Change for better!

Sharmaji was washing his car like always when his wife announced that it was only 4 hours until the New York flight landed and that they would have to hurry up to drive up to the airport on-time. Sharmaji had woken up earlier than usual that day; he was going to see his daughter at-last after almost 3 years. He wore the only suite that he had. As they arrived at the airport Sharmaji was relieved that they were on time. They took seat at the chairs laid down outside the terminal with both their eyes glued at the exit door for international passengers. It had taken them 2 hours almost to reach airport. As they sat waiting, Sharmaji was caught with nostalgia. He very well-remembered the day when he had realized how he should be planning and saving for his daughters’ dreams and he felt so proud of himself now to have been able to support his only daughter that he so dearly loved.

It was six years ago on a hot summer afternoon in Bangalore, Sharmaji sat at his desk thinking over the conversation he had with Mr. Rao half an hour ago. Mr. Rao’s son had been granted admission at University of South California for his higher studies. Sharmaji had a daughter, Ria. She had just finished her 10th standard examinations. She often spoke of becoming a writer someday but his father would tell her how writers made very little money.  Ria dreamt of going to New York someday about which she told her father and he would say she would if she became an engineer. That afternoon Sharmaji had been woken up to reality. If his daughter was serious about her dream of going to New York to study, he would never forgive himself for not having enough strength to let her go.

Sharmaji was a middle class lecturer at a science college in Bangalore. He was orphaned when he was only 15 after which he had taken shelter at his mamaji’s house. He had soon finished his studies and had landed a job of a teacher at a well-known college. Eventually he got married and had a daughter. He was a man with no ancestral assets left for him or had much savings now. Whatever little he had saved over the years he had used it up to construct a house and to buy a car. He always wanted to own a house and a car which after almost 10 years of his service had he finally achieve. Sharmaji knew the importance of pursuing one’s dreams. He knew he had to think of this seriously else it would be too late.

Two years passed and his daughter was out of school already. She had got her results that day and had done well as expected; Sharmaji was extremely happy and felt very proud too. He knew her marks were good enough to get her into any engineering college in Bangalore that she wished. They went out to celebrate that night and on the way Ria met her childhood friend Nisha who was her classmate in primary school. After she learnt about her scores Nisha teasingly asked if Ria was planning to go to New York for her studies which she always spoke of. Ria had given up all about her New York dreams by now, all she knew was that she was going to become an engineer one day. She knew she was the only one her parents had and they would be devastated if she left.  Later that night after they were back from dinner Sharmaji couldn’t stop thinking about his daughter’s wish.

He loved his daughter and wanted to provide her with all that she wished for. He knew it was time he took his ‘saving money for her future’ plans seriously. He spoke to his wife for the first time about his fear of not being able to support their daughter’s dream for they could not afford such a thing. Sharmaji had enquired all about the course and universities and was disappointed to find them to be really expensive for his standards. Next morning when Sharmaji went on his regular walk in the park, his friend Mr. Patil was speaking about his new car which ran on diesel. Mr. Patil was a civil engineer and had been driving a petrol car since past 10 years, since the fuel prices were raising frequently Mr. Patil who had to drive long distances had switched to a diesel version of the same car he owned before, he told Sharmaji how happy he was with his new car and kept talking about it until they finished their morning walk. Shramaji, though little annoyed with such eccentric nature of Mr.Patil’s conversation early morning, had listened half heartedly to all the details and advantages Mr. Patil quoted about his new car. Sharmaji was himself occupied with worries of his daughter’s education and marriage and all the money he had to save to fulfill all his duties towards her.

As Sharmaji drove his Maruti to the college, he kept thinking of ways he could cut down on expenses and save as much as he could. It was Monday & on his way he had to get his car fueled which was kind of a routine. Petrol prices had increased again for the third time in 6 months. Middle class sect of the society was troubled with ever-increasing prices of the everyday essential commodities in the country. Everyone spoke of inflation but no one knew if it was ever going to get easy for middle class people to survive. Fuel prices had been increased several times already, gold prices were awfully high, beer and drinking water came at almost the same price. In such a scenario Sharmaji knew his saving plan was not going to be easy but he also knew how important it was.

Sharmaji told the boy at the petrol bunk how it would one day reach the brink of where it would seriously jeopardize the affordability of fuel for common man in India. The boy was so used to such statements by now that he no longer cared to react. While Sharmaji paid the boy he realized that he could think of cost cutting from right there. It was already more than 7 years since he had bought his car and though it was in good condition it did consume a lot of fuel in comparison to some of the latest models in market.

That day Sharmaji went to a car showroom on his way back to enquire for a diesel car. After much thought all day, Sharmaji had arrived at the decision to give it a try to switch to diesel for good. Being an economics professor he had an idea what commodities would never come cheap in India again and he always said fuel was on top of the list. Petrol was almost Rs 9 more than Diesel and kept increasing. When he calculated the difference in the diesel amount to petrol he realized it would save him up to a Lakh rupee per year if he switched to diesel also he had a few other plans which would help him save close to enough in next four years until his daughter graduated. He told the decision of changing his car to Mr. Patil who was so happy to know that he even offered to help Sharmaji get a better deal from his friend who owned a car agency. Over the weekend Mr.Patil took Sharmaji to the car showroom. The staff took Sharmaji through various models of cars simultaneously explaining their advantages over his already existing car. The staff, Mr Vivek said it was no longer a difficult thing to own a car & explained about the loan schemes & other company benefits. After much debate Sharmaji left convinced that his decision was not going to go wrong. There was a new hatchback car launched in the market whose petrol version was a market hit already & the company had launched its diesel version recently which had a rather good feedback from the customers so far. It fitted into Sharmaji’s requirements and budget too. He had almost made up his mind to go for the same but wanted to consent his wife and daughter too.

A while after the announcement that the New York flight had landed; Sharmaji could see a familiar figure walk through the terminal waving at them, instantly they both got up and walked towards their daughter. She had put on a little weight but looked just the same. Her proud parents’ happiness knew no bounds. They got into their little diesel hatchback which New York returned Ria choose to drive. Sharmaji was as much in love with his car as he was with his family, he felt he owed a great deal to his car which for him was kind of a lucky charm.

As they drove on he remembered the day when he had told his wife about his desire to start saving for their daughter, Mrs. Sharma was relieved of her worries and was happy too on hearing it. Being a mother, she wanted the best things for her daughter too. While Sharmaji told her of his plans he had come up with, it all seemed right for her too. It was only a week since Sharmaji had visited the showroom and today was the day their new car was to arrive. Their new car was all comfortable, spacious and looked grand. Ria was the happiest when she saw it which was to be the first ever car she would drive later. Soon after the pooja, Sharmaji had taken his family out on a drive. How happy was his small little family.

Every week Sharmaji would carry money for petrol and since his car needed diesel, the remaining amount he would deposit into his savings account. It was a way for him to realize and feel happy for having a diesel car instead and remind him of his motive to save. He had sold his car for half the price of the new one and for the rest of the amount he had taken up a loan which he had decided to pay from his monthly salary for next 3 years while keeping his saving going every day. A year passed and now Sharmaji had collected one Lakh five thousand and fifty rupee exactly from all the fuel and other savings.  He soon decided to convert it into a fixed deposit which not only provided him with the interest amount he could use to repay the loan amount but also add on to his savings. He still had two more years until he finished his car loan and three years until his daughter graduated, but he felt happy for having saved so much already.

Soon after his daughter finished her engineering she joined work at a local company. It was Mrs. Sharma’s birthday that night and whole family was driving down to a restraunt in the city when Ria finally found enough courage to talk her father about going to New York. Ria had forgotten about her dream for a while but during her engineering she had realized she was never meant to be an engineer. She said she could never be a good engineer for her strength lied elsewhere. She had filled out an application already for few of the universities in New York and begged her father to sign them. Sharmaji though wanted his daughter to be a great engineer one day, he didn’t want that against her wishes and when he saw her thirst of becoming a writer, he decided to go by her wishes. All he wanted was her happiness above all.

When they returned from dinner that night father daughter sat for long, talking about what all was needed to be done for her to be able to go to New York and 6 months later Ria was good to go to her dream destination. The day arrived when Ria was to leave, as she picked her last luggage and placed it in their car, Ria was filled with tears. She thought of all the happy memories she had in her house she was leaving and the car. She had roamed all around the city in it with her friends, taken her mom to temple every Saturdays. She was going to miss all of that.  It was going to be for the first time she was going so far away from her family and though scared she was determined. As they silently drove towards the airport, all three of them had silent tears rolling down their cheeks and when they reached airport and bid each other farewell they could not contain the tears anymore. That was the last Sharmaji had seen of his daughter who now had finished her Masters and was working for a well-known American publishing house at New York.

Ria was happy to be back home. She found everything to be exactly the same as before and was overwhelmed at being back. There was everything in New York but nothing without them seemed nice she said. At the dinner table that night Ria told her parents that she wished for them to come along with her to stay at New York. Sharmaji was going to retire that year so her parents agreed to go with their daughter.

Ria soon got married to an American doctor there at New York. She has become the assistant editor at a renowned IT magazine, has already published a couple of books of her own and is planning to publish her novel soon. Her parents stay next door from her house.  Sharmaji’s lucky charm car was sold while they were leaving and now he drives a brand new Fiat Linea, diesel car of course which his daughter gifted him last Christmas and still collect those extra bucks that he saves over petrol cost to buy jewelry for his wife!  As for Mrs. Sharma she was never more happier! Sometimes big things start from smallest changes.

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7 Comments

  1. Doubting if Character Ria in the story is actually Priyanka!. U can Emanate your feelings much better in your mother tongue (Kannada – I Assume)

    1. No, Ria is not me! This was my first attempt to write a story in-fact and this is for a contest so I am not too sure if it came out all that well! Thanks for reading it anyway! Since you thought Ria might be me, do we know each other??

      1. It was your 1st Attempt, but was Appreciable. I thought to discuss more in details, but do not know how to. Personally, we do not know each other.

  2. Overall I liked the flow of your story and how you had laid out the characters of Ria and Sharmaji. The diesel car thingy seemed a bit articially fitted there though. Also I can’t imagine what course would one go to New York to become a budding writer. Most people got to US to study engineering only. Anyways great story for a first attempt. Best of luck for the contests and do check out my entry Free from fuel hikes

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