Written for the story writing contest as part of the ongoing Christmas and New Year Celebrations at TCS Kochi (where I work). We had to write a story of less than 1000 words connecting these pictures.
Story begins – –
It was late winter. The trees had all shed their leaves and were standing upright. They were now free of the burden of caring for the leaves and could finally breathe free. Yet, there was a melancholy feeling about them. They looked sullen. The freedom was a mellow freedom, one that liberated them but shackled the heart. On one hand, there was no responsibilty to nurture and on the other hand, there was no one who clung to you, constantly looking to you for your support and flourishing in your care.
Looking at the desolate streets and the empty trees, Navin could only agree with that sentiment. As he perched himself on the park wall and adjusted to get a better view, he suddenly remembered how it had all started. He drifted into a reverie, a flashback of his life in this neat little suburb, throbbing with the energy of young entrepreneurs who took to business like a bird takes to flying. The area hadn’t changed much, a sign that times are a’changing. Businesses were more home-grown and associates were more like family.
Adjusting his hat and slouching a little, Navin decided to take a nap. The checkout time at the hotel was midnight, but he had packed his bags and come out to spend a last few moments in this little haven that he had created, his own corner in this world, his nest. He closed his eyes to the sound of approaching footsteps and started a little as he heard a low whisper.
He half opened his eyes. He wasn’t really in the mood to chat, but the voice was very cheerful and there was a genuine warmth in it.
‘Hello young man!’
Even before he could complete his sentence, pat came a question –
‘Why are you sitting out in the cold?’
Navin wasn’t used to answering questions out of the blue and had to think a little about it. He wasn’t too sure of the answer himself and doubted if a ten year old would understand. But he decided to take his chances.
‘I am trying to take in as much of this lovely air as I can. I will be leaving this place tonight.’
‘Okay.. why are you leaving this place? You don’t like it?’
‘What’s your name?’
‘My name is Roshan and I live in that house out there.’
Navin was surprised by the candour of the young boy. So trusting and open.
‘My dear Roshan, I am leaving this place because my work here is done.’
‘Oh! But you don’t look happy. Whenever my work is done, I am very happy!’
Navin was taken aback. Was it so obvious? No it couldn’t be. He remembered how children are supposed to be very perceptive of emotions and dismissed this as mere conjecture.
‘How do you know I am sad?’
‘You look sad. I can see that your smile is not a happy smile.’
The boy deserved the truth. He looked bright. He was probably the kid of a former employee. Anyway, his feelings were not really a trade secret that belonged to the company. He mused a little and decided to talk about it.
‘You see Roshan, sometimes we have to do things because they are important. We may not like to do them, but we have to do them because that is the right thing to do. Take your homework for instance. You may not like it and it might even be boring, but it helps you and you must do it.’
‘What did you have to do? What about it did you not like?’
‘Well, you see that big building over there?’
‘Yeah. So I used to own that building and the company that operated from there.’
‘You used to own it? What happened?’
‘Well, I made a few bad decisions and landed the company in trouble. The only way out of it was to sell it off to someone whom I hate from the bottom of my heart.’
As he spoke these words, he could feel the searing hatred and the twinge of regret in his heart. He gulped and looked into Roshan’s eyes. There was a deep innocence and calm in them that instantly relaxed him.
‘So you are sad because you lost all that money?’
‘No. I am sad because I built this company with my own hands and in the process I made a lot of friends who I will be losing when I leave. The new boss asked only me to leave and though I love them all, it would be plain stupid if they left with me. So, I insisted that they stay. I am leaving town by the night train. Alone.’
‘I don’t think so. Look behind you.’
As he turned around, he saw a group of people silently listening to him. Hanging on to his every word. Looking at him with moist eyes. Some of them were struggling hard to muffle their sobs. When he turned to them, one of them finally broke the silence.
‘You will never walk alone! You’ll always be part of us and we’ll always be part of you. Smile because you don’t leave today, you leave behind a legacy and you leave behind family. And when you come back, you will come back home. Always. Forever.’
Everybody nodded in agreement. Navin looked at Roshan. ‘Roshan’ means ‘sparkling’ and indeed, he could see a twinkle in his eyes. He beamed a huge smile at him and playfully punched him in the arm. Roshan just grabbed Navin and gave him a tight hug. With teary eyes, Navin turned towards his employees, his friends, now his family and managed to say just one sentence.
‘Thank you guys. I will always remember.’
Everyone huddled together for a last embrace as a little green leaf on a tree glistened as a snowflake landed on it and melted. Spring was just around the corner.
Story ends – –
Well, I know it is a bit mushy or even melodramatic, but that’s corporate for you. Hahaha..
Do let me know what you think. How would you have written the story. How would you have interpreted the pictures?