Caravan: A Story by Manisha Amol

‘Raju Joker’ the most popular character of Jumbo Circus was sitting alone in the veranda of his empty house in a small village. He was lost in the good days spent with his mother.

Urmila was extremely attached with her son as he was not a normal boy but a dwarf. She lost her husband when Raju was five years old. When she discovered that Raju had physical disabilities she was totally shattered, a double whammy in her life brought everything tumbling down.

Raju could not go to school as everyone would make fun of him. His mother became his sole companion. However, the talent in him started showing at an early age. He was very witty and would easily mimic the people in his village. His jovial nature made him very popular amongst the villagers. He was asked to perform in any of the festivities and functions that happened in the village. This made him earn enough money to support his small family. Though Urmila used to feel sad at times that her son could not lead a normal life. But she would be soon out of this emotion with the innocent wit of her son.

Jumbo circus had camped in their village for a month-long performance. There were three evening shows back to back, it had become a good attraction for the people. One evening while Raju was sitting in the audience gallery watching the circus, he heard a loud voice from someone sitting on the other side, “Our Raju is much better than this joker who is performing centre stage.”On hearing this the entire crowd got up and started cheering for Raju. To avoid disruption of the show the organisers asked Raju to be on stage. Raju enthralled the audience with his act and this paved a new life for him. He was inducted into the circus.

After a month he had to move on with the caravan to the next destination. Urmila with a heavy heart let him go with a promise that he would keep coming back at regular intervals to see her.

Very soon Raju renamed as ‘Raju Joker’ became the heart and soul of this circus. He became the show stopper and the circus shows went house full because of him. Urmila was on top of the world seeing the popularity of his son and she never regretted about his disabilities anymore. He would come to meet her whenever he got time but would sent her money regularly. Life was going smooth and comfortable for both of them.Raju missed her a lot but would continue to work for her happiness.

Years passed, one evening Urmila felt very sick. She had warned her neighbors not to inform Raju about this as he would be busy performing. That fateful night when the last show was at its peak with Raju at his best, the sad news of his mother’s demise reached him. He was shocked to hear the news but continued to perform, in the end announced to the audience that this was his last performance as he was retiring.
Everyone got emotional seeing his act though tonight it was real. All of them clapped cheering ‘Raju Joker’ for this realistic performance as they thought he is expressing sadness due to his retirement from the Jumbo family.No one could know the real reason.

After the show ended the organisers tried their level best to retain him. He had decided to go back to his village forever to be with his mother’s memories. This circus was only for the happiness of his mother.

The caravan left the next day to a different destination but Raju was not with them.