THE PRICELESS GIFT

HG102

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https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WBY0IIC

Life is never a straight line.

Priya is a typical modern-day woman in India. Independent and full of life, she spends her days at her job working hard to secure a better life for herself. She also has a close connection with her mother, who dotes on her daughter endlessly.

But her work life and home life collide on one disastrous day. When Priya becomes a victim of sexual abuse in the workplace, she hides in fear and humiliation only to realize that she’s pregnant. Devastated and wishing to run away from the shame, she seeks refuge in her mother who in return can’t hear the news and dies of a heart attack.

Devastated by the loss of her mother, Priya nevertheless decides to make the best of her situation. She decides to continue with the pregnancy. She eventually gives birth to a son and raises him by herself. The pain that resulted in her son’s birth has transformed into the all-consuming power of a mother’s love. Priya knows that her son means everything to her, and nothing can stop the special bond they share… until one day.

That’s when her abuser, Vijay comes storming back into Priya’s life. In the years that he’s been away, he’s been through his own struggles, losing his entire family in a devastating tsunami. A broken man, he comes back to plead for Priya’s forgiveness. When she comes face to face with her abuser, waves of the exploitation come flooding in. But she can’t let go of the past that easily, even though their son is a shared reminder of their bond. Vijay knows it will take a lot to change Priya’s mind. So, he returns one day with a priceless gift in his hands – one that could change Priya’s life forever.

A Priceless Gift is a stunning and lyrical tale of two Indian families torn apart by hate and anger while seeking redemption through love and forgiveness. Author Hemalatha Gnanasekar crafts this compelling story with three-dimensional characters that speak to the heart of the human experience. A story rooted in India, yet shared by diverse cultures across the world, A Priceless Gift proves that life doesn’t always proceed as planned. Because when a heart is closed off from betrayal and pain, sometimes the only cure… is to open it up.

 

FIRST CHAPTER :

The Venkateswara Quality Inn was, as usual, bustling with activity; people were coming in and going out continuously. Vijay, the owner of the hotel, sat silently, watching the goings on. Suddenly, his eyes fell on the young lad, who was just entering and at once his entire system revved up. The boy, probably in his early twenties, was new to this area and had come here regularly every night for over a week. Vijay was rather perplexed as to why his heart went out to him whenever he happened to see him. He could also not understand why he was engulfed with strong feelings of love and affection toward this boy; it seemed Vijay had known him all his life! Today, he was inclined to find out, more than ever. For the first time in two years, Vijay felt an urge to talk to someone! Slowly, he got up from his chair and started walking toward the table where the boy was sitting.

Being a motherless child, Vijay was brought up by his father who had spoiled him with too much love and pampered him so much that he always got his way. Even in his mid- forties, he lacked dignity and good manners. He was puffed up with self-conceit and pride and thought that he had everything in life that one could ask for. Vijay had never known what it was to be in need of something until the day when the tragedy struck . . .

It happened on the day of Ramya’s thirteenth birthday. Vijay had taken his daughter to the Marina Beach to watch the sunrise. Swathi, his wife, sat on the shore and kept watch over her. Vijay was walking around with his cell phone, talking to one of his close friends. Ramya was enjoying the tickle of sand and water under her feet when she saw a few catamarans far off. Within a few minutes, the catamarans reached the shore, and the fishermen embarked from them with their huge catches. Curious to see the fishes, Ramya followed them. Immediately the men squatted on the sand and divided the fishes into various categories. Several wholesalers surrounded the fishermen and started their bidding. In a few moments, the fishermen sold all their catch and left the place after tying up the catamarans on the sand. Ramya quickly jumped into the catamaran and began playing. She called out to her mother to join her, and as she walked toward her daughter, Swathi pointed to the rising sun. “Wow! Look at that Daddy. It looks as if the sun is coming out of the sea!” Ramya shrieked in excitement on seeing her father return. Vijay joined in her excitement and after a few minutes told her that it was time to return home. But Ramya pleaded with him that she wished to play in the water a little longer, and he relented.

Ramya ran and dipped her feet in the cool water once again and shortly she was joined by both parents. Swathi noticed that the waves were suddenly getting violent, and she warned father and daughter not to go into the sea. Just as she said this, she saw huge waves rising high in the middle of the sea and forming giant walls. Slowly, the water came closer and closer to them. All around, people started running helter-skelter-and screaming in fear.

Filled with panic, Vijay lifted Ramya and ran toward the catamarans, holding Swathi’s hand. He held the catamaran in a strong grip while his wife and daughter held on to him for support. As they stood huddled together, frozen in fear, the violent waves overtook them. The catamarans were ripped apart by the strong force of the water. Vijay saw his wife and daughter cart-wheeling away from him and abruptly being drawn into the deep sea. He ran behind them for a short distance, screaming aloud, and was very soon dragged into the ferocious sea in a similar manner. But as luck would have it, Vijay was swept back to the shore by another violent wave, and he lay there unconscious for a long time. When at last he regained consciousness, he slowly attempted to get up. Confused over the clamor and din around him, he stood paralyzed in shock at what he saw.

Dead bodies were everywhere, and people were wailing for their dear ones. Vijay frantically searched for his wife and daughter. There was no sign of them. Having lost all hope, he sat down on the sand and let out an ear-shattering scream, “Oh God! How can you be so cruel and heartless? Why did you take away my loving daughter and wife, leaving me all alone? Why did you spare me? I should have gone with them! Why am I still alive?”

The tragedy transformed Vijay’s life into doldrums. He was constantly in a state of distress for he had no soul whom he could call his own. His mother died when he was just five years old. His father passed away soon after Vijay married. And now his whole family was gone. Very often he wondered why God had saved him.

The incident, however, transformed Vijay from being a very dominating person to a subdued one. His workmen, who dreaded facing him, now felt sorry for his loss and were filled with empathy toward him.

Though the wheel of time had taken a quick turn and it was almost two years now, Vijay continued to be in a melancholy mood. He was still having nightmares and woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat with his heart thumping. He kept hearing the waves crashing around him and the heart-rending cries of his wife and daughter as they were swept away from him.

Withdrawing himself into a shell, he often remained aloof, hardly speaking to anyone. But of late, he was surprised that his heart was melting at the sight of this boy, and he was determined to find out the cause today.

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