk, and all they got was a phone call affirming Jyoti’s marriage? They even did not see the girl or knew about her. But in their hearts, they were happy now that their son had finally settled.
Ashok (dejected and coughing profusely): Our son has left us on our own, we’ve spent so much money and love on him…
Sujata: We must be content hearing he’s doing well, how can we expect him to take care of us with so much on his head?
Ashok: But he should have…
Some years later Ashok died of a terribly nocuous disease, cirrhosis of liver to be specific.
Years passed on and Jyoti experienced in firsthand what parenthood was really like. Vrindavani gave birth to a healthy mature boy; they named him Joy as his birth gave them immense joy. But what Vrinda and Jyoti did not realize was the fact that they were going to be trapped into a cruel game of destiny and fate. Jyotirmoy and Vrindavani worked round the clock in their respective offices to get Joy the best of everything, thus sacrificing things for themselves as well. Jyotirmoy was beginning to comprehend, rather decode what his parents went through as the years passed on.
Vrindavani: I am thinking of moving my maa to an old age home, what do you suggest?
Ashok: Yes I was also thinking of the same thing, no wonder we are in love!
That very night, they decided to shift their ‘respected’ mothers into the same Vhridhashram. But they were so busy with their lives that Jyotirmoy and Vrindavani forgot to mention their mothers would be residing in the same old age home. Little did they know that fate would work in such magical ways. Joydip, affectionately called as ‘Joy’ by his parents was growing up, and by now, Jyotirmoy had learned the art of compromising with their needs so as to compensate whatever his little Joy could possibly want.
Joy: Papa! I want a G.I Joe action figure!
Jyoti (laughing and complying with his son’s needs): Yes, dear! Which one do you want? Duke or Snake Eyes? Or the evil Cobra…
Before he could say anything, his mobile sent out distress calls and at a glance, saw the number of the old age home which he had saved, “I have given the money this month! Why the hell are they calling now?” he sighed, disconnecting the line unaware of the doom which had crestfallen upon him. The phone rang again and he disconnected it the second time, quite irritated by the iterated gesture of the old age home.
Vrindavani: What happened, dear?
Jyotirmoy: It is a call from the Vhridhashram! I have sent the money earlier this month! Don’t know why they’re calling.
Vrindavani: I guess it must be something trivial, dear. Let’s not waste time…
Jyotirmoy’s phone rang the umpteenth time and he decided he would rather pick up and see what the matter is,than ignoring and being disturbed every other second. When he heard the news, he was devastated to the core of his heart; his ‘beloved’ mother had committed suicide, all because of him. He had not looked after her in her final days and she had hanged herself because of the sheer negligence she had faced during the last years of her life. Jyoti was stupefied by the fact that Paarvati, Vrinda’s mother and her mother lived in the same Vhridhashram. They were so engrossed with their own lives that neither Jyoti nor Vrinda had the time and patience to check on their mothers. The Vhridhashram known as “SukhPrapti” was the best in the country and it seemed both Jyotirmoy and Vinda did not want to compromise on money but time.
Couple of decades later
Jyotirmoy was looking through the window, the sun was setting and had already gone much into the horizon- emanating crimson hues all over the sky, as if it was leaving a last indication of its struggle against the perpetual darkness that was about to cover the world. Contrary to his mother who loved sun rises, Jyoti loved sunsets. Vrinda had succumbed to an accident and left him alone in this world. He felt neglected and understood how his parents have felt all these years. In fact he held himself accountable for his mother’s death.
Now with his fingers wrapped around the cold, hard grills of the window, he realized he was a convict, a convict of the eternal karmic cycle.
Joy had grown up and went on to become a reputed pilot. His parents were proud of him. But being a pilot meant he had to travel all over the country and outside too. He was smart and suave, and enjoyed life-
Joydip: Mom, dad I have a plan for you guys since you are practically old enough to take care of yourselves and since I am traveling a lot…
Jyotirmoy could sense where all of this was going, he gestured with his hand to stop his son, and asked with a lot of effort, “where?”
Joydip: The old age home is called “SukhPrapti” and is the best in the country. It has got the best accommodation, food … I am sure you’ll like it there.
Image courtesy- https://www.facebook.com/SMIT-OLD-AGE-HOME-493646904034941/