Ramu and Avanti grew up together. Ramu knew nothing about his parents. Avanti’s father
Krishna had brought Ramu home when he was very young. Since then, Avanti and her father were Ramu’s only family. Ramu was extremely fond of Avanti. Avanti liked him too but probably not in the same way. But nevertheless they shared the best times together. At times, they would just forget the world in each other’s company!
Avanti was an avid and aspiring writer. She wanted to be a Page 3 columnist. She loved Bollywood and wanted to write about her favorite celebrities. And more than that, she loved fashion. So here she was, in Mumbai, the city of dreams where everyday thousands of people come in search of their ambitions only to get lost in the crowd of their predecessors. But Avanti was confident and adamant. She had forced her retired father and jobless Ramu to come along with her to this land of lost dreams and broken hearts. She believed her fate would be different from others. And indeed it was!
She took up a part time job in a start up evening paper where she started writing about fashion trends in business and elite circles of Mumbai. Her dream was to become the Page 3 editor of Enigma – Mumbai’s most trendy entertainment magazine. So she made it a point to visit their office once in 2 weeks with a new write-up of something fashionable and niche. And everyday on her way back, she would sit in the train and dream about interviewing Shah Rukh Khan on his upcoming movie after discussing the latest fashion trends with Manish Malhotra. She loved the Mumbai trains. They let her forget about time and get lost in her thoughts. She hated when Andheri station came. It was time to wake up to reality. But Ramu loved it. He along with Avanti’s dad would come there every evening at 6 to pick her up. That was the best part of Ramu’s otherwise mediocre day.
It was early July of 2006.
Krishna along with Ramu had gone to his village to see his extended family. Ramu did not want to leave Avanti but Krishna thought that people in the village would be excited to see Ramu again. Avanti was enjoying her solitude as it meant more time and space to dream and write. It was Tuesday evening and her new article was ready. It was a refreshing take on the emergence of realistic cinema in . She was confident that this time Enigma cannot ignore her. It was time to head to their office again, this time to announce that she was here to stay. India
Evening after work, she boarded the train to Bandra. Her heart was filled with excitement. She was anxious, nervous, happy, restless. She felt a plethora of emotions all at the same time. She thought that the world around her was going to explode. And explode it did! A series of 7 bomb blasts in as many trains took place in 11 minutes and claimed 209 lives. And what will not go into the records are the innumerable dreams including that of Avanti that were crushed by this hideous act of terror. A great writer was lost before she was born!
Four years had passed by.
Krishna had made peace with her daughter’s death. He was a fighter. He managed to gather all of Avanti’s articles and successfully convinced Enigma to publish some of them. They loved her last one and it appeared in their Page 3. Krishna was proud of his daughter. But every once in a while he will break down completely and cry for hours. Ramu never cried. In the last 4 years, every day, he would go to the railway station and sit there waiting for Avanti to return. Krishna would come to take him back home. He did not know how he could convince Ramu that Avanti will never come back. Ramu would not understand his language. He had only 5 senses. He cannot rationalize things as humans could. He would not know what a bomb was and he probably would not understand what death meant. But Krishna knew that it would in no way undermine Ramu’s love for his daughter. Krishna was indeed jealous how a dog could love his daughter more than any human could ever do! All he could do was let Ramu wait for his daughter to come back from work! Every day and forever!
- A short story by Raj.