By Ashish Chawla
14th February, 2029; 11 am.
Javed, around seventy five years old, with not a single black hair to be seen on his head, was looking toward the seashore blankly. He closed his eyes for a few seconds, kissed the coin he was holding in his right hand, and threw it far into the sea. He smiled looking toward the sea.
Aadil, his grandson, around ten years old, holding Javed's left hand, was watching all this silently. After Javed was done, Aadil looked at him slyly. Javed laughed at the face his grandson was making.
“What?” asked Javed.
Aadil nodded his head in denial. Javed gestured him to start walking out of the beach. Holding hands, they came out of the beach. There was light traffic out on the roads. The sun was hiding behind the clouds. It was a calming atmosphere. Javed was walking slowly, while Aadil was in his own world, swaying around, humming a tune, while also holding Javed's hand. While walking, he saw a vada pav stall beside the road. He looked at Javed, and pointed a finger toward it. Javed gestured him to go.
Aadil left Javed's hand, and ran toward the stall. Javed came a moment later, and sat on the bench beside Aadil. He patted Aadil's back, who was busy savouring his vadapav, and ordered a cup of tea for himself. While eating, Aadil started talking.
“Hmmm?” asked Javed.
“It's my tenth birthday today. You had promised me you will tell me the story of how mom and dad met each other.”
Javed stops sipping his tea, and looks at Aadil.
“You are ten years old already?” said Javed, mischievously.
“Grandpa! You can't stop me this time. You have to let me know.”
“I will, I will. Don't worry. I will tell you everything before the end of the day,” said Javed.
Aadil smiled, and continued to look at Javed.
“Your dad met your mom one year before they got married. She was the daughter of one of my closest friends. At first, they didn't like each other. They said they are like two poles of a magnet.”
“Then?” asked Aadil, curiously.
“Then what? Your grandma somehow convinced your dad to meet her one more time, and then decide. And so they met once again. But this time, they built a connection. They started enjoying each other's company. And then…” Javed stopped midway. Aadil was looking at him without even a blink.
“Then what, grandpa?”
“Rest of the story after some time,” said Javed, and got up. He kept the glass of tea on the stall, paid for the food, and gestured Aadil to leave.
“This is not fair! You have to tell me the story!” said Aadil, with an innocent face.
“There's a time for everything. I will tell you what happened, but for now, let's leave. It's getting late. Aadil got up from the bench, and they started walking again.
“Son, tell me one thing. Why were you looking at me that way on the beach?” Javed asked Aadil while walking.
“There's a time for everything. I will tell you why, but not now,” replied Aadil with a swag.
Javed looked at him in awe as they continued walking. Aadil's eyes fell upon a florist.
Aadil pointed at the store. Javed looked in confusion.
“Tch. You again forgot, no? It's valentine's day today. You had told me to remind you to buy flowers for grandma and my parents,” said Aadil.
“Oh, yes! I totally forgot.”
After buying flowers, they continued their journey back home. Aadil met a few of his school friends, who wished him a happy birthday. Javed invited all of them to the evening's party.
When they reached home, Aadil lay down on the couch, while Javed went inside the kitchen for a glass of water for Aadil. He checked his room to find Indu sleeping peacefully. He closed the door slowly. When he came out in the living room with water, Aadil had already slept on the couch itself. He smiled and kept the glass on the dining table.
Javed sat on the dining table and took two small cards and a pen. On one card, he wrote: Happy Valentine's Day, sweetheart. <3
On another card, he wrote: Happy Valentine's Day, Aadil and Siya. We miss you. <3”
He took the second card along with the flowers and went near the television. A photo of Aadil's parents was kept near it, with a garland over the frame. Javed looked at a photo frame for a moment, his eyes filled with tears. He kept the card and the flowers in front of the frame.
He then took the first card, went inside the room, and kept it near Indu's pillow and the flowers.
14th February, 2019; 5:15 pm.
The bulb of the operation theatre was glowing. Inside, Siya was screaming in pain, lying on the hospital bed. Nurses were soothing her but in vain. Indu was holding Siya's left hand while Javed, right. Siya's eyes were full of tears. She was trying to calm herself but was unable to do so.
She was trying her best to push the baby out of her.
Eventually, after a few seconds, the doctor came out with a boy in his hands. He handed him to Javed. Javed and Indu looked at the baby and smiled.
Tears of joy rolled down their eyes as they looked at Siya, who was now trying to relax on the bed. She raised her head and looked at them for a second and then lay back down and heaved a sigh of relief.
A few minutes later, Siya was now resting on the hospital bed, having some soup. She was now shifted to the general ward. Indu was sitting beside her, playing with the baby in her hands. The television screen inside the ward was showing a piece of breaking news. No one was really paying attention to it. Siya and the others were busy with themselves when they heard something that caught their attention. Indu handed over the baby to Siya and looked at the screen carefully.
The news was about a terror attack in Pulwama; wherein around 40 CRPF personnel were killed by the terrorists. Indu heard the news and screamed. She fell to the floor and started crying. Everyone in the ward was looking at her.
Javed came running from outside and looked at Indu. He then looked at Siya, whose eyes were still glued to the screen. Javed saw the news and listened to it carefully. He was shocked to see Aadil's photo among other martyrs. He couldn't believe his eyes.
Javed somehow consoled himself and tried to calm Indu, who could still not come to terms with the reality. Just as he had calmed Indu, Siya started getting seizures. She had panic attacks, and before the doctors could actually do something, she succumbed to the attacks. She lay there, lifeless on the bed, with the baby on her stomach, crying out loud. Everything happened in a jiff.
After this incident, Javed visited the beach every year on Valentine's Day with his grandson, Aadil, and threw a coin in the sea, wishing for Aadil and Siya's well-being.
By Ashish Chawla