In search of a “Dost”


Arshad Dijoo

“Aaju” was born to parents who were well educated civilized and caring and worked for the government. Aaju after his birth was cared well and groomed properly in his early days and things were moving smoothly as life was beautiful on track and quite normal.

But as fate had it in store Aaju lost his mother at an early age which were still his nursing days. And due to this separation no further lactation was possible for his proper nourishment and survival. His father took all pains to raise up Aaju with baby foods available those days.

Somehow Aaju managed to grow up and survived the scare. His father left nothing to fate and took keen interest to comfort Aaju who was now his “precious baby” and only child to look upon in life.

As days passed Aaju started to sprout and grow steadily with Aaju’s father focused on him only and therefore didn’t think of a remarriage at all though eligible. The father-son due were wedded to each other as loners and having only one another to rely upon emotionally.

This bond grew stronger and stronger as days passed. Then came the day when Aaju was admitted to a school in the vicinity by his father. And Aaju set upon a new sojourn while his father nurtured him with a focused mind. As Aaju kept growing as a kid his father forgotten to marry again and his sole purpose of life only revolved around Aaju now. Later Aaju’s father permanently sacrificed his instincts of a conjugal life for the fear that Aaju’s step mother may maltreat him all along. Therefore Aaju’s father never married again for Aaju.

This way life moved on and Aaju grew up into a young and charming Adult all along being taken care of by his father and he too  sought his undivided attention. His father never made Aaju feel any infirmity at home  by singlehandedly catering to each of his needs.

Aaju graduated out and joined research and his father provided every support though now slipping into his old age and post retirement life. Years continued to roll as Aaju was now a young adult and a  University passout who started his career in his native city. But as Aaju grew stronger and younger Aaju’s father equally grew older by the day. Although the bond now was much stronger between them as they had spent many years of life together in one house with nobody else to look upon.

Aaju started to repay his adorable father by taking equal care of his needs. Health wise Aaju’s father grew weeker and frail as Aaju continued being his support in his older days.

But due to his falling health a day came earlier than expected when Aaju’s father developed certain symptoms and left this world and luckily for Aaju his father departed while resting his head peacefully in the lap of his beloved son. Aaju saw his father leaving, his eyes closing and his heart pausing.

The gulf with Aaju widened further as Aaju busied himself arranging for the funeral of his father by whose side Aaju had spent many years of his life.

Things went calmly as Aaju saw his father being lowered into the grave. Tears quickly rolled and mixed with the soil and then went into the grave of his father.

Suddenly now Aaju is all alone after death of his father. Empty house, Empty rooms and hollowness everwhere in life especially in his home.

Aaju mustered courage and decided to live for his father for his grace and to continue with his legacy. But as his father did Aaju too found peace in seclusion and solitary  confines of his home. Aaju started to live a shadow life of his father where he had always watched the loneliness of his father with fewer complaints. So Aaju continued to delay his marriage and started to lead a life more loneliear than what his father had lead. Again years started to pass quickly as Aaju learned to balance his home with outer life meticulously and increasedly found peace in seclusion.

Aaju much like his father maintained his house well and picked up threads from where his father had left. In late afternoons or evenings Aaju used to return to his solitary home and immediately after stepping in Aaju used to lit up his home and used to get busy with the household chores with his own self to rely upon.

Steadily he found peace with himself and carried on by declining to marry.

One fine afternoon when Aaju returned his home he felt a housefly had creeped in from somewhere disturbing peace by his buzzing sound in the otherwise silent household.

For coming few days Aaju felt the buzz of this housefly in his house thereby disturbing his routine. Exasperated Aaju many times though unsuccessfully tried to hit hard at the housefly with a striker. That was not to be and the housefly often continued to fly past Aaju’s ear with an irritating buzz and easily succeeded in it’s plans. And whenever Aaju tried to follow the housefly room wise in his home the housefly gave him a slip by hiding in some dinghy corner of his house. Tired many times Aaju offered a safe exit to the housefly by opening doors and windows of his house.

To his chagrin Aaju realised that the housefly was no longer interested in outer world and was comfortable living indoors alongside him.

Unnoticed and out of mind after many more days Aaju suddenly learnt certain things about this unique housefly that it was comfortable to live in his house and no longer interested to move out.

Aaju also found certain special characteristics of this housefly and it’s adaptive skills. That it no longer irritates Aaju by siting on his face or head nor disturbed him while taking meals.

Aaju started finding great things about this housefly that it had started developing affinity with Aaju and his house. Realizing a much empty house with only a single soul as inhabitant this housefly had found affinity with Aaju and in ecstacy used to revolve round his head and sit on his forearm or even back of his hand.

Yes it had dawned upon the housefly that besides him there is only one visible creature in this universe and that is Aaju.

Observing some extraordinary traits and adaptations of this housefly Aaju also started to look towards it with affinity and love and as a “soulmate” in his otherwise solitary home with much empty space.

On his return in the late afternoons Aaju again realised that on stepping into his house suddenly from some corner this housefly emerges and starts rotating around his face and neck making buzzing sound. As if it was showing characteristics of a typical bird and seemingly dancing in happiness upon seeing me on my return.

Amazed by all this Aaju decided to name the housefly as “Dost” as it was no less than a friend in his otherwise empty house where he had to spend many hours before the next dawn. Overwhelmed by it’s intelligence matching to that of a bird Aaju found that this dost moves everywhere in his house alongside him. Aaju also realised that it accompanied him to any room or into the lobby he stepped into. Even to bedroom upstairs. Just rotating near his head at a fair distance and occasionally sitting on his  head or forearm.

By now Aaju was firm in his belief that this dost had indeed developed an affinity and a friendship with Aaju thereby filing a deep void in his life. And why not as it was not Aaju only who was a loner but this dost too had nobody now as it had long separated from the world outside. Therefore the dost itself too had found friends with Aaju.

While Aaju used to have his dinner the dost didn’t contaminate his food nor irritated him but steadily used to sit on the Dastarkhaan or simply on the forearm of Aaju.

Post meals Aaju used to leave some pieces of bread on the kitchen counter or drop some drops of milk or curds on the floor so that the dost too finds nourishment during the night or during the day hours while Aaju used to be away.

And once back from work Aaju continued to sense and expect the same story of this dost waiting for him whole day and suddenly emerging from a corner upon his arrival and dance and rotate around him in happiness.

In his thoughts Aaju found it pleasing to find someone back home waiting for him till his arrival. He got fond of this dost and restrained himself from hitting at it with a plastic striker usually available at homes.

But one thing kept rotating in Aaju’s mind that how long this dost can give him company. It is not even a bird with a larger life cycle. It’s a mere housefly with a very limited life period.

Anyways Aaju decided to feel and cherish  the presence of this dost everytime he stepped into his house. It continued for some days. But one fine day as Aaju stepped into his house busy talking on his mobile phone he didn’t realize or remember anything as such. Arguing loudly with a friend Aaju got busy with changing his clothes and suddenly he felt a housefly resting on the almirah handle and hastily he smashed the handle with a rolled newspaper.

Instantly the abdomen of the housefly burst down and it spread onto the almirah handle. Wiping the dirt with the newspaper piece Aaju suddenly realised that he had killed his own dost unknowingly.

For sometime Aaju was all repentant that his dost is gone and nowhere in sight. He went downstairs and into the kitchen and in the lobby.

For many days Aaju tried to put his ears to the buzz of this housefly in his house. But it was nowhere to be found.

Yes indeed for many afternoons Aaju felt the gulf again in his life with nobody to welcome him at home. He wondered how a mere housefly turned his life important and colourful. He could feel the gulf again at his home.

A housefly is a housefly after all. How long it could have lived and accompanied him? Aaju thought.

Delving deep into his thoughts Aaju decided to do something in life before his end came in such a state of loneliness. Although he had decided not to marry in life just to feel the bitterness of the life his dad had lived. Aaju concluded and desired that still he should go out in search of a “Dost” but the  one who is everlasting and atleast having longevity more than his earlier dost.

Aaju for coming months kept searching for this particular “Dost” someone who could live after his end came. He was precisely in search of somebody who lived both alongside him and afterwards in his house and keep it lit when he is himself gone.

In his quest he managed to find a young boy an orphan whose parents and other siblings had died due to an “act of God”. In this find Aaju felt that his search was complete and he indeed had found a needy soul who was in a very bad shape for want of succor.

Aaju brought the boy home. Bathed him and provided him all the necessities of life. After proper grooming the boy sprouted and transformed into a handsome and charming young lad.

Gone where the scars of his eaier life and that accident which had snatched his parents from him.

Pertinently now Aaju had gotten his permanent “Dost” a proper friend who would talk to him…listen to him and feel for him. With this Aaju felt his search was over and he had groomed an orphan and provided him a “better life” with all worldly comforts.

This orphan boy now his dost served Aaju like his own son would have and as Aaju grew older by the day his dost provided him comfort. And during last days of his life this dost by his bedside cajoled and comforted him and Aaju never felt aloof again.

Notably Aaju lived a loner all his life but Aaju never died a loner.

With head in the lap of his dependable dost Aaju breathed his last on a wintery night at his very home which he never wanted to be locked and consigned to darkness after his death.

His dost did all the honors and as the body of Aaju was slowly lowered into his grave beside his own father’s grave his dost was seen bidding adieu with moist eyes.

Visibly the orphan boy too had lost his “Dost” in Aaju.

And while Aaju met his creator his dost continued to live for Aaju.

Unlike Aaju….Aaju’s “Dost” married and lived a cheerful life that Aaju once had wished for himself.

(Author is a Gold Medalist in journalism and associated with certain orgs.)

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