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streaks of fire

i came back home to huge fights with my father who was usually drunk
making sexual advances with beautiful wannabe film actresses every night
one such night he was completely drunk with two such actresses one on
either side…at 2 am he shouted out to me to go with the driver and get
them food from a nearby restaurant

i was sleeping and already angry at his continuous drinking
and his sexual affairs with so many women
i answered him saying that i was not his servant and he should go himself
or send one of his women to get the food if they wanted
he shouted at me and started to slap me saying that i did not know how
to behave with elders…at which i lifted my hands and slapped him so
hard that he reeled back in shock

this was the first time i ever had the guts to actually slap my father
he told me to leave the house and he would beat me if he found me there

i promised to leave the house that very instant

he told me that he would teach me a lesson and never give me a penny
and that i would beg him for money and soon come crawling back
i said that i would die hungry on the streets but vowed never to come back
nor to ever see him again in this lifetime

i left my house in the early hours and have never returned
i was sixteen years old…just my jeans and t shirt on my back
penniless on the streets of bombay at 2 am

no more to become a businessman…i hated that word
no more to become a movie star…i hated fame
not wanting to become rich…i hated such people
i just wanted to be free and wander

i had lived from the ages of six to sixteen in the mountains
visiting my home for only three months holiday each year sheltered in a cosy
mansion in tinsel town…where the beautiful people lived partying every night

i was still living in the innocence of the himalayas
still a dreamer and rebellious with no actual clue to the harsh realities
that lay ahead of me…of the real world out there

my mother and father were battling it out in court
i was prevented from seeing my mother during those days

i left bombay and went to delhi to see the only aunt that i loved
mrs rajeshwari paul whom i affectionately call soni aunty
she became my new mother and father and has looked after me since then
she sent me to see my grandparents at jullundur in punjab
they tried hard to put some sense into me to see the realities of the world
and put me to work in the family steel and casting business
this was short lived as i had really no interest in the life they led

one morning in november 1977 i woke up to see the newspapers announced
the untimely death of my mother and under mysterious circumstances
no one was with her at the hospital at the time of her death
and as my father and that side of the family
were prevented from seeing her due to a court order
her body was taken for cremation unfortunately with none of us present
such a tragic story…that a famous movie star was cremated with very few
people present for the last rites

her sudden and tragic death was obviously a great shock for me
i remember i promised myself then that i would make something of my life
in her memory and remember her that way
i must understand where i was going in life and what i was doing and why

her death formed many new questions in my life and i started to question
the very meaning of life and how one should live
the priorities and values of society and people
spending nights and nights trying to solve these questions for myself
all alone with no one to speak to nor anyone as my guide

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