Sanjay opened the gate to the park and joined the many people there who were already there, having their morning walk. Ahead of him, Raman and his wife were also among the morning crowd. Raman was as usual discussing the latest news from the morning's paper with his wife. Presently, he was trying to make his wife understand why reservation in educational sector was important and as soon as Sanjay heard this, he immediately remembered Anand, the couple's son, who had been the envy of many of a couple in that locality. A truly extraordinary boy that Anand was, had topped every exam that he wrote and when he topped the nation in his senior secondary school, nobody took notice. Anand had been a model son also, as rarely anyone knew Anand having any vice. On a general consensus, Anand had taken up higher studies in the United States in some Ivy League University and even today, Sanjay could remember Raman's pride in having such a son. Anand's achievements in the academic field seemed to double once the boy went to USA. Every email to his parents described some academic achievement or the other and Raman never tired of telling us of his son's success. But among all this pride, Sanjay knew that Raman and his wife were missing their only son, on whom they had showered their love and affection for 17 years. The boy seemed to be working very hard and it was not until that he got a job and a green card that Anand was able to come back to India and what a homecoming it proved to be! Raman had unable to hide his excitement even 4 weeks before his arrival and almost constantly talked to us about him. His wife on the other hand made every delicacy she knew that Anand had a liking for. But all the hullabaloo had come to a naught the moment Anand introduced his wife to his parents at the airport! Mrs. Raman had a massive cardiac attack and if not for timely medical help available at the airport, might not have been here today, talking the walk with Raman today. That day had been the last day when Anand had seen his parents at all, as the Ramans decided to estrange their son and live their lives on their own. Even now, Sanjay felt a bit heavy whenever he thought about the couple.
'Hi Sanjay!". That was Ashok. He was another regular at the park everyday and Sanjay thought that if anybody wanted time off, it had to be Ashok. An average student, Ashok took wing as soon as he started his own business. What started out as a two room venture was now worth a few hundred crores. While luck also played a major role, Ashok's hard work was the pivot for the success of the business. Having been left orphaned due to a fire accident when he was five, Ashok was brought up his uncle and though loved by his uncle, always missed his parents. The business proved to be a diversion of sorts and Ashok spent every minute of his waking hours in developing his business and it showed in his unparalleled success. Though happy at Ashok's success, Sanjay felt saddened at the lack of any familial ties for Ashok. The guy had been an introvert all through and though was respected and admired by everybody, there were no one who was romantically interested in him. Sanjay knew how hard it could be for Ashok with huge success on one hand and being family less because of the success on the other.
Amid these thoughts, Sanjay smelt the fresh bloom of Lakshmi's flowers on the sidewalk. Poor girl! Being born to a wastrel father meant that she had to do whatever odd jobs to support her mother to make ends meet and one of them was this 'platform' shop which somehow paid her educational expenses. The evening phase of the shop contributed to household expenses and sometimes for her father's binge too!
Thinking about all this Sanjay felt how hard life was and was thankful for none of that happening to him and as he reached the gate, Sanjay called out for his driver and as he settled in the car, took the latest Braille edition of Business Week to know the latest trends in the stock market to plan his next investment option.