“There is nothing left for us here. We’ve been cheated. We need to go,” lamented the old man, Prabhakar, to his family.
“What about the other families?” asked his wife, Parvathy.
“We all are leaving at midnight. All of us met with the advocate. And, he told us that we better leave at the earliest,” answered Prabhakar.
Parvathy was furious. She knew that they had pinned up all their hopes on this advocate. He seemed to promising and helpful unlike the other old advocates. She said, “Why did he do this to us? At least, the old lawyer used to fight for us and keep the case pending for us. This one…”
Prabhakar was unable to withhold his anger any more. He shouted, “This one got sold. He was so happy. You should have checked his new office. How can someone become so rich within a day?”
Prabhakar and Parvathy consoled each other while looking out of their window. They lived in this two room house for the last twenty years. They were promised many times by local politicians that these houses would be permanently registered in their names. But, it never happened. Suddenly, four years ago, a businessman decided to build a big hotel on the beach side. Prabhakar and all his neighbors received notices to evacuate the premises as they were illegal occupants. They have been fighting for the last four years in the court of law. Finally, they lost it and have to move within the night.
Parvathy started packing things. She knew this day would come. But, she wanted to support her husband. She asked Prabhakar to grab some sleep while she packs some things. She told him that she would wake him up an hour before the scheduled time.
After a few minutes, she went to the corner of the other room where they had the photographs of their Gods. She sat in front of her Gods and cried. She said, “Please help us. I don’t want to leave our house.”
Unknown to her, at least fifty of their neighbors, men, women, and children, prayed to God at the same time.
Dibakar Bannerjee, the rich businessman, was partying in a posh hotel on the other side of the city with the young advocate. Dibakar celebrated this moment as he has been waiting for this moment for more than four years. He can now gift his son his dream hotel on the beach side. He had further plans. He was glad he could finally get rid of the slum dwellers.
Party songs were played in their celebration.
Prayer songs could be heard outside some of the homes in the beach side slum.
Celebratory greetings ruled the evening in the party in the posh hotel.
After the party, Dibakar’s son, Pratham, told his father that he was going for a long drive with his friends.
Dibakar said, “Take a driver who is sober. You and your friends are too drunk to drive. We don’t want any disturbance at this time. We need to go and start our work tomorrow.”
Pratham hardly heard what his father said and rushed out of the party floor.
Pratham asked Raju to drive the car as he knew it was fun to be with Raju. Little did Pratham know that Raju himself was silently sneaking drinks out of the party and had his share of booze. Raju did not tell Pratham that he was also drunk.
Raju, Pratham, and a couple of Pratham’s cousins drove in this car. His friends joined them in another car. They all decided to drive along the highway for a few hours until they felt like going back to the house.
After the party, Dibakar left for his home and was making all preparations for the next day. He got a call on his phone.
“Sir. We are from the highway patrol team. We found a car with the registration number. It was in your name. We found it in a bad state on the highway. It was badly hit by two lorries.”
Dibakar’s heart skipped a beat. He tried to control his senses. He asked, “What about the people in the car? Where are they? Are they safe? My son should be in there.”
The cop said, “I’m sorry sir. We are not sure. Though we can see some blood in the car, we did not see any people in the car. There was no one in the car by the time we reached here. The accident should have happened an hour ago.”
Dibakar was perplexed. He tried calling his son’s and nephew’s numbers. All their phones were switched off. He, then, tried calling his son’s friends numbers. Their phones were ringing. But, they were not answering. Dibakar was worried.
Dibakar immediately called his friend, Sarath, who is the chief of Police for the city. He explained him the problem and told him that he was worried about his sons and nephews.
After a few minutes, his brothers came to his room and they were all worried. Suddenly, his brother’s wife shouted at Dibakar, “This is all because of your greed…that we are suffering. You are using your power to disturb the peaceful lives of so many slum dweller families. It is their curse. I cannot live without my sons. You can do business. But, this is a bad way to displace so many families from their rightful homes.”
Dibakar’s brother shouted at his wife and took her away from the room.
For a moment, Dibakar wondered if it was really the reason. He did not know what to do. He wanted his son at any cost. He was not sure if Pratham was alive or not.
His another brother said, “What is we let them live there? Will it ensure the safety of our kids? There is no logic.”
Dibakar said, “If we have already lost them, there is nothing that can get them back to us. But, I do not feel like going ahead with this project. We’re not sure about our kids. But, I can’t lose you, my brothers, too. I will go to the slum now and ask those people to stay there. We will find an alternative location for our beach side hotel.”
His brothers could not believe it. They have never seen Dibakar being so emotional. They could not believe that he had so much love for them. He was always a shrewd businessman who had no regard for relationships.
Meanwhile, Sarath, the Police Chief, alerted all the cops and hospitals in the city to find out about Pratham.
Dibakar drove to the slum. He reached the slum exactly on hour before the time he asked the members to leave. He made his way to Prabhakar’s house. He knocked Prabhakar’s door.
Prabhakar opened the door after a few minutes. He was shocked to see Dibakar at his door. He said, “We are leaving sir. Please do not get us arrested. There is one hour left. We are packing our things. We will leave in no time.”
Dibakar felt sad. He said, “I wanted to talk to you and others about that. Can you please call all the members of your community? I have some change in plans. I need to make an announcement.”
Prabhakar immediately rushed and called all his neighbors and the representatives of the community who fought for their lands all these years. They were not sure.
After everyone gathered, Dibakar looked around and asked,”Where is Shivam and Ramesh? They will not believe until I tell them directly.”
Nobody knew about them.
Regardless, Dibakar, went ahead and made his announcement. He said, “I’m sorry for whatever happened in the last four years. Please stay in your houses. You do not need to vacate.”
Prabhakar and others were overwhelmed. They could not believe his words. Parvathy cried and hugged her kids.
They had some questions and Prabhakar assured them that they would not have any legal trouble and that he would withdraw all legal cases against them.
Sarath, the police chief, came down to the beach, after a few minutes. He met Dibakar and said, “I’m sorry Dibakar.”
Dibakar asked, “Pratham. Is he dead?”
Sarath said, “We don’t know anything. We could not find any details about him or your nephews anywhere. We checked in all hospitals – small and big. But, there is a lot of blood in the car. Our investigators are of the opinion that the lorry drivers must have dumped their bodies in the ocean to avoid interrogation.”
Dibakar cried silently. Sarath could not console him.
Suddenly, they heard someone shouting and addressing Dibakar. Both Sarath and Dibakar turned. Shivam was running towards them. He said, “Dibakar sir. Dibakar sir. We need blood. Urgently, please. Pratham and Rahul sir. They need blood urgently.”
Dibakar was confused at what he heard.
Shivam explained quickly, “There was an accident last night. The doctor in our slum immediately took Pratham, Rahul, Sahil, and Varun to his clinic over there. Sahil and Varun are out of danger. But, Pratham and Sahil need blood. They are also out of danger. But, they need blood says this doctor.”
Sarath immediately called for an ambulance with the required blood and some more doctors.
Dibakar ran to the clinic. He was happy to see his son. He was so devastated until a few minutes ago. Just when he gave up hopes on finding his son, this all seemed like a dream.
Doctors and blood rushed within a few minutes. After twenty minutes, Pratham and Rahul were also out of danger.
Sarath asked Shivam, “Why did you not rush them to the big hospital nearby?”
Damodar, the local doctor, said, “They needed urgent medicines. Shivam and Rajesh got them to me immediately. They were lucky they reached here in time. They would have not survived the trip to your big hospital.”
Dibakar fought his tears and walked towards Shivam.
He asked Shivam, “Why did you save them? You know that my son is the main reason behind making you people move out of your houses.”
Shivam said, “Poor child. I could not see him like that. And, we were angry on you because your were displacing us. But, you did not get us killed. If I ignored your kids, it would have been equivalent to killing them myself. I thought it was my responsibility.”
Dibakar could not believe how kind-hearted these people were. He had one more question. “What would you have done if I have not announced the cancellation?”
Shivam was surprised. He said, “Do we get to stay and live here? Is it true?”
Prabhakar told him about the announcement made by Dibakar a few minutes ago.
Shivam bowed down and saluted Dibakar. He said, “I would have tried my best to save your son if we were moving out. That is my responsibility as a fellow human being.”
Dibakar was humbled by everything.