Prabhat turned off the alarm before it was about to went off three minutes later. He was awake from quite a long time. He looked at Sarita, she was deep in her sleep, unaware of her husband looking at her. Her face had grown dull over the last few years, specially after she gave birth to twins three years ago. Gayatri & Savitri, he had named his twin daughters. Both of them were like sparkling gems in his otherwise darkened life.
Though, it wasn’t as dark four years ago as it was not, when the future looked promising to him and life seemed full of countless possibilities. Moreover, all the dreams were turning to reality. He married Sarita out of his own choice and with his family’s nod, he had a good job in the gulf, he had saved good amount of money and he hoped life will take on to a new course once Sarita would join him in the gulf. But unaware of the future, the course he hoped to take became a curse for him. Lady luck didn’t shine on him. He lost his job and joined a property consultant’s office where he had to work harder than ever to meet up with monthly expenses. Sarita declared she was pregnant three months after he brought her to gulf. She was still jobless. The worst of all, she didn’t want to go back. She wanted to stay with him.
He rented a watchman’s room in the basement of a high-rise tower where it would stay dark and damp all the time. It wasn’t a place as good as he would love to stay in and he vowed to buy an apartment in the same high-rise tower when, someday, he would strike a sales deal of some exotic property to a billionaire from some foreign country. It would be a onetime sales deal, a deal which would turn him into a millionaire. The city promised success to everyone who was adamant for it, who could just hold on a little longer, who could just survive another day and wouldn’t count the years passing by as they turn into decades or wouldn’t notice the turning of his hair from black to grey to silver.
He had understood that being hopeful was the first requisite of being successful. It is true that hope sucks success towards itself but too much of hope sucks too much.
“We have to go to the doctor today evening. We missed the appointment last week because you were late. Try to be on time today please”, Sarita said to Prabhat as she handed over the cup of coffee to him.
“You bought coffee again?” Prabhat asked surprisingly.
“I need coffee every morning”, she replied.
“Ask your mother to courier it for you every month”, he said.
“Can’t you even afford a coffee?” she asked irritatingly.
“One day, we would be able to afford the costliest coffee in the world, today we can’t!”
“Who knows if that day will ever come? I rather enjoy my coffee today when I can”, she said in a calm tone.
“And there was a time when you promised to support me in every way you can”, he said.
“Excuse me! It is not my mistake that you are a failure in life!” her tone rose a little.
“Excuse me! You better not use the word failure for me! If it wasn’t for you, I was doing pretty well living alone here!” his tone rose in the same proportion.
“Ah! You don’t want to be addressed as a failure? Do one thing, become a millionaire!” she held an animated smile on her face for a little longer, as if to irritate him to the maximum.
“Do not use sarcasm, not today, you never know I might return home today and declare that I am one!” he copied her animated smile.
“You are one what? A millionaire or a FAILURE?” she shouted the word failure so loudly that Gayatri got scared and began to cry in her sleep. The moment Sarita turned to look towards Gayatri, a splash of hot coffee washed her face. Prabhat threw the cup on the floor and walked out of the room.
The sound of car faded into the silence of the room. Sarita’s breathing came back to normal. She whispered, “Asshole.”
“So sir, shall I speak with the landlord about the possession of this flat to you?” Prabhat asked his client hopefully.
The man, a European, in his mid-sixties, looked around the apartment and said, “The rent is on the higher side, I am not sure if I want to take it at the rent you are mentioning.”
Prabhat kept trying to convince his client but the European had already made up his mind about it. The deal was not struck.
Prabhat hated rental deals, for multiple reasons. First, he had to crack at least 10 rental deals a month to be able to just survive. Second, only people who had no money to buy a property would look out to rent one. Hence, the mind-set of the people he was dealing with was always that of saving more money wherever possible, and not that of spending money for exclusivity. Third, rental deals stopped him to crack sales deals. There was always more money in sales but one had to be very patient to be able to strike a deal. There were agents in the market who regularly tried their luck in cracking a sales deal, but if they couldn’t strike a sales deal in the first fifteen days of the month, they would divert their attention to rentals and hence make enough money to survive for another month or so. As for Prabhat, he couldn’t risk trying 15 days to crack a sales deal because of the added responsibilities he had on him. One bad month could hit him hard financially and another bad month would leave him no other option than wrapping up and leave this city full of possibilities, one of the last things he wanted.
He locked the apartment and began to leave when his phone rang. It was Sarita. He did not answer. When he reached the parking lot of the building, his phone rang again, it was his boss this time. He answered.
“Negative boss. Going to meet the next client”, he said in a strict business tone.
“Hey Prabhat, that is not what I called you for. You remember you told me about a property at the edge of the island across the city? Is it still available for sale?”
It was the first time Prabhat was sitting in boss’s BMW E Class. He had managed to get the keys of the villa from the owner, whom he knew from his last job. The man had once offered him a job when he had resigned from his previous company over a small monetary dispute. Prabhat had politely declined. He wanted to leave the industry for once and all and had decided to try his luck in the real estate. Prabhat was sitting at the front seat of the car.
His boss was on the back seat, speaking to his client and praising all about the property, “This one is an amazing piece of property my friend. You just cannot dislike it, my word!”
The client, another foreigner, asked the price of the property but Prabhat’s boss urged him to take a look at the property before knowing the price. Prabhat’s heart was beating at the top speed. He knew his boss had a hundred percent record in leads to deals conversion but he also knew he himself had a zero percent sales record.
The car sped across the city, over the bridge and under the tunnel to reach the man-made island constructed out into the sea. It was a small area of land, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by sea from all sides and there was a line of small villas constructed along the small shoreline on the east side of the island. The drove through the island to reach its west coast, where it was a bit greener and bit more isolated. There was lesser construction on this side of the island. Only two signature villas were constructed at this side of the island, keeping in mind the exclusivity of enjoying a peaceful sunset every evening.
Prabhat’s boss came closer to Prabhat and said, “Your old life ends today. Tomorrow you will be a millionaire. Now, give me the keys of the villa and wait here.”
Prabhat handed over the keys of the villa to his boss and saw him going into the villa with the foreigner. He was excited but he tried to keep his emotions under control. He knew dreams were like clouds on the face of earth. Clouds make the rain possible. Rain is as real as it can be. Clouds are only smoke. One cannot touch or feel a cloud but only rain. Yet clouds make rain possible. The reality comes from the dreams and sometimes dreams fly away in the sky of life as clouds fly away with the wind, without rain, without reality. He decided to wait for the right moment to express his happiness. He could still hear his boss telling him that his old life ends today. He wondered if it was that easy. He wondered if his life could change just by standing next to a BMW E Class on a man-made island in the middle of the sea at about 3000 miles away from his real home, the home he left years ago to make a better one at a better place.
He lost track of the time while thinking all these thoughts. His day-dream ended with a call on his phone. It was Sarita. He decided to take it.
“You have to be here at six”, she said.
“I am busy Sarita, I might not reach on time, this work is really important”, he said.
“I wonder why is all your work so important all the time and why am I told to wait every time I have to take care of something!” she said.
“Listen Sarita, this is a big deal. Our life is about to change. I might have to stay here a bit longer. Please reschedule your appointment”, he said.
“Oh yes! I should reschedule all my appointments for your work! What about me? What if I am really pregnant? Are you ready to take responsibility of another child? Or another twins for that matter?” she asked.
“You are not pregnant Sarita! Do not exaggerate the issue!” he said.
“How do you know I am not pregnant? All you do is stick it in and take it out; I have to care about everything else! Precaution, birth control pills and what not! Why can’t you just buy a pack of condoms?” she said.
“Sarita, if this deal which I am working on right now, if it goes through, all our worries are going to end. Our life is going to change, just give me today’s time. I promise I will take you to the doctor’s tomorrow”, he said.
“I am going to the doctor today, with or without you”, she said and hung up the phone. He closed his eyes in irritation and controlled his urge of breaking his phone to pieces.
There is no background music as we pass through the most important moments in life. But the loud beating of Prabhat’s heart was the music sweet enough to enjoy this most important moment of his life. The signature villa was sold successfully to the foreigner. The total commission earned was 3 Million, to be divided equally among Prabhat and his boss. The foreigner liked the villa so much that he paid more money than the asking price to remove the possibility of back out on the deal closure. The transfers were made online instantly and the keys were formally handed over to the foreigner. The paperwork would take another day or two but the deal was closed.
As soon as they reached office, Prabhat was given a huge round of applause by the entire staff. He was the new millionaire agent in the company and his future was sealed to make sales deals from now on. A deal a year was good enough. He was boss’s favourite today. He was offered Champagne which he accepted gladly and for the first time in his lifetime, he saw his bank account balance in seven digits. One and a half million is a huge amount.
He had been trying Sarita’s phone from a long time but she hadn’t answered even once. He knew all his troubles had ended today. It didn’t matter even if she was pregnant, he could take care of everything now. He texted her:
Big surprise. Home Soon.
Prabhat was driving back home after a long lecture from his boss about how he should handle his future. He still hadn’t heard or received any texts from Sarita. He hadn’t texted her big news yet. He wanted to see the expressions on her face at the time of telling her about it. It was going to be a special moment, a moment he was going to remember all his life. He thought about his reaction in the morning, he had thrown a hot cup of coffee at her, he felt bad about it. He decided to buy something for her. Quickly, he shrugged off the idea and decided that he would take her to shopping and make her buy anything that she wants to. It seemed a better idea. His eyes shone with happiness and a tear dropped down his cheeks every now and then. He hooted loudly a couple of times in the car, the hoots of success.
The traffic was surprisingly lesser and he was driving at a good speed. It was at a traffic signal when another tear rolled down his cheek and he used his coat sleeve to clear his eyes to maintain clear visibility. It all happened in no time. The turning of signal into yellow and red, his attempt to halt at the last moment and knowing that he wouldn’t be able stop behind the light, his effort to jump the red light and drive on, a car coming from sideways hitting his car at the tail light, the swerving of his car and its passing to the wrong side of the traffic, the hitting of his car into the traffic coming from the opposite direction, and a blasting sound of deflating airbags inside the car.
When everything stopped, a streak of red seeped across the airbags. The ambulance reached the spot in matter of minutes. Prabhat was taken out of the car and carried into the mobile ambulance. After few moments, it was evident that trying to help him was of no use. He was dead.
Sarita was at the hospital, waiting for her husband’s body to be handed over to her so she can complete rest of the formalities to take his body to India for cremation. Prabhat’s boss had been the first one to know about the accident. He arranged for the news to reach Sarita as she was continuously not answering her phone. She had an unreadable expression on her face when she got to know about her husband’s death. She had been ignoring his calls and texts intentionally. When others began to call, she thought of it as Prabhat trying to contact her somehow. She was mute at the moment. She had nothing to say.
Prabhat’s boss walked upto her and said, “I am sorry for your loss Mam.”
“He fought with me in the morning today. As soon as he left home, I wished for him to never come back. Only if I knew”, her voice faded into silence.
“He was so happy in the evening. He closed his first sales deal today. He told me he had never seen so much money in his life and that too when all that money was his own. He was telling about his plans of making up with you by buying something for you. He wanted to do so much more in life, but I am thankful to God that he closed his sales deal today. At least you don’t have to worry about money anymore. He made sure you had enough”, Prabhat’s boss said.
“Do I look like I need the money anymore?”
“Practically, yes you do need the money. That is what he worked for always. He would have left the country a long time ago, but he saw a slight chance of success and he held on to it. I am glad he finally felt the feeling of being successful. Most people don’t even get the chance. He might have lived his life in poverty, but he died a millionaire.”
Sarita remained silent. The doctors handed over the death certificate to her after a few moments. A fresh wave of sadness crept over her. When it passed, she resolved that she would give her husband a royal goodbye, and why not? She was the widow of a millionaire.