Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Life Goes On. A Living Has To Be Made

He was all of 11 years old. His life consisted of playing till the sun went down, and then some more, going to school and ensuring that his parents were asked to visit the school at least once every month and apologise for his antics, asking for and getting all his favourite food and pretending to study when the date for his examination drew closer.

He was the youngest of three children and he knew his mother would do anything that he asked for. Life was good since the universe revolved around him. He left for school that morning rather late and was dropped off by his father after the constant pleas by his mother lest he miss his classes and worse get punished for being late.

His father, usually the epitome of silence told him "You don't realise what a comfortable life you have, son. Don't take things too easy because life has a way to jolt us and force us to learn lessons that we choose to ignore." He sat pretending to be sullen and sorry for his behaviour while he thought to himself that as long as his mother was around, he could do anything and no one in the world would be able to harm him.

That evening he was out playing later than usual. His sister came looking for him and he tried hiding from her for as long as he could. However he heard a certain desperation in her voice that he somehow couldn't ignore. Something in him urged him to get out of hiding and go to her. She didn't yell at him like she normally would and in fact didn't say a word. Just "Come home."

He didn't like the silence between as they walked home, her pushing her cycle while he walked by her side. He tried to break the silence with a "Is papa mad at me?"
No response.

Now, he was anxious and could feel the butterflies in his stomach. May be this was the day he would actually get a solid whacking like his older brother usually does. May be he should just run away. Mother will anyway find him and bring him back home safe. May be he should try to get his sister on his side with some inane story that he was studying with a few friends and so didn't realise the time. As his mind raced with multiple things that he could or should do to avoid what ever unpleasantness awaited him back home, they were closer home. His sister was still mum.

There was no car at the gate, so well at least his father wasn't home yet. He relaxed a bit. As he enters the door, he shouts out towards his mother "Mama, didi embarrassed me in front of all my friends. Why did she have to come and get me? Now all my friends think I am a little baby!"

To his surprise his mother didn't say a word. She sat silently on the easy chair by the window and stared out blankly into the darkness beyond the window.

The anxiousness and the butterflies in his stomach were back. Something was wrong for sure. His mother had never ignored him in his entire eleven years of existence. "What happened mama? Why aren't you talking to me?" No response.

After a few fleeting seconds that felt like an hour to him, his mother said almost in a barely audible whisper "Go change your clothes and wait in your room."

Something told him that he should just do what was asked off him. He sat in his room, having changed his clothes waiting impatiently but fearfully for he didn't know what to expect. His eyes fell on a can of mosquito repellent spray and he thought may be he should just drink it up and then they would rush him to the hospital and all will be forgotten. His mind wandered off with images he inspired by movies he had seen. An ambulance speeding to the nearest hospital with him inside. His parents telling him how sorry they were and that everything will be alright. His sister getting a shouting from his parents.

Suddenly, breaking his reverie his brother came in to the room and told him to stay at home with their sister. Mom and he will be back home late at night or only in the morning. He heard himself ask what was wrong and his voice was shaking. He didn't recognize his own voice... devoid of any arrogance or rudeness it sounded like someone else's altogether. Mother came in and hugged him... "Your papa is no more." she said and burst out crying. The eleven year old put his arm around his mother and said in a voice that was unnaturally calm and cold "That's OK mama. Life has a way to jolt us and force us to learn lessons that we choose to ignore."