Seated on her reclining chair on the verandah of her posh three-bedroom apartment, Priyanka Sethi savoured her evening tea. She inhaled the enchanting fragrance of the petrichor that accompanied the first rains.
Such recreational moments were possible only on weekends. As the CEO of a company, Ms. Sethi’s weeks were packed with office work.
‘Woh kagaz ki kashti, woh baarish ka paani……” the enchanting ghazal played on in the background. She preferred soft music during the weekends. It gave her the much-needed company a lonely woman yearned for. At forty-three, Ms. Sethi was single by choice.
Though she never wished to delve into them, monsoons always brought gratuitous memories. Her lips parted in an agonizing sigh.
The doorbell buzzed. Assuming that it must be her maid, Ms. Sethi answered it. A middle-aged lady stood at the threshold with a grin on her face. She flashed an identity card that said she worked with Sneha Sadan, a home for orphans and destitute.
“Ma’am, your philanthropy has brought me here. I have come seeking financial aid.” The lady humbly stated.
Feeling glad that word had spread about her generosity, Ms. Sethi gestured for her to enter.
Sitting on the plush sofa with expensive upholstery, the lady ran her eyes through the well-furnished drawing room.
“What can I do for you?” Ms. Sethi asked.
“I have been working with Sneha Sadan for a decade and a half. My husband died a couple of months before of cardiac arrest. We had sweated it out together, my modest salary added to the income my husband made working double shifts in his factory to sponsor our son Vishal’s graduation. Vishal wishes to pursue management studies abroad. Even if my husband were alive, it would be a far-fetched dream to see him graduate from a foreign university. However, I do not want the dreams of a brilliant boy to be crushed just like that.
She removed some admission papers.
“You are the only person to help me.” The lady sounded confident.
Ms. Sethi explained to the lady that she only donates money to orphanages or similar institutes but is not keen on sponsoring an individual.
At this, the featheriness on the face of the lady transformed into a scowl. She removed more papers from her bag with an acerbic twitch on her lips.
“Let not the world know that the successful woman, Ms. Priyanka Sethi, has chosen to be a philanthropist, donating money unconditionally to orphanages to absolve the guilt gnawing her mind. Why not sponsor your son’s education and wash the guilt once and for all?”
Ms. Sethi sat transfixed as her father’s signatures on those papers stared at her mockingly. It had the entry of a new-born child on 15th June, twenty-two years ago.
Today, Ms. Sethi realized where her father had taken her infant son. No amount of beseeching had coerced him to reveal the truth until his last breath.
She fetched her cheque book.