Last episode – Short story series in English – Payoff.
Aman continuing, “…You won’t believe if I give you the name. He is…..”
Sharada interrupts , “Kartavya Raychand?”
Aman looks baffled, “How do you…?” He couldn’t even finish the statement.
Sharada stands up, making a call she brings Aman a glass of water, she continues: “Do you remember that Kartavya met me once or twice after Shalmali got operated?”
Aman: “Yes of course.”
Sharada: “He told me the very day that he was the person driving the car and he also explained how and what happened that night. He was celebrating his master’s degree result with his friends at Ritz hotel. Some friends made him drink some alcoholic beverage. So, while returning home, he lost control on the car steering and struck Kandarp’s bike. Being drunk he could not even understand what happened but the next day one of the friends told him about the whole hit and run case….”
Sharada taking a pause continues…..
: “…After that, he told everything to his father and asked if he should meet us but he refused profoundly and almost ordered him never to speak about this to anyone. But, Kartavya couldn’t hold the guilt for long and told everything to his grandmother. Ambika Raychand, a prudent woman and a quality human being, told him to follow his heart. Kartavya wanted to come to us but couldn’t ever gather that courage to meet and confess everything.”
Sharada switches on the lights in the room. The doorbell rings again. There is Kartavya at the door. Shalmali takes him in with a tinge of rage in her eyes. Sharada has called him.
After a while Kartavya breaks the silence in the room. He explains the story Sharada has told yet.
Shalmali interrupts him: “What has led you to donate your grandma’s eyes to me? Your guilt?”
Kartavya: “No, that was my grandma’s decision. I still remember when she had stroke and she was very serious and was kept under observation in the hospital. Next week after recovering slightly, she called me one day and told……”
Grandmother: “See, I am back.”
Kartavya: “You are not going anywhere, my charming lady!”
Grandmother in a very low voice: “But you must… have you gone to that family whom you need to apologize to?”
Kartavya: “This is not the time to talk about that, you must take rest.”
Grandma (she speaks with strain): “No son, I might have returned to remind you about it. Look, all of us have to pay off for our deeds, without doing it there is no liberation. I know you are unable to do it alone so, here I am to help you with your pay off!”
Kartavya looks puzzled. He is not getting what grandma is telling him to do.
Grandmother: “You have deprived a mother of her son and you also have snatched the dreams from a pair of aspiring eyes so, pay them off both.”
Kartavya stares her questioningly.
She continuing: “Let us pay them with a life for a life and an eye for an eye and that no one in this world can refuse me to do for you!”
She explains her wish to donate her eye to the girl after she dies. Kartavya embraces her with wet eyes.
Everyone in the room is speechless. Sharada gets up and starts for preparing dinner. Here, Kartavya, Shalmali and Aman are looking at each other silently.
Sharada from kitchen: “Kartavya, do you like Palak-Paneer? My Kandarp used to love it…..”
Shalmali with teary eyes along with a smile on her face goes to the kitchen to bring a glass of water for Kartavya bhaiya!! Aman switches on the television to see the world cup football match with his new friend!!
Kandarp seems to have a contented smile in his photo hanging on the wall.
Want to read more short stories in English? Check this collection at bookriot.