“Dear Satish , return home immediately.... Anyone giving information about Satish will be suitably rewarded....” Satish read this ad in newspaper and was in tears again. Today was the fourth day since he ran away from his home. He had stolen 50 rupees from his home before running away. He was left with only 8 rupees. Rest was spent in food, cigarettes and films. A storm was building up within him.
Satish was a student of X Std in school. He fell in bad company. Once fallen, he could not rise out of it, though he wanted to. A Bully boy of the class befriended Satish. In recess they would sit together in the school canteen, beginning with sharing tea, he offered cigarette to Satish. Satish refused. Bully boy insisted, persuaded. “No one would know at home! It is not bad”. “Ok, your father smokes, had it been bad, he’d not have been smoking, no?” He is such a big, educated wise man. If cigarette was bad you think, he’d have been smoking? And so many others who smoke? Are they all uneducated unwise? Satish had no answer for such questions. He would take a puff or two. Soon he was smoking packets, as if he has been smoking for years. The same bully persuaded him to bunk and go for films. Initial hesitation and soon Satish would yield. Soon he was addicted to tea, cigarette and films. Studies became secondary, rather disappeared from his scheme of things. He hated school. He had learnt to cheat his parents, his teachers and above all, himself.
He started stealing money from home. Once caught stealing 20 rupees, he was beaten mercilessly by his already harassed father.
Same bully came forward to Satish. Get some big amount from your home and let us go to
. We’ll do some job there. My Mama (uncle) is there. We’ll do acting in films. He will help us get a break in films. What is this? Parents are always firing, scolding. Why? Our parents have done nothing for us except for giving birth to us. If they’ve given birth, then it is their duty to bring us up, bear our expenses. Don’t we work for the whole day like an ox – bringing vegetables, running errand, procuring ration from the shop, fetching milk from dairy. We are worst then a domestic servant. Satish again thought. Janardhan was right. He didn’t need any further convincing. Bombay
Last three nights he has spent like a fugitive urchin. He longed for warmth of his bed. Mummy’s affectionate kiss on forehead. Suddenly, Satish recalled how his brothers and sister must be feeling. He thought of mother’s despair and father’s embarrassment. His heart was sinking, cursing him. He hated himself for inflicting wound on so many. He ran... and ran... And did not stop till he was standing facing the main gate of his house. Door opened, next moment, head in his mother’s lap he was crying uncontrollably “If a person loses his way in morning but comes back well before evening he is not lost, all is well that ends well” said his father caressing Satish on his head. Satish further hid in his mother’s lap.
(Published as ‘Subah ka bhoola’ in Nav Bharat Times 26th Aug. 1973)