The honking of the cars in the busy roads of the city made him come back to his senses. The feeble man in his fifties dressed in shabby clothes was standing on a bus stop. He had never visited in such a big city earlier but he felt like it was nothing new, as he had already seen through his son’s eyes. His son used to tell him that this city is self centered, show-off and no respect for others and that is what exactly he felt like. He waited for a city bus to arrive as he didn’t have enough money to take a private cab. He wanted to save as much as he can so that he could buy a good phone for his son.
He remembered his conversation with his son on phone (telephone booth) day before yesterday. “Father, can’t you buy me a new phone, I am not asking for too expensive one but at least a decent one. I will be able to call you more often; I don’t have to look after the timings of these PCO shops to call you. I haven’t asked you anything but please buy me a new phone” . Poor father had no reply for his son’s request, he knew how hard his son had worked to get into such a good college with scholarship else how would it had been possible for a rickshaw puller son to get into such an expensive and famous college.
The honking of the bus on the bus stand broke his chain of thoughts and brought him back to reality. He immediately asked the conductor for the place where he wanted to go and boarded the bus. Being old aged, he easily found a seat which was reserved for senior citizens. Sitting quietly in the bus he was pulled back to his chain of thoughts. He thought about how his son was behaving differently since last few months, how he used to get irritated easily not talk much on phone.
To cheer his son he had thought of a surprise visit to his hostel with a surprise gift that is a new smart phone. He had taken an address from his friend’s son regarding some small shop for buying a new smart phone. Since his friend’s son never came to this city so he didn’t know the exact address but told the most famous market where the old man could find such shops.
The old man got down on his stop and started moving toward the market where he could see a lot of crowd was moving. Getting into one of the lane of the market he asked a stranger who was busy with his smart phone with ear plugs plugged into his ears.
The old man: “son, I want the same mobile for my son, where I can buy it?”.
The boy: who was talking to someone on his phone through ear plugs, he removed his ear plugs and grunted “Every single shop here is selling mobile phones can’t you read? . And can’t you see I am busy on my phone , talking to someone”. He plugged his ear plug back and said “Don’t know where these people come from” with a quick look towards the old man.
The man felt guilty and sad but he didn’t get into any argument and moved forward into one of the shops thinking this is what made his son to have such a perception for this big city.
Entering into the shop, there was only one sales man in that shop.
Sale man: “How may I help you?” with brighten face and smile.
The old man: “I want to buy a phone for my son”.
Sales man : “Which brand would you like to see?”.
The old man: (with a week smile ) “Oh! no, I don’t know about these phone and what companies sell them and which is good ,which is not. You tell me which is best and good looking phone according to you”.
(after a little pause)
“Ok , how much price is this phone, it looks good”.
Sales man 🙁 now with even more broader smile) “It is Samasung Note 3, it’s a great phone, it cost 23,000 in the market but I’ll charge you 22,500”.
The old man face felled, he didn’t have that much money, he only had eight thousand in his pocket which he got by selling his old rickshaw. He said “My budget is not much”.
Sale man: “What is your budget then?”
Old man: “Seven thousand”, he had to save some money in order to get back to his village.
Sales man: (It was now time for his face to fell. He said, with a little insult in his voice) “You should have told me before, come here that section is for phone above 15000.”
The old man bought a phone worth 6,500 and got it wrapped in a fancy gift paper with a small card saying ‘With love , papa’.
He was excited as finally he has accomplished his half mission. He had bought a phone for his son, for which his son was upset from months. He went back to the bus stop and took a bus to the bus stop which was near to his son’s hostel. He was happy like a kid. He started planning how he would surprise his son. He won’t tell him that it is a phone, he will say that it’s a pen which his son’s friends have bought for him as a gift for getting selected in such a big college. Or
he would make a sad face in front of his son and say that he didn’t have the money, he will buy a good phone for him when he will pass into his second year which was just few months after. The old man was energetic, he felt that some magnet force was pulling him towards his son. He got down on the bus stand and started walking towards the hostel.
He started climbing the stairs to get to his son’s room which was on fourth floor. He didn’t felt any pain in his joints or any kind of tiredness. He was happy and excited as now finally he will be able to see his son’s face, a happy son face. He hadn’t met his son since last eight months. He reached to room 401. He knocked on the door, no response. He knocked again, this time harder, no response. He thought his son might be in the bathroom. He tried to open the door but the door was locked from inside. He immediately ran to first floor to find a phone and called his roommate who told him that the keys are kept on the window. He went back and found the keys to the room. He had never been so happy in his life before this. As he entered the room, the gift dropped from his hand. His son had hung himself from the ceiling fan! The man broke down and felt numb. He had never imagined his son would have given up his life because of some heartbreak!
(In the backdrop the college authorities come and pick up the body, students from the nearby room chatter and whisper softly about the boy and the man sits silently with the mobile in his hand! Oh! Only if I would have got him the phone I could know how my boy was!)