Time vs money


101 min read

Title: Time vs money

Description: In this world where time is revered as currency, Karan, a relentless money-chaser, finds himself at a crossroads when his life takes an unexpected turn. Diagnosed with terminal intestinal cancer, he confronts his mortality and his belief that time is money. Amidst the shadows of uncertainty, he befriends an extraordinary 11-year-old blind boy named Aryan. As their friendship flourishes, Aryan becomes Steve's guiding light, leading him on a profound journey of love, compassion, and self-discovery. In "Time vs Money," witness the heartwarming tale of an unlikely duo as they navigate the essence of time, reminding us that life's most precious moments are measured not in seconds but in the immeasurable depth of human connections.

Language: English

Genre: Life-changing ,drama,comedy.

Book type: Fiction( Self-help)


The longest of my days ended tardily and it was 11:00 p.m. All my colleagues were gone; I was probably the only person working in the office. All the office lights were turned off apart from mine. I sipped coffee from the mug behind me; my neck was aching badly. I loosened my shirt buttons and exhaled. I was waiting for confirmation from the client. My eyes were on the list of emails I received. I refreshed my screen twice.

“Hey Karan, what’s up buddy. Are you still working?” I heard a voice. I turned around and it was my colleague Anirudh. I never spoke to Anirudh in working hours, but he was the only person in my office who spoke to me even when I was not interested. Despite working for five years in the same office, he was not my friend.

“Yes, man; waiting for a response from the client. I need to convince this client at any cost. I am waiting for his response.”

“How much money did he promise as fixed deposit?” “25 million.”

He coughed looking at me and smiled briskly. “Wow, that’s amazing.”

“What about you? Why are you still working?”

He temporized for a fraction of a second and nodded firmly. “I just fought with my wife. So, I thought it’s better to stay in the office rather than going home and arguing with her”

“OK” I replied.

He then dragged the chair and sat behind me. I turned my chair towards him. Even though I was talking to him, my mind was on my client’s reply.

“When are you getting married?” he asked.

I showed him my perfect white teeth, “There is plenty of time. Right now, I am busy earning money; I have fixed a target for my bank balance. After fulfilling that, I shall get married.”

I enjoyed earning money very much; the only mesmerizing moment of my life was when I saw my bank balance escalating.

He smiled and stared at the floor. “Dude, you are 33 years old now. Marry quickly; you work for somewhere around seventeen hours a day. Think about your health and sleep.”

“Time is money, my friend. Every minute, you have to exert your efforts on earning money. I want to fill up my bank balance, and after that, I want to quit my job. I shall spend the rest of my time enjoying after marriage,” I said and glanced at my computer screen.

“Dude, you have been saying this ever since you joined this office,” he said and tapped me on my shoulder.

His sarcasm irked me. I thought he found it tough to believe my philosophy.

I shrugged, “You don’t understand because you don’t know the worth of money.”

He laughed, “Your wish! I will catch you tomorrow then; bye.”

“Bye,” he then shook my hands. I glanced at the computer screen again, but I did not receive any mail from my client.

I believed that time was very precious and it can’t be stored or paused. Moreover, every second I had to spend on earning money because it was my biggest aim and achievement. That was the longest day that I worked and it was the same since my teenage. Since my teenage, I used to believe ‘time is money.’ I never dated a girl or wasted my time with friends or family. I got a job when I was 23 years old and since then, I worked every day just for the sake of money. Some people said that I had become a robot and was working like a machine, but I used to offend them and say that time was money. I had enjoyed it very much, working for money even though it was very hard. For me time was everything and was very valuable; I never wasted my time on a dumb weekend movie or on romantic dinners with girlfriends. I knew all those were time suckers and I avoided all those activities.

At twelve o'clock, I received a confirmation mail from my client.

“Thank you, Mr. Karan, for your presentation and follow up. I liked your bank’s interest rates and I want to give 25 million as fixed deposit.

I jumped from my chair, clapped my hands with joy, and said, “Yes, I did it. I knew I could convince anybody.” I was pleased with that moment, and why not, because I would be getting a hefty amount as commission for the fixed deposit from the bank. Since joining, I was the winner of the Best Employee award every year. I put my bag onto my shoulders and went back home. When I reached home, it was 1 am and I went to sleep without any delay.

The next day I woke up at 7:00 a.m. and bathed quickly. Just then, I received a call from my boss.

“Hello, Karan!” “Good morning, Sir!” “My super-employee!”

I blushed. “Sir, please stop praising me.”

“Why shouldn’t I, my boy; I was thrilled when I saw your mail this morning.”

“Sir, this is just nothing. We need to convince the CEO of that new software firm. I think that would be our biggest achievement.”

“I am sure, you will convince him, too,” he praised again. “Sir, what happened to my loan for that site, which I applied for last week?”

I was planning to buy a plot in Bangalore city’s outskirts, which was worth around twenty million, and the EMI was on my salary.

“Of course, Karan. I will talk to Mehta. As you know, financial loans are not my department. I am sure he will manage.”

I was delighted that he had consented to speak to Mr. Mehta for my loan. That was not the first expensive asset, which I was buying; even then, I was very excited.

“Thank you, Sir,”

“When are you showing up at the office?”

“Sir, I shall be there at 10:00 a.m.,” I said sharply

“Ok then, see you in office.”

“Thank you, Sir.” He then hung up the phone.

It was Sunday when I coughed blood on the shirt while having breakfast. I became panic-stricken after looking at the bloodstains on the shirt because I never had any injury or had never been sick. I walked to the bathroom, splashed water on my face, and then leaned over on the sink close to the mirror. I looked at myself—my mouth was bleeding; I washed my mouth repeatedly with tap water. I tried to rub the bloodstains on my jaw and when I looked down into the basin, the whole basin was covered with blood. I took out the tissue roll and then wiped my nose until it stopped. Even my mouth became reddish due to the flow of blood. I called the hospital and booked an appointment.

The same day, I walked into the hospital, took the lift up to the fourth floor, and met the general physician. He made me take some diagnostic tests including blood tests. After getting the reports, he glanced at them for a while.

There was a deep silence between us. I thought the bleeding could be because of an excess of heat in my body. I was worried about my client meeting.

“How can I go from here? Besides, why are these doctors taking so much time for writing pills? Why won’t this doctor tell me what has happened to me?”

I was afraid that my client wouldn’t give me another appointment. I was standing outside the doctor’s room, breathless. I was tensed about my reports and my clients. After a while, the nurse handed me the reports and I moved back to the doctor’s room, hoping that everything would be fine. My doctor had gone through the reports and clarified that I had cancer.

“What are you saying, Doc?”

“It’s true Mr. Karan. Your reports are saying that you have colon cancer and it’s in the last stage.”

“Colon? Last stage? What do you mean by that?”

He then showed me a human digestive systems’ picture and pointed to the location with his finger. “Do you see this intestine?”

“Yes,” I nodded, glancing at the pointed location.

“Colon cancer, which has affected the large intestine.” He leaned back on his chair, “In most cases, this type of cancer begins with cells called polyps before developing into cancer. If you had come to me a year ago, then we could have suggested medication.” “What about chemo?” I didn’t have much knowledge about chemotherapy, but I knew what it was.

“You have surpassed even the stage of surgery and chemo,” he explained


“Because your cancer is spreading to other parts of the body and it’s spreading rapidly. In the next few days, cancer could spread to your liver and kidneys.”

After hearing that, my heart pounded; for one moment, my ears were thumping with that sound.

“How much time do I have?”

“I mean, you could die at any moment. I still don’t understand how you survived these many days.”

I was exhausted.

“Are there any medicines?” I asked. He shook his head.

“As I told you earlier, you have surpassed all those stages” he clarified

“Just tell me how much money I should spend?” I took out my check book and was about to write the amount. Then, the doctor kept his hand on my left hand. I stopped signing and glanced at him.

“There’s nothing you can do now, Mr. Karan.”

“I have plenty of savings right now; believe it or not, I can spend three to four million rupees right now, as your fees. Just cure my disease.”

“I am sorry to tell you, Mr. Karan, that there are a few things which you can’t buy in this world,” he said. “Sorry to say this.”

I rubbed my head and tilted it to look at the reports. “Maybe, you people are lying to me; I will go to the best hospital in Mumbai city; they can save me,” I said and took my reports from the table.

“It’s up to you Mr. Karan,” he said, flatly

I drove to another top hospital and got my diagnosis again, but I got the same results. Even those doctors confirmed that I had cancer; it was in the last stage and even chemotherapy was not advisable at that stage. I didn’t know what to do. Suddenly, my mind became dizzy and my heart was thumping with the fear of death.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. I was awake all night, thinking that I could die at any moment. I cried alone in the bathroom. However, there was no one to share my pain. I realized what the meaning of my life was when I had no time to live. What is the use of my hefty bank balance, which couldn’t save my life? The left part below my chest was hurting and painful; I thought that my cancer could be spreading, as the doctor said. I kept trying to fall asleep, but then my eyes kept darting open. I wondered how I could live every day thinking about my impending death.

I locked myself in the house with fear and anxiety about my death and didn’t pick up any calls or reply to any messages from my office. I ate like a starving person and drank like an alcoholic. However, nothing could give me either hope or support. I didn’t bathe or shave for the next week. I picked up my boss’s call, reluctantly, after a week.

“Hello,” I said with a low voice.

“Where are you, jackass?” he shouted, “I am calling you since last week!”

“In hell, you ass face.”

“What! How dare you to talk to me like that?” he snarled on the phone. Even though he did that on the phone, still I felt like he was in front of me.

“I don’t give a damn.”

“I will suspend you,” he continued shouting.

I sat on the floor and continued drinking. My teeth collided with the glass. “I suspended myself; who are you to suspend me?”

“Are you drunk? What is wrong with you? You are supposed to follow up with that CEO of a Software company.”

“You idiot, you are supposed to follow up your wife, not me,” I said, handing the bottle in my hand.


I touched my eye. “I told you that I don’t want to work,” I shouted.

“Please Karan; don’t play with my job, “he said, “Try to understand my situation. I have a lot of pressure from my top management.”

I came back to consciousness for one moment and felt pity for him; I came back from my dizziness. “Please understand me Sir; I can’t work anymore, because I am going to die.”

I didn’t say those words viciously; later, I realized that my suffering about the approaching death made me speak like that.

He halted for a moment.” What are you talking about, Karan?” “Yes sir, the doctor confirmed to me that I have cancer. It’s in the last stage and I could die any moment,” I said. “Now, tell me why should I work? Whom should I work for? What’s the point in working for money when my money couldn’t save me from my disease?”

“I am sorry, Karan, to hear this from you.”

“Perhaps; but your sorry can’t save me anymore, Sir.”

“I am sorry; I will call you later. If possible, come to the office for further procedures,” he said and hung up my phone.

I again drank the alcohol from the bottle and crawled on the floor, to the food in the fridge. I didn’t know what I ate; I just grabbed and ate whatever my hands reached in the refrigerator. I ate like a starving person. I wanted to share my pain with someone; but sadly, there was no one. I recalled my past life— for fifteen years, and realized that I didn’t have friends, family, or girlfriend to share my grief or agony with. Sleeping had become my biggest fear because I could die in sleep and I thought my body would decompose until my neighbours’ found it. I crawled to the main door and unlocked it because I didn’t want such a kind of death. I thought about my parents but didn’t know about the place or location they stayed in, because I did not talk to them since the day I got a job.

The next morning, someone woke me up from sleep. When I glanced around in that drowsy state, I realized it was Anirudh.

“Hey Karan, what happened to you? Are you drunk?”

I stared at the ground for a moment and took a breath. “Yea.” “Since when have you started drinking?”

“Since I came to know that I will die soon.”

“Drinking is not the solution for every problem, Karan,” he said and held my shoulders and tried to lift me.

“Wait, am I alive?”

“Yes Karan, you are alive. I am sorry about your disease; your boss told me yesterday and I have been calling you ever since I came to know about this.”

“What can you do when I have no time to live?” I rubbed my eyes and looked into his eyes. His eyes held much sympathy towards me.

“This is life, Karan, living, and dying.”

“Hey! Hold it, my dear concerned person. Stop lecturing me. You have no clue what I am going through.”

“I can understand that,” he said politely.

“You don’t understand anything. I have never had sex with any girl, never touched alcohol or a cigarette. Then why should I have to suffer this? Tell me? “I held his collar.

He cocked his head to one side. Then, he said, “Unfortunately, I am not God, my friend.”

“You don’t talk about that God; He betrayed me. I am innocent. Why didn’t he give this deadly decease to that Rahul, who visits prostitutes? Why didn’t he give any kidney disease to that Ashwin who consumes alcohol every day? Why me? For fifteen years, I worked like hell, believed the time was money, and sacrificed many things in my life. I sacrificed everything for the sake of earning money. Even my money couldn’t save me.” Tears rolled down my cheeks.

“You have not seen the world, Karan; outside, there are plenty of people who are dying every day without their consent. Small kids are dying at a very young age, due to the mistakes of their parents. What about that? Did they do anything?” He said, “Small children are dying due to diseases like AIDS and heart problems. Are they blaming God? This is life, Karan, and you need to accept it.”

“Anirudh, please stop giving lectures. You seem to be speaking like saints who give lectures in temples.”

He smiled, “As you wish.” We gazed at each other for a moment.

“I don’t want to die, and I didn’t enjoy my life. When I look at my past, there is nothing to remember. All my life I was busy earning and thought I would settle down after a few days and start enjoying my life and look at what plans my fate has for me.”

“I can understand you, Karan.”

“You can’t understand anything, because you have no clue about the pain I am going through.”

He looked around at my house; he glanced at the alcohol bottles on the floor and the messed-up furniture. I just lost interest in living; not only me but also no one would live happily after becoming aware of their impending death. At that moment, I didn’t even remember when I had my last meal.

“You know Anirudh, what will be with me when I die in the next moment?”

“What is that?” he asked

I pulled a handful of coins from my pocket. My fingers fumbled as I tried to take them— “This money which I have in my pocket.”

“Please don’t talk like that” he responded.

I wasn’t been able to forget about my death even for a second. “Karan!”

I turned, reluctantly, to him, “What?”

His hands reached his pocket and showed me a visiting card. “Please do visit this place, Karan, and you will have answers to all your questions.” He handed me a business card. I ran my fingers over the raised letters.

“What’s this?”

“This is a place where you will find answers for your questions,” he said, flexing his jaw.

He kept the card on the table and then left my apartment. His lecture annoyed me instead of giving relief. I knew he couldn’t understand my agony because he hadn’t felt wretched, unlike me.


I woke up early that Saturday, the last day of September. I found Anirudh’s card and thought about what he said. I felt that I was living on a thin line, between life and death. Either I was fully alive as a normal human being or I was dead. I believed there was no point in living the phase which I was going through.

How could I live like this? How could I spend my life when I didn’t know whether I would live the next moment or not? How could I forget that I was dying? I was in even more turmoil because my hefty bank balance couldn’t save my life.

I toyed with the card, which was given by Anirudh. I stood in the balcony for a moment and thought that I was not going to lose anything if I visited the Orphans’ Home. I drove to the address of Children’s Orphan Home.

After parking my car, I took the business card, which he gave to me. I verified and matched the address again. When I was about to step inside the place, I saw a small boy who could be around the age of 10 or 12. He was holding the gate’s rods and seemed like he was waiting for someone. He was glancing at the road and his hair was all over his forehead. I walked a little ahead. The whole place was filled with so many trees. On one side, there were children playing. In another corner, a few children were playing hide-and-seek. I took a brisk walk and reached the Manager’s room. I knocked on his room’s door before entering; he wore white clothes and seemed like a Father from a Church. He was lean with partially white hair on his head.

“Hello Father,” I said.

He halted his writing and smiled at me. “Yes, my child, how can I help you?” his eyes were filled with compassion.

“Hello, my name is Karan. Anirudh told me to visit this place”.

“So, you are a friend of Mr. Anirudh’s; please be seated.” The whole room was a little old; the ceiling was unpainted.

There were pictures of Mother Theresa on the walls of the room. “Mr. Anirudh told me that you wanted to talk to our children and you want to donate some money.”

I thought for a moment and suspected that Anirudh might have tried to misuse my situation.” “Please come with me, Sir,” he said politely.

I understood and thought I would never visit that place again. We both walked into the old building. There were no paintings on the walls and seemed like it might have been constructed many years ago. Two children were smiling and playing a game. They both spun around me, blocking my way.

“Naresh and Rakesh, please go back to the main hall, it’s time for praying,” the old man said with a pleasant voice.

“OK, Father,” they both giggled and ran one after the other. “Excuse me, could you please tell me where you are taking me.”

“Be patient, my son” he replied.

He then took me to the main hall, where children were shouting and smiling. We both stood on the small dais,” Good evening, Father” everyone said.

“Good evening, children,” he said with a smile “Now start your prayer before your snacks.”

Everyone started praying, “Dear Lord, we feel great that you have given us birth as a human being in this world. So, we are thankful to you for a wonderful opportunity for living this life as a human being.”

I saw smiles and happiness on every child’s face. They were thrilled while praying. Some workers bought a big basket of bread and a big can of milk. The Father turned towards me and said, “Son, please distribute bread and milk to all the children.”

I was surprised “Me?”

“Yes, my son. You are our guest today; we would be honoured if you distributed snacks to all the children in this room.”

I had no option but to agree and so, said yes.

Every child walked up to me with a smile, took the bread and milk, and said: “Thank you.” There was innocence and happiness on every child’s face. After distributing the food, I felt very happy for the joy, which I saw in them. It was priceless, indeed.

The Father and I stood near them when they were having their bread and milk. “I have never seen such happy children, until today,” I said.

“I wish it continues every day,” Father replied after a few seconds of silence.

“What do you mean, Father?”

“Poor kids, they are not aware that they will die soon.” I was terrified, “What?”

“Yes,” he nodded. “Here, in this home, every kid is suffering from a deadly disease. Every one of them will die very soon.”

“Don’t they know about this?” I questioned.

I was shocked and felt pity for those children. I realized I wasn’t the only person in this world who was unlucky. I felt disappointed.

“No; even if they knew, what could they do? They don’t even know what death is,” Father said. “They all live like normal human beings and when death knocks on the door, they leave this world; till their death, they lead a happy life over here. Of course, they miss their parents because no one can replace the love of parents,” he explained.

My eyes moved towards the boy who was waiting at the entrance gate. “What about him?”

Father glanced at the boy. “He is Aryan, and he’s blind. His parents left him near the door one night,” he said. “But that poor boy still believes that his parents will take him back. It has been two years, and still, no one has come for him. That innocent heart still has faith and hope on his parents. He is just ten years old and he is going through all this pain.”

“Has he been waiting at the gate for two years?”

“Sadly, yes he is. He stands near the gate for a few hours a day. We all try to please him but what to do?” he paused for a moment.

After listening to that, my heart broke. I wondered what his imaginations would be and how he could develop such strong feelings towards his parents despite being blind.

“Doesn’t he have any friends?” I asked.

“No, he doesn’t talk much to other kids,” Father answered. “Sad.”

“There is a sad story behind every child in this home;” he then turned towards me “Son would you like to donate something for these innocent children?”

“Of course, Father, why wouldn’t I? However, right now, I don’t have any cash. I will visit again tomorrow with my checkbook.”

“That’s great news, my son. God always has a hand on people like you. I am sure you will be blessed with a good life.’

I shrugged. “Thank you.”

I didn’t want to tell him my story and didn’t expect any sympathy from him.

When I left through the main door, Aryan was still staring at the gate. It was a little dark. I wondered about his senses and feelings towards humans. I felt like talking to him.

“Hi, Aryan!”

He then turned his head towards me and gave a blank stare, without any reply. I saw on his face how much he was missing his parents, and felt pity for him. His eyes revealed how much he missed his parents. I wondered what kind of pain he must be going through, which he couldn’t express.

After going back home, I thought about children and death. My mind recalled all those innocent faces with so much happiness. I thought about what they would do if they were aware of their death. I realized how precious life was and regretted wasting my time for earning money. Aryan’s blind eyes were haunting me repeatedly. I didn’t understand why I recalled Aryan and I felt like talking to him. I also realized that I wasn’t the one person on this planet who was unlucky. I never had good friends since childhood because I thought even making a friendship would be a waste of time.

I woke up quickly that Saturday morning. I called Anirudh and told him about what I had seen. After hanging up the phone, I thought that I had a second chance at living life, which I have to live like my last moment. I visited the children’s orphan home in the evening. After parking my car in front of the main gate, I glanced at the entrance. Aryan wasn’t there. I walked inside for the Father. When he appeared, I handed over the check to him; he smiled at me after looking at the money I donated.

“Father, can I ask you something?” “Yes, my child.”

“I am feeling a little low these days; can I come daily and talk to the children and if possible, can I help them?”

“Sure, that would be a gift for us,” he smiled again. “You have not only given charity but also want to help. What else could be greater than that?”

“Thank you.”

The real reason I wanted to visit that place was I felt like all those kids were similar to me and felt like they could be my friends.

Father’s phone buzzed. He picked up the phone. “Hello, Mr.

Robert,” he said, “Could you please excuse me.” I half-smiled.

When I was walking in the lawns, I saw Aryan, who was walking by taking the support of the wall. His two hands were stuck to the walls and his head was facing the wall. I felt like talking to him. I took a few steps towards him.

“You know, who walks like you?”

He halted for a second and then continued walking. I walked along with him.


“But everyone said Spiderman jumps from the buildings,” he answered, without looking at my face.

“I think no one told you that even Spiderman walks sticking his hands on the walls, like you.”

“Really? But everyone makes fun of me because I am blind.”

“They must be jealous of your superpowers.” “Superpowers?’ he halted and turned towards me, but his eyes were on my feet.

“Yes, blind people have superpowers. They can listen to small sounds and they can recognize people with their touch. They can feel about others. Even Spiderman had these powers when he was young.”

“Was he blind when he was a kid?” “Yes”

“Really? Will I get back my eyes when I grow up?”

“Yes, for sure.” Even that small lie made his day. That million-dollar smile was priceless.

“So, then, I can find my parents,” he blinked.

I kneeled in front of him and looked into his eyes, “Maybe, after a few years.” His hand reached out to my face. Initially, he touched my eyes, nose, lips, and then he kept his head against my chest and listened to my heartbeat.

He then moved a little, backward. “My name is Karan; what’s your name?’. I did not know what he understood with my heartbeat and what made him trust me.

“Aryan” he replied, “Even you are suffering like me.” His ability to sense my pain wonderstruck me. “Aryan, don’t you have friends? “I asked.

“Everyone makes fun of me that I am blind. So, I don’t talk to anyone”, he tilted his head and stared at the ground.

I looked at the playground and said, “Shall we play Aryan?” After seeing him, even I became a child and felt like playing.

He thought for a second,” Shall we play chess?” I wondered how he could play chess. “Sure”

“Come with me” he held my hand. He then touched the wall and took me to his room. His room had four beds with empty walls. The room’s walls were white in colour. Every bed was two feet in height. He walked to his bed, which was behind the window. From the window, I could see the ocean.

“Your room is very nice, Aryan.”

“What difference does it make to me? All I know is that I sleep on the bed.”

He then crawled below his bed and took out the chessboard, from under his bed. He then arranged the board on the bed; he then glanced at me and asked me to sit beside him.

“How did you learn this game?”

“My father taught me; I used to play with my brother,” he said. “Karan don’t waste time; we need to finish off quickly or else my roommates will come and spoil my board.”

“Ok, sorry.”

“Which colour do you want?”

“Black” I replied. We both sat on the floor opposite each other. “Aryan, don’t you play outdoor games?”

“I would love to, but no one plays with me due to my blindness.”

The chessboard was made of wood with raised and lowered squares in the chess-playing surface. He identified them easily with the help of dots. I was surprised that he kept all the pawns in a span of a few minutes. I understood that this chessboard was made especially for the blind. I recalled my childhood memories of how I used to play with friends.

“Start playing, Karan,” he said. I made a move and then Aryan made his move.

After five minutes, Aryan said, “Check.” I was surprised that I’d lost a game with a young boy in five minutes.

“Let’s play again,” I said.

After three minutes, Aryan said, “Check,” and laughed. His smile was very adorable. For the next thirty minutes, I lost many times to Aryan’s incredible knowledge of the game. I felt ashamed of myself for losing a game to a ten-year-old boy.

“Aryan, I give up. Buddy, you are making me ashamed “I mumbled

“OK Karan, we will wind up for today. Wait, I will show my drawings.” He opened his suitcase and picked up a few papers from below his dresses. He showed me his drawings. His talent

amazed me; he showed me the drawing of a house, which had four people in front of it with an eagle’s picture and dog. He drew just like normal kids. He then touched the family picture and said, “This is me, my dad, mom, and my brother.”

My eyes became watery.

After seeing that picture, my mind recalled memories of my childhood. Strangely, I had drawn the same picture of my family when I was twelve years old. I felt like I was seeing myself in that drawing.

“See Karan, one day my parents are going to come back to me and they will take me back home,” he said and smiled. “Before coming here, my parents told me that we were going on a picnic. I think I am lost and I am sure they will come back for me because they will be searching for me,” he smiled.

How could I explain to that innocent heart that his parents left him deliberately? I didn’t say a word about the fact because he couldn’t digest the truth.

“Of course, Aryan. They will soon come for you.” I checked my watch. “Aryan, I need to go now.”

“OK,” he said and packed his chess set. He kept it back in his small suitcase, locked it with his small key, and kept it back under his bed.

When I was walking out of his room, “Karan!” he called my name.

I turned around, “Yes, Aryan.” “Will you come again?”

I walked up to him and touched his cheek, “Yes Aryan, I will come.”

After getting back into my car, I recalled the family picture which Aryan drew. I thought about my mom and dad, and I didn’t know where they were. I fought with my father severely, a few years ago, regarding my marriage. I left home when my dad slapped me. I avoided them for years. I didn’t even have a clue about their address in the city. Probably, it was the first time after many years that I thought about them.


Aryan was still in class; he sat in the first row and was heeding his class with the help of dots and symbols on the pages. He was looking so adorable and was trying to focus by listening. I stood behind the entrance and felt like there was something between us which made this a spiritual connection. He was my first friend after high school. Our age gap was not a barrier to our friendship. I felt like sharing the immense pain, which I was going through, but I thought repeatedly about how it would affect him after knowing of my nearing death. However, later, I thought that if I hide this from him and die in my sleep without intimating him, then he would miss me, too, like his parents and cry. When the bell rang, everyone ran from the class. Aryan was the only student left behind in the class and was still keeping his books in his small bag. I walked inside the class and rubbed his head calmly. He touched my hand with his fingers.

“Karan” he smiled. I could see the excitement in his eyes. He packed his bag quickly and then shook my hand. There was a blackboard in the class; the walls had cracks, and the ceiling had an old fan, which was rotating slowly.

“Karan, come quickly; we will play outdoor games today.” “Really?”

“Yes, my friend.”

He then held my fingers; we both strolled towards the playground. There were lots of trees around us with lots of children playing.

By the time we reached the ground, I felt like I was crumbling and it was agonizing.

I understood that my body was decaying quickly. I made him sit on

the swing. “Aryan, first you need to stretch your legs.”

“OK,” he stretched his legs.

“Hold the chains and then lean back.” He did as I said.

“Come on Karan, push it quickly.”

“OK Aryan,” I pushed slightly after pulling it back. He then swung back and front, shouting with joy.

“Wow, it’s amazing!” I pushed slightly when it was required. I didn’t know why, but my childhood memories were sparking in my mind consistently. I recalled how I played with my dad in the park when I was a kid. After that, I made him climb the ladder, and then he slid down from the ‘slide.’ And then, I made him play ‘monkey bars.’ He and I enjoyed every game. I enjoyed, even while making him play after we both sat silently on the grass.

“Aryan,” I said, breaking the silence. “Yes.”

“I will be dying,” I had no intention to hurt him after my death and thought that this would be the right time to reveal my death.

“You mean hair-dying?”

I smiled. “No, I am dying.” “What happens when you die?”

I struggled with how to answer his question honestly. I thought that to tell him the real meaning of death wouldn’t be inappropriate.

“I shall go to another world,” I explained. He sniffed, “another world?’


“Like America?”

“No, far away from there” I felt uncomfortable to answer. “Can I call you from here?”

I saw Aryan’s face and shook my head. “Yes; you can,” I lied and felt guilty.

“Can I visit that place?” he asked again.

“Yes, but you need to take multiple flights, and it would take many days to reach.” I didn’t want him to know the real meaning of death because I knew he would feel sad. I also knew that he was suffering because of his parents.

“Can’t you skip going? Because you are the only friend I have.” It seemed like it took him a few seconds to understand what I said.

“Don’t worry Aryan; I will find your parents before I leave,” I said.


I nodded, “Yes.”

“So, when are you leaving for another world?” he asked.

I did not know how to answer that question; even I was not aware of the time of my death.

“It could be anytime.”

“Won’t you come back again?’ he then turned towards me.

My eyes became watery. I knew Aryan would identify my pain through my voice, so I bluffed and changed my voice deliberately. “No Aryan,” I said, and squeezed his hips and he laughed loudly.

He giggled, “Don’t worry Karan, my dad and I will visit you.”

I did not want to discuss it more because I thought it would make him feel bad. He then asked about my girlfriend.

“I don’t have a girlfriend,” I tried to smile and felt a little embarrassed for saying that I didn’t have a girlfriend.

“Why, what’s wrong?” he asked.

“I didn’t have time to propose to girls,” I replied. “So, propose now.”

“What, now?” I stared at him. “Yes, my friend” he answered.

Then, I told him that I would call after two days. I became afraid when I even thought about girls.

“Karan, you said you don’t have time; call any girl whom you know and propose to her.”

“Propose?” I stammered as if it was a big crime.

He laughed. “Yes, propose; right now. Take out your phone and call a girl.” I took out my mobile phone and opened the list of female colleagues in my office. Then, I filtered the list for unmarried girls. I never talked to them as a friend because I always used to talk to them only regarding my work. I wondered how they would feel if I called them.

“Didn’t you get any girl?” Aryan asked.

I gazed at him. “Ya, I got one girl,” I said and scrolled down the list in my phone’s contacts. Aryan kept his hand on his head with disappointment.

“You said you didn’t have time. Now propose to ten girls, and we can hope for at least one.” I took Aryans' words seriously and called ‘Aarthi,’ who was my colleague for two years.

I had mixed feelings—a little excitement with fear, but I didn’t tell him. She picked up her phone after a few rings. I looked at Aryan. “Talk,” he whispered.

“Hello,” she said; I then turned on the speaker to make sure Aryan could hear.

“Hi Aarthi, this is Karan.”

“Karan, where have you been? I heard about your cancer and sorry about that. Everyone was talking about you.”

I didn’t know what to say. I glanced at Aryan. “Say that you have beautiful eyes,” he whispered in my ear.

“Has anyone told you that you have beautiful eyes?” She laughed.

“When you smile, your teeth remind me of the stars,” Aryan whispered again in my ear, and I repeated what he said.

“Karan, you are making me blush.”

I became panicky. “What, toilet flush?”

Aryan banged his head on me with exasperation and squeezed my hand. “She means blush,” he continued whispering.

“Ok, ‘blush’” I understood. Sorry network problem.” I tried to convince her.

Aryan then spoke moving his lips again and again. I kept a hand on the speaker “What?”

“Propose to her,” Aryan shouted. I forgot the reason behind my calling her, due to her mesmerizing voice.

“Aarthi, the reason I called you is that …” “Ya, go on.”

My heart started thumping, and I sweated little.” I love you, Aarthi.”


“No Karan, sorry to say but I am engaged.” “Oh, that’s sad,” I said, “OK, I will call you later.” “Why it would be sad?” she asked.

“Because you are getting married, right? Sharing your bed with a stranger who is little known to you, washing his clothes and undies, smelling his farts and snores,” I laughed.

She hung up the phone.

“Why the hell did she cut my phone?” After closing her call, I looked at Aryan. He kept a weird face and I couldn’t look in his eyes due to guilt.

There was a few seconds’ silence; he blinked and said, “Even I know how to propose to a girl despite being of smaller age than you. I am ashamed that you are my friend.”

I felt guilty after listening to him; what could I do? I was unaware of even girls’ psychology.

“Karan, you are a pathetic talker. Who would talk like that to a girl?”

“Really? Am I not supposed to?” I asked.

“No, you are not supposed to talk like that with girls.” “What to do Aryan, I never flirted with any girl and never even got the feeling to propose to a girl.” “Who’s next?’ he queried.

“No, no. I don’t want to propose to any other girl. I shall feel desperate if they said no.”

Aryan gave me a perplexed expression. “Anyway, you said you are leaving for another world. What difference does it make to you if she says yes or no?” he said. “Make a list and call other girls, my dear friend.”

His philosophy convinced me. “OK, I will call them tomorrow.”

He then raised his hand and moved. “There is no tomorrow for you. Every minute is like the last minute for you, according to what you said. Don’t worry; I will be your wingman.”

“Wingman? Who is he? Is he a brother of Spiderman or Superman?” I questioned.

“Wingman means a friend who helps his friend in finding his love,” Aryan explained.

I was excited.

“Really? Wow! So, you will be my wingman from now on” I half-smiled.

“But, initially, you have to learn some ground rules.” “What are those?”

“1. You should be a good listener.

2. You should never interrupt when they are sharing or talking to you.

3. Never praise another girl in front of them.

4. Always talk something instead of being silent.

5. Never let them pay when you are out together.” “That’s it? Only five rules?” I asked.

“They are not just five rules. You always have to be spontaneous enough to apply these rules.”

“OK” I nodded. “How come you don’t have any girlfriend despite knowing all these things about girls?”

“Even I used to have a girlfriend,” he confessed.

“Who was it?’ I glanced at him and patted his shoulder. “My science class teacher,” he said and shook his both legs. “What happened to her?” I asked folding my legs.

“I never told her that I was in love with her. With her beautiful voice, I was sure she was very beautiful.”

I frowned, “Then what happened to her?” “We were fine until she got married.” “Didn’t it hurt?”

“Yes, man. That hurt me very much, and it took one week for me to recover.”

“That’s sad,” I said.

“From now on, just follow my instructions and you will get a girlfriend for sure.”

“You are right,” I said and gave him a high-five.

His mockery made me laugh because even I knew that he wouldn’t be talking to me like that if he knew the real meaning of death. When I asked him regarding his knowledge of proposing, he told me that even his friends in school had a better experience than me. I was pleased when Aryan decided to become a wingman for me. I knew people would laugh that I was taking the help of a ten-year-old boy for falling in love, but I was considering him as my friend, and age was not a barrier to our friendship.


It took two days for us to make a list and write down every name followed by a number. We got around ten names; I found all those names in our messenger app’s group communities and childhood groups which were created by one of my school mates. I frowned at the list of names, which the two of us had prepared.

1. Dharini

2. Keerthi

3. Aavanthika

4. Tanya

5. Malvika

6. Disha

7. Damini

8. Aparna

9. Ankita

10. Rashmi

I was biting my nails looking at the list; I felt like I was preparing for an exam. According to Aryan, I had no time to avoid or feel bad; we both got into the car; Aryan sat beside me. I held the list in my left hand and my right hand was on the steering. I was prepared to meet and propose directly due to experience. I parked the car behind the road, reached into my pocket, grabbed my cell phone, and dialled the number of ‘Dharani,’ who was my childhood friend.

Aryan clapped his hands on his knees, “Come on; let’s start.”

He then turned on the speaker of the phone. The phone rang quite many times and she picked up after ten rings.

Then a groggy voice answered, “Hello.” “Hello, am I speaking to Dharani?” “Yes,” she answered quickly.

I was a little afraid “Hey Dharani; it’s me, Karan. Your classmate from the sixth standard” I explained.

“Karannnn, huhhhhhh. Let me think” she said and became silent for a moment.

I became frantic, and I took the phone off my ear; I was vibrating like a phone on silent mode and shook my head like a ‘no’ at the thought of proposing to her.

Aryan punched my stomach and whispered, asking me to talk to her, “Actually I called you to …”

Aryan then squeezed my leg “Wait, let her recall you,” he said in a suppressed voice.

“Ya, Karan, sixth standard class topper.” “Yes,” I smiled at Aryan and winked at him.

“Why are you calling me now?” I sensed the reluctance in her voice.

“Dharani, I called you to say ‘I love you.’”

“What?” she said, “I thought you forgot that I had proposed to you in the class.”


“Let me finish. When I proposed to you, instead of accepting, you complained to the class teacher” her voice hardened.

“I am sorry.”

“My answer is no,” she then hung up the phone.

Aryan said nothing for a few seconds, and I understood that he realized that things were not favourable for me.

He lifted his eyes to mine, “Oh Karan. I thought you are dumb right now, but it seems you were born dumb–about girls,” Aryan said, shaking his head. I then struck her name off the list. Then, I called Keerthi. She hung up the phone when I said I was dying. Then, I called a few other names and I was rejected due to unknown reasons. The worst thing was despite being rejected by the girls whom I knew, I was still trying for the right one. I felt like an utter failure.

There were only two names left on the list. I called Ankita, who was my classmate in class eight. She picked my call after three rings.

“Hi Ankita, this is Karan, your classmate from the eighth standard,” I said in a nutshell.

“Karan? Class eight? Let me recall, please” she became blank for a moment.

Aryan whispered, “OK Karan, plan changed; Ask her out instead of proposing” Aryan added.

“Hey Karan, how are you?” “Are you in Mumbai?” “Yes,” she replied.

“I am supposed to be on your lap baby,” I said vaguely in an American accent, trying to flirt.

“What? Sorry, I can’t hear you.

Could you please say it again?”

“Knucklehead, don’t talk crap” Aryan mumbled. “Ask her to meet you.”

“Shall we meet tomorrow?” My inability regarding girls crippled me.

Aryan again squeezed my leg. “You have no time.”

“I mean today, now,” when I turned to Aryan, he was rolling his eyes at me.

“OK” she replied.

I was surprised by her grant. My heartbeat slowed.

She agreed and told me to meet her in a cafe, which was popular in the city. We drove horrifically. Aryan’s head snapped backward each time when I escalated the speed. Aryan was also enjoying our drive. We reached the desired location at five in the evening. I was happy that Aryan had become a ‘wingman’ for me. I drove a few miles and then looked at Aryan; he was smiling. His eyes were staring at the dashboard. I wondered what he was thinking.

I didn’t know whether I would find a girlfriend in my life, but I realized I’d found a good friend in my life and that was sufficient for me.

When we both reached the cafe, I looked at Ankita who was waiting for me inside the cafe. I could see her through the glass walls of the café.

“Oh my god, she looks beautiful.”

“Really?” Aryan asked.

“Yes, she hasn’t changed in any way,” I said, “Look at her, man. She is freaking me out.”


“I don’t know what to talk” I clarified.

“Just go ahead,” Aryan said.

I rolled my eyes, “Aryan, please come with me, buddy.” “There is a rule that when you’re proposing to a girl, there should be no friends around you.”

“I don’t believe in that” I replied. “No Karan, what if she falls for me?”

“You are only eleven, and she is almost thrice your age.”

“I know I am eleven” Aryan scoffed, “But still, she could fall for my blindness,” he laughed. “You know, a few girls show sympathy towards me. It has happened in my class.”

I didn’t understand any logic in his words nor was I convinced. However, I was timorous to talk to her.

“At least step outside of the car, so that I can see you.” “OK,” he replied.

I walked a few steps towards the cafe and then walked back to Aryan,” I can't go, no I can’t”

I shook Aryans’ body forcibly for a few seconds. He halted and shook his head like a laughing buddha idol. He became angry.

“Karan where are your butts?”

“On my back, why?”

“Could you please face your butts towards me.”

“Ok,” I said and did it.

He then kicked on my butts and yelled,” you dumb ass go and propose her, you have no time like everyone”

His kick was hard for my butts. I rubbed them, and removed my shades. I handed them over him, and walked inside the cafe. When

I saw Ankita, and I waved at her. Her black hair was shining under the lights of the cafe. When she saw me, she was surprised. She gave me a tight hug and said that I didn’t change even after so many years. We both talked about our school days. She told me that she was unmarried due to her sisters. My heart was thumping again, and I looked at Aryan who stood near the car. She ordered donuts and a hotdog, and I ordered a chocolate milkshake.

I didn’t know what to talk, without rethinking the words I said “I like your pimples”

“Excuse me” her voice and expression changed.

“They are like stars”.


“I mean,dying stars.You know black holes they call”I said very confidently like those words would be flattery.

“You are calling my pimples as black holes?” she appeared serious.

I understood that I did a mistake.” Sorry”

“Please don’t ruin the day”

I realized that I was a looser in talking with girls with zero knowledge few minutes were silent. I thought to propose her instead of wasting with crap talk.

When I looked into her eyes, I was terrified to say ‘I love you.’ I looked at Aryan; he walked out of the car and stood a little away from us now. I could see him through the thick glass between us. He wore my shades and was struggling to listen to our conversation. He was poking his dirt from his nose. He then walked close to us and leaned on the thick glass. I interpreted that due to his blindness, he was unaware that we were sitting right in front of him.

“After such a long time …” she started and smiled. “Yes. What are you up to these days?”

I didn’t want to tell her that I had quit my job.

“I am working in a bank.” “Wow, that’s nice.”

We then talked about our childhood memories, and I asked her a few questions about her, and she asked a few questions about me.

However, I didn’t tell her that I was about to die, as per Aryan’s suggestion.

I saw Aryan’s face. He was shaking his head with quizzical expressions and was picking his nose. I understood that he was still unable to listen to our conversations. Aryan’s forehead was still against the glass wall behind us and he widened his eyes.

She looked at her watch, “I need to go”

I recalled Aryans suggestion, “Did somebody told you that your pimples look like stars”

Even I wasn’t sure what I was talking. She kept a confused face.

“You know even I have a pimple on my back” I said “your pimples are similar to dying stars.”

“What?,” her expression changed.

“You know, they call Black holes.”

“You are calling my pimples as Black holes”

I didn’t have clue whether it was right or not, I remained silent.

“Karan, please don’t ruin the day”

“Sorry”. I apologized without confrontation.

I was in big stress, didn’t know how to propose.

Aryan started performing Nagin dance by keeping his both hands on his head like a head of a snake. I understood that he was doing that to divert my attention from my fear. He was hissing like snake with his tongue by spinning around.

“Ha,ha,ha” I laughed loudly.

“What happen?” she asked.

“Nothing” I continued my laugh.

After finishing nagin dance Aryan kept his forehead against the glass wall behind us and he was poking his nose. Ankita glanced at Aryan, “Oh my God, why is this kid leaning his head against us?”

Before she had a chance to say anything else, I diverted her from him, “Hey Ankita, would you mind paying the bill? I don’t have cash.”

She then looked back at me, reached for her purse, and paid the amount to the waiter. I looked back at Aryan; he was still struggling to listen to our conversation behind us. When Ankita was busy talking to the waiter, I said “Go back, you knucklehead, you are standing just behind us” I whispered.

“Sorry, what?” she interrupted


I understood that Aryan was neither able to listen to our conversation nor was he aware that we were sitting right in front of him due to the glass being soundproofed.

“Nothing” I smiled by suppressing my fear.

“Would you like to talk anything else?”

“Yes” I said and started sweating with fear of proposing. I looked back at Aryan.He was scratching his butt.

“Nothing; let’s go,” I said. We both walked out of the café. Now, we were in the garden of the cafe. I stood on the grass opposite to her, and her face was turned towards the sun.

“OK Karan, we will catch up later. I have work today,” she was already walking away, heels on the floor. She walked towards her car door slowly with gliding steps and was about to sit in her car but I called her name. She stopped and turned around,” Yes, Karan?”

I stood there blankly without a word. I felt sorry for pushing it, but I still needed to talk to her.

She became bewildered,” Karan, is there anything to say?” I stared into her eyes and didn’t dare to speak a word.

“No, actually I wanted to talk about the weather.” I was petrified to propose to her. Aryan was a little close to us and I was sure he could listen to what we were talking.

“Yes, it’s hot today. I don’t like Mumbai’s climate. Too much humidity—yet beautiful.” Aryan then spun around us twice, saying “Propose to her, propose to her, propose to her,” and he stretched both his hands out.

Ankita looked at Aryan and said “Poor blind kid.” I understood the hints of Aryan.

“Ankita I want to say something.” She locked her hands, “Yes, go on.”

I couldn’t resist myself. I panicked and forgot the suggestions

Aryan gave. I said, “Actually, I am dying because I have cancer and I love you Ankita.” I said it flatly.

She thought about it for a second. Her smile vanished and face became aflame. I wondered if that was a warning and she exhilarated in silence.

“What? You are dying?” She then slapped me on my right cheek. I then looked at Aryan; he struggled to reach my car and got inside the trunk of the car, out of fear. “Is this some prank?” she cried. “No Ankita, it’s true,’ I started to convince her, but she cut me off.

“I always knew about you. I was not mistaken; you have not changed a bit. I knew it, and you are like this since childhood.”

She became hysterical.

She checked something in her bag; I thought it could be a gift.

“Is that a gift for me”. I gave an exciting smile.

She took out a bottle and sprayed on my eyes. I understood that it was pepper spray. My eyes started burning like hell, I collapsed on the floor and said, “You dumb Aryan, I am going to kill you. I rubbed and tried to look at her. She left without giving me a chance. “Ankita! I am joking, your pimples are not black holes” I yelled.

However, she didn’t turn back. My cheek and eyes were burning; I felt like killing Aryan for that situation. I heard some water sound nearby. I was unable to open my eyes; I touched some water on the floor. I kept my face into it and rubbed my eyes until the burning gone. When I opened my eyes, it was a buffalo’s urine and the buffalo was peeing on my head.

It stinked bad, I looked at the waiter of the café,

“What the hell, why this buffalo is in your café premises?”

The waiter walked up to me “Sir, our café owner had a spiritual connection with this buffalo”, he said with a smile.

“Spiritual my ass, where is the bathroom?” I yelled again

“Sir, straight and left”

After few minutes, I gone back to my car. When I opened the car trunk, Aryan was sitting as if he was meditating. “Come out; we

need to talk.”

“I told you not to tell her about your death,” he said like a ‘sanyasi’ who was enlightened.

We were sitting in the car with the keys in the ignition and had not started yet. There was a long silence between us. Aryan was in a serious mood. I glanced at him silently for making me propose to nine girls. He was behaving as if nothing had happened to me.

I looked my face in the mirror, it appeared roasted and my hairstyle was looking a mushrooms. The urine smell was still on me, I scratched my hairs.

“Everything was going fine; who told you to tell her that you were dying?” he said, breaking the silence.

“I was hysterical, and you were standing right behind us when we were talking.”

“Sorry. I just wanted to listen to what you were talking and I was unable to listen to your conversations through the glass walls; maybe they are soundproof.”

We both laughed without a halt, thinking about my debacle.

“You know Aryan, I am loving this,” I said and folded my shirt’s sleeves.

Aryan removed my shades and said “Really?” He gave a startled look.

“Yes Aryan, I am enjoying. I was a fool all my life; I thought only about money. I wish I had realized earlier. The moments I proposed to every girl—they were amazing.”

“It’s nothing, Karan; when you fall in love and she holds your hands, those moments are even more amazing than this.”

He was right; I was amazed when he said those few words, which were the most powerful in this universe. I asked him who told him about all this love stuff; he replied it was his friends who were not blind like him. He also said to me that he missed all those days with his friends.

“Hey Karan, pull my figure “he said raising his middle figure on my face.

“But why?” I asked

“It’s a surprise,” He said excitingly

I pulled his figure, he then farted aloud.

“What’s this?”

“My fart is a surprise” he said and kept his face like an achiever.

We both laughed for a while.

After a while, I called ‘Rashmi’ who was my classmate in my college and the last girl on my list. She agreed to meet me.

She was tall and cute and she gave me a hug when she saw me. My heart was stuck when she hugged me and I felt like I was electrocuted. We then had a casual talk for a few minutes, and I didn’t tell her that I was dying.

“I love you Rashmi” I said, “Yes, I love you.”

I thought about the moments when she tried to talk to me in my college days.

“Karan,” she smiled. “Don’t you know that I am engaged”?

My heart was broken after listening to that. “Sorry to say this; OK, we will meet later,” she said. I stared at her as she walked away. Suddenly, she halted, came back to me and kissed me on my cheek, “You should have proposed to me when we were studying,” she smiled and left. I recalled the kiss in slow motion. I thought about her soft red lips, which touched my cheek. Incidentally, it was my first kiss.

It was just a kiss, but I had the most mesmerizing moment of my life. I thought I would take all these memories along with me after my death if I reached heaven.

Why did I waste my life chasing money? Why didn’t I realize

that loving someone was a beautiful experience on earth? I regretted wasting my time earning money.

I glanced at Aryan and he was smiling at me. I walked up to him and kneeled in front of him. I patted his back and repeatedly said: “You are my best friend.”


Times with Aryan made me forget all my sorrow. When I was with him, I didn’t even feel like my time was near. Oh, that reminded me of the yucky pills that I was forced to take every day. Yet, I felt under the weather all the time; my stomach hurt, digestion issues ensued and the ulcers had a gala time inside my body—irrespective of if I was taking pills or not.

Aryan was my therapist; rather, his company was my therapy. He had some magic around him as his presence around me does wonders. Concisely, he was a goody-two-shoes.

“Let’s play hide-and-seek,” said Aryan. I agreed.

“Why don’t you ask the other kids to join in?” I asked. “They never play with me. I’ve said this to you earlier too, that they don’t like playing with me” Aryan said, shaking his head. Maybe he did not want to play with others.

“Okay, all right! Cover your eyes and start counting. I will hole up” I commanded.

“Why? Why cover my eyes? I am already blind,” he said in a plain tone.

To avoid the awkwardness, I prompted, “Okay, okay! My mistake. Let’s start!”

As he started counting, I took a few steps back and stood right there. “Don’t act smart because you aren’t smart. Don’t cheat—I can smell you around. Go and hide,” Aryan smirked. I smiled to myself and hid behind a pillar.

“18... 19... 20!”

Aryan started moving around with his arms stretched in front of him. There was pin-drop silence. Aryan kept calling my name expecting me to answer (ha ha!). I do not know why but while I was holing up behind the pillar watching Aryan walk around, the last argument with my parents struck me. I wondered what my parents would be thinking about me.

“Found you!” I felt a sudden tap on my shoulder, and the thought bubble burst. Jumping and giggling, Aryan was enjoying his win. Suddenly, we heard thunder rumble and watched the weather change drastically.

“Yayee! It’s going to rain!” Aryan exclaimed, clapping his hands.

“Yea, so? It is just rain, Aryan. What’s so special about it?” I asked, kneeling in front of him.

“You seem to have become a robot who does not feel anything, who does not relish the beauty of nature,” he said. “Close your eyes.”

“But why?”

Irritated, he said, “First, close…. Now, hold my hand.”

I held his hand and he walked me through to the lawn. “Stop thinking about everything else and let your senses do the job. Listen, smell, feel...!”

“What do you hear?”

“The horrendous thunder.” “… and?”

“Birds chirping.”

“Yes, the birds are returning to their nests.” “What do you smell?”

“The rain,” I said, taking a deep breath and filling up my lungs “…the smell when it hits the ground and blends with the soil.”

“Is it any different?”

“Yeah, it’s bewitching, Aryan. No fragrance can beat it!” It was a blessing in disguise. I was quiet and cherishing each moment.

“Don’t open your eyes” he insisted.

I was able to feel the breeze around me. It felt as though it was trying to whisper something into my ears. I held onto his hand and he guided me, taking me somewhere else.

I felt a drop of water on my palm, and in no time felt raindrops pouring down my hands. It felt like I was walking in the air—rather like I was flying. I did make castles in the air. The pleasure of feeling rain in such a way can never be expressed in words. I was enthralled.

“Open your eyes, Karan!” Aryan shouted.

I opened my eyes; even though I didn’t want to as I was enjoying it. I saw beautiful thundering dark clouds; I felt the rain that soaked me completely. Although getting drenched is something I have always disliked, this time, even after being completely drenched in the rain, I was rather calm and composed. No one saw that I had tears of joy; that’s the rain’s specialty. These moments and feelings cannot be bought.

Lost in thoughts, a question popped up- who’s blind, amongst the two of us? Was it me? Or Aryan?.

I knew the answer was ‘me.’ Always occupied with work, I never noticed the beauty around me. I was always chasing money. I never realized the power of nature; its sereneness and beauty had the potential to fill any void within. Nature can connect one to the cosmos if one knows how to feel it.

As we returned to his room, he asked me to bend down. He usually asks me to do that when he wants to talk, but this time, he wanted to play around. He intentionally shook his head and the droplets hit me, and he started laughing. I wasn’t angry about it; rather, I enjoyed it. He was a very shy kid. So, he asked me to turn around since he wanted to change his clothes.

“Your world is very beautiful,” I told him. “Really?” he asked.

“Yes Aryan, you are not the one who is blind. It’s me who can’t see—even with real eyes.”

Then, he asked me to turn around. The first thing I noticed was his Superman tee.

“Hey, Superman!” I shouted out of joy.

He turned pink. To avoid any sort of confrontation, he started looking for a towel. “My mom used to say we shouldn’t let our hair be wet for long” he insisted.

I agreed to it as my mom used to say the same. Then, he inquired about my mom.

“I don’t know,” I answered.

I turned around and saw him smiling—and I could feel my mom’s soul around.

“Did your mom also leave you as mine did?” he asked. “No, I left them” I replied.

Then, he continued his story.

“My dad would take me out on long drives during the monsoons and would take me to the special street food corner where I would have Pani-puri. It was my favorite. But now that I am here, I miss it all,” he recited in a sad tone.

It was difficult for me to see him sad, so I asked him to get ready for a bike ride.

He wept with joy. He wiped his hair, drying every strand, and got ready in, like, two minutes. I pulled his cheeks in awe. I realized that I didn’t have a bike. I borrowed Father’s bike and I rushed to Aryan’s place. I saw him walking towards me and I howled, “Come quickly Aryan!” He was able to follow my voice and he started jumping with excitement. As he touched and felt the bike, he insisted that he sit in front of me. I didn’t say a word and followed his command.

“Are you ready, my boy?” I asked.

“Yessss” he screamed and raised his hands in the air.

I started the bike and increased the speed; we were able to feel the cold breeze. The rain had stopped by then. We passed through many busy streets of Mumbai. Aryan didn’t stop screaming. He seemed the happiest. The clouds seemed equally happy and they started to pour again; this time, it was drizzling. I was the happiest, too, to see him grin like the Cheshire cat. I never thought that a normal bike ride on one of the oldest bikes could give us the best moments of our lives. The cold breeze, splashing water, drizzle, and my boy as my riding partner made me feel on top of the world. I saw a Pani-puri stall and pulled over. I helped him make it to the stall; until then, he didn’t utter a word. His nose did its work and his lips worked their way out to bring a curve–a smile–on his face.

The worker at the shop served us two bowls. There were onions served in the bowl and I didn’t know how to eat. I ate the Pani-puri the way it was served.

“That is not the way,” the worker told me. Aryan understood what must have gone wrong.

He added the onions into the Pani-puri served to him and fed me. He asked me to just feel it and enjoy it rather than gulping it. The way he fed me, I missed my mom and dad, especially them feeding me. I went so far down the memory lane that it hit me bad. I missed my parents a lot—all their care, concern, unconditional love … everything! I felt nostalgic.

After dropping Aryan, I went back home. I just needed some time alone to cry aloud, to take it all out. The regret was all around me as I had just one thought:

“Why did I leave them?” “Why did I stop?” “How did I forget all their love, at once?” “My parents were the best.”

I burst out loud. Then, I became so desperate to see them that I left and I reached the only place I knew. I rang the bell.

A woman came out.

“Yes? Who are you?” she asked.

I was baffled to see her; to see an unknown face open the door. I was perplexed as to where my parents were.

I was so disheartened that I started crying in front of her. She calmed me down and asked me to wait. She went inside to call her husband.

Flashback struck me when I peeped inside. I found so many things; I had so many memories there. That small box-like TV, that old bicycle, those large bushes, those stairs around the garage, those curtains, those lamps… and I was down in the dumps.

I didn’t realize it when I walked in and my toe hit a toy. It belonged to a little me. My father had bestowed it upon me. I picked up the toy and all the memories flashed in front of my eyes. I missed my dad so much. I screamed “Dad? Dad?” all around the house but didn’t find him. I regretted every step I took against them. I was in the blues. I was in the waters of bitterness. I cried aloud.

“I love them very much! I miss them,” I cried

She served me water, asked me to control myself, and asked me to have faith.

A tall man came walking toward me. He held and lifted me, to hug me. He’d understood the situation, I assume, since he didn’t question me. He consoled me and gave me the broker’s number.

“Thank you,” I acknowledged his gesture.

I started walking towards my bike. Just then, the wooden horse toy flashed in front of my eyes. I wanted it back.

I walked back and asked, “Can I take this toy along with me?” The woman happily handed it over to me, without any hesitation. I asked them if they wanted me to pay for it but they denied. Furthermore, they told me that it was mine.

I left the place and went to my bike and the first thing I did was dial the broker’s number and enquire about my parents. Initially, he could not recognize whom I was talking about as it had been quite a few years now. Later, he shared a contact that was not operational and gave me a few other numbers. He claimed those belonged to my father’s relatives.

Upon calling a couple of numbers, I found that my parents had shifted to ‘Vishnu Old Age Home’ a few years ago. I browsed all the details about that old age home. I tried to call them but since it was too late in the night; I was not able to connect. I browsed to discover that the home was in the outskirts of the city.

The next day, I left my place early in the morning, in search of my parents. It took me an hour to reach Vishnu Old Age Home. I wasn’t able to bear the one-hour long route. Therefore, I drove very fast. The only thought in my mind was to see them again, feel them again and love them again. The moment I reached; my heart was racing. The adrenaline inside my body was rushing as if there was some race going on inside.

I stepped in and looked for them all around. I got restless with each passing moment. I saw so many old sad faces, but not my parents. Then, after I had given up, I asked a Punjabi man about Mr. Rakesh and Mrs. Leela.

“You will find them in Room no. 104” he replied. The moment felt like I’d won a lottery.

I was so happy that I rushed towards the room. At that time, I didn’t have any thoughts in my mind other than seeing my parents. Those few stairs seemed to have no end. I finally reached 104. There was a window right adjacent to the door, through which I saw that a woman with grey hair was combing her hair and a man with broken spectacles was reading a daily. I had happy tears in my eyes. I was not able to speak for a while. They saw me and they were staring at me but it was hard for them to recognize me. I wouldn’t blame them, but only their age and myself.

“Maa! Paa!” I whispered.

My dad was still not able to recognize me.

“Karan?” my mom rushed towards me with her eyes wide open and tears almost rolling down her face.

She hugged me, slapped me, and kissed me all over my face. She hugged me very tightly. I had never felt such warmth. My tears had no limit; my mom’s hands weren’t leaving me.

My dad hesitated to initiate anything. He didn’t hug me. He yelled at me.

“Where the hell were you, Karan? Where have you been?” “Do you know what all have we faced? We had to sell our house. We had no place to live; we were homeless. We never expected this from you. We treated you like a king and you left us as if we were nobody to you. We sacrificed everything for you and you sacrificed us.”

My dad wailed with pain in his voice. While my mom asked him to forget everything, I went down on my knees. Pleading to my dad, I apologized, “I am sorry, dad! I was running after money all the time. I never realized that life is not just about earning money.”

I cried like a baby, as I was genuinely apologetic towards them.

“Your apologies can’t change all that we had to suffer” my dad yelled.

Every parent would have reacted this way. I understood all of his emotions. However, I was not in a state to say anything. Nevertheless, this was my last opportunity to get them back.

“Please come with me to our new house. I want us to make it a home!” I insisted. My dad shook his head in disapproval and said “No.” He moved towards the window. I was still on my knees and I begged. I wasn’t left with any other option but to enlighten them with the truth. “I have just a few more days left,” I said with a heavy heart.

“What!” my mom said with a terrified face.

“It’s the last stage; colon cancer,” I said and I hit the ground. My mom held me up, hugged me, and started crying as well. My Dad couldn’t hold himself back and he straight away came to me. He hugged us both. I explained to them about my last stage and everything related to it. They were still in a state of shock but they didn’t have any option other than to believe me.

I told them that the chances of my survival were close to nil and that the level of damage was irreparable. My body was poised to such an extent that even chemotherapy wasn’t of any help.

The only thing I could see in my Dad’s eyes was tear–tears of regret, anger, frustration, and helplessness. He hugged me as if he was not ready to leave me. I realized my mistake and that the love that parents shared was irreplaceable. Again, I asked them to come home and this time, they agreed.

I knew they were the best as they forgave me without any second thought and welcomed me warmly. They accepted me with the same amount of love. We started walking towards my car.

“Why did you sell our house, dad?” I asked.

“Your mom had to undergo surgery and I had no other option,” my dad replied. He ignored this discussion and he was more concerned about my health, about my stage of cancer, and about what I had gone through. Yet, there were a few thoughts that were not going away from my head.

Why was I so selfish? How did I choose to work over my parents? How did I forget everything they did for me?

“I am mad at myself.”I said to myself

Just when I was trapped within these thoughts and unanswerable questions, I felt somebody hug me.

Yes, it was my Dad.

“Let’s go home; your son has a very good house!” I prompted. My thought process started again and I realized that I was lucky enough to meet Aryan and he was the one who made me value things and realize their importance. I gave a break to all my thoughts and packed my parents’ luggage. I did all the formalities at the home and paid all the balances. I took all the stuff that was in their room.

Finally, I walked up to my parents, held their hands, and walked towards the gate of the home. All the people present there got emotional. I could sense a mixture of relief, hope, and happiness.

“Rakesh, my friend, are you leaving?” said an old man. “Yes, my son is here” Dad replied to him, very proudly. “You are fortunate! At least your son realized his mistake;

my children don’t call me even once a year” he replied.

Another old woman stopped us and asked my mom, “Are you leaving?”

“Yes, I am leaving. See, I told you so many times that my son will come and take us from here” mom replied, with a sense of pride in her voice.

“Your mom used to pray every day. God heard her wish” she pulled my cheeks. “Take care of your parents,” she whispered

“Without a doubt!” I prompted.

My thoughts hit me back again. Cancer hit me and I met Aryan, which made all this happen. I was with my parents. I felt blessed that my parents were back with me. I got my family back. “Dad, do you remember that day when I cried the whole day because I had to leave you guys for going to school?” I asked

“You still remember that son?” he replied, shocked. “Yes, dad,” I smirked.

“We had to please you a lot to send you to school” he replied. “I now wonder how was I able to leave you guys for ten years when, back then, it was hard to even stay away from you guys for ten minutes.”

I believed the time was money, but now I had realized the value of time and the importance of family.

“Thank God, you are back,” dad said.

We headed towards our new home. My dad gave me a smile through the mirror.


Mom and I were unpacking the luggage. It was evident from her face that she was despondent about something. I felt guilty looking at her old worn-out sarees. I was ashamed of myself for neglecting my parents for so many years.

My shoulder-angel popped up and questioned me, “What is the point in chasing money when you cannot even buy stuff for your parents? What’s the fun in making money? It is pointless, isn’t it? Look what it made you do.”

I thought to myself, “It has made me selfish—brutally selfish!”

“Maa, what happened? You seem low?” I enquired, to calm down my curiosity. I saw Dad walk out of the washroom, wrapped in his towel. He seemed equally low. I presumed what could be the reason. I felt convicted not only for avoiding them for all these years but also for hurting them emotionally.

“Karan, can I have a look at your reports?”

“Sure, Dad,” I said and walked into my room. I fiddled with all the documents inside the drawer, picked up the file, walked back into my parents’ room, and handed the file over to Dad. After a while of scanning the reports, Dad suggested, “Hmm… I think you should once again go for chemotherapy.”

I could see how dubious he was but he did not want to leave any stone unturned. “The doctors have already given up. They say that getting chemotherapy done would be a waste of time and money since the chances of my survival are very less.”

“Talk in numbers. What do they mean by ‘less’?” He instantly prompted, emphasizing on ‘less.’

“Around five percent,” I sighed. “What about surgery?”

“Dad, it is too late. It is disseminating too fast,” I answered.

“Are you regular in taking medicines?” Mom inquired. Looking back at her tensed face, I nodded.

"Okay then. You should go for chemotherapy, Karan.” “Dad, it is going to be a mere waste of time and money.

Moreover, the side effects are a nightmare. I don’t want to waste my time throwing up, entertaining rashes, pitying the hair-less- Karan that I will be after the chemo sessions, and cursing my fortune. I’d rather be happy spending whatever time is left with you, mom and Aryan. I would prefer eating homemade food, playing carrom with you, and talking with Aryan over being treated at the hospital. That is only going to remind me of my misfortune. I know I will leave this world a little earlier than expected but I will be happy; that is important.” I explained.

“Who is Aryan?” “My best friend.”

“Is he your office colleague?” Mom asked out of curiosity. “Nope!” I replied, “He is a ten-year-old blind kid whom I met in a children’s home.”

I told them how Aryan’s presence in my life made me realize many things; parental love, most importantly. I also narrated the incident that made me come back to them and how his care and concern reminded me of their unconditional love for me.

Dad’s heart went out to what I just said. He added, “This is why they say, ‘Children are a form of God.’ Is he an orphan?”

“No! His parents left him for unknown reasons.”

“Why don’t you bring him home? We might plan on adopting him,” Dad suggested, looking at mom as if he was seeking her approval.

“Sounds perfect! This way he’ll be around to take care of you both in my absence. I shall ask him for his opinion.” I paused and thought about Aryan and how he would feel about this news but then, I was sure that he’d start dancing after listening to a piece of news like this. This might prove to be the best gift for him, before my demise.

I acknowledged dad’s idea and brushed the topic off. “Alright! Alright! Time to get ready. We got to go shopping.”

“Shopping?” Mom asked surprisedly, with her brows raised. Leaving a peck on her cheek, I replied, “Yes, darling!Shopping!”

“But why?”

“Because your son is back and he is insisting on it,” I smiled. I went into my room to get ready. All of a sudden, I felt like talking to Aryan. In no time, my screen showed ‘connecting.’ I heard Father Robert answer the call. I asked him to call Aryan over, to the phone. A few seconds later I heard “I knew you’d

call, Karan.”

“Hey Aryan, my friend. How’s it going? What’s happening?” I asked in a cheerful tone.

“You didn’t show up—why?” His voice took a dip. “Apologies! I was busy with my parents. I will meet you tomorrow, for sure,” I replied. “Uhmm, hopefully,” I added, scratching my head.


“Yeah, because I am sick, Aryan! I can die at any moment; even while I am asleep!” I laughed. I realized that with Aryan around, even such alarming talks could be amusing; see, that was the impact he had on me. He giggled.

Aryan was ten years old. Maybe that’s why he didn’t know what death meant. Had he known the meaning of it, he wouldn’t even dare to laugh. Rather, he’d have been left heartbroken forever—I was sure.

“I am going shopping with mom and dad. Want to join in?” “Yes, yes!” he immediately replied.

“Yayee! Get ready. I will pick you up in 20 minutes.” “Done!” he said excitedly.

It was lunchtime. Mom had cooked mouth-watering aloo parathas. Usually, it is said that one is not supposed to keep a count of how much one eats, but I subconsciously counted the number of parathas I ate. I had five parathas—huge, stuffed with aloo, topped with butter, and served with raita. Such heavenly homemade food can beat any damn thing. My afternoon was even more amazing because I shared it with my people. Over lunch, we talked about my childhood memories and took a stroll down the nostalgia lane.

On our way to the mall, we picked up Aryan. He was elated to meet my parents; people whom I spoke highly of. We shopped and bought a lot of stuff for everybody but for me. In spite of my parents’ insistence, spending on myself, I thought, was unnecessary. While my mom and dad were busy pampering their stomachs at the food court, I got busy pampering Aryan by buying him a mobile phone, one that was designed especially for the blind. What was so special about it was its keypad, which was composed in Braille. Not only did it have an option to read messages aloud, it also made typing unnecessary since it had a voice-recognition feature inbuilt. I could have bought a smartphone for him but it wouldn’t have proved to be helpful for him; the main purpose would’ve been lost. I saw an exhilarated Aryan. The back-to-back happy news was making his day.

On our way back home, I dropped Aryan off and got back home. Just when I thought Aryan must have pleased my parents, they claimed to like Aryan very much. I sighed, feeling relieved. We were generally talking about Aryan and his fate.

“How can a child like Aryan be so misfortunate? He’s adorable!” Dad exclaimed.

“I know, right? He is a blessed soul, I see. Just that God’s not been kind to him,” Mom added.

I got emotional wondering what would have made his parents disown him. He did not deserve it. We’d sailed in a boat of thoughts which made me forget my problem—cancer. How time with your loved ones tends to fly, how their presence can mentally heal you, how it can cast its spell on you, and affect you—no medicine can beat it!

Sometime later, I went to my room in search of the property documents, Will, and papers related to my bank account to hand over to my parents. Upon finding them, I took them to my dad who was silently observing and enjoying the view the balcony opened to. When I walked in clearing my throat, he was sitting cross-legged on a chair and indulged in reminiscences, I guess.

“Is everything okay?” “Yes, son! Why?” “Oh, just asking.”

We shared a moment of silence. To break it, I called, “Dad?” “Yeah?”

“Here!” I said, handing over the papers to him.

“What are these?” he asked,and I explained everything to him.

“So? Why are you giving these to me?”

“I don’t know why. I was not a good son all these years and now I realize my mistake. Let me atone for my sins by giving you whatever amount of happiness I can. These papers may mean some kind of support to you both and I will feel like I have fulfilled my duty.”

“No, Karan! These are your earnings. I cannot take them.” “Dad, do you see this 33-year-old, weighing 150 pounds, in front of you? The kind of man I am today is a result of mom’s and your sacrifices. Both of you have done enough for me and my desires, wishes, and goals. You both never denied anything I asked for. You gave me the education, food, necessities, principles, and whatnot,” I said, emotionally.

“Being parents, it is our responsibility, Karan. Not just ours, but it’s every parent’s responsibility towards their children and we don’t expect that back. All we expect is some love and care in return, not money and materialistic things. We expect them to be sensitive towards us and have a sense of responsibility. That is all.”

“Exactly. Ensuring both of you lead a happy and peaceful life after I am gone is my responsibility, Dad.”

“We would be happier if you are with us rather than thinking of our financial security, son,” Dad said this and stood up to hug me tightly. He added that he was proud of me since I had changed.

Before dozing off, I made sure to make a wish at 11:11—as many people believe in, I did too. My wish was to have another such day where I spend time with such gemlike people in my life. I had realized, time is not just money; it is spending time with friends, family, loved ones, making memories with them, and able to cherish them forever by taking care of them whenever they are in need and finally, falling in love.


Aryan came over to my place after breakfast. We had plans of chilling at my place. Therefore, our plan was to play chess and stick to the PlayStation, and that was it. Every round of chess that we played belonged to Aryan; he won each time. However, PlayStation wasn’t his thing, for obvious reasons; even then I appreciated how he didn’t give up. He did not leave a chance to win, kept slamming every button on the controller, whatever his fingertips touched. I didn’t complain about the way he was playing and handling the game because I knew I would have done the same if I were him.

“Hey! Fighter!” I exclaimed for he was the best at it; confronting enemies and finishing them off. Also, he loved being called a fighter. After all, he was one in real life.

Spiderman was his favourite game, but this time he insisted on my playing on his behalf.

“No, Aryan! You love playing Spiderman. You should play,” I insisted.

“Yeah, but how else do I play? I don’t want to just keep slamming the buttons. The day isn’t far when we won’t even have this controller if I keep playing in the same fashion. I want you to play on my behalf,” he stated.

Aryan’s words touched my heart. I felt forlorn. “Aryan, don’t you ever bring that up again because I am here for you, my best friend. Let’s do this; I will instruct, you follow. What do you say?” I offered.

“Done!” He immediately nodded, licked his lips like how an excited kid would and got ready to attack.

I handed the gaming controller to him and we sat in front of the display. I turned on the single-player mode.

“Karan, are you ready?” He enquired, gazing at the display.

“Yes, Commando!” I said giggling. “Just do as I say.” “Roger that!”

Spiderman appeared on the screen, “Walk ahead, Aryan.

Keep moving,” He obeyed. “Aryan, jump. Jump!”

Dismally, Aryan took me too literally and jumped off his seat.

“Not you buddy, press the ‘jump’ button on the controller.” “Oh! My mistake!”

He then pressed the button that made the Spiderman jump and do a somersault. The controller was dancing in Aryan’s hands. “Watch out! Bend down and punch!”

“Am I playing fine?” He asked curiously.

“Yes, of course,” I said without even looking at him, “Jump!

There’s another wall.”

Spiderman jumped the wall. My sight fell on the life bar of Spiderman. I noticed he was losing his stamina. “Aryan, punch! Punch him!” I said with a hyped tone. Well I was not paying the game but I sure was feeling every emotion—be it tension, excitement, or curiosity.

“Yes, I am, I am,” he said in a flow while fumbling with the controller. I saw Spiderman punch his enemies who kept coming on the screen.

“That’s like my boy! You’re doing great, Champ!” I said cheerfully.

Minutes later, came a robotic voice saying, “Level one complete.”

“Woohoo! You made it!”

“Oh my God, I can’t believe I made it” Aryan smiled. “High-five!” I said, raising my hand and turning towards him.

He raised his hand about head-high and I slapped the flat of his palm. We both played for a while longer until he curled up on the floor, holding the controller against his chest and went to sleep. I slept too, right behind him. I then dropped him off at his place at around 3 in the afternoon.

Unexpectedly, my phone buzzed at 23:15. When I checked, my phone flashed ‘Rashmi.’

“Hi Karaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn”

I was astonished and shocked to see her message. The very next thing that I did, being a guy, was to check her display picture. She looked damn pretty in that high ponytail. My heart was pounding after seeing her display picture. I was clueless as to what to reply, so I texted Aryan.

“Aryan, are you up?”

My phone buzzed within seconds and this time; it was Aryan.

“Yeah, busy listening to music. Why?” “I have a situation,” I typed.

“What is it?” “Rashmi texted me.”

“Who?” his message read.

Before I could type, there came another text from him, “Rashmi–the last girl?”


“You lucky dogggggggggggg” he replied. “Ha ha! What should I text her back?” “Talk to her very normally.”

“Yeah, but what?” I clarified.

“Just send some friendly replies—and don’t be too quick with your replies, you knucklehead.”

“Shall I ask her about her ex-boyfriends?”

“Thank God you are dying soon. Or else, you’d have made me suffer for your stupidity when it comes to girls. Ha ha!”

“Ha ha :D” I texted back.

“What should I ask her first?” I messaged, yet again. “Dude, ask her about her hobbies, likes, etc., you know.”

“Sounds like a plan, Aryan! I understood everything but what are those ‘etc.’ in the message?”

“Argh! I am off to sleep now. You are blowing my mind with your silly questions. Byeeeeeee!” he texted back.

I didn’t understand about the hobbies and likes part of the Aryans suggestion and was still muddled about the ‘etc.’ Yet, I dared it and texted her.

“Hiii, babyyyyyyyyy!”

A few seconds later, my phone rang. I was in a state of consternation and felt that calling her ‘baby’ was a mistake. With all the audacity, I answered the call before she could disconnect.

“Hello?” I said timidly.

“What ‘baby’?” she giggled and continued, “You’re not supposed to address a girl with that name unless you know she is your girl. You don’t seem to have enough experience and knowledge about talking to girls.”

Boosting my morale, I said, “Are we not a couple? Like you–the girlfriend and me–your boyfriend. I proposed to you, right?”

“I told you that I am engaged.”

“Is there any discount or reservation?”

She giggled for a moment when I wondered what made her laugh.

“Well, I can be your one-day girlfriend, if you want.” I wasn’t sure of what she meant but replied, “OK.” “Shall we meet up tomorrow for dinner?

“Sure,” I said, scratching my beard. “Where do we go?” she asked.

Looking for money-saving schemes, I replied, “Let’s do something adventurous; let’s go to a stranger’s wedding and have dinner and leave. That way, we’ll also save money.”

She giggled again and I wondered about the reason. “Am I being preposterous?”

“No, no, you are not,” she continued laughing.

I was so involved in the conversation that even a few seconds’ wait seemed long. A minute later, I panicked because I received no reply. I over-thought that she must not have liked my idea and broke the silence, “I’m just kidding and it’s your choice!”

“Okay, I shall text you the location. Bye!”

“Ok, bye Saccharine! Good night, sleep tight.” I smiled. I could feel my left arm going numb when I twisted my wrist to check the time.

She smiled and hung up. Flirting was a new thing for me, and obviously, I liked it. New things always attract people’s attention. I was fortunate and happy that she agreed to be my one-day girlfriend. Yet, the thought of the same haunted me because I didn’t know how exactly to behave with her. I wanted to share that little moment of happiness with everyone, thank, and hug Aryan for all his help.


On Friday morning, we went to the hospital and waited for the doctor for more than two hours. Aryan and I were sitting on the chairs outside the doctor’s room. He slept on my shoulders. Despite taking an appointment, we had to wait for a long period. The hospital’s smell touched my nose and reminded me of my death; my heart started pounding in fear of death; I began to feel the stirrings of panic. When I held Aryan’s hand, I lost my fear within seconds. Aryan was a little reluctant to check his eyes because he believed that he wouldn’t get his eyes back again, or see this world.

The doctor was checking Aryan’s eyes; his eyes were in front of a big machine. The doctor was looking at Aryan’s cornea in his computer. There was a beam of light on Aryan’s eyes. The light was oscillating on Aryan’s eyes and the machine was making some mechanical sounds. Aryans' eyes were expressionless; his chin was on the chinrest of the machine.

“Karan, I am a little afraid,” Aryan said, breaking the silence.

I held his hand, “Don’t worry, Aryan, I am right behind you, buddy.”

“I don’t want anyone to inject me; I am scared of needles.” “Don’t worry Aryan, I am just checking your eyes,” the doctor replied.

The Doctor checked again and again, on his computer, while zooming in on Aryan’s eyes. “OK, OK,” he said, nodding his head. “Nurse, take the boy away from the machine.”

A female nurse took Aryan from the machine and took him outside. I sat in front of him. “Is everything all right, doctor?”

“I have checked his cornea; it’s not possible to get his eyesight back until he gets a suitable cornea donor.

“Will he get his eyesight back?” I questioned.

“Yes, he could see the world, if he finds matching cornea.” “How can we know that?”

“First, we need to check in the eye bank and we need to replace the cornea.”

“You don’t worry about the money, doc; if possible, I will pay money to the donor’s family” I added.

“It’s not about the money Karan, you have to find matching tissues and that’s hard.”

“We will check the eye bank and let you know.”

I stood up and shook his hands. I was very happy that Aryan would be able to see this world after finding a donor. I thought that Aryan should be happy, even after my death. When I walked out of his room, Aryan was touching a flower from a pot behind him. His nose was close to the flowers; I sat behind him. He identified that I sat behind him; he turned towards me “Karan, what did the doctor say?”

“The doctor said that you could get your eyesight back but it will take some time.”

He smiled, “Really?” “Yes, my friend.”

“How long will it take?” “Not very long,” I answered.

“Oh my God, I can’t believe it! I can see my parents and can go back home!”

I understood that he was still yearning to see his parents; his love for them was irresistible. Even I prayed to God that his parents should realize their mistake and come back to him, soon. I was desperate to get his parents back, before my death; I was worried about what would happen to Aryan after my death. I had no time to solve his issue. I was not worried about my death because I knew it was unstoppable—my only concern was Aryan’s future.

“Karan, how does the world look?’ he asked. “Not as beautiful as your world, Aryan.” “What do you mean by that?”

“People who can see the world are busy in earning money and have forgotten that life is not just earning money. Everyone is in an illusion that time is money and earning money is everything, but they have forgotten that life is not just earning money and they are not aware of what precious things they are missing.”

“I don’t know or understand what you said, but I just want to see you first when I get my eyesight back. And then, we will both search for my missing parents, together,” he smiled.

I rubbed his hair, “Sure, Aryan.” “Did you meet Rashmi?”

“No Aryan. I am not in the mood to meet her, even though she told me to meet her.”

“When did she ask you to meet her?” he questioned. “Today—six o'clock,” I answered.

“What’s the time now?”

“It’s eight o'clock” I lied. I wasn’t interested in meeting Rashmi; the pain of my impending death was bothering me a lot and I had to interest to meet her. “Karan, I might be blind but not deaf; I can sense that you are lying to me.” Aryan then reached into his pocket, took out his mobile, and turned on the clock. The clock was in voice mode and said, “It’s the six-o clock.”

I felt guilty for lying to him but what could I have done?

“No Aryan, I am not in the mood to meet her.”

“You don’t have time Karan. You have to meet her,” he said. “Where has she called you?”

“She told me to meet her in a restaurant,” I said reluctantly. “Then, why are you wasting your time?” He forcefully made me stand up and pushed me to walk, from behind. People around us were smiling at us; I couldn’t say no to him and

finally accepted his proposal.

I felt lucky for having a friend like him and upset that my death would separate me from him. I understood that destiny was playing games with me; I imagined how my life would have been if Aryan was my friend long ago, before me coming to know about my impending death. I thought if that had happened, my life could have been very beautiful, with his presence.

The evening rain had caught the moonlight. We reached the restaurant near the beach at 7:30 p.m. The restaurant was popular for sizzlers. The restaurant was in the shape of a ship. It appeared like a real ship. I didn’t know that there was such a restaurant in Mumbai city. There was a coffee shop in the same street as the restaurant. I recalled the street; I realized that it had been years since I stopped visiting that street. I could feel the night in my lungs; the blood was singing in my veins and I was tensed about my conversation with Rashmi because I knew I would blow everything up due to my lack of knowledge about girls. Aryan and I walked into the lift; I pressed the third floor’s button. The lift’s doors closed and I looked at Aryan.

“Aryan, I am tensed.”

“Don’t worry. Wear your Bluetooth device and I will tell you everything,” he said and wore his Bluetooth device on his ear.

“Where you are going to sit?” I questioned.

“I will be sitting a few tables away from you. I will be listening to her questions and answering through the phone,” he explained.

“What an imbecile I am! I feel really guilty to take suggestions from an eleven-year-old boy.”

“Karan, we are friends and the age gap doesn’t make any difference in our friendship.”

A group of men who entered into our lift were laughing aloud. I held Aryan’s hand, who was behind me; his hand was warm. After reaching the third floor, the waiter walked to us and took us to the empty table. The whole interior looked like the interior of a ship. It had blue windows that showed the blue ocean; even though it was artificial, it gave me a feeling of a real ship. Every customer was busy having food. We both sat at the table. I waved my hand at the waiter. When he walked up to me, I said, “Excuse me, can I have another table for my friend?”

“But why, sir?”

“Because he likes eating alone,” I said.

He then looked at Aryan, mysteriously. Aryan gave a crooked smile and winked at the waiter. “I like eating alone,” he said.

“But give his bill in my table.”

“As you wish,” the waiter said politely, with a perplexed expression.

He then took Aryan to another table, which was visible to me. My table had candles on it and some spices in a glass bottle. The chairs were made of maroon leather. I checked the time—it was 8:00 p.m., sharp. Aryan sat in his table and I could see him. He was in a two-chair table. I attached the Bluetooth device to my right ear and dialled Aryan’s phone.

I touched my device with my finger. “Hey Aryan, can you hear me?” I said and looked at Aryan. He was a few rows away from me; yet, I could see him.

“I can hear you,” he replied. “What I am supposed to do now?”

“Sit tight, until she comes” he replied. I had a clear picture of Aryan in my head.

Rashmi arrived after ten minutes, in a blue skirt. I didn’t even stand when she showed up due to my lack of knowledge. “Hi Karan,” she smiled.

“Hi Rashmi,” I said, without standing. “Have you stood up?”

“No, why?” I asked

“You knucklehead, get up, and give her a hug.” I stood up, gave her a tight hug, and remained in the same posture, without releasing my arms.

“Karan could you please leave me?” she said “Karan.”

“Yes,” I replied to Aryan

“It’s a wish, I guess,” she replied. “OK,” I said, in hugging posture.

“Karan, release her. Why are you stuck to her like bubble-gum?”

I released her and sat back in my chair. She was a little surprised by my unusual behaviour—I could see it in her face. I felt like a dumb man. We both sat on our chairs; the fear of talking to her had engulfed me.

“I am just curious, whom are you talking to? Are you on a call through your Bluetooth device?

“No, I am just talking to myself—the voices in the head,” I smiled, raising both eyebrows. “Side-effects of medication.”

“I understood,” she said, with a polite smile.

“So, how was your day?” she asked, noticing that my hands were shaking.

I forgot that I had to wait for Aryan’s reply and said “Nothing special. I woke up at six, pooped, had a bath, and cried loudly about my death while having a shower; while wiping the wetness off my thighs, I realized that I had a pimple.”

“Karan, wait” Aryan said.

Rashmi kept a cumbersome expression on her face. “Karan, wait; don’t talk” Aryan said repeatedly. “What shit are you talking about?”

I halted for a while and looked at her. “What are you saying, dude? You are not supposed to say those words. You should recite your day in a beautiful way; ask her how her day was,” Aryan said.

“How was your day then?”

“Yeah, it was good. I shopped for some jewelry for my wedding,” she said, adjusting the ring on her finger.

“Wow, that’s great,” Aryan said, over the phone. I reiterated, “Wow that’s great.”

I couldn’t control my enthusiasm and said: “Who is that lucky dog?” I smiled and winked.

She wrinkled her nose and glared at me. “Karan, wait man …” Aryan said over the phone.

Rashmi’s cheeks were aflame. “Karan, behave yourself; he is my fiancé.”

“Tell her you’re sorry, you dumb” Aryan suggested. “Sorry,” I said.

“It’s OK” she replied, looking away.

The waiter arrived at our table. “Any drinks, sir?” He was tall, in his mid-forties, and was wearing a tailored suit.

“Champagne,” she replied. “I want soup,” I added.

“What about the second table sir?” the waiter asked. “Soup for that table, too.”

Rashmi looked at the waiter and then at me, dubiously. “Second table?”

“Nothing,” I smiled and nodded my head. The waiter left us alone; I was a little tensed to ask her any question. “What I should say?” I said to Aryan.

“Excuse me?” Rashmi added.

“Nothing. I am just hallucinating due to my medications,” I lied.

“Ya, I can understand what you might be going through. I still can’t believe that you are dying,” she said and nudged my hand.

“Yeah. I too am really worried that I am going to dying soon.”

“Poor baby,” she frowned at me. Her phone started vibrating and she patted down her pockets looking for it. She became busy on a call.

“Aryan, are you there?” I whispered.

“Yes, of course, I am here. Where else would I be?” he said, with a frustrated tone.

“Are there any pickles on your table?” Aryan asked.

I glanced at the pickles,” Yes, there are,” I continued whispering.

“Then keep it on your eyes.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, dubiously.

“No, I am just messing with you! Please just listen to my words and speak, Karan. You are not listening to me properly; first, listen to me and then speak, understand?”

“Understood,” I repeated.

For a few minutes, we sat in silence; she then tilted her head to one side, trying to look bored. “I am bored,” she said.

“Karan, ask her about her likes and dislikes; it seems like she is becoming bored. Keep her busy with your questions. Don’t be blank, for God’s sake” Aryan said.

I asked her about her likes.

She locked her fingers on the table. “I like shopping, swimming, hanging out with friends, and driving alone,” she said. “What about you?”

I took a deep breath, tensed about the answer. “I like killing mosquitos at night—really, I love killing mosquitos. I love to listen to the conversations of neighbours’ when they fight, especially when the wife says the ‘F’ word to the husband,” I said. “It’s really funny, you know.”

“Karan, wait for God’s sake!” Aryan said repeatedly, on my Bluetooth headset. It suddenly struck me that I should have listened to Aryan, but it was too late—I could see on her face. She kept an expression like why was she even there at that moment and rolled her eyes at the table. I could see the regret on her face. I realized I committed a mistake. I looked at Aryan’s table; he stood upon the table and shouted, “Just tell her whatever I say to you, and don’t use your brainnnnnnnnnn!”

“Oh my God, look at that kid,” Rashmi was shocked to see Aryan like that. He then got up from his table.

“Excuse me, son, why are you shouting?” asked one of the old guys, behind Aryan’s table.

“I have a dumb friend who can’t control his words despite my warnings,” Aryan said with a tedious expression. I looked at Rashmi; she was amazed by Aryan’s behavior.

Soon after that, my soup arrived with a champagne bottle. The waiter opened the bottle but unfortunately, spilled a few drops on her cleavage.

“Oh, sorry Ma’am” the waiter apologized.

She smiled. When she smiled, she looked directly at him, “It’s OK.”

I looked at Aryan’s table; the soup had arrived. “For God’s sake, just repeat what I say, Karan; you are making me crazy. If you can’t follow my words, at least keep an eye on me all the time.”

“OK, OK,” I said.

Rashmi eyed me. “Voices in my head” I smiled.

She was about to open the bottle, when I said, “Just wait, Rashmi A strong man is there in front of you. Just chill, okay? I will open it.” I took the bottle and struggled to open it. When I opened it, the champagne spilled on her chest.

“Oh my god! I am sorry!” I said and handed her the napkin. “It's OK.” She nodded and her jaw tightened while wiping the champagne on her cleavage.

“Karan, just repeat what I say, understand?” Aryan said. “OK” I answered.

“Wait, let me have my soup for energy.”

My eyes shifted to her cleavage. She was wiping her white skin, below her neck. “Hotttttttttttttt” Aryan said. I motioned to Aryan’s place; he stretched his tongue out. I thought he wanted me to do the same and said “Hottttttttttttttttt” and stretched my tongue out of my mouth while staring at her cleavage.

“Karan, behave yourself. You are really annoying and behaving like a pervert” she said angrily.

“Sorry, sorry, I just did what my voices said” I tried convincing her.

“Sorry, Karan. My soup was very hot—that was not your part to say her. The soup burned my tongue,” Aryan confessed. I thought I should confess the facts. So, I stood up from my chair. “Rashmi, I am sorry. I really didn’t mean to behave like this. I am really afraid to talk to you because I don’t know what to talk about to a chick.” I then removed my Bluetooth and keep it on the table.

“What?” she asked dubiously.

“My friend is coordinating with me and trying to help me with talking to you. I am really sorry; I am such a loser.”

She exhaled, glanced into my eyes, and then smiled. “You should have told me, Karan. I really didn’t expect anything from you, and I just want to fulfil what you wanted; that’s it” she said and rubbed my hair.

“Really?” She nodded.

“Thank God” I exhaled with great relief.

“By the way, who is that friend helping you talk?” she said, folding her hands.

“Wait for a second,” I said, and walked up to Aryan’s table but strangely, he wasn’t there. I looked around. “Aryan, where are you?”

I then glanced at the waiter who served us; he pointed his hand under the table. I kneeled and pushed the table cloth. Aryan was hiding like a thief and chewing on an apple. “What are you doing here?” I whispered

“Hiding from you, knucklehead,” he said, with a straight face. “Come out. I told Rashmi everything.”

“No, I don’t want to come,” he said, shaking his head.

I took him into my arms and we reached our table. I made him stand behind her. “What! I can’t believe that your friend is a 10-year-old boy and that he is giving you suggestions to talk,” she said, with a bit of surprise.

“Sorry,” Aryan said, “All that happened because of his stupidity. Actually, I was trying to make him say good words to you.”

“No, you said wrong things,” I said, looking towards Aryan.

I was offended. “No, you.”

“No, it was you, accept it” I continued, still offended. “No, you.”

It was my first fight with him.

“C’mon. Stop it, both of you,” Rashmi interrupted; we then rolled our eyes down. She was smart and understood everything about us. “Now, both of you shake hands with each other.”

We both shook hands. For the next few minutes, we narrated our friendship to her, briefly. We had our dinner while sharing jokes and Aryan explained to her how I blew up with every girl. She appeared as she enjoyed it. After completing our dinner, we headed down in the lift; Aryan and I stood behind her.

“What should I say now?” I whispered.

“Why are you asking me? I am sure you will blow that up, too,” he whispered back.

“Even though you are both whispering, I can still hear you,” Rashmi said, without turning around.

I squeezed his arm as a sign of asking for his answer, but Aryan gave a shout.

“What happened?” Rashmi asked, turning around to us. “Nothing. It was a mosquito,” Aryan replied, rubbing his arm.

When Rashmi left from the lift, Aryan caught my shirt collar and bent me down. “Listen, you dumb head; this will be my last suggestion—ask her for a walk and kiss her on her cheek.”

“You mean, now?”

“Yes, nowwwww” Aryan replied, pulling his hair out. He was frustrated.

I chased Rashmi and stood in front of her, blocking her way. “Rashmi, shall we take a walk?” I said, with confidence.

“Yes sure, why not!” she smiled, “I guess that’s part of the date.”

We then walked for five minutes in the moonlight and I praised her beauty with confidence. Finally, I kissed her on the cheek. She kissed me back on my cheek and hugged me tightly. For one moment, I forgot this world and felt like I was in heaven. I was moved to tears, slightly. I wiped my tears quickly. “I wish I was not engaged and you would live forever; bye Karan. I will be recalling this moment until my last breath.” She walked back to her car and left me. But I was still stuck in that hugging position. When I came back into this world, I couldn’t imagine that I was on earth. I glanced at Aryan; he was waiting for me and I could see him.

“Aryan” I ran towards him, shouting his name repeatedly. “What happened?” Aryan asked,

I hugged him tightly and said, “You are my best friend.

Thank you very much.”

“You don’t have to thank me because you are my friend,” he said, over my shoulder.


It took a lot of time to find Aryan’s parents, and I didn’t tell him that I’d found his parents’ address because I knew there must be a strong reason for them to have left Aryan behind. I reached the location of his house, but I was not able to find his house due to similar-looking infrastructure around. The whole locality appeared as if it belonged to poor people. A few women were washing their clothes and dishes in front of their houses. Everyone was staring at me as if I was a mysterious person from another planet. The ground was muddy and when I glanced down, I saw that my black shoe had become brown. I stared at every house for a matching house number. After walking a few steps ahead, I saw a middle-aged man. He wore a blue, dusty shirt.

I walked to him and asked, “Excuse me, could you please tell me how I can reach this address?” I gave my piece of paper with the address written on it.

He scanned the address for a moment and exhaled cigarette smoke from his mouth, “Go straight, it’s the third house.” His eyes were expressionless.

“Thank you,” I said.

I walked as instructed and reached the desired address; it was a small house with a wooden door. I knocked twice on the door. A fair woman who covered her hair with a saree opened the door and said, “Yes, how can I help you?”

She resembled Aryan.

“Can I meet Mr. Akhilesh?” She blinked.

“Yes, please come in,” she said, in a well-mannered way.

I followed her into the house. The house had white walls with cement flooring. There were two wooden chairs, “Please be seated; he will come.”

I glanced around and saw that there were only two rooms in that house. The room smelled of polish and the surface gleamed light grey. There was a wooden cupboard, which was filled with Aryan’s and his brother’s pictures. In every picture, Aryan was smiling and hugging his brother. I got up, walked to the cupboard, and held one of Aryan’s pictures in which he was kissing his dad. I put the photograph carefully back in the closet. I wondered what the reason could be for casting Aryan away if his parents loved him so much.

What could be the reason? Why did they leave Aryan? From the pictures, it seemed that Aryan’s parents loved him very much. His mother came from the kitchen and knocked on the door of the bathroom, which was in the hall. “Suraj.”

“Yes,” he replied from inside. “Someone has come for you.”

“Ok I will be there in five minutes,” he said.

I sat back on the wooden chair, cross-legged. I stared at the cupboard, and there was a picture of Aryan in the photo frame. After a few seconds, a man in his mid-forties walked out of the bathroom, rubbing his head. He looked at me, “Yes Sir, how can I help you?”

“My name is Karan.”

“OK,” he said and sat in front of me, while he continued rubbing his wet hair.

“I am a friend of Aryan’s.”

His mom came out from the kitchen after hearing the name, and she took two steps towards me. I saw the curiosity in her eyes.

“Is Aryan your son?” I asked

His mom’s eyes became baffled, Aryans father rolled his eyes down; I could see guilt in his eyes and I realized something was wrong.

“We don’t know any Aryan, Sir, we don’t have any son,” he said looking away.

“Please don’t say that. I came here after finding your names out from the Aadhaar card’s link. I can understand that there must be a strong reason for you to have left your son. Please tell me the reason why you left him.”

He didn’t say anything for a few seconds.

“No Sir, we don’t know Aryan” his father replied looking away; he was breathing fast.

His mom started weeping. I sensed that something was wrong and understood that they were lying intentionally.

“Aryan loves you very much, and he misses you every day.” His father’s eyes reddened.

“He often tells me about how you guys used to play chess together, “I said.

Even his father couldn’t control his tears. “Yes, he is our son, and it was hard to leave him. However, what could we do? We didn’t have any option left. His elder brother became sick, we were out of money, and we decided to leave Aryan in an orphanage so that we could save some money and use them on his brother’s treatment. Without him, our life has become pathetic. His absence in our life has created a void, and we cry every day when we think about him. His elder brother is in the hospital, and he asks about Aryan often,” he explained.

“What happened to his brother?”

“He is suffering from a heart problem. We admitted him to a hospital after we left Aryan. Doctors are asking us to pay money for his treatment. We don’t know how to pay such a huge amount,” Aryan’s mother said, covering her mouth. She was slurring her words.

I didn’t force them because I understood that they were suffering a lot for their two sons. My heart sank when they revealed their problems and the reason for leaving Aryan.

“How is Aryan?” his father asked, finally. “He is fine; he is in that same orphanage.” “Is he happy?”

“He is, but he misses you very much,” I said.

“How do you know Aryan?” his mom asked, rubbing her nose.

“I met him accidentally in that orphanage, and we have become good friends since then. Aryan changed my life; because of him I met my parents again and learned that ‘time is not money’ and that life is being with your family and enjoying with your friends—who can’t be bought with money—and that life is falling in love and being with them for the rest of your life.” “He is like that; he never made us sad. He was full of energy even though he was blind. He made our small house like a palace. We all miss his beautiful smile, and I don’t know why God is punishing us like this.”

I didn’t want to tell them to take Aryan back, because I thought it wouldn’t be appropriate in that situation. First, I decided to solve Aryan’s family’s problems, and I wanted him to be happy when he steps back into his house.

“Can I come with you to the hospital to see Aryan’s brother?” “But why, sir?”

“Please don’t say no, I want to see his brother once.”

He glanced at his wife and said, “OK sir, as you wish. However, please sir. Don’t file any complaint with the cops that we abandoned our child.”

“No, sir! Why would I do that? I am a friend of Aryan’s. He is my best friend. Even you are close to me. I want to see him, sir.”

He rolled his eyes down. “OK sir, your wish.”

We visited the hospital where Aryan’s brother was admitted. It was not an advanced one; Aryan’s brother was in the general ward. There were many children like him. Aryan’s brother appeared a little like him. He was weak and fair. The medicine’s smell touched my nostrils. I was shattered to see Aryan’s brother. He appeared very sick. He looked completely opposite to his previous pictures with Aryan. He was sleeping peacefully on his bed.

He opened his eyes when he saw me, “Dad, who is he?” I half-smiled, “I am a friend of Aryan’s.”

“Where is my brother? My parents are not bringing him to the hospital for months. How is he? I want to see him” Aryan’s brother asked, and tried to get up from the bed.

“Don’t worry. He is fine and doing well.” I kept my hand on his head and consoled. He settled back on his bed, calmly.

A doctor walked up the bed and checked his pulse. “Doctor, is everything all right?” I asked.

The doctor was young, probably in his mid-twenties. He glanced at me and said, “No, he is not; we have to do an open- heart surgery on him as soon as possible, or else he will die.” Giving him medication is temporary,” the doctor said, and then shifted to other patients.

I stared at Aryan’s father. “What to do, sir. We don’t have enough money for his surgery”.

I decided to help Aryan’s brother, and I felt like my brother was suffering from a severe health issue. I gave a silent promise with my eyes to Aryan’s brother. Aryan’s father and I walked out of the ward. “Sir, I want to help your son; I will bear the entire expenditure of his surgery.”

“No sir, I can’t take your money,” he shook his head. “Please sir, you are Aryan’s family and you all are like my family too. Please don’t say no. When I leave this world, I want Aryan to lead a happy and prosperous life.”

“What do you mean by that?” he asked.

“I am about to die. I have cancer, and I could die at any moment. It’s my last wish; please don’t say no.”

He nodded his head and held my hand. “We thought we could save Aryan’s brother by abandoning him, but he is saving his brother despite being away.”

“Don’t worry, sir. Now that I am here, I will look after everything. First, we will shift him to a good hospital. Also, we will plan for the surgery.”

He gave a hysterical sigh; “You are like a God for us, sir,” he held my hand and kept his forehead on my hands.

“No sir, you are like my family,” I said, “Shall I bring Aryan to the hospital?”

“Don’t do that, sir. He will break down and feel afraid when he comes to know about his brother’s condition. We will bring him back home after his brother’s recovery.”

I felt happy when his father said that he would bring him back home. I thought about Aryan’s happiness and how he would react after meeting his parents.

We shifted Aryan’s brother to a super-specialty hospital in the city. I paid all the fees for his surgery in advance, as I didn’t want to take the risk, because of my unpredictable life span. I imagined Aryan’s happy life with his family after my death— and he was smiling and playing with his brother.


After the surgery, Aryans' brother recovered from his heart problem after three months. I didn’t tell him about his family due to my promise to his father. Aryan’s parents had decided to take him back home. I knew that that would be a great day in Aryan’s life. I wanted to surprise Aryan; so, we visited the Orphans’ Home. I walked into his room alone, and he was singing a song and dusting his bedsheets.


He turned towards me with a wide smile. “Karan, my friend, where have you been for a week? I have missed you very much.” He then walked to me; I kneeled down and gave him a hug. He touched my face with a broad grin.

“Aryan, I have a surprise for you.” “Surprise? What is it?”

“Just come with me; I will show you,” I said.

“Karan, you often forget; I can’t see because I am blind,” he smiled.

“OK then; you can feel it” I convinced him. “OK, take me.”

I held his hand and took him to the Father’s room. His parents’ eyes turned watery with much joy, but they remained silent after seeing him because I had told them that I wanted to surprise him. The Father was staring at us silently from his seat. “Aryan, today will be a special day in your life,” Father said.

“Really, why is that?” he kept a quizzical expression.

I leaned down and looked at Aryan. “Aryan, the day has come: The day which you were waiting for has come, at last.”

“Which day?” he asked.

“The day of meeting your parents” I added. “Karan, don’t make any jokes.”

“No Aryan, I am not joking. I found your parents and brought them here,” I explained.

He was puzzled. “Where are they?” Aryan asked.

“Right in front of you,” I mumbled and made him turn towards them.

“Aryan, my boy!” his dad said.

Aryan’s attention moved to his dad’s position, “Dad!” “Aryan!” his mom and brother said, one after the other. “Mom and brother!” Aryan said, “Are you here for real?” “Yes, my boy” his dad replied. Aryan had a surprised expression.

He walked towards the corner of the room and kept his head against the wall. “I don’t want to talk to them; tell them to go away.”

I didn’t know what to say and I wondered why Aryan behaved like that. I was the only person close to him and remembered how much he had missed his parents.

He shook his head. His parents and brother walked to him and leaned behind him, “Aryan my son, we are sorry; we didn’t leave you deliberately; we had our issues,” his parents said, with tears.

He was still hiding his face, “No. I don’t want to talk to you, please go away,” Aryan said, crying against the wall, “You left me alone because I am blind and you don’t like me.”

“No Aryan, you are wrong. We always loved you very much. We were out of money, Aryan, and we didn’t have any option other than to leave you” his mom and dad held his shoulders. Aryan was still not interested in showing his face to them.

“Please, brother, don’t behave like that.”

“Even you don’t like me, and that’s the reason you left me,” Aryan said shaking his head.

“No brother, I love you very much. I was sick ever since you left me. I have asked about you every day to dad and mom. However, they never told me the facts about you.”

“We are sorry Aryan. We are born poor, and we thought leaving you was the only option for us. We were out of money for your brother’s treatment, and we had no option but to leave you. There was not one day when we didn’t think about you; we have missed you every day. Probably, you wouldn’t be seeing your brother and us if your friend Karan had not met us.”

Aryan turned around and hugged his parents and brother. “I missed you dad, mom, and brother. I missed you every moment,” his dad and mom kissed his cheeks repeatedly and embraced him.

His mom wiped his tears and kissed his forehead. “My cute little boy.”

“I missed you mom, and I missed all of you.” “Even we all missed you” she hugged him, firmly.

I was watching them and didn’t blink even once because I thought I would miss something which no one could see.

“How are you feeling now, brother?” Aryan asked, holding his hand

“I am fine right now, just like before. However, doctors have told me not to play for a few months until I recover completely. Your friend came into our lives like an angel and helped us and reunited us,” his brother answered.

Aryan walked up to me and hugged me tightly, “Thank you, Karan, for bringing my family back. You are my best friend; you have changed my life.”

I touched his cheek, “No Aryan, you have changed my life. All my life, I was chasing money but your arrival in my life changed it. You taught me that ‘time is not just money.’ Time is being with your family, spending some precious and happy moments with your friends and loved ones. You changed my life—else, I would have committed suicide when I knew I could die at any moment.’

“But why did you help my family?”

“Because I am your friend, Aryan; your pain and problems are mine too” I replied.

“From now on, promise me that you will visit me every day and we will play together every day at my house—and that you will drop me in school every day.”

I thought for a moment and thought that that would be the right time to tell him the truth about death.

“No Aryan, my infection has spread to other body parts. I am sure to die at any moment.”

“But you said that still, you can talk to me through the phone, from another world.” I took a moment for it to pass and held my breath, closing my eyes. I felt the blood drain from my face, “No Aryan, I lied to you. There will be no seeing or talking after my death. I will be leaving this world forever.”

“I don’t want to live without you, Karan; please don’t say that” Aryan started crying.

I couldn’t resist my tears and even I started crying. “I am sorry Aryan. I have checked my cornea, and it is a perfect match for your eyes. You will see this world through my eyes after my death.”

He touched my tears, “I don’t want to see this world without Karan, and I would rather be blind. Please don’t leave me like this.”

I took him into my arms.

“Neither do I want to leave this world.” I looked into his eyes and held his cheeks, “Aryan, you taught me the real meaning of life. You taught me that time is not for earning money; time is for spending time with your friends and spending quality time with your family. It’s enjoying every moment of your life.”

He shook his head again, with tears.

“Your presence gave me great memories and I am sure I will smile, thinking about our memories, till my death. You are my first and last friend.”

Aryan still did not believe that I would be leaving him forever. I understood how much he loved me.

“How could I live without you, Karan?’ I knew my answer would be disappointing for him, but still, I couldn’t avoid it. I knew it was the right time to reveal the meaning of death.

“I have made a fixed deposit of some amount in your account. With that, you will get a decent life and outstanding education. With that, you will be leading a happy life without any hurdles.”

Aryan shook his head. “I don’t want to live without you, my friend. You are the only friend I got in this world. Who will play with me? Who will take me for bike rides and who will take me to eat Pani-puris?”

“I too want to do all those things which you said. However, time is short, Aryan. I am sorry for hurting you.”

“We will go to the doctor and I will ask him to save your life; I will never let you die.”

“Even the doctors can do nothing. There is no cure for my cancer; it has spread to the remaining parts of my body. No one can save me in this world now,” I detailed.

How could I explain to that innocent child about death? How could I convince him? How could I tell him that I loved him very much?

“Please don’t leave me, Karan, please don’t leave me” Aryan cried uncontrollably.

His father walked up to us, took him into his arms, and looked at me, “Please take him” I muttered. I knew that Aryan would burst out when he came to know about the meaning of death, but I had no option.

He nodded his head and lifted him into his arms.

“I don’t want to leave my friend; why does he have to die?” Aryan wailed.

I didn’t want Aryan to see my death, because no friend would want to watch his friend’s death. He was my best friend and I didn’t want him to know that I was going forever.

When he was leaving, I cried like a child. Even for me, it was excruciatingly painful when he was leaving. I felt very lonely for a few seconds when he left me. Father walked up to me and said, “Don’t cry, my child. This is life, and we have to accept it. Life is birth, pain, joy, and death. No one can halt or skip any one of these in their life.”

I wiped my tears, nodded my head, and felt happy thinking about the carefree life of Aryan with his family. I wished him a prosperous life ahead and I was sure he would be pleased with the money I deposited in the bank in his name. I wanted him to excel in education and his future. I lost the pain of my death when I thought of how Aryan would see this world with my eyes; I imagined his smiling face.


It had been more than a month since I started avoiding Aryan. My cancer spread to the remaining parts of the body, which eventually made my legs paralyzed. I started using a motorized wheelchair. On that Sunday morning, Aryan called me many times but I hesitated to pick his call because I knew he would be pained if he was with me. I always wanted him to be happy, and I didn’t want him to cry on my grave. I realized avoiding him was the most painful thing—even more painful than my death. I missed him every day. I stopped going out despite my parent’s pressure.

On that night, I was having dinner with my parents, in silence. I could hear clinking sounds of the spoon on the plates. Dad and mom were lost in some thoughts; I was eating vegetable salad reluctantly. Mom and dad had chicken tortillas. I could see their unhappiness. I felt guilty, and I knew I was the reason behind their grief. I stopped eating and wiped my mouth.

“What happened, Karan?” dad asked, with food in his mouth.

“Nothing dad, I am not hungry” I replied.

“You didn’t even have half of the food,” mom said, chewing. I turned around in my wheelchair.

Dad and mom blocked my way and knelt in front of me. “What happened, Karan? Why did you leave your dinner halfway?” mom asked.

I looked at the floor. “Why should I eat mom? Just tell me one single reason,” I asked.

“Why are you talking like this, Karan?” dad questioned.

I stayed silent for a second and then said, “I don’t feel like eating anymore; I wish I could die as early as possible. Look at me; I am nothing less than a corpse with disabled legs. I live in fear of death every day and every moment. I don’t want to live like this; please release me from this excruciating pain.”

“We can understand you, dear,” mom said; her face had become gloomy.

I shook my head to mean ‘No.’

“No, you don’t understand. I don’t want to live like this. Please let me finish this—I can’t live this like this” I said and cried. “I don’t want to live this life; please let me die.”

I felt sick, and I felt like the earth was slipping away under my foot.

“Why do you think about death? Just assume everything is normal,” dad suggested.

I glanced at dad, “Look at me, dad. I can’t even pee on my own. The pain in my stomach is hurting me every second. No medicine can cure my disease; neither can they remove the stress, which I am going through. Please, dad, I want to die; I don’t want to live this life; I have lost hope of living.”

“Please Karan; try to be strong,” mom said.

I nodded, not looking at anyone. “It’s easy to talk, but hard to be a victim.”

How could I explain to them about my pain, which was physical and mental? I knew no one could understand my pain. How could anyone have the slightest clue of what I was going through?

“Please dad, mom–give me the way.” They stood aside. I turned on the forward button, went to my room, and slammed the door on my parents’ face. I wished not to live anymore and thought about my death repeatedly. Every minute was like a day for me. No one could understand me and my endless pain. I didn’t even turn on the room’s lights. I felt that darkness was my only companion and death, my single destination. I pushed myself on the floor from the wheelchair and crawled towards the phone as I felt like talking to Aryan. I opened the call list but curbed my anxiety and thought about the happy times with Aryan and quit having thoughts of talking to him.

I laid back on the floor and thought about Aryan and how we used to be happy together. His memories were the only ones to console me in moments like this.

However, after a while, dad knocked on my room door.” Karan, Aryan is calling you.”

I stared at the door.

” Tell him not to call me,” I said, timorously, even though I was very anxious to talk to him.

“Aryan wants to talk to you; he says you have been avoiding him for the past many days.” Dad’s voice was swaddling as if his lips were close to the door.

“Go away,” I said, with silent tears.

“Aryan, Karan doesn’t want to talk to you,” dad said, through the phone.

Dad then turned on the speaker, “Karan” I heard Aryans' voice.

The moment I heard his voice, tears rolled down my cheeks. “Karan, please talk to me; why are you avoiding me?”

I kept the bedsheet in my mouth and cried. I wanted to talk to Aryan but resisted my temptation.

“Karan, please, my friend. You are the only friend I have in this world. Please talk to me. Without you, the whole world seems boring, my friend. Neither do I want this life, nor do I want your eyes after your death. What’s the meaning of seeing this world without you, Karan? I want to be with you, my friend. Please, Karan, talk to me. Without you, my own family members seem like strangers.”

“Please Karan, open the door and talk to Aryan. Why are you hurting everyone?”

I wiped my nose and eyes. How could I tell him that I didn’t want him to be hurt after my death? How could I explain to him that I wanted him happy even after my death?

“Karan, please buddy” Aryan reiterated.

I remained silent.

“Ok Aryan, I will let you know if he wants to talk to you. Good night” dad said. I saw the shadow of dad on the floor going away from my room door. I opened the pictures of Aryan and me, in my phone gallery. I saw his happy face and smiled. I prayed to God that he should have a comfortable and great life after I was gone.

I then checked my mobile, and there were several messages sent by Aryan.

“Talk to me, Karan.” “Please, my friend!” “You are my best friend.”

“Without you, the world seems boring.”

“Let’s go out and have Pani-puri, Karan. I even stopped eating without you.”

I felt guilty for avoiding him for more than a month. I felt like a demon for hurting that innocent boy’s heart. However, what option did I have after I saw the way he cried at leaving me? I couldn’t even imagine how he would cry after my death. I was afraid that my death might haunt him in his future because I knew no friend would want to see his friend dead.

My fear of death was like a nightmare, and I was sweating all over my body. I was shivering due to fear of death. I had lost hope. I thought about my death, repeatedly. My concern was out of my control. My heart was thumping and I could feel it beneath my chest. I didn’t want to die so soon; I felt like the unluckiest person on the planet. I climbed on my bed with my hands, crawled on my bed, and lay myself down. Then, I went into a deep slumber. At 11:00 p.m., I opened my eyes. I could feel that my eyes were swollen due to tears.

Mom and dad knocked on my door and requested me to keep the door open until 12 midnight, but I hesitated to. The pain in my intestines was hurting me severely and I had lost faith and hope. I didn’t sleep that night. I lay awake on my bed, staring at the ceiling. I was filled with horror. My heart was smacking rapidly. Sweat had wrapped my body. I lay in bed until my thoughts oppressed and petrified me to the point where I couldn’t bear their weight and slept, at 5:00 a.m.

How could I live each day knowing that I could die at any moment? How would I look, after my death? Would my parents bury me or burn me into ashes? How could I live with this trepidation?


I was depressed and had stopped taking care of myself. My beard and hair grew thick and long. I had lost hope of my recovery and was stuck between death and life. I wished to die as soon as possible. However, God was punishing me more, and I thought he was not satisfied with what I had been through. I stopped talking to my parents, too. I was living like a dead man with immense pain, physically and mentally.

That evening, I was in my backyard, alone, staring at the floor silently. My jaw was touching my chest. I felt my heartbeat, which was lower than before. I could feel my lungs burning in my chest. I thought about Aryan and felt happy that he will be leading his new life happily. Suddenly, my wheelchair made a jerk. I diverted my attention to its wheels. After a second, it jerked again and spun around.

“What the heck!” I struggled to talk.

It moved forward and backward. I realized something was wrong with my motorized wheelchair, I searched for the remote controller, but I couldn’t find it.

The wheelchair started moving towards the pool. “Mom, dad” I shouted, but no one came for me. My wheelchair escalated its speed and rammed towards the pool. “Mom” I yelled loudly. I thought I would crash into the pool, and closed my eyes. However, it didn’t hit anything. It halted a few inches away from the swimming pool. Then, it spun around and moved towards the big tree. I thought my wheelchair was out of control. I yelled for help but no one came for me. I looked around; Aryan was standing a little away from me and was operating my wheelchair with the help of the remote controller.

“Aryan! Stop!” I shouted.

“Why did you avoid me all these days?” he said.

“I am sorry,” I continued shouting. My voice was echoing all over my house’s backyard.

My wheelchair raced towards the big tree. “No, no, stop it Aryaaaaaaaaaaaaaan.” I thought it was going to hit against the wide tree and I closed my eyes. Unexpectedly, it stopped. I opened my eyes and looked around me.

“Thank God” I mumbled.

Aryan then spun around my wheelchair. He then directed the wheelchair towards himself and he made it spin around in the same spot, non-stop.

“Why did you avoid me?” he asked. I couldn’t see his face. I felt like the whole world was spinning around me.

“Aryan, please stop it. I am losing my mind,” I shouted, “I am sorryyyyyyyyyyy.”

He halted my wheelchair and I looked at him. He ambled towards me and stood in front of me. “Tell me the reason, Karan?”

I couldn’t say the reason.

He then kept his ear close to my heart and listened to my heartbeat, “You are sad; there is something, which is bothering you. What is it, Karan?”

“How do you know I am suffering?” I asked.

“I am your friend, Karan; who else can understand better than me about my friend’s suffering?” he answered.

I rolled my eyes down. “I am sorry, Aryan.”

“What is bothering you? I want to know the answer. I am not asking you the reason for avoiding me; tell me the reason behind your pain.”

I felt guilty for suppressing the facts and I had decided to tell him the truth.

“I didn’t want you to see my death, and that’s the reason I am avoiding you,” I confessed.

“What about your suffering?” he questioned.

“I am fed up with this life. I don’t want to live like this anymore; I want to die.”

I stared at him, and he lifted his eyes to look at me. He looked utterly fed up.

“Why?” he asked with an expressionless face.

“Because I have lost hope. Look at me; I am in a wheelchair with useless legs. Who knows, it could become worse in the future. Moreover, I want to die as soon as possible.”

Aryan threw the remote away and started crying. I couldn’t see his tears, “Aryan, please don’t cry. I don’t want you to cry because of me, I can’t bear to see my friend cry.”

However, he didn’t stop crying.

I moved towards him and held his shoulders. “Please Aryan, don’t cry. I can’t see you in tears.”

He then hugged me tightly, “Even I can’t see you in tears.

You are my only friend. You said that I am your best buddy.” “Of course, you are. And you will always be, Aryan,” I confessed.

Aryan’s voice emerged through his gritted teeth. “Then why do you think about death?”

“Try to understand me Aryan; I have lost hope.” I felt my eyes brim with tears.

He touched my eyes and wiped my teardrops; I rubbed his tears too. “You know Karan when I was born with blindness, I never cried about it and accepted the truth. When my parents left me in an orphanage, I waited every day at the gate and hoped that one day my parents would come for me. Then, one fine day, you came into my life, searched for my family, and brought me here. Just tell me one thing; if I had thought about death and lost hope when I was alone for two years, would I have been able to meet my parents?”

I did not have an answer to his question; I remained silent. “We should always have faith in our destiny. Who knows—you could even live forever.”

I saw hope in his blind eyes and regained my confidence to live again. I realized that he was right. I thought maybe I would live. He then handed me a drawing of his family. He added my picture beside his family and named it ‘My best friend.’

“Are you sure, Aryan, that I could live?”

“I am telling you, Karan. You will live; just keep hope and faith in yourself” he replied, and half-smiled.

“But how can I live like this on this wheelchair; I can’t even walk, run or roam about.”

“I am here for you, my friend; we will do all those things which we used to do earlier,” he said.

“We will play games and dance in the rain. I promise you, that I will be a part of all your happy and sad moments,” he said. “You might have lost your legs, but not me, my friend.”

I felt fortunate for having a friend like Aryan in my life. “Really?” I said, in a weak tone.

He nodded, “Yes, Karan. I might be blind but I will become your legs, and I will make you forget that you are paralyzed.”

I didn’t know what to say; probably, I was lost and mesmerized in his words. He appeared like my whole world for me, at that moment.

“Thank you, Aryan.”

“Friends don’t say thanks to each other. C’mon, let’s go for a ride and eat ‘Pani-puri” he said and rubbed my hair.

“I am sorry, my friend. I can’t ride that bike now.”

He glanced at my wheelchair and smiled, “You are sitting on the bike right now; you tell me the way, and I will operate remotely, with my hands.”

I smiled; he smiled too.

He then sat on my lap, and I told him the way. He took me out of my home after many days. I saw the rebirth of me and stared at the sky. It appeared pleasant. He may have been younger than me, but his words gave me strength and hope. Aryan’s chin was touching my jaw and we turned around the street. Aryan was making bike noises from his mouth, which gave me a real feeling of riding a bike.

“Karan, tell me the way quickly; I am feeling hungry,” Aryan said.

“Go straight.”

He drove my wheelchair straight and continued making bike sounds with his mouth.

“Turn left and then take a quick right,” I said.

Aryan gave me faith in my life. I thought that I could live and lose the fear of death. I smelled the fresh air, looked around, and felt like I was riding the bike.

We traveled on the busy roads as if we both were riding a bike. Everyone around us stared at us, “Beep, beeeeeeeeeeeep,” Aryan mimicked the honking sound with his mouth, for a motorcycle in front of us.

Tears rolled down my cheeks, not because I was dying but for having such a fantastic friend in my life. I thought how could I die and hoped that Aryan would be beside me even in my worst conditions; I regained hope.