Short Cut - contd
by Lakshmi Menon
(Bangalore, Karnataka, India)
Continued from previous page
The door opened again. A new nurse followed by his elder son Krishnakumar came to the room. She took his temperature and pulse, and checked the I. V fluid stand.
“When the fluid gets over, please let me know,” she walked away with a smile.
Krishnakumar came closer to him, and then sat on the bed. “Dad, didn’t you recognize me?”
Nambiar wanted to tell him at the top of his voice that he had no problem in recognizing anyone. His memory was perfectly alright though his tongue couldn’t make a sound. So he gave him a tiny smile. “How can I forget you my dear son, the eldest of the three, who called me Dad first?” He cast his eyes on him.
“As my salary as a College Principal was not sufficient enough to get you a management seat in Engineering in a reputed college, with your average marks, for the first time I decided to take a short cut to make money fast. No one knew how I managed the big amount in two days’ time, not even your mother. When I gave a false compliant in the police station about the missing money from the College fund, no one suspected me. It was only the beginning of my growth towards becoming rich. When more and more needs for money and fame came my way, I soon learned to misuse my post and name to make money through more short cuts, and I felt proud of my hidden ability.
“After you finished your engineering degree, I wanted to send you abroad, but your senseless mother opposed it and scolded me for spending money lavishly. Was she successful in dissuading me? No. Never! Because of that, today you are in such a great position in USA that you took 5 years to come and see me even after you got the news that both my legs were amputated….
“I didn’t learn from my mistakes even after I lost your mother. I was thinking, if money was there I need not worry about anything. But I was wrong. Living like a vegetable, unable to walk with no legs, or use my hands on my own or speak a word, I understand even the man I had appointed to stay with me, was not
willing to continue staying with me any longer for any amount of money. He was also tired of me after few years of looking after me. While going, he asked me to tell all of you to admit me in an old age home.” Nambiar sighed, two drops of tears escaped his eyes. When he was immersed in his thoughts he heard a discussion between his children.
“Shyamala, how long are you going to be here?” asked Krishnakumar, gazing at his sister.
Shyamala was stunned at the question. She had already told her brother that she would be leaving tomorrow. “My son’s examinations are going to start next week. I have to go tomorrow.”
“Can’t you shift dad to your house?” He asked reluctantly after a moment’s thought and added, “If you want I’ll take care of his expenses.”
“That is not possible. You can spend that money on a good male nurse and book a permanent room in the hospital.” Shyamala turned her face.
“What about you, Manohar?” Krishnakumar turned to his younger brother.
“I will also be going tomorrow,” said Manohar. “What about you, brother?”
“I will be here for the next 3 or 4 days. Then I will have to go to Cochin to attend my sister-in-law’s wedding. Coming all the way, it won’t be nice on my part to go back without attending it.”
“Where is Sridhar? He is supposed to be here with father all the time.” Manohar stared at his father, knowing well enough that he wouldn’t be able to utter the words.
Nambiar sighed again. “At this rate, will my children even have time to come and attend my funeral? Why should they come? Even Sridhar came at his own whims and fancies. There were days when he never turned up. He wished he could find a short cut to end his life before his children left!” A smile tinged with guilt and remorse, spread on his face.
He visualized his body being handed over to the Medical College where the medical students would be having a gala time.
For once he felt jealous of his departed wife who left him six years ago, when all her dear ones were around her, and simply wished that at least she was there with him at the end of his journey. ****