Happiness: A wild goose chase
by Shanu Goyal
Not only the dearth of resources but lacking the fortitude to buy even dreams, added to the excruciating agony of his tormenting indigence. Bob was only 9 when he was forced to renounce his school entailed by his father’s incapability to pay for his education. His slender, handsome face was adorned with big deep eyes, shallow enough to ooze out the pain and sufferings he had been through.
Consequently, he had an elusive countenance of indifference set permanently on his face. His father, Steve, in his late thirties was anomalously cadaverous, decently short, thin, gray haired man resembling more to a man in his fifties. His charmless, wrinkled face pertaining to the strokes of poverty, delineated, vividly, his experience with the life. Burdened down under the responsibility of his wife, Martha, and the only son Bob, Steve was helplessly trying against all odds to earn a living but to no avail. His wife used to do odd seasonal works, like pottery, that too intermittently sporadic due to lack of funds. Bob wanted to set the world on an ever proliferating blaze with the endless inferno of agony in his mother’s dull eyes. He used to run sideline errands, sporadically, for he couldn’t last a job longer as a result of his lacking levity, out of his timidity. Penury was so entrenched into his thoughts that he could not even afford to pay for the aspirations to spend a single dime except for the next square meal for his parents, let alone himself. * *
Finally, he got a petty job, as a helper, at a nearby cheap restaurant, good enough to feed his family two times a day.
A few weeks passed until he developed a strong resilience against the petulant remarks and churlish behavior of barbaric customers and the haughty restaurant owner. He cursed his fate every time he saw a boy of his age riding a bicycle, freely, and he himself washing dirty dishes. But he was destined to change his fate. He wanted to be wrenched out of his deplorable destitute at any damn cost.
Fatefully, one night, amid the squeaking noise of the furnace, on which he was stewing eggs, blabbering of some errant drunkards and a low-volume archaic oldie in the background, he listened to two men talking about “The Golden Lottery”, carefully sipping hot tea at the puff of cigarettes. He couldn’t bridle himself to pay heed to their conversation. One of the two men bragged
that one of his friends won 5 lac rupees last month in that lottery. Bob was struck with a lightning strike as if two men were sent exclusively to change his fate. He, hastily, approached the two men and inquired them about the lottery shop. The man told him the address of the lottery shop in a ruthlessly derisive manner.
Bob could hear the ridiculing mockery of him in a slowly fading voice as the men started walking away, leaving from the place. He bought “The Golden Lottery” the very next day with the only 250 rupees he could accrue over last few weeks, in hope of a Golden fortune.
He became impatiently impatient for the results of the lottery that were to be announced next week on Sunday. He went through sleepless nights, random mood swings and skipping meals in wait of that formidable, “The Golden Sunday”.
The Golden day arrived, inevitably. He took a leave from dish washing and subscribed the ongoing transistor to the channel on which the result was to be announced. A few minutes later, “And the lottery that wins the first prize is….” a soft female voice started and Bob pulled out his fate out of his pocket. He imploded his eyes inwards and folded his hands tightly and murmured a few prayers. The voice from the Transistor continued with the lottery ticket number and Bob started to repeat the number after the voice, matching each letter to his lottery number.
B-B, M-M, 4-4,…………
His heart pattered louder and louder with every next letter of the voice matching with his lottery ticket. The voice repeated the number again, as BM473Z94. And Bob freaked out not to believe, what he listened, for minutes. He asked the people around if he listened correct.
Ironically, his fate was much more well off than he cursed it. Everyone, around, reassured him of his changed fate. He was experiencing boundless joy. He realized forthwith that his penury was nothing but a blessing in disguise. He wanted to cry in his mother’s lap. He wanted to hug his father. He wanted to tell their parent’s that their plight is over. He just wanted to be the fore teller of good times of his family.
He ran towards his home overwhelmingly. While he was crossing the road, a car hit him. The Golden ticket, still in his hand, was drenched all over in the pool of the blood leaking out from his lifeless body. ***