On the cold winter nights of December, Karan had started having nightmares. Nightmares that brought chills down his spine. He was utterly disturbed and his mother had noticed it. She knew what was gnawing him for the past few weeks. He woke up with a start gasping and grasping the sheets. He had even wetted his bed once. He was embarrassed about it but he kept it a secret. His father tried to get it out of his mouth not realizing he was himself the reason for the nightmares. And Karan never admitted and never exposed the secret.
His condition worsened day by day. He had stopped eating properly. He had lost a huge amount of weight in just a few days of time. It was almost impossible to recognize him now.
When a 15 year old boy, a mere teenager witnesses domestic violence, conversations about divorce and the other side of his father, his wrath, since infancy, the results are shockingly catastrophic. Karan’s parents’ relationship was dangling from a thin thread. The blatant display of disrespect and hatred and disgust by Karan’s father towards his mother was increasingly disturbing and terrifying for him. His marks had dropped drastically. His father was even supposedly having an affair with someone. They didn’t have solid proof of it though. The only proof they had was a small bindi that was found stuck behind the bed in his father’s room, his mother didn’t recall owning that bindi. His life was never the usual happy-go-lucky life. His life had terrors other children could merely imagine of.
‘What was it this time?’ his mother asked with care and anxiety in her eyes, as he woke up startled from an evening nap. ‘What are you talking about maa?’ he said as usual merely even trying to dodge the question. ‘Beta, i know you have bad dreams. You have to tell me today.’
‘its nothing maa.’
‘I have read your dreamjournals. You shouldn’t hide them now.’
‘You shouldn’t sneak around my room maa.’
‘I am your mother i can do anything. Now tell me’
‘You hanged yourself.’
‘Oh dear my boy’ she screeched and put his head to her chest and sobbed.
‘I can’t get used to them. It’s different everytime. You read them. All of them so vivid. Maa, i can’t take them anymore. I am going insane. I can’t see you like this maa!’
‘There’s no other choice beta. We have to just go with it. Grow up you, and take me away.’ she said and patted Karan’s head.
‘And till then you’ll tolerate all this?’ Karan grumbled
‘For you I’d do anything my boy.’ she said and kissed him on his forehead. ‘It’ll get better we’ll se a doctor. Now go and get freshened up. I’ll get you something to eat’
She left him alone then. Karan sat blankly. His mind still terrified by the fresh image of her hanging mother’s cold face. Her Dead eyes. He was traumatized for life.
‘End this God. End this. End her suffering.’ he prayed. After every nightmare of his, he had developed a habit of repeating the same words. But the words never seemed to reach the EARS.
Finally came New Year’s eve. The day things would change. The destined day.
Karan was following the usual routine for New year’s eve. He didn’t care much about the year ending and the new one starting. He had other concerns.
A few minutes before midnight 12 o’clock Karan had sneaked out of his house. The only thing he liked about new year was the fireworks. He was now sitting on the water tank waiting for the show to start. But the moment it happened. The moment it struck 12. The moment the crackers burst open in the air it all stopped. Frozen the air stood still. The screams stopped. The people dancing on the roofs with the music so loud stopped. Everything was frozen.
Karan didn’t realize at first, he stood up and looked at his phone, it seemed as if it was bricked. He threw it into the air. After gaining some height it stopped. Hanging in midair. He was baffled. He was the only person who could move he realized after a bit of observation.
His foot slipped and he descended down with great velocity and momentum. In a few moments the ground was much more closer than it was before. The 5 storey fall wasn’t a long one. But just as he hit the ground his body became numb. He felt as if he was floating. He could not feel pain at all. He didn’t even feel the thump. Soon he got back to his senses. He blinked violently. He was somewhere in the middle of nothing. Nothingness engulfed him. There wasn’t a horizon. It was a room. It didn’t seem 3 dimensional. There were no edges, no corners, there was just an infinite amount of the colour white and nothingness. He stood there in pure confusion trying to figure out what this was. He walked for some time. But he couldn’t make out even a single detail. It was all just white. Like a plastered wall.
After a fews steps he could see a man coming closer. White robes he wore. In a moment he was standing very close to Karan. Karan could smell his robes. A sweet smell.
‘Confused my child?’ the man said in a strong and firm voice. Karan wasn’t scared though. Somehow it comforted him.
‘Yes. Who are you’
‘I am you. I am this world. I am existence.’
‘I don’t get it.’
‘I am God son. I am God’
Karan became silent. He slowly backed away.
‘Don’t be afraid my child.’
‘I am not afraid. I am disappointed. You know it better’
‘Yes son. I had reasons.’
‘What reason can you have for giving a woman eternal suffering? What reason can there possibly be for giving me nightmares every night?’ Karan said revolting
‘It’s not i who does this. I show my children the path and it’s upon them to walk on it or not. Concept of free will. It’s not i who gives you nightmares. It is you yourself. You care so much that you can’t tolerate it. I can Only show you the way my child’
Karan went silent again. He thought for a second. And then looked back at the man with eyes that expected answers. Eyes that have been longing to see a miracle.
‘Then show me the way. Show me the path. The path which undoes all that has happened. My mother’s marriage. Her failed education. Her suffering. All of it. Reverse it all. I will Walk on it’
‘You are God’
There was no proof yet if the man was really God himself in flesh or not. But the man then smiled. And said ‘One way. To go back in time, and undo it yourself. Do you have the courage?’
‘This doesn’t need courage’ Karan said confused
‘You don’t realize. You’ll wipe out your existence. You’ll sacrifice your life for her happiness’
A long pause. Silence. Then suddenly Karan said out loud.
‘Okay! I will do it. It doesn’t matter. Her life will be different. My existence doesn’t matter. She’ll live a happy life. I will do it!’
The man smiled and put his hand on Karan’s eyes and covered them. Then he whispered.
‘All the best’
In a moment he removed his hand and Karan slowly opened his eyes. He was on a familiar crossroad. The crossroad close to her mother’s first house. A small hostel. He was in awe. He was seeing something completely unbelievable. He was seeing the younger self of her mother. A 17 year old girl riding a bicycle, circling around in a circuit not going far. She was beautiful even more than she was in the present. He looked at her and tears rushed out without stopping. He could she her careless smile. She wore it so beautifully and majestically. How he had been longing to see her this happy and carefree. She noticed him. She rode the bike close to him and got off.
‘What is it you are looking at?’ she asked snapping her fingers not noticing the tears in his eyes.
‘i-i-i was just. i-i-i h-have to say something’ he stammered.
‘Don’t marry. I beg you. Don’t marry.’
‘What? How do you know that i am getting married?’
‘That doesn’t matter. The man who’ll come to see you today. Reject him. He has to stay away from you.’
‘What rubbish’ she said and looked away ‘it’s my choice’
‘yes! It’s your choice. Don’t you want to become something in life? You want to stay free don’t you. You are doing this because of your parents’ pressure’
She became silent.
‘Yes but how do you know all this?’
‘I’ll tell you later. But this can’t happen. Not at all. This has to stop right here. Fight for rights maa!’
‘What did you call me?’
‘okay. So how will this happen?’
‘i’ll help you. You just have to fight back. Don’t give up and don’t surrender. Your parents will understand definitely’
‘Who are you?’
‘I’ll tell you later.’
The two of them split ways and his mother went to her parents for a parley, expecting she would be granted the freedom of marrying at will. While Karan was waiting at the bus stand for his father to arrive with his friends. He was already spellbound seeing his mother, and yet there were more surprises for him. The younger self of his father!
After 47 minutes of waiting in the bus stand standing under the scorching sun, finally the bus came and 3 young men descended down the stairs. Karan couldn’t recognize his father at first but then he could finally make out who might his father be. The 28 year old self of his father, skinny, weak looking, beardless stood right in front him. They soon whooped by him and he was still frozen with his mouth wide open. He must have been so much more heavier than his father.
Back then the process of going to a girl’s house for a proposal of marriage was a bit odd. They didn’t know his mother’s name nor her father’s name nor anything. All they knew was the address. Only the address. This made things so much more easier for Karan. He had inquired from his mother if there was a friend of hers with the same surname and fortunately there was one. They had together talked to her and the plan was to mislead the trio into the wrong house and stall them. This would probably even terminate the plan of going to his mother’s house.
Karan tapped on his father’s shoulder.
‘Excuse me mister. Is you name Suresh Maheshwari?’ he asked
‘Yes. I am Suresh Maheshwari’
‘Oh then you must be here to present the proposal to a girl am I right?’
‘Yes. How do you know?’
‘I am here to correct your knowledge mister. The address you know is wrong. This is the correct one’ he handed his father the piece of paper on which he had written the address of her mother’s friend’s house ‘The house you were going to go to is apparently a Muslim house.’
All three of them made a grimace and curled there noses.
‘Thank you mister for informing us. And you are?’
‘A relative of the girl of whom you are asking her hand in marriage. I was sent by her father himself.’
‘So i bid you farewell now lads. Have a nice day ahead’ Karan said and walked away trying to be as normal as possible.
‘He looked a bit like you didn’t he?’ his father’s friend said as they walked ahead.
Karan’s mother Chaitrika Kumari, had become victorious. She had finally brought her parents to have a change of thoughts. However it did take a few suicide threatens to come to this point. Suresh had entered the decoy house with his friends. And after a few minutes they exited it. They went back to the bus stand and boarded a bus the way back. Karan had eavesdropped over their conversation. His father hadn’t liked the girl. He would now be married to someone else.
His parents would never meet again. Chaitrika would never give birth to Karan. Suresh would never be his father. Karan’s existence was now rubbed off from this world. He wouldn’t be born.
Karan met Chaitrika again at the crossroad. Chaitrika seemed increasingly happy a wide smile stuck on her face.
‘Thank you stranger! But now tell me who are you?’ Chaitrika asked curiously.
Karan was silent. Tears in his eyes. With blurred vision he looked at his palms. They were changing. His existence was getting reversed. Time was flowing backwards for this boy. His palms very slowly shrunk. Very slowly the scars on his legs faded. He was slowly being wiped off.
‘Maa, Mai tera beta hu. I am Karan, I am your son maa. I am your son.’ he said and a tear rolled down his cheeks followed by a numerous more tears.
Chaitrika was baffled at what he said. Absolutely perplexed. Without knowing or understanding she hugged him. She knew nothing of him but something told her that she must not let him go. Something told her, he had been a part of her, he was the fragment of her body. As she hugged him they sobbed violently. Tears weren’t stopping. Karan was younger now. He was a 10 year boy. His fringe covering his forehead, the forehead that was exactly like his mother’s. Chaitrika cried. She saw the transition. He was then even younger. Just before he was about to lose the ability to speak, he screamed out loud. ‘I love you maa!’
‘My son’ she said looking at him with eyes full of love. She still hadn’t the slightest idea of who he was. But the words just escaped her mouth.
Karan was now an infant. A helpless little thing. He lay on her mother’s lap. He touched her face. One last time. Chaitrika kissed him on the forehead and closed her eyes. After a few seconds she opened them. Her son was gone, forever. Karan wasn’t a person now. He had disappeared from this world. He had sacrificed himself. Chaitrika smiled weakly.
‘My son’ she mumbled to herself.
That incident had passed and 13 years later Chaitrika was married to the man she loved, Abhimanyu. But Karan’s memory was still fresh in her mind. She had become whatever she wanted to become. She had made her own identity. Karan’s sacrifice wasn’t in vain. She was independent, adamant, a lady who wasn’t afraid of anything, a lady who had gained her rights once and for all. Her husband was loving. They loved each other dearly.
It was January. She was about to give birth to her child. After toiling for a long time the doctor’s were successful in performing a safe delivery. Both Chaitrika and her child were safe and sound. It was a boy. Her son. Abhimanyu walked to her, the boy in her arms. He looked at him lovingly and he eyes filled with tears
‘What would we name him’ he asked with a wide smile on his face.
Chaitrika smiled and slowly said.
‘Karan. His name will be Karan. My son Karan.’