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“Sacrifice, what’s a sacrifice mother” enquired Keshav while trying to completing one last question before he was headed for his daily one hour playtime. Mother engrossed in churning out ghee,  smiled at the question which raised a wave of thoughts about the types of sacrifices that all make at some point whether its as big as for a women quitting her job for her family or is it as small as for a father offering the last pie of food to his son and pretending that he is full, so she said to her 7 year old “its an act, the last time your 4 year old sister asked for your share of chocolate and you were so forthcoming, that was a sacrifice

“Really mother, that’s it, so this was the sacrifice that our English teacher made a big deal out of in todays class while teaching us the topic “Bheeshm“- giving up his accession right over the  kingdom for his step brother. Huh!! Anyways i was full that time that’s why sister got my share otherwise the only place that chocolate belonged was the intricacies of my stomach” said Keshav licking his lips.

Mother laughed at the innocence of her child and gave him a light pat ” haa! Do your sum” and she returned to stir the “kadai” lightly, while the child returned to his world of tricky “problems” and simple “solutions”. The aroma of ghee was slowly spilling into each and every corner of their 2 bedroom flat in the suburbs of Mumbai.

Years rolled by and while many suns went down in the marina beach Keshav grew into a teenager of 18 years, 5 ft 10 inched broad shouldered, he was now a student in one of the good colleges. But as they say everyone in life has his fare share of penance and grief, so did Keshav but may be his penance was a tad more , so thought he. He was standing near his mother’s tombstone offering flowers, with father beside him. Its been 6 years since he had lost his mother to the deadly leukemia. Since then he and his father had shifted to Chennai,a city of beaches and south Indian delicacies, here Keshav found solace in roaming at the banks of river cooum or spending those after college hours sitting on the marina beach staring at the huge waves that formed a white foam on the water every time they hit the shore,  gently forming white foam in water, 6 years had formed a clot on his wound but still every thing seemed to relate to her in one way or the other but the difference was that earlier these resemblings left a trail of tears but now just a half grin. Same feeling different emotions, “time is a cunning deceiver”,thought Keshav.

“No auntie, one more morsel and I feel my stomach would burst” said Keshav to Madhav’s mom

“Its your exam eat well, someone has said even soldiers did not fight on empty belly” said mrs.Khanna while coaxing him to have one more paratha.

Keshav smiled at the soldier analogy and ate the last “paratha”.

Then as was the custom both he and Madav bowed before god and mrs. Khanna offered them a spoonful of curd as a good omen.

Both Madhav and Keshav left for college with Keshav driving and Madhav sitting pillon.

This had been the custom since the past 5 years. Madhav’s father was a subordinate in Keshav’s father’s firm. They were introduced in one of the office dinners and stuck a chord immediately. Keshav had become Madhav’s best friend and mrs.Khanna’s second son.

Keshav in turn respected mrs. Khanna as his mother and Madhav was a precious asset that life had offered him and he had accepted it with both hands. Thus time gave him a second family. What a cunning deceiver the time is, surely.

3 years of college life passed. Keshav and Madhav’s friendship grew as strong as the binding between stars, invisible yet there. Now it was a time for placements and like everyone else they both were aspiring for one of those big companies. Many companies came to the campus but Madhav wanted to get placed in this particular company named ‘ignite’, both friends had to attend the interview the next day. Keshav faced a certain dilemma, he knew that his yearly scores were better than Madhav’s and if he attended the interview Madhav would stand no chance of making it to the final list. He had to make a small choice, either he could attend and get selected have a good life or he could choose the otherwise and let his friend realise his dream. He looked out of the window. The sweet shop opposite to his apartment was opened for the day and the cook was warming the frying pan, he remembered the day he had asked his mother about the meaning of sacrifice and his mother had replied ‘ its less of an act more to do with the feeling’ , today he realized the depth of her words, the thought brought a wet half smile on his face, the aroma of  ghee being fried in the pan was slowly spreading into the air.

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