Author's Note: Generally, an impression goes around that present day generation is insensitive towards the sacrifice of their parents in bringing them up. I feel this is surfacial for I feel every child carries the impressions of parental love and affection deeply imprinted on his heart and soul.
There was a long queue in front of the elevator. It was office time and everyone seemed to be in a hurry. Anita was looking at her watch every few seconds. There were still ten minutes and yet she was worried. As soon as the elevator came up to seventh floor, she ran out of it to the amusement of some. This was her first appointment and she needed it badly. She was panting when she reached the desk of the receptionist who was expecting her.
"Hi, I am Anita."
"Welcome. I am Supriya Pant." A buxom lady, in her forties greeted her. Anita tried to regain her breadth. She whispered thanks, inaudible but Supriya understood it.
"I believe this your first job," Supriya asked her looking at her tall beautiful figure.
"Yes, it is."
"Congratulations and good luck."
Anita thanked her once again, this time it was quite audible.
"You will be working with the Chief Accountant. He expects you after half an hour. Here is your security pass. In the meantime, let me take you around."
"Thank you Mrs. Pant."
"Supriya, OK? Just Supriya."
"Thank you Supriya," she said and followed her.
Prime Movers & Builders was a top notch real estate firm with offices all over India. It was the corporate office of the firm in Delhi where Anita was appointed as practising chartered accountant. It was a challenging job with high perks but it had been a long arduous journey for Anita to reach there.
Anita's father, Joseph Kutty was a small time farmer in a village near Kochi, a coastal town in the state of Kerala. Joseph and his wife Karuna were school time friends, passionate young lovers and devoted couple. Unfortunately, Karuna died young of cervical cancer. Joseph was then in his early thirties and Anita was hardly three years old. There was lot of pressure on him from his relatives and friends to remarry. Joseph refused. He loved Karuna dearly and he considered Anita as a parting gift from her. He wouldn’t thus trust to leave her in anyone else’s care.
While walking around his village, Joseph was haunted by the memory of the loving moments he had spent with his wife. He couldn’t concentrate on anything but at the same time he was aware of his responsibility to take care of Anita and provide her good education.
He decided to sell his house and small property and go to Delhi. Some of his community people had promised to help him establish there. He sold his house and land and shifted to Devli, a small village on the outskirt of Delhi. He rented a small house in the nearby unauthorized colony and established a small grocery shop on the ground floor of the house. It was a slow beginning, the income from the shop was barely enough to survive.
Joseph worked hard. After closing the shop and putting Anita to sleep, he worked as a night watchman of the colony and he volunteered help to the church, which also ran a school for the children. When the Father of the school admitted Anita in the school, Joseph was a much relieved man.
Anita saw her father toiling mostly in one of the two pairs of trousers he had and the little girl was aware of the hard work her father did to meet her needs.
“Papa, why don’t you ever buy anything for yourself,” Anita had asked her father many a time.
“Surely, I will, just wait a little, sweet heart,” he would tell her.
Little Anita sitting in her room above the shop often dreamed of having lot of money and buying gifts for her father.
"Papa, I am not going to work in this shop. When I grow up, I am going to earn a lot of money and we will close down this shop."
"What are you going to do my child?"
"I am going to be a chartered accountant. They earn lot of money. Then I will buy clothes and gifts for you."
Joseph who doted upon his little girl was quite moved.
Joseph’s hard work was yielding results. He had extended his shop and with little help from friends added a soft drinks and ice cream counter with a telephone booth. He kept the place neat and tidy and soon it became a favourite joint of the young crowd. Joseph had now a new problem at hand. His expanding business required that he had to file a tax return.
It was Christmas Eve. Joseph had bought a beautiful dress for Anita. The young little girl was annoyed.
“Why only for me. Will you always remain in these worn out trousers?”
“Anita dear, don’t you bother for my trousers. Don’t you know this is the fashion in vogue?” He bantered.
Tears rolled down the little Anita’s cheeks. She couldn’t speak and ran in to the waiting arms of her father and sobbed bitterly.
Joseph caressed her hair and whispered, “I will buy myself a three piece designer’s suit on the day you join a decent job.”
One day Joseph told Anita, "The worst part of my work is to keep accounts and you know I have no clue of accounts. But for Jacob, I would have been outside the tax office every day."
Jacob Mathew was a young clerk in the tax office living with his parents in the neighborhood. In his spare time, he helped the small businessmen in keeping their accounts and filing their tax returns for a small fee.
"Wait until I qualify as a CA. Then you wouldn't have to depend on anyone,” Anita assured her father.
"Dear, Jacob is a great help. So far I never had any problem in filing the tax return. You know how complicated the tax laws are and how greedy the tax people are."
"That is because you neither know accounts nor the tax-laws."
"OK! I give up but Jacob stays until you are ready to replace him."
Anita often had such arguments with her father who resolved them all in lighter vein. Anita but knew that her father was wholly dependent on Jacob and that the latter helped him with all sincerity.
Ill luck was still following the family. One evening when Jacob was returning from church, a speeding truck overran him. Jacob who was accompanying him rushed him to the nearby hospital but it was all too late.
The people in neighbourhood knew Joseph’s store was doing well and that Anita neither had experience nor inclination to run the shop. They were curious to know her future plans. Some of them either asked her straight or they approached Jacob, who they knew was close to the family. They would come to express their condolences but come around the issue one way or the other.
“I hate these people who come to offer condolence with scheming minds. It hurts when some of them slyly suggest or try to find out if I had plans to sell the shop," she told Jacob.
"That is the reality of life, dog eating dog.”
"My father toiled hard to raise this shop. I will never sell it though I don’t know what to do next," she told Jacob.
"Anita, you are at the critical stage of your life. You must complete your CA before you take up anything else in your hands,” Jacob advised her.
"Jacob, I have hardly any choice. I can not afford to continue my studies. You know how expensive the books are. Moreover, you have to work long hours to qualify the CA examination whereas the shop needs all the time."
"Please don’t leave your studies at this stage. Let’s hire a help for running the shop. I will keep a watch over the daily transactions.
"Jacob! I appreciate your kind gesture but I am not in a proper frame of mind to continue my studies. It needs total concentration, which I find difficult altogether."
"You remember it was your ambition and your father always wanted you to become an accountant."
"I remember everything but I find myself unable to continue.”
"The best tribute you can pay to your deceased parent is by completing your studies and qualifying as a chartered accountant, which you promised during his life time."
Anita knew it and she knew her father’s soul would not rest in peace till she succeeded in achieving the avowed objective.
The last four years were tough. Anita worked very hard dividing her time between her books and the shop. Late in the night, she would go through the sales figures meticulously, which kept the new manager on his toes. Jacob stood by her all these years. There was an indomitable determination in the young girl to forge ahead. She felt that she owed it to her father. Anita qualified as CA with distinction.
Supriya was garrulous by any standard. Anita found it difficult to match her pace of rapid-fire questions. Some questions she replied well but she was nearly incoherent replying to others. She was aware of it and felt awkward but it really was helping her to get over her nervousness.
Anita was sitting before her boss. Mr. Garg received her with the air of a boss. Anita soon realized that the boss wanted to floor her with his knowledge. That in fact raised her confidence for she prided her knowledge and the self-esteem in her got over the initial inhibitions.
"I am going to let the guy have it," she decided.
Soon she was a changed person, a well-informed professional. Mr. Garg was surprised by her knowledge of accounting laws and their legal implications.
"Anita you will make a good accountant and we will make a good team," he said rising from his chair and shaking hand with her
"Thank you sir, I will do my best," Anita said, coming out of the room.
Jacob was waiting for her out side her office. He could see Anita’s beaming face.
"Congratulations, Anita. I wish your father was here today. He would have been very proud of you."
"Yes, I know,” she said and then after a little pause she continued, “Jacob, thanks for everything. You have been a great help. I remember the evening of my father’s funeral. It was so depressing and I had lost all hopes. But for you, I would have never reached this position."
"I am happy for you. Let's go out for dinner. It is on me. I want to celebrate the occasion."
Anita kept quiet for a moment and then told him, "Jacob, I am sorry I can't go out today. I have an important engagement this evening."
"What engagement?" Jacob was hurt by her brusque reply.
"May be, some other day, please."
Jacob didn't insist but he was very disappointed.
"As you wish," he said and left her outside her new office.
Anita came home, took a shower and put on the dress her father had given her on her birthday, the year he had died. Then she went to the nearby florist and bought a bouquet of roses.
Looking at the flowers she told the taxi driver,
"Please take me to the Christian cemetery."