Only He Knows
By Hiranya Borah
Copyright 2016 Hiranya Borah
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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One-day Emperor Akbar the Great asked his trusted courtier Birbal, ‘What is the distance between ‘True and False?’ Birbal said, ‘About two inches.’ When Akbar asked him to explain what he had said, Birbal explained, ‘What you can see, that is true and what you hear may be false. Truth is visible and can be believed without further verification. Hearsay has always to be verified from other relevant materials and evidences. If one believes hearsay, he is likely to commit mistakes in his decision making process.’
Emperor was happy to hear the answer. But at times what you see is also not true. In this book, I try to depict a story where everything was based on falsehood. But everybody, except one person, saw as if everything was right. The right person was implicated wrongly and wrong person was portrayed as an honest person, in a sense, which you have to judge after reading the book. I gave the name of the book as ‘Only He Knows’. Here ‘He’ means the protagonist and the Almighty.
I want to clarify one thing; I always personally believe that no disease can be associated with any misdeed or sin. So sufferings by Seema and Himangshu cannot be associated with their actions. But my emphasis is on the fact that public perception about a person may not be always correct.
Then anyone can ask me, why I repeatedly associate adultery with cancer. The reason is deep rooted in our minds, in our society and in our religions where we always try to associate our sufferings and misfortunes with our misdeeds. I heard the statement made by Seema, ‘I have not done anything wrong, why God has punished me with this particular deadly disease?’ many times in my life in my own mother’s mouth when she was suffering from cancer and many times in many patients’ mouths who were terminally ill. In fact, the sentence I am using repeatedly is a borrowed one!
Once again I thank my readers and Shakespir for their support and cooperation.
Chapter I: Lucky Son
He brought good luck to his family. After three days of his birth, his father got a promotion and his mother got a plot of land in her name from her father. He was adored by his elder sister as her own son, because of the age gap, almost 12 years, between them. However, his elder brother, eight years elder, does not like him considering him as his rival of love and affection from his father. For his parents, he is always a darling! He is Arnav, youngest son of Himangshu and Seema, little brother of Deepankar and Deepanju.
Both Deepankar and Deepanju are brilliant, but once Arnav started going to school, everybody realized, he is extraordinary. Arnav not only brilliant in his studies, but is also brilliant in debating, extempore speech on any subject under the sun. His teachers, who happened to be the teachers of the elder siblings are equivocal about his extra ordinary brilliance.
As he grew to become a teenager, his siblings left their home for higher studies to USA. When Arnav cleared his twelfth, his brother and sister were well settled in USA and Canada respectively. Both his brother and sister invited him to join them after his twelfth. But he refused to join them as he did not want to leave his parents, though his parents also advised him to make his career first, instead of looking after his parents.
After twelfth he joined St. Stephens College as a B. Sc Honours student in Physics despite of the fact that he had cleared IIT entrance examination with ease without joining any coaching course. Many of his family members criticized Himangshu for not sending his son to IIT with little bit of persuasion. But Himangshu knew his son better than anybody else. Himangshu knew, his son would flourish whatever he would do-that would be his destiny.
Himangshu was correct in his assessment of his son, he started his college life with publishing papers with extra ordinary standards to the envy of the seniors as well as junior teachers of the college. All the senior teachers started treating him like a colleague- not as a student. He was not only good in Physics, he was equally good in other three subjects, Chemistry, Mathematics and English.
So far extracurricular activities were concerned, he became the champion in debating and extempore in the college on his first appearance.
Himangshu was becoming a father of Arnav, Arnav was no more the son of Himangshu in public life!!!
Chapter II: Happy Married Life
Himangshu and Seema had a perfect happy married life. Though their marriage was an arranged marriage, they started loving each other from the day one of their married life. Himangshu was an ideal husband who seldom raised his voice on Seema’s fault. Seema always enjoyed her freedom which Himangshu never tried to curtail throughout their married life.
After one year of marriage, the couple was blessed with a daughter and after another four years, they were blessed with a son. Though they did not plan for a third child, another son was born to them after a gap of eight years. Initially, they thought for an abortion, but due to pressure from their peer group and relatives, they abandoned the idea of abortion. However, afterwards they always thank the peer group and relatives for their timely good advice as Arnav, the third child became the cynosure of the whole family for his extraordinary qualities.
In the financial front, the couple was in the upper middle class category and practically they did not have any financial problem in their married life.
Himangshu’s concern for his wife was envy for every wife who knew the couple. Seema was also very possessive about her husband and always guide him in his life as a true partner of life.
As parent also they were successful as all the three children were brilliant in studies and first two became economically independent much before their counterparts could leave their studies. Both of them studied in USA on scholarship as they scored heavily in GRE. Both of them are in good jobs for last few years.
The youngest one, though not settled now, is expected to have an excellent job once he will complete his studies.
Chapter III: The Deadly Disease
Two years’ back, Seema was diagnosed liver cancer. It was a devastating news for the happy family. Himangshu took Seema to Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Cancer Institute, Delhi and consulted with Tata Memorial Cancer Institute without losing any time. But both the institutes are of the same opinion, cancer had already spread to the other parts as well. However, chemotherapy was started on her. She lost her beautiful hair and at first she lost her weight also and then she gained a lot of weight. Happiness has been lost for Himangshu and Arnav more than the other two children who were at a long distance and could not see the agony of their mother on daily basis.
Pressure on Himangshu was tremendous. He had to manage his office works and also household works. Though Arnav wanted to help him in his household chores, Himangshu told him categorically not to spend his time other than his studies.
Seema had never been very good in household works. She never liked cooking and other household works and therefore for Himangshu, household work had never been a problem. But situation became different after chemotherapy; Seema became completely dependent on Himangshu even for her personal works.
Seema became very depressed and used to utter, ‘I have not done anything wrong, why God has punished me with this disease?’
Himangshu used to console her, ‘It is a simple disease, anyone can suffer. There is no relation between committing a crime and suffering from a disease. Further, you will be alright after some days.’
On an another day when Seema uttered those words, Himangshu told, ‘Had there been a direct relation between committing a sin and cancer, I would have been diagnosed cancer much before you had been diagnosed cancer!’
Seema did not say anything.
In next two years, sometimes she recovered somewhat and again after some days her condition deteriorated.
Few months back, she had been hospitalized as her condition did not improve.
Chapter IV: Nursing
Every known person to this family was surprised to see the devotion of Himangshu towards his wife. The wives of his friends and relatives were in the opinion that Seema had been very lucky to have a husband like Himangshu.
Everyone was praising Himangshu’s stamina also. Himangshu used to sit with his wife whole day skipping his food and sleep. Whenever she wanted something, he was there to provide her the item she asked for. He used to give light massage time to time so that she was somewhat relieved of her pain.
As dotting father, he did not allow Arnav to stay overnight nor to skip any class. Himangshu took a long leave to nurse his wife. He also instructed his elder children not to take the pain by travelling a long distance just to see their mother.
However, when doctor said that there had been no chance for any recovery, he called his elder children to meet their mother, might be for the last time.
Even when his elder children arrived, he used to nurse his wife single handedly without giving any trouble to his children.
Chapter V: Image of Himangshu
We some time surprised to see some good persons are suffering which he or she is not supposed to suffer. When Seema was diagnosed cancer, everyone known to her became very sad. All the persons who knew Seema for a long time in unison remarked, ‘How God can punish this pious lady who perhaps never committed a sin in her life.’
Though Himangshu had a good reputation as a perfect gentleman in the society, among the close friends, Himangshu was known for his adultery for many years. Despite of his extraordinary love and concern for his wife during her hospitalization, even then he did not hesitate to sleep with a lady who was also an attendant of another patient!
However, some of his close friends who knew about his adulterous character remarked, ‘How God can punish this pious lady for the sin committed by her husband.’
Those who knew the darker side of Himangshu further remarked, ‘Today, Himangshu is suffering for his misdeeds! Cancer gives trouble not only to the patient but also all the members of the family, particularly the person who is looking after the patient. So Himangshu has been punished for his own deeds. No sympathy for him; sympathy is for his wife only.’
Most of the friends agreed with or without misdeeds, Himangshu was suffering along with his wife. Many of them had genuine sympathy for both of them. To be precise, most of the ladies had genuine sympathy for Himangshu and others all had sympathy for Seema.
Chapter VI: He Knew It
‘I want to confess something which may hurt you!’ Seema told Himangshu with an extremely feeble voice.
‘Do not worry, tell me whatever you want to tell me. Nothing should be kept inside you which actually is hurting you, even if that will hurt me for the time being.’ Himangshu assured the dying woman, his wife for thirty-five odd years.
‘I do not know whether you will be able to forgive me or not. However, I am not expecting any forgiveness from you; but I am worrying for another innocent soul!’ She paused for a moment. It is not clear whether she paused because of her weakness or whether she was examining her husband’s reactions.
Himangshu was waiting to hear the confession from his wife. ‘Carry on dear. Do not hurt yourself by not saying anything. I assure you, I shall forgive you and I shall not hurt the innocent soul which you are referring.’ He said with a voice, Seema understood he was genuine about his assurance.
‘Arnav is not your child!’ She paused again to see the face of Himangshu. To her surprise, Himangshu did not show any anger on his face.
‘I know you always love him more than the other two children. I doubt whether the situation will remain same in future also or not. Rather, I am worried you may start hating him.’
She paused for a moment and then said, ‘He is your cousin Subhas’s son. Subhas used to visit me in your absence when Deepankar and Deepanju were in school. Initially, I ignored him. He used to talk explicitly about a girl of his college who used to have physical relation with many classmates including him. One day his explanation was so lucid that I also felt the heat and I could not resist myself in surrendering to him. After that he used to have physical relation with me many times and I became pregnant of his child. Thus Arnav was born. I was worried, you might doubt me as you always took precautions. Luckily for me, you did not suspect me. From the bottom of my heart I am telling you, I never wanted to lose you and your love; I always love you from core of my heart. I never loved Subhas. The first physical relation was an accident. But subsequent physical relations were due to black mailing by Subhas. I still repent for that particular moment when I was swayed away by his talks. I beg to you, even if you cannot forgive me, please remain same to Arnav.’ She heaved a sigh.
Still Himangshu showed no emotion or anger on his face.
‘Are you not angry with me? Can you forgive me? Can you love Arnav like earlier?’ She asked all the questions in one go.
‘No, I am not angry with you; because I knew Arnav is not my child much before his birth. Long before his birth I had forgiven you (he told a damn lie-at that moment-perhaps). Even after knowing that Arnav is not my child, I love him more than my own children. Even after knowing about your adultery, I always loved you and treat Arnav as my own child. Therefore, do not worry for his future also. Our relation will remain same.’ Himangshu told her as if nothing had happened.
His statement and his cool approach was too much for the ailing wife. She immediately suffered a massive heart attack from which she could not recover even after lot of medical interventions. She was in coma for a day and then she expired.
Both the elder children came from abroad before few days of demise of their mother. After completion of all the rituals they left for their places of working instructing their little brother to look after their bereaved father.
After few days, Arnav also started going to college. For him, Himangshu became both father and mother.
When everything became normal, Himangshu also started going to office with a heavy heart. Now he realized, Seema was not that bad as he thought for last twenty odd years! Now he thinks, he should have confronted her to know her side of the story. If he would have known her side of the story, perhaps he would not have stooped so low in his life. But he felt happy that he protected her dignity in the eyes of his children and public till her death and beyond.
One day one of his closest friends came to his office and started saying, ‘So you are a free bird now!’
‘No, I am more caged now! I cannot leave my youngest son alone at home. So I have to go home early to prepare his evening snacks and dinner. In fact, I go home earlier than when my wife was alive!’ Himangshu said with a sigh.
‘I understand your problem! When your wife was alive, you had cheated her always, what a poor lady she was! By the way, how many times you had cheated her?’ His friend asked him.
‘No, not much, may be only 30 odd times!’ Himangshu said with a grin.
‘You bastard!’ His friend commented.
After his friend left, he went back to the memories of his married life. He remembered how much he was happy with his wife till he came to know about the adultery of his wife. He thought to commit suicide after knowing his wife’s illicit relation with his cousin. But somehow he controlled himself from committing suicide. Then Arnav was born and he went to make a horoscope for him. The astrologer commented, ‘You are the luckiest man to have this angel as your (did he know the fact?) son. He is your good luck. He will always be with you till your death. He will love you more than himself. In future, you will be known as his father only.’
Whatever the astrologer said came true. After his birth everything started looking good for him and his family. He is more intelligent and more concern about him than the other two children. In course of time, Himangshu started loving Arnav more than his own children.
He always shows his love for Arnav more whenever his cheater cousin visits him. Arnav’s extraordinary academic performance gave his cousin a heartbreak every time he meets Arnav as his (Subhas’s) own sons are not as all brilliant as Arnav. He expresses his frustration on the issue many times before Himangshu.
‘In my absence, he must have showed more frustration to Seema’. That was Himangshu’s one of the most favorite fantasies for last twenty years.
After knowing her adultery, he thought he started hating his wife and started to have physical relations with many ladies, including with many women, against payment. All his friends think he is a cheater, but he cannot say who started cheating first! But, was he right in his thinking?
He realized, probably he was not right after hearing the confessional statement of Seema at her dying bed. Actually, after that Himangshu could not digest the pain of Seema’s death. Unfortunately, he also died within two months’ of Seema’s death making his children orphans.
After few months, Deepankar took emotionally drained Arnav to USA after disposing all the properties of their parents in India!
Deepanju also migrated to USA to join her brothers. In due course of time Depanju filled the void of his (Arnav’s) mother. However, Arnav realized his father was unique and nobody can take his place, not even by his brother, Deepankar!!!!!!!
The author is a Government servant and a man of vivid experiences derived from his official postings across the country, travels across India and numerous visits outside India. He is presently placed at New Delhi.
His earlier publications are:
1. Random Thoughts through a Coloured Prism
2. Dilemma of a Young Mind
3. Funny Statistics and Serious Statisticians
4. Melody of Fragrance
6. Few Cities through the Lens of Hiranya Borah
7. Guilt: Gift of Winter Spring
8. Beautiful Ghost
9. Great Fighters: Grace of God
10. All Blurred
11. Putting kids to sleep
12.How to become unpopular
14. My grumpy Face
15. Love and Worries
16. Discussion of own Birth: A Taboo
18. Indecent Love Affairs
19. My Fair Lady
21. Two Stories
22. My Mother: Dashami Borah
26. First Attempt
27. A father
28. The Portrait
29. Snapped Thread
Connect with him
At times what you see may not be true. In this book, I try to depict a story where everything was based on falsehood. But everybody, except one person, saw as if everything was right. The right person was implicated wrongly and wrong person was portrayed as an honest person, in a sense, which you have to judge after reading the book. I gave the name of the book as ‘Only He Knows’. Here ‘He’ means the protagonist and the Almighty. It is a love story of different kind.