PEROZ was lying in his bed and saw a young man standing in front of him. He was in his late thirties, tall and well built. PEROZ was irked at seeing the young man and yelled, ‘And you are?’
His wife watched silently as the younger man held his fingers on to his forehead gently, a faint smile on his face. Peroz pulled away the hand. The man calmly dropped his fingers and asked in a low tone. ‘Do you remember Zubin?’
Peroz’s wife could not contain herself and did not want Peroz to cause trouble. She was in tears as she gestured the young man to move away. But the young man stood still. There were no emotions on his face or at least one could not make out any.
Peroz was perplexed at the young man’s calm demeanour. He clearly wasn’t in the least intimidated by Peroz and Peroz found that disconcerting. He thundered, “Do you know who I am?”
Who could have not known Peroz?
Peroz was a very successful Advocate. He had a great command over his profession and often his word would turn out to be the final one in the courts. The Judge seemed like a mere witness carrying out his orders, going by his compelling arguments. Peroz was not a popular Advocate though hugely successful, as he often represented the accused and success has a natural ability to rub people the wrong way. He was a workaholic and always faced the brunt of the curses of the common people for bailing the bad men out, as they believed. For Peroz though, when he stood in the court, there is no place for ethics. Ethics is a relative judgment formed by society from time to time. He went by the rule of law and stood by it. He worked round the clock, lived on coffee and cigarettes during his busy schedule and was the object of envy for many.
Life took a sudden break as he succumbed to a kind of brain stroke. He lost consciousness partially and could recognize only a few and that too in spurts. Peroz was totally bed ridden.
Of course to many of his peers, it was as if blessing had dawned upon them in the form of a stroke to Peroz. He can no longer out-manoeuvre them in courts.
Peroz’s wife did not want him to see him in this condition and silently prayed God to take his life away. Like a god-send, this young man appeared before her.
He went over to her and tried to comfort her.
Peroz once again yelled. ‘Who are you?’
The young man took a deep breath and said quietly, ‘I am your son Zubin.’
Peroz looked agitatedly, ‘My son died long back.’
Peroz’s wife broke down and rushed to the kitchen as she wanted to be away from this conversation.
There was silence in the air for a while.
Zubin recalled his childhood days when Peroz gave him all the best things in life. Peroz was proud of his son’s academic achievements and put him in the best institutions offering higher education. Zubin did not leave any stone unturned to keep up with his father’s wishes.
But deep within him there was a conflict. He wanted to do business and travel a lot. He did not want to hurt his father either. Life was strange and fickle, always throwing things before one realizes the gravity of expectations. The battle between his mind and heart went on when one fine day his heart overpowered his mind. He quit education midway and expressed his desire.
Peroz was enraged by this and yelled, “My son is dead!”
Zubin did not have the courage to look at his father’s eyes anymore. He turned to his mother for comfort. She stood by his father, head down.
From everything to nothing, Zubin started cleaning vehicles for his next bread. He started driving after a few months and his enterprising attitude saw him run a car pool after years. He did not quite live up to his father’s name but yet found a ground to pursue his dream of traveling.
Zubin never failed to keep track of his parents and always beamed with pride when he read about Peroz coming out of court case after case with élan.
“My son is dead” Peroz broke the silence.
Zubin came back to his senses and muttered, “Yes.”
Peroz had a sprightly look in his face. “He deserved it”
“I killed your only son!”
“Are you sure?” Peroz asked.
“Yes, I tried to make him understand but he won’t listen.”
“Who are you then.” Peroz asked again. There was a warmth in his face.
“Call me a friend. You are no longer a father. Your son is also dead.” Zubin was overcome by emotions and he broke down.
Peroz stretched his hands and they both hugged each other. Zubin’s mother kept watching from kitchen, tears of joy lit all over her face.