Katika is Baba's favorite cat. But Baba is dead now. Amita, his daughter, is now Katika's gaurdian. She's mostly busy, doing two jobs. Amita often felt sorry. She knew Katika felt lonlier than ever. A week after Baba's demise, Katika went missing one morning. After searching for days, Amita found a cat lingering on the beach. She wasn't sure if it's Katika. Many cats looked same in neighborhood. She skeptically held out an old balloon from her pocket - the cat quickly hopped-up and pawed the balloon affectionately. That's the last balloon Baba gifted Katika - his last breath..
'Headmistress called.' Father sounded serious'Said you cheated in the exam.'
Son stayed strangely quiet. Prolonged moments of silence followed.
'Sorry -' son started.
'I refused to believe her though!' his father cut in, smiling.
'Glad you did that!' Son sounded awkward.
'Of course I know you didn't cheat.' Father sounded confident. 'Remember? I was sitting right behind you in the exam hall' he grinned.
'Sorry.' Son started again 'Couldn't help you in the exam'
'Not a worry.' the 35-year-old boomed. 'Can't fail this time. Finally, I graduate! Wish your mom was here. To see her last wish fulfilled'.
He was late. He jumped into the coach. Just in time. His task was simple. Sticking pamphlets beside each coach entrance and getting paid. All he wanted was to earn enough money to buy a bike for his son staying in city. He was visiting him after a long time.
He leaned out of the running train's door, bent his body dangerously, and finally stuck the pamphlet. Next moment, his foot slipped. But he pulled himself in miraculously. Relieved, he wondered what was in the pamphlet that almost took his life. He was illiterate; it read 'Foot-boarding is dangerous.'.
For a decade he had been first in every art competition. Unbeatable veteran. Now he lost to a rookie! â€˜Secondâ€™ sounded unpleasant. He rushed to art gallery. To witness the masterpiece that toppled his crown. As he approached, his eyes widened. It was him in the painting! A portrayal of him sketching himself! He peered at artistâ€™s signature. Heart jumped. Memories sparked.
Years ago. â€˜Sir, can I learn drawing like you?â€™ his maidâ€™s son looked tired but determined. â€˜Sure, start with mopping the floor,â€™ he mocked. The kid quickly obeyed, ecstatic. Master never taught him later. His passion did..
Rainy evening. Introductions started.
Proud-orange said, â€˜Held rarest fossils in museums.â€™
â€˜Clutched queenâ€™s robes in palace,â€™ Smug-blue followed.
â€˜Held presidentâ€™s banner,â€™ Chirpy-green chimed.
â€˜Clenched Worldâ€™s best photographs,â€™ Haughty-dark concluded.
Rusty-red was calm all along. â€˜Held broken toys in kidâ€™s toy store!â€™ finally boomed, proud. No response. â€˜Insignificant!â€™ rest silently pitied. Just then lightning flashed. Maid rushed out, muttered, â€˜Theyâ€™ll get rusty!â€™ Sealed all the clips in a plastic bag. All except Rusty-red. Hung the bag and let Rusty-red clutch it.
All looked up. He was smiling. They were just like broken toys to him now.
He felt important, significant..
He is officially poor now. Lost all in business. Left with only one possession. His dad's first gift. The umbrella. 'Place it on my grave after I'm gone,' was his dad's last wish. Never got time before for that. Success kept him busy. Now he was idle. Travelled to his village, fulfilled the wish finally.
That night, his Whatsapp buzzed. Anonymous message: 'Your dad asked me to contact you when I see an umbrella on his grave. Said you'd find time for his wish only when you lost everything. I owe your dad. Ping back if you need help.'