It was raining that day. Monsoon had arrived. He had gone out for his customary evening walk. It was one thing he looked forward to, after his retirement. As always, he’d forgotten to carry his umbrella. He didn’t care though; he had loved the rain since his childhood, those days he’d spent in their farm with his father came back to him. Forty years later, he welcomed the rains with the same enthusiasm as he did then. He reached his home in an hour. The traffic in Mumbai really was something. Even after spending 20 years in the city, he was left breathless by its pace sometimes. Sighing, he opened the lock and got inside.
He switched on his TV. That had become his favorite pastime since the demise of his wife. TV, and the cold food his maid left on the dining table were the only familiar things left to him in the house now. By the time he finished surfing all the channels, he realized that every news channel was flashing the same thing again and again. Some young actress had committed suicide a few hours ago. Apparently, a failed love affair was the cause. He snorted in derision. Silly girl, he thought. Love doesn’t kill, he thought. Not physically. He knew what prompted people to take this extreme step though. His own brother had committed suicide a few years ago. Different times, different reasons, he said to himself.
It was people, always the people.. he thought. People may mean less than the dung heap on the road one tries to avoid, but it was that stink of their judgement that made you wince. Nobody could avoid it forever, he thought. Not him, his brother, nor the actress who’d killed herself. It was unfair, he thought. He wondered at the unfairness of it all.
He was a retired govt employee; he had his pension. His brother was a farmer. There was no retirement, and hence no pension for him. He had a dearance allowance because he lived in a turbulent economy, inflation always threatened to burn a hole in his pocket. His brother didn’t have any such allowance. He had an endless supply of water; BMC saw to that. His brother couldn’t get enough water for his crops. It was no surprise that he prospered, while his brother could barely make ends meet. He wondered at the unfairness of it all. What hurt the most though, was when people branded his brother as a failure. Just another name in the long list of farmer suicides. It was always the people.
He shook his head to clear his head of these thoughts. “May her soul rest in peace”, the news anchor said in a sombre, mournful voice. Aye, he thought. May her soul rest in peace. And he prayed.