Rakesh and Rajni had a full life together. People knew them as a happy, 60 year old couple. They met in college and eventually got married. Rakesh was a government officer and was recently retired and so was Rajni. She was a teacher in a government school, for almost 25 years now and had taken a voluntary retirement. She wanted to be with Rakesh now.
Both had a beautiful home, in a posh locality in Kanpur and four children. Two girls, Rohini and Rashi, and two boys, Rohan an Rishi. Girls were both happily married and boys were both studying. Rohan was in America, in the last semester of his MBA, while the youngest Rishi was doing MBBS in Bangalore.
It was a rainy evening. Rakesh and Rajni were sitting with some friends in the garden under a shade, while enjoying rain and having tea and some snacks, when the phone rang. It was Rohan, from the US. “Papa, I have got a job. I am still on training but I will be paid for it. I am sending you tickets. You both have to come for my graduation next month.”
Rakesh was very happy for the success of his son and Rajni couldn’t stop boasting about it, but Rakesh knew it will be difficult to travel so far, as Rajni had a knee transplant few months back and she still had problem sitting, with legs hanging for long hours. Rajni saw the worried look and smiled back at Rakesh. They were going to see their son after two years. Nothing could stop them.
She then called Rohini and Rashi, who told her that Rohan had already called and invited them, but they both had to decline because Rohini had a 5 months old daughter and Rashi had her IAS exam coming up soon.
Rakesh and Rajni had to leave in a month. They got the paper work done and Rajni started preparing pickles and sweets of Rohan’s choice. She was very happy.
It was a hot sunny afternoon when the phone rang. Rakesh answered the call. It was an unknown number from Bangalore. He thought it must be Rishi, but what he heard from the other end froze him for a few moments. It was unbelievable. He stood there with the phone on his ears, even after the call got disconnected, with tears flowing down his eyes. The call was from a police station. Rishi was dead. He met an accident and died on spot. The police had called them to claim the body.
They both cried for hours. Their world had shattered. Rishi was the youngest and brightest of all the kids. He loved his parents too much and never wanted to go to Bangalore. But Rakesh pushed him to go and study. Rishi promised his parents to open a nursing home in Kanpur so he can stay close to his parents. Rakesh cursed the day he pushed Rishi to go to Bangalore. But the inevitable had happened and nothing can be done now.
He had to make arrangements. He called up a few of his friends, who came immediately. He then called up Rohini, who lived in Lucknow. She was close by and can come sooner. Rajni needed her. She was inconsolable. Rohini can handle her well. He informed Rashi in Mumbai too. She promised to be on the next flight and meet him in Bangalore. He left a message informing Rohan, in America, too.
After the cremation, their house was crowded with friends, relatives and family, visiting them for the next 15 days. Rajni was devastated. Rishi was the youngest and the most pampered one. The void that his demise has created in their life can not be filled. The girls had to go back home after a few more days. Rohan never made it because he was in the middle of his last semester exams and training for his new job.
Time to go to USA was fast approaching. Rakesh and Rajni although didn’t wanted to go, but they wanted to meet Rohan and not break his heart, by not being there on his big day. They thought being with Rohan might comfort their grief-stricken heart.
At the graduation, Rohan introduced them to his American girlfriend Becky. They looked happy together. From the day they had reached America, they never got a chance to spend some alone time with Rohan, because of his training. He was always busy and they both felt lonely. They never sat together and hugged each other and talked about what happened with Rishi.
After the graduation ceremony they all went to a restaurant to celebrate. Becky came along too. Over dinner Rohan said what Rakesh and Rajni feared was preordained. Rohan wanted to marry Becky and settle in the USA. He had already applied for the green card. “Ma, Papa, I want you both to shift here with us. I will take care of you. As it is after Rishi, what will you do? You both have retired now, so you can shift easily. We can have a good life here.”
Rakesh knew this was coming. He could see a change in Rohan. He knew in the back of his mind that Rohan will not return home. They both grew older, much older in the last two months. Spending lonely time in USA made them even more worn out. They only met Rohan over the weekends. Rohan took them site seeing and shopping, but that did not made them happy. They wanted their son. They wanted to sit at home, eat home cooked food, and talk and cry and mourn over Rishi. But that never happened. Now all they wanted was to go back home.
As soon as they entered their house in Kanpur, they cried. They cried over the loss of their two sons. One was dead and one was never coming back. Their dream of running behind grandchildren and having a house full of laughter, had died too. So much loss was unbearable for them. They both sat and cried for hours. They now had to spend their life alone with each other. But they were not ready to leave their home and hometown and go spend an isolated life in the USA. At least they had friends and relatives here. There in America, they would be absolutely alone. They were not sure if Becky would stay with them. They were happy for Rohan but they were happy here in Kanpur. Here, they knew people and people knew them. They can talk and meet with their friends here. But moving to America was a far cry.
Now they had to make up their minds to live their life only with each other. Of course, Rohan, Rashi and Rohini, will visit from time to time, but it is going to be just the two of them for a long time, together.
They were still unpacking, when the doorbell rang. Rakesh opened the door. It was Rohini, her husband and the baby at the door. Rakesh and Rajni welcomed them with a big smile and a warm hug. It was the beginning of a new life. They did not plan for it but now this was their new life. But at least they were happy in it.