Suhail and Fatima looked at their new born whose hands were clenched and eyes shut. Their little bundle of joy, that was born precisely as clock struck 9 AM. The previous night had been an agonizing one! Fatima was brought to the hospital for the delivery and the doctors had wheeled her into the labor room straightaway! The doctors waited patiently as they felt there was no need to operate and it would be a normal delivery. We shall name him ‘Rehman’ the duo agreed, as they had tears flowing down their cheeks when they remembered the name.
‘Rehman chacha(uncle)’ had lived in a slum in Dahisar in Mumbai, for many years. Everyone called him by that name regardless of the age as it was difficult to guess his true age. He was a tall lanky man with a flowing beard and fiery eyes. He was strong and muscular, had a crease of lines on a big forehead and would rarely lose temper. He always donned a pathan suit comprising a flowing kurta and a salwar. No one knew how he earned money but most people believed that he was a modern day Robinhood. He knew all the goons and the good men and their secrets. He would mingle with everyone with a great ease and help those in need. Fatima was his niece and was barely ten year old when her parents died in a road accident and ‘Rehman’ took over the responsibility of bringing up the young girl all by himself. Suhail’s father was a carpenter and had a small shop in the neighborhood. He had three more children two boys and a girl all younger to Suhail. With great difficulty he managed to make the two ends meet. Suhail was fourteen year old and was a brilliant student. Every night he would sit under the municipal lamp post and open his school bag and continue with his studies late into night. At home, the big family lived in one room which had a make shift kitchen. During the day it was a living room with two stools and a sofa and at night it was converted into a dormitory where the entire family slept. Suhail, liked Fatima and would help in her studies too!
The time passed and soon Suhail completed the school and earned an admission in the local engineering college. He earned a scholarship that helped his father in rendering financial support. The local tough man Amar Shetty and his goons collected ‘hafta’( a petty amount- as protection money) from all the business and shop owners. They raised the amount which the shopkeepers found difficult to pay so they protested. ‘Rehman Chacha’ one day came across Amar and asked him to stop his goons as the people were reeling under inflation and unable to pay. The heated argument soon converted into a fist fight and they came to blows! Amar, pulled out a knife and attacked Rehman, but he ducked and twisted the arm of Amar! As Amar lost the balance and fell the blade of the knife ripped through his stomach! A crowd had gathered and soon the police arrived at the scene! Rehman was sent to the police look up. Amar, died due to excessive bleeding, before he could be rushed to the hospital. Fatima was heartbroken and the tears in her eyes were unending! Slowly, she came to terms with life and Suhail continued to support her in every possible way.
Two years passed and Suhail landed with a job in a company and moved out of the town! Fatima was very lonely and she too took a job as a primary school teacher in the neighborhood. One day Suhail proposed to Fatima, and she agreed to spend the rest of her life with him. They moved the court and requested that Rehman be allowed to attend their ’Nikah’ (wedding)!
The day arrived and Suhail dressed in a flowing gown and Fatima in bridal red stood before the ‘Maulvi’ to solemnize the marriage. As they raised their heads, their eyes met those of ‘Rehman Chacha’ whose eyes were moist. They both rushed to seek his blessing and he tenderly hugged them. His hands were still in cuffs and the policemen asked him to start moving to the jeep waiting for return to the jail. It started to drizzle, and as Rehman looked up towards the sky to thank ‘Allah’, he suffered a massive heart attack and fell. All hell broke loose! The policemen rushed but to no avail, as Rehman had breathed his last!
PS Image kind courtesy Google