A Precious Gift - 2

A Precious Gift.

Ace Edition

"It's coming your way! Catch the ball Nariman!" someone screamed from a distance in the field.
Nariman didn't need that indication. His eyes never left the ball that was enlarging slowly each second in his eyes.

As the ball closed in towards his direction, he raised his arms instinctively and manoeuvred at the anticipated position where the ball would land. When he realised that he would miss, he held his breath, closed his eyes and leapt.

He felt the object beautifully being clasped in his palms when they retracted by its force. The heat searing into his skin felt like bliss. And then he fell down with a thud.

His teammates erupted in joy. They had won the match.

"That was an amazing catch brother!" Sushil said as he and Nariman walked to the cycle stand.

"Hehe! Thanks man. You too did an amazing job by hitting four boundaries! I got bowled after scoring just twenty six runs. That catch redeemed me." Nariman said. They both reached the cycle stand and found a small gathering of boys.

"Hey! What's the matter?" Nariman asked while trying to peep through the group of bodies. "Hemant has brought a new watch that was gifted to him by his uncle who lives in the city." said Sharad half-turning his head to Nariman while his eyes remained glued to the shining watch.  It was indeed the most beautiful piece of watch that both Sushil and Nariman had seen till now.  

“That’s such a beautiful watch Hemant!” asked Sushil.

“Ofcourse it is!” Hemant imposed. “And do you know? It shows date and day of the week as well!” He advanced his wrist to show-off the golden rimmed watch with a black dial. “My uncle said it was the one of the limited editioned ones. And that it won’t be available for the next couple of years.” Inside, the group was muttering curses at this arrogant brat.

“All right guys, I have to go now, Ma will thrash me if I’m late,” Nariman said, unable to tolerate the bragging of Hemant anymore. “I need to go too, I have to finish my homework.” Sushil snapped and followed Nariman. Sushil sat on the carrier of Nariman and after an initial running, the latter climbed unto his cycle as it took off to the stony path of the village.

Dropping Sushil at his home, Nariman cycled his way back to his home which was only a few minutes from that of Sushil. He lavished the sunset across the hills on his way. Upon arriving, he carefully peeped through the window to see if his father, whom he reverently called Bapu. He was there indeed, sitting on his desk and writing something under an earthen lamp. Nari quietly removed his slippers, arranged them properly with his hands, placing them close to the aligned shoes and entered. Washing his hands, feet and face, he first went to the deity room and knelt before the idol before going to study.

Despite being at it for hours, Nari found it hard to concentrate on his books. His mind was constantly stuck at that gold and black watch that Hemant received as a gift. He wondered why some people are more fortunate than the others and why he never received any kind of such good fortune. He cursed his fate for not having an uncle living in the city who could send him precious gifts.

Nariman was studying in the seventh standard, but he always made it a point to study further ahead of the course and learn something more that others wouldn't. That was what kept him at the top rankings of his class. But realising that these silly thoughts are wasting too much of his time, he had no choice but to stop studying and do his homework early. He increased the intensity of the earthen lamp by turning a knob and began doing the sums marked on his textbook.

The next day at school, results for the previous week's test were announced. Nariman had completely forgotten about it but it wasn't a big deal. He had scored the highest marks yet again. He came home and announced it slowly to his father who nodded in acknowledgment. That same evening, Nariman’s cousin brother came from the city.

Nariman was excited! Although he didn't have an uncle but he did have a cousin living in the city. He watched as his cousin parked his brandishing new motorcycle in the front and after removing his black polished shoes, touched the feet of his father.

“Ayushman Bhava, Kumar,” his father blessed his cousin, wishing eternal youth to him. Both of them went inside talking about Kumar's recent endeavours at business. Nari, followed closely behind, eager for his chance to talk with Kumar.

He didn’t dare intervene when his father was talking so he patiently waited for their conversation to end. He retired to his room when he could see that the talk would continue for a very long time. Dejected, he unzipped his bag and took out a couple of books from it. “Can’t father give Kumar a rest. He came here after traveling such a long distance!” he thought to himself.

After a few minutes of mind arguments with his father, he became so engrossed in his work that he was startled when someone patted his shoulder from behind. It was Kumar and he was smiling.

“So when is the next tournament coming up?” he asked, laughing to a funny incident Nar told him from one of the cricket matches. Nari happened to glance at his watch. It was an attractive watch but not like that of Hemant’s. Two hours had passed since Kumar came to his room and now it was almost dinner time. Time passed quickly in his company.

“Hey Nari! It’s Sunday tomorrow. You’ve got a holiday right?” Kumar asked when everyone was having dinner. Father disliked talking while having dinner but since it was his elder brother’s son, that too a successful one, he didn’t say anything to him. Nari glanced at his father to ask if he was permitted to reply. He nodded. “Yes, I have. What happened?”

“I want to take a tour in the village. Wanna give me company?” Kumar said. Nari looked at his Bapu once again. The man appeared to be having a deep assessment. After a few moments, he finally nodded. “Fine, I’ll come along.” Nari replied calmly, trying his best not to show his elation.

The next day early in the morning, Kumar took out his motorcycle and Nariman jumped to the pillion seat. They rode to the nearby hills to enjoy the beauty of the sunrise on their village. Then they visited the market. Where Nariman introduced his cousin to the curious inquirers. Kumar had a hard time there touching the feet of everyone to seek their blessings, while Nariman relished himself with a candy that Kumar brought for him. After that, they went to the village temple, some orchards, their farm and Nariman’s school. When the sun came close to the horizon and became yellow, they sat near a large stone on the river bank.

“It feels so good here man!” Kumar exclaimed, lying across the stone, staring to the dull blue skies. “Why?” Nariman asked chortling a little. Kumar glanced at his younger cousin for a moment, then returned his gaze to the skies. “The people here don’t treat you like an outsider even if you really are one.” He said recalling the events of the day. “In the city, even if something terrible happens to you, no one will come and ask you if they don’t have anything to profit from.”

“Besides,” he said after pausing for a few moments,” the climate, the scenic beauty, the pure air is something you won’t find in the cities. Even if you are the richest person in the world, you can’t buy these luxuries.” He got up. “Let’s go, the sun is about to set. Wanna learn how to ride a motorcycle?”

It didn’t take long for Nariman who cycled daily to learn to ride the motorcycle. Initially, he had trouble using the clutch and changing the gears, but he became used to it quickly. They arrived at his house with Kumar sitting behind Nariman much to the astonishment of the latter’s parents.

At dawn the next day, Nariman could hear voices from the next room but he was too tired to wake up. A few minutes later, Kumar came to his room and whispered to Nariman’s ear,” Hey bro! I am leaving for the city. I am keeping a small gift for you alright.” Nariman mumbled something which sounded like “Have a nice journey” and returned back to snoring. Kumar laughed and messed up Nariman’s hair for a final time before he left.

After a few hours, Nariman woke up and found a white envelope placed at his study table. Really? You give me a greeting card as a gift when you have so much wealth. He cursed his cousin and proceeded to open the envelope, still drowsy. Something that looked like money fell from the torn envelope. With great difficulty, he knelt and picked it up but he couldn’t see the denomination. He went closer to the window and opened it up. And then in the bright sunlight, he saw what it was. A thousand rupee note!

Nariman’s eyes widened in both shock and awe. All his drowsiness disappeared instantly. He had only seen a hundred rupee note from his father. His entire life till now, he dealt with coins of 1 or 2. What is he going to do with such a huge amount of money? He gazed at the iridescent note in the sunlight. With trembling hands, he carefully opened his closet and placed the note in it in a manner as if an untouchable has touched something very pious.

All through the school, he kept thinking about what he was going to do with the note. He could buy his most desired cricket kit with it. He could buy good-clothes with it. He couldn’t decide what he would do. That day, he was embarrassed by the teacher for daydreaming.

That evening after they played the match, Hemant was boasting once again about something that he had brought from his home. Sushil wanted to go but Nariman restrained him. As the duo cycled to their homes, Nariman asked Sushil,”Have you ever seen a thousand rupee note?”
Thinking he had heard something else Sushil replied,” What? A thousand rupee note? Does that even exist?” Nariman laughed at that last remark. The rest of the journey was spent in silence.

At home, Nariman opened his closet and took out the currency note to admire it. The beautiful inscriptions in it were mesmerizing. It was a pleasure just to look at it. “I can purchase anything that I want with you. There’s nothing that you can’t buy.” He talked to the note as if it was a living thing. But that day never came when he would buy something with that note.

As days rolled by, he had an opportunity to buy a cricket kit when he visited the nearby town. He even had brought the note with him pleading his mother to buy him a wallet just to place that note in it. He didn’t reveal that he had the note and his mother wondered what will he do with an empty wallet. Standing in front of the store, he took out his wallet and fidgeted with the note. He thought to himself,” Is the kit really worth this money? I will stop playing cricket after a few years. I have to concentrate on my studies for the boards and as well as for the upper classes when things will become tougher. I should focus my attention on studying more.” He convinced himself with this explanation and moved on. That day forth, he carried his wallet along with that note all the time with him.

Once he had to purchase books to prepare for the boards. New books were a craze then. He approached a bookstore in one of the holidays to purchase the books and enquired the price. It was 600 rupees. As Nari, delved into his pocket a thought occurred to him,” Books offer the same knowledge, whether old or new. Why should I waste so much on buying new books when I could get all these from someone else.” he said making up his mind not to be affected by the alluring books of his friends. He left the place and went to inquire one of his seniors if he had those books with him.

One day, Nariman thought he had lost his beloved hundred rupee note for sure. For some reason while in school, he opened his wallet only to find that note missing. He searched his classroom, fields even the toilets frantically, all the while keeping quiet about the note from his friends. He finally found the note inside the pages of a thick book on his study table and felt life returning to him.

One day he had to buy a gift for his younger cousin. Once again, he convinced himself that it is not worth spending that note on trivial things like gifts and didn’t buy anything. Upon arrival, his cousin asked,” Where’s my gift Nari bhaiya?” to which he replied,” Little one, my presence is a present!” He spent the next few minutes dodging the attacks of his cousin and his friends who took great delight in beating up an elder.

Many such instances occurred where Nariman put off buying something stating that it was not worth the amount of that beautiful thousand rupee note.

Until one day, the central government declared demonetisation of all 1000 rupee notes. All around the village, radios played albeit in a jagged sequence, how the thousand rupees are being used by corrupt individuals and by terrorists to fund their operations. Nariman was busy buying vegetables that day, he came to know about this news when he met Sushil.

“Hey! Have you heard the news?” Sushil shouted.

“What news?”

“The Prime Minister has declared demonetisation. All 1000 rupee and 500 rupee notes are banned from yesterday midnight. You can deposit the rupees in a bank if you have an account otherwise, they all are useless now.”

Nariman’s grip on his vegetable bag loosened with each passing word. He almost dropped the bag after Sushil finished saying. Beads of perspiration slowly appeared in his forehead and he suddenly felt warm.

“Oh! Alright!” he said quickly and walked briskly out of the market. He wished in his heart that Sushil was telling wrong information. There must be some way to save his precious little note. He went home and asked his father. “Father has demonetisation really happened?”

“It looks like so. The Prime Minister himself announced this yesterday midnight.” Hearing these words from his father, Nariman finally lost all hope. His thousand ruppee note is nothing more than a piece of paper.

That evening he took that note and went to the river bank. As the sun was setting, he tossed the note which he held so dear to him, into the water and watched as it fluttered in the air for
sometime and then finally flowed with the currents down the horizon.

Thanks for reading till the end. Please spare a moment and fill up this up.


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