Except the ashes, nothing remained at the funeral spot of Prakash Chandran. A whirl of smoke mingled in the smell of burnt flesh. Incense and sandalwood emitted now and then A few rodents and other nocturnal creatures crawled outside the crevices to gnaw the remains. The soul of Prakash Chandran, invisible to human eyes arose slowly. For a moment he could not believe that it was only his soul. Yes, I he bade farewell to this glorious world yesterday and was cremated today. Now, only his soul remained; the helpless one and a whole heap of wishes, wishes he wanted to realise in his life time. "No I cannot accept my death, how can I die?" Pradash Chandran was aged only forty, full of energy and vitality, yet his heart failed him. It happened amidst the party he gave on his pro¬motion and medical science could not save him even though he was rushed for aid.

He recollected the entire forty years of ruthless life he led in this world, a sense of guilt, shame and repentance eluded him; "what kind of fruitless life did I provide for my family? As the main pillar, did I give enough love, kindness and consideration? Oh, No! Nirmala, my loving wife. Innocent and full of love as her name connotes, my naughty little bundles Nithu and Nisha, did I act the part of a father well? No, not at all." His past life was revealed like an open chart before him.

As the supervisor of a reputed firm, I had always envied the M.D. because I knew I could never reach that position. Hadn't I conspired against him even though I knew very well that he is a man of justice and good caliber. Hadn't I always ridiculed and under-estimated the subordinates for no reason. My sarcastic nature revealed in provoking them with sarcastic wits. The screech of an owl brought an abrupt end to Prakash Chandran's overflowing thoughts. A blood sucking bat fluttered past him as in a horror movie. Once again his extinct thoughts erupted and started to flow, a sense of nostalgia wrapping him.

"Nimmie, dear, now burdened with a family and no supporting oars, how she used to cajole me to give up my drinking and smoking habits! How many times had I made false promises and yet so innocently she believed me? How often she used to complain about the stress she felt doing office work, house hold chores and tending to Nithu and Nisha's needs and how often did she request me to assist the kids atleast in their studies? But always my ego ruled me. I just gave her a deaf ear, for her wails. How often has she come pleading to buy a two wheeler for her, so that she need not waste so much time at the bus-stops running after buses and tiring herself. But my male chauvinistic mind forbade me. I ignored her request. The repeated pleadings of Nirmala now working as a broken record in Prakash Chandran's mind pierced his heart, "Prakash, dear, why can't you try to understand me? Why are you being so selfish? Isn't ten whole years enough to understand me?" She repeated this plea each time after a tiring day of entertaining the friends I brought home for pretty celebrations. I should have atleast assisted her in clearing the mess we created by scattering cigarette butts and liquor bottles. All the while I acted as though I was deeply engrossed in reading the newspaper.

A gigantic owl flew from its hideout to snatch a rat. The rat gave a frightful .squeal and took shelter in a crevice. The continuous trickle of dew not only formed a smoke screen but also laid a wet bed of minute bubbles. Prakash thought about the present condition of his family. Poor Nimmie, how can she cope with all these additional burdens? In addition to the physical strain she has to cope with all financial burden also. I have not provided any monetary reserve for them thinking that there was ample time. All her wise advice fell on my deaf ears. "Oh Nimmie, how I wish to fulfill all your needs, how I long to be a spouse of your expectations, how I yearn for your love and life with you, how I wish to apologize for my misdeeds to the whole world and start afresh he lamented. But all his lamentations we drowned in the silence of the night. It was a late-struck repentance.

Jacintha Morris
Welfare Assistant, AG's Office

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