This was his thousandth wedding. He recollects that very well. And yet he is not a married man. What an Irony!
It was the first day at school after the summer vacations. The school bell rang. Bhola cleaned his slate and put it inside his navy blue sling bag along with his books. He did not eat the mid day meal at school that day. He just ran without even waiting for his best friend Pinky. Pinky had so much to tell him after the two months that she spent at her Nani house. She had also brought some laddoos and other snacks that Nani had secretly packed for her best friend. But Bhola was no where to be seen.
“He is no different from Baba. Moody and selfish. Should I break my promise of marrying him? That would be years later. For now, let me just try and find out what is troubling Bhola.”, Pinky thought to herself.
Bhola was unstoppable till he reached the doorstep to his house.
“Amma! Amma!”, he called out.
His mother appeared from behind a thin curtain from the room above. He ran up the stairs and caught the man with his pants down. One, two and three…he kept striking again and again till Daadu caught him by his collar.
One, two and three…the scissors went back and forth. Blood was flowing like a flooding river.
Amma ran upto him, snatched the scissors from him and screamed, “Run Bhola. Run. Don’t ever come back. Swear by me.”
He ran and ran. He did not stop till he got into that bogie of the goods train.
The seven year old in him could never forget that last vacation and what he saw on the last two nights before the school reopened.
“Bhola, take this money. Go watch the magic show.”, said his loving Daadu every single day of the vacation.
After Baba, Daadu had taken care of his mother and him very well. Baba never gave him money to buy toffees or watch circus or magic show.
That day, the magician fell sick and the show was cancelled as was planned by destiny. Bhola came back home unexpectedly only to find Daadu accepting money from a stranger and letting him inside Amma’s room. He then locked the room from outside. Little Bhola was hiding behind the well to scare Amma. His innocent little eyes witnessed everything that they should not have.
At night, Daadu picked him up from the bed and put him on the cot outside. He got into Amma’s room and locked it from inside.
The next day it happened again. Daadu sent him for magic show. He hid inside the cowshed. Another man. Daadu counted the notes. The man was let in. The same room.
Bhola kept looking at Amma’s eyes. He always thought she was sad because of Baba’s demise. Now he knew why her eyes were permanently filled with tears.
It’s almost fifty eight years since Bhola reached Delhi. Initially he worked at a tea stall near the railway station. Then he got into a few provision stores as helper. And finally he ended up with Aggarwal Bandwala.
Those creepy childhood memories never allowed him to look for a relationship. All he wanted to know was whether Amma was fine or not. But he never gathered enough courage to break his promise.
As the groom’s mother blessed the newly weds, Bhola’s eyes filled up even as he continued playing the instrument.