Today she got up a little late. Though she was an early riser but when she woke up today, sun was already up on the sky. Priya scanned her room. Vijay’s mother had already started doing her routine activities. Vijay’s sister also was not on her bed.
Actually Vijay’s sister did not have a set routine of getting up or sleeping. She behaved as per her whims. Unlike usual, Priya was feeling very fresh today.
Probably she had got a sound sleep after a very long time. She stretched her limbs and got out of the bed. She stood by the window and was staring outside. She kept standing there for a while. Suddenly someone caught her attention. A man with long beard was coming in her direction only. He did not seem absolutely stranger to her. Priya kept looking at him, trying to make out. But as he kept coming closer to her, she recognized him and glimpse of happiness flashed on her face. She confirmed once again whether she was in her senses or not.
She was ecstatic to find the person in reality. He was none other than Vijay himself. He looked unfamiliar in long beard and moustaches, but she could still recognize him by his gestures and movements. As he approached even closer, Priya was sure that it was Vijay for sure who had come back to her. The person reached the house, opened the main gate and came inside. Now he was standing right in front of Priya.
“Vijay…” Priya almost screamed.
She hugged him tightly and said, “I knew that you are alive and will come back one day. God can’t be so cruel to me…. I know, that day, they got someone else’s dead body… and it was so badly smashed that nobody could recognize it. I knew… I knew god can’t be so cruel to me…”
“Your love kept me alive Priya.” Vijay released himself from her embrace and said holding her face in his hands.
Then they kept talking for a very long time after that. Meanwhile, Vijay’s mother heard some noise and came outside.
“Vijay… where were you all these days? You have lost so much of weight…” Priya was speaking.
Vijay’s mother saw Priya and got a shock of her life… because… Priya was speaking to herself.
“Oh god… my daughter… then my son… and now … Priya also… don’t be so cruel to me god… I can’t bear this anymore…” Vijay’s mother was praying hard.
Priya was unaware about Vijay’s mother’s reaction. She slowly headed to the main gate. While walking, she gestured as if someone is holding her hand and they were walking together. Vijay’s mother followed her. As Priya was waking ahead, her shadow was also following her. Vijay’s mother glanced at her shadow… and she was shaken… she could see another shadow
accompanying her. Vijay’s mother was boggled and frightened. Now she had to believe that Priya was not speaking to herself, but Vijay was there with her, holding her hand.
When Vijay’s mother recovered a little bit, she found that Priya had reached far ahead of her. Now she almost ran to catch them. Vijay’s sister, who was standing in the lawn, followed her mother. She was actually in a very shabby state.
“Wait... Priya…” Vijay’s mother called her out.
Priya stopped. And so did Vijay’s shadow. Vijay’s mother went near Priya. She was very happy to see her son… though his mere shadow. She knelt down to touch her son’s shadow and started caressing it. Vijay’s sister saw her mother kneeling down and she jumped on her to sit on her back. The next moment, she was fondling with her mother’s hair like a child....
....There was a huge crowd gathered in front of Vijay’s house. Everyone was astonished to see what was going on in the crowd. Vijay’s father, who had just returned from the bar, saw this crowd. He joined the crowd to check the chaos. He saw Priya in middle of the crowd… talking to herself. His wife was sitting down and was stroking on the ground. And his daughter was sitting on her mother’s back and was fondling with her hair.
And there were only THREE shadows on the ground… Priya’s, Vijay’s mother’s and his sister’s…..
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Mugdha Apte
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