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Happiness Lost

About Insha Faridoon

Insha Faridoon is a teen ager from Mumbai, studying in tenth grade. Her hobbies include reading, writing, singing, listening to music and photography. She loves to travel and often writes her experiences so that memories are documented somewhere lest they fade with time.

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Prologue :

It was a warm June morning. Birds babbling in the crook of bare trees, predators of the night scuttling back home, cows swishing away flies in a crowded stable. The sun’s rays had hardly touched the earth, yet people were out and about. Shopkeepers were rolling up the shutters of their shops, others were setting up their stalls, and yet others were setting down tarpaulin at the side of the road. Some women were drawing water from the well and some men who worked at the nearby construction site walked there in a silent group.

Part 1

A boy sat at the entrance of his house, sleepily brushing his teeth. He leaned his head against the doorframe, with his eyes closed and his head full of his dreams from last night. He couldn’t remember exactly what he had dreamt of, only that it was a good dream; and it included money in someway. He grinned in his conscious state, until he felt a kick at his back.

He stumbled forward a bit, his toothbrush went flying out of his mouth. He picked it up and scowled at his elder brother. Harshvardhan always tried to assert his dominance by lightly kicking and punching his younger brother, Parth. Parth made his way back into the house, shoving his brother to the side.

“Why are you boys always fighting? Why can’t you be like your father and your kaka? Have you ever seen them fighting ?”, their grandmother scolded them, while sitting on the charpoy outside the house. Both the boys ignored her. Parth went to the sink to wash his face, while Harshvardhan yelled, “ Aai, I’m going to the fields! I will be back with Baba in the evening.”

His mother looked at him from the backyard where she had been feeding their cow. She ran to the front door as Harshvardhan made his way out and yelled after his retreating figure, “Tell your father to come home early today! I am going to make his favourite sabudana vada and Tambada Rassa.” He looked back and waved at his mother, as a signal that he had got the message. His mother kept on looking out of the door until he was out of sight.

Parth went into the bathroom and got ready for school. By now the sun was well up in the sky. He polished his shoes, combed his hair, ate two chapatis for breakfast, and tried to sneak out of the house before his mom smothered his face with powder and kisses. He was unsuccessful.

So he walked out and waited in front of his house. He and his friends always walked to school together. Parth studied in a local Marathi-medium school. He was one of the smartest kids in school. His teachers encouraged him to study hard and get a scholarship for higher studies in Mumbai. The scholarship would take care of his entire college tuition, so he wouldn’t have to worry about wasting his parent’s money. He had the assurance that Harshvardhan would help out the family long enough in farmwork, so that Parth could go and study. He would then be able to support his family in the long run.

The monsoons had been bad for the past few years. Hence, the crop yield had been very poor. His father had taken many loans to compensate for the losses and they had all started to pile up. His debt had been the primary cause of his stress in the past few days. He had applied for a compensation that the state government had decided to offer farmers, owing to the droughts in Maharashtra. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing. He was yet to receive a confirmation.

 

The day passed like every other day. While studying Geography, they studied the weather patterns. The teacher explained that climate change is one of the main reasons for the poor harvest in the past few years. Parth found it to be very interesting and decided to tell his parents about it. Maybe they would finally stop blaming their luck and gods for the poor harvest.

 

As soon as Parth stepped into his house, he could smell the delicious smells of tambada rassa coming from the kitchen. He made his way to the kitchen and grinned at his mom. His mother looked at him knowingly and  said, “You’re not getting anything to eat until your father comes back. We will have the dinner with the whole family together.”

 

Disgruntled, Parth went out. He did his homework and studied a bit. He heard the sound of footsteps and frowned. It was still too early for his father and brother to be home. He walked over to the door; he only saw his brother walking towards the house with their neighbour Jayesh Kaka. He was a member of the Gram Panchayat. Harshvardhan’s face was streaked with tears. A grim shadow had fallen over Jayesh Kaka’s face.

 

His mother eagerly came out of the kitchen holding a tray carrying two glasses of water. She stopped abruptly when she saw Harshvardhan and Jayesh kaka. Her confusion seemed to increase, when she did not see her husband. She looked out the door and asked, “Where is he? Is he coming back late?”

 

Part 2

 

Harshvardhan broke into sobs and sat down on the floor, with his face held in hands. Jayesh Kaka patted him on the back and looked at everyone with a pitying gaze. His mother now looked alarmed. She fell down onto the floor with her son and took him into her arms. She rubbed his back, and kept on saying, “It’s okay” over and over again. She untangled him from her arms, took his face into her hands, and wiped off his tears. Making him look at her, she asked, “What happened? Why are you crying? And where is Baba?”

 

At the mention of his father, Harshvardhan’s whole body began to rack with sobs. His mother looked frightened now. She looked up at Jayesh Kaka and asked, “Where is my husband?” Jayesh kaka kept on looking downwards, refusing to meet her eyes. “Where is he?” she cried out, her eyes widening. Hearing all the commotion, his grandmother walked into the house. She looked around puzzled and asked “What is going on?”

 

Parth looked around, bewildered. He spotted a piece of paper lying beside Harshvardhan’s sobbing figure. Picking it up, he looked at the letterhead. It seemed to be a legal notice, printed in Marathi. On reading it, Parth’s eyes widened. He dropped onto the charpoy in the living room, looking down at his brother. This still didn’t explain his father’s absence…unless… No, it was too gruesome to even think of. His father would never do that. He was a courageous and optimistic man. He would never do something like that. Never.

 

But even as Parth tried to deny it to himself, he knew that his initial speculation had been correct, when he noticed that even jayesh kaka’s eyes had turned misty. His mother looked towards him and on seeing his dazed expression, walked over to him. She snatched the paper from his hand and looked at it. She recognized that it was a legal document, but she couldn’t read it. Shoving the paper towards Parth, she said, “Read.”

 

The paper was passed from one shaking hand to another. He looked up at his mother, and then looked  back down.  Gulping down his anxiousness, he read,

 

“Dear Mr. Harsh Manjarekar,

We are dissapointed to inform you that your appeal for an agricultural loan has been declined. Your appeal did not pass the given criteria. For further help…” Parth trailed off.

 

His mother looked devastated, yet confused. “But where is he?” she still didn’t understand. Jayesh Kaka looked off into the distance, furiously blinking. Clearing his throat he said, “Harshvardhan went to the fields and when he didn’t find his father there, he worked alone. When he was done with his work, he looked around for his father again. He walked a few kilometres before… he saw a noose hanging fr…” Jayesh Kaka’s voice broke off. He massaged the bridge of his nose, regaining composure, he continued, “from a tree. On closer inspection, he saw that… it was…” A single tear escaped his moist eyes, a gleaming track down his face.  Parth’s tears had begun to flow freely. Harshvardhan sniffled, wiping his tear streaked face. Tears made their way down his grandmother’s face, as she raised her hand up to her mouth to muffle her sobs.

 

Parth’s mother was quiet. Her eyes were unusually dry for someone who had been given the news that her husband had died. Instead, her eyes were filled with anger. She walked over to Parth and took the paper out of his hands. “We found this near… the tree,” said Jayesh Kaka. Glaring at it, she slowly tore the paper in half. Then another half. And then another half. Soon the torn pieces of paper were lying on the floor.

 

She walked over to the chaarpoy and sat down. “This happened only because it didn’t rain last year. How was that our fault? We cannot control nature. This is the kind of thing that the government should take care of! Our entire income is dependent on farming. We don’t have anything apart from farming. We provide the country with food, and we are not even paid properly for it. Our hard work is the reason for this country’s success. When the harvest season comes around, they say that they will help us in any way that they can. But when they have reaped the benefit of our hard work, they toss us aside like we mean nothing. Because that is the truth. We don’t! The rich become richer, while the poor don’t even have enough to get by! This,” she pointed at the pieces of paper on the ground, “This little piece of paper is the reason he killed himself!” her eyes had become moist by now.  She walked out of the back door.

 

Parth ran after her. On his way he smelt an acrid smell and smoke coming from the kitchen. He ran into the kitchen and saw that the dinner was burning. He took a cloth and took the pot off the stove, and dumped some water over the fire. Their dinner was a charred mess. The special dinner that his mother had made for his father. He took the pot and put some water in it.

 

Putting it down, he walked out into the backyard. He saw his mother sitting with her back against the wall, finally letting loose the tears that had been pooling in her eyes. The sight made Parth’s heart clench and a fresh wave of tears fell down his face.

 

She saw him and tried to wipe off her tears. But this only made way for more to run down her face. Parth went and sat down next to her wrapping his arms around her. Their tears did not rest that night.

 

Their happiness was no more.

 

 

 

It was a warm June morning. Birds babbling in the crook of bare trees, predators of the night scuttling back home, cows swishing away flies in a crowded stable. The sun’s rays had hardly touched the earth, yet people were out and about. Shopkeepers were rolling up the shutters of their shops, others were setting up their stalls, and yet others were setting down tarpaulin at the side of the road. Some women were drawing water from the well and some men who worked at the nearby construction site walked there in a silent group.

A boy sat at the entrance of his house, sleepily brushing his teeth. He leaned his head against the doorframe, with his eyes closed and his head full of his dreams from last night. He couldn’t remember exactly what he had dreamt of, only that it was a good dream; and it included money in someway. He grinned in his conscious state, until he felt a kick at his back.

He stumbled forward a bit, his toothbrush went flying out of his mouth. He picked it up and scowled at his elder brother. Harshvardhan always tried to assert his dominance by lightly kicking and punching his younger brother, Parth. Parth made his way back into the house, shoving his brother to the side.

“Why are you boys always fighting? Why can’t you be like your father and your kaka? Have you ever seen them fighting ?”, their grandmother scolded them, while sitting on the charpoy outside the house. Both the boys ignored her. Parth went to the sink to wash his face, while Harshvardhan yelled, “ Aai, I’m going to the fields! I will be back with Baba in the evening.”

His mother looked at him from the backyard where she had been feeding their cow. She ran to the front door as Harshvardhan made his way out and yelled after his retreating figure, “Tell your father to come home early today! I am going to make his favourite sabudana vada and Tambada Rassa.” He looked back and waved at his mother, as a signal that he had got the message. His mother kept on looking out of the door until he was out of sight.

Parth went into the bathroom and got ready for school. By now the sun was well up in the sky. He polished his shoes, combed his hair, ate two chapatis for breakfast, and tried to sneak out of the house before his mom smothered his face with powder and kisses. He was unsuccessful.

So he walked out and waited in front of his house. He and his friends always walked to school together. Parth studied in a local Marathi-medium school. He was one of the smartest kids in school. His teachers encouraged him to study hard and get a scholarship for higher studies in Mumbai. The scholarship would take care of his entire college tuition, so he wouldn’t have to worry about wasting his parent’s money. He had the assurance that Harshvardhan would help out the family long enough in farmwork, so that Parth could go and study. He would then be able to support his family in the long run.

The monsoons had been bad for the past few years. Hence, the crop yield had been very poor. His father had taken many loans to compensate for the losses and they had all started to pile up. His debt had been the primary cause of his stress in the past few days. He had applied for a compensation that the state government had decided to offer farmers, owing to the droughts in Maharashtra. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing. He was yet to receive a confirmation.

The day passed like every other day. While studying Geography, they studied the weather patterns. The teacher explained that climate change is one of the main reasons for the poor harvest in the past few years. Parth found it to be very interesting and decided to tell his parents about it. Maybe they would finally stop blaming their luck and gods for the poor harvest.

As soon as Parth stepped into his house, he could smell the delicious smells of tambada rassa coming from the kitchen. He made his way to the kitchen and grinned at his mom. His mother looked at him knowingly and  said, “You’re not getting anything to eat until your father comes back. We will have the dinner with the whole family together.”

Disgruntled, Parth went out. He did his homework and studied a bit. He heard the sound of footsteps and frowned. It was still too early for his father and brother to be home. He walked over to the door; he only saw his brother walking towards the house with their neighbour Jayesh Kaka. He was a member of the Gram Panchayat. Harshvardhan’s face was streaked with tears. A grim shadow had fallen over Jayesh Kaka’s face.

His mother eagerly came out of the kitchen holding a tray carrying two glasses of water. She stopped abruptly when she saw Harshvardhan and Jayesh kaka. Her confusion seemed to increase, when she did not see her husband. She looked out the door and asked, “Where is he? Is he coming back late?”

To Be Continued in Part 2….

Harshvardhan broke into sobs and sat down on the floor, with his face held in hands. Jayesh Kaka patted him on the back and looked at everyone with a pitying gaze. His mother now looked alarmed. She fell down onto the floor with her son and took him into her arms. She rubbed his back, and kept on saying, “It’s okay” over and over again. She untangled him from her arms, took his face into her hands, and wiped off his tears. Making him look at her, she asked, “What happened? Why are you crying? And where is Baba?”

At the mention of his father, Harshvardhan’s whole body began to rack with sobs. His mother looked frightened now. She looked up at Jayesh Kaka and asked, “Where is my husband?” Jayesh kaka kept on looking downwards, refusing to meet her eyes. “Where is he?” she cried out, her eyes widening. Hearing all the commotion, his grandmother walked into the house. She looked around puzzled and asked “What is going on?”

Parth looked around, bewildered. He spotted a piece of paper lying beside Harshvardhan’s sobbing figure. Picking it up, he looked at the letterhead. It seemed to be a legal notice, printed in Marathi. On reading it, Parth’s eyes widened. He dropped onto the charpoy in the living room, looking down at his brother. This still didn’t explain his father’s absence…unless… No, it was too gruesome to even think of. His father would never do that. He was a courageous and optimistic man. He would never do something like that. Never.

But even as Parth tried to deny it to himself, he knew that his initial speculation had been correct, when he noticed that even jayesh kaka’s eyes had turned misty. His mother looked towards him and on seeing his dazed expression, walked over to him. She snatched the paper from his hand and looked at it. She recognized that it was a legal document, but she couldn’t read it. Shoving the paper towards Parth, she said, “Read.”

The paper was passed from one shaking hand to another. He looked up at his mother, and then looked  back down.  Gulping down his anxiousness, he read,

“Dear Mr. Harsh Manjarekar,

We are dissapointed to inform you that your appeal for an agricultural loan has been declined. Your appeal did not pass the given criteria. For further help…” Parth trailed off.

His mother looked devastated, yet confused. “But where is he?” she still didn’t understand. Jayesh Kaka looked off into the distance, furiously blinking. Clearing his throat he said, “Harshvardhan went to the fields and when he didn’t find his father there, he worked alone. When he was done with his work, he looked around for his father again. He walked a few kilometres before… he saw a noose hanging fr…” Jayesh Kaka’s voice broke off. He massaged the bridge of his nose, regaining composure, he continued, “from a tree. On closer inspection, he saw that… it was…” A single tear escaped his moist eyes, a gleaming track down his face.  Parth’s tears had begun to flow freely. Harshvardhan sniffled, wiping his tear streaked face. Tears made their way down his grandmother’s face, as she raised her hand up to her mouth to muffle her sobs.

Parth’s mother was quiet. Her eyes were unusually dry for someone who had been given the news that her husband had died. Instead, her eyes were filled with anger. She walked over to Parth and took the paper out of his hands. “We found this near… the tree,” said Jayesh Kaka. Glaring at it, she slowly tore the paper in half. Then another half. And then another half. Soon the torn pieces of paper were lying on the floor.

She walked over to the chaarpoy and sat down. “This happened only because it didn’t rain last year. How was that our fault? We cannot control nature. This is the kind of thing that the government should take care of! Our entire income is dependent on farming. We don’t have anything apart from farming. We provide the country with food, and we are not even paid properly for it. Our hard work is the reason for this country’s success. When the harvest season comes around, they say that they will help us in any way that they can. But when they have reaped the benefit of our hard work, they toss us aside like we mean nothing. Because that is the truth. We don’t! The rich become richer, while the poor don’t even have enough to get by! This,” she pointed at the pieces of paper on the ground, “This little piece of paper is the reason he killed himself!” her eyes had become moist by now.  She walked out of the back door.

Parth ran after her. On his way he smelt an acrid smell and smoke coming from the kitchen. He ran into the kitchen and saw that the dinner was burning. He took a cloth and took the pot off the stove, and dumped some water over the fire. Their dinner was a charred mess. The special dinner that his mother had made for his father. He took the pot and put some water in it.

Putting it down, he walked out into the backyard. He saw his mother sitting with her back against the wall, finally letting loose the tears that had been pooling in her eyes. The sight made Parth’s heart clench and a fresh wave of tears fell down his face.

She saw him and tried to wipe off her tears. But this only made way for more to run down her face. Parth went and sat down next to her wrapping his arms around her. Their tears did not rest that night.

Their happiness was no more.

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3 Response Comments

  • Nidhi Jangid26/04/2019 at 10:34 PM

    Such a heart-melting story! Indeed it was carrying a message for the society and government and reminding them their responsibility towards our feeders – farmers! Great thinking and writing!!

  • Swetha Amit02/05/2019 at 10:58 AM

    Such an emotional
    Story. Depicts reality and the troubles that farmers go through. Sensitive and poignant.

  • NANDANA DASGUPTA12/05/2019 at 11:43 PM

    I think this is not a story but rather a harsh reality that has been penned down by Ms Faridoon! Thanks for picking this particular topic & then building your narrative upon it. I don’t know how many such Parth will lose their father, so that the government or the concerned authority will finally open their eyes! Thanks for showing us again the very harsh & naked truth of life.

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