A Boy... A Man.

The dusk had broken in once again, into my life and I had off late taken a dislike to it that was hard to explain. The game didn’t go well. Actually I didn’t find any buyers for what I thought was an amazing talent of trying to hit the ball for a six every time I played. I guess the sole problem was that I almost always missed. So dejected and lost I made my way back home. There was one good thing about not being a good player. They (my elder brother and his friends) would always let me go home early.

So I reached home and like always the door was unlocked. I really used to like this place. I had a room of my own after all. None of my friends had it. I entered the house and looked around. There was eerie silence that sprawled across this part of my world. Silence heavier than the burden I carried on my back- My school bag. I went to my parent’s room and it was empty. So I went to the kitchen hoping to find them there- Talking, as they used to. Hoping that today things would be like the way I was promised the last time. Mom was there. With a face that told me that something was amiss. I felt scared. It was scary- This silence.

Maa, where’s Pa? I asked her and almost wished I hadn’t.

“he is asleep in your room” came the reply. It would’ve been okay but for the fact that she didn’t even look at me while replying to my question.

I made my way to my room (The silence creeping under my skin), knocked but no reply. So I pushed the door and it opened easily. I felt strange, entering my own room. It was the first time pop’s was in there, supposedly sleeping. I felt tense and scared of what I might see. A common feeling now, ever since he had taken to drinking his blues away. So I pushed the door open and tried to make out what I ever I could see in the almost unlit room. Mom was still in the kitchen cooking and silent. She hardly ever said a word. Determined not to cross boundaries I guess. I could barely make out his profile, cuddled into a fetal position. Asleep or knocked out I didn’t know, nor I had any wish to try and find out. I left my bag on the table. Hell lot of homework and injustice inside it. And was wondering how I’d explain to my teacher why I couldn’t do my homework. Not that I’d have done it anyways. I was exiting the room when he stirred, and to my horror turned and called out my name- ever so affectionately.

“mann, kahan jaa rahe ho?”

There was no way I could escape a question, especially when it came from him. In fact, there was no way I could escape anything.

“I’m going to the kitchen to have dinner pa”.

“Come here child, talk to Papa. How was your day?”

I almost wanted to tell him that my class teacher literally told me not to come to school if I didn’t bring my fees along tomorrow.

“It was okay pa”

“I got you the latest set of your favorite comics. The one’s u like to read”

“Thank you pa, I love you”

A natural reaction from a guy who is used to of borrowing pen, pencils and even his course books.

“Pa you didn’t drink today? Did you?”

“No I didn’t, you forgot I promised I won’t anymore”

“Pa I love you”

“So do I, my child. So do I”

His words were enough to make me realize how bad undeserving and untrusting I had been. But at the same time, the same words made me feel strange because of his tone. He spoke as if he was not trying to make me realize how much he loved but more like he was trying to reassure himself that he loved me. My childish mind did get caught on to it for a moment but that was all. If he really was telling the truth there were Nagraj, super commando Dhruv and a lot more waiting for me right there on my desk. I rushed first to my table and found a whole set of the latest comics there. I couldn’t hold back any longer, all the disappointments of the game that I actually didn’t play, now forgotten, I felt guilt ridden to an extent I could’ve buried myself right there. Six feet underneath the surface. However I was no fool and I realized that it’s impossible to do that especially when you live on the first floor. Still. Enamored by his act, which to my mind seemed too kind for me to be able to believe. I couldn’t hold back any longer, all the disappointments of the game that I actually didn’t play, now forgotten, I rushed over to him.

My loving father!

and I was scared of him?

He was lying on his side all this while. Facing away from me and towards the wall. I reached over and tried to hold him in arms. Too big a frame for an 11 year old to hold he was forced to turn. And the moment he did, all my love, my happiness vanished. I could smell it but found it hard to believe.

He had done it again. Done what he had promised he won’t.

Ever.

Done what caused mom to suffer, done what caused us to not have enough money at times. Done something, which told me that I’d be lucky if I could get into school without being punished tomorrow. Done something that told me that all those comics were nothing but a way to avoid me, or my reactions.

A bribe for his 11 year old son.

I didn’t understand it. Why would one do something like that? Knowing it doesn’t do you any good? Why people drink alcohol? Or rather, why my father has to do it? Especially, when I don’t want him to? Ever so full of questions I found it harder to understand the more I thought about it. I took one last look at his face, got up, tried to shake off all these not so interesting thoughts from mind, and made my way to the kitchen, to my mother. I don’t know if she needed me but I did, I needed her right then to tell me things are fine. That we can still eat, stay and live in peace. To tell me that my father still loved us! Loved her! That we were what I always thought we were. A happy family.

So I headed to where mom was. In the kitchen. I entered the kitchen and my mom was still there, standing right where I had left her. There were tears in her eyes but she hardly seemed to be crying. So she has been cutting onions, wonder what miracle she is cooking today. She was the best cook ever, and I knew it. Every Sunday we’ll get something super to eat. Idly Sāmbhar, gazpacho soup, pav bhajji, dosa, chole bhature and the likes of it. Without fail. And to top it all. She would never question me about my home work. She was like a cooker that can cook without pressure. Whenever we’d get a note that was supposed to tell our parents that we were no good, that we were spoilt, that we should be ashamed of ourselves and our parents should be ashamed of bringing us into this world, I’d go to her and she’d simply read the note and sign it. No questions made, No answerers required.

She hadn’t noticed me yet as she had her back towards me and but I could still see her wiping her eyes with the forearm of her right hand. I was about to call out to her but stopped. Something wasn’t right. Every time she’d wipe her eyes the knife in her hand was visible for a second and the blade seemed to be covered in red. Suddenly I understood. It only took seconds. And once I did, my heart sank. I wanted to rush to her, to stop her, but couldn’t move. Paralyzed by fear, I was rooted to the spot. I tried to call out again but my tongue felt like lead. I felt a heaviness in my chest that seemed to be spreading throughout my body. I could hardly breathe and everything seemed to be going dark. I tried to take a step but couldn’t. I tried to garner every ounce of strength in my body but the darkness was overwhelming. It swan in my eyes and all I saw were images from my worst nightmares where I’d be searching for her everywhere, asking everyone where she is? Running around the house, in the streets, in her office at school, at my uncles place, but unable to find her. Feeling so lost that I couldn’t relate to anything in this world. Suddenly I was suffocating. My vision started blurring. I somehow managed to raise my hand to rub my eyes and it was then that I realized that I was crying. I wiped off the tears with my hands. Ashamed, and afraid at the same time, I blinked a few times and my vision cleared. I tried to look towards my mom once again and suddenly the heaviness inside me turned into a crushing weight. I felt as if everything I had was suddenly slipping away. The red from the blade of the knife had now spread on to the kitchen sill and was now dripping on to the floor. Where it pooled in a stark contrast to the white marble floor and flowed on towards the drainage hole underneath the sink. It even collected in my thoughts and ran out as tears. Flowing freely like it was flowing on the floor, coloring my vision, my fears; it pooled in my heart and drowned me in dread. Overpowering every sense I possessed it threatened to finish the only purpose of my life. I wanted to thrash about. I wanted to fight this dread. I wanted to end it right here to save what I loved the most. I wanted to simply walk up to her and hold her. I wanted to cry out aloud. I wanted to scream. I tried and suddenly I heard a voice- Mummy! Mummy what happened? It sounded different though, I never called her mommy. I used to call her maa. Someone pushed me to the side and rushed to my mom. It was my brother. It was his voice. He was here. He would make everything right. He would save me from my nightmares. Finding courage in his presence I suddenly broke through the red tinted darkness and called out to mom. But my words hardly made sense. I realized I wasn’t calling but wailing. I felt so weak all of a sudden that my legs gave way. I sank to floor crying- Maa maa maa.

@@@

I felt lost. I felt lost to the extent that I could no longer be found again. Life was bereft of meaning as one by one I lost everyone that made life worth living. It was strange. Till yesterday I had a thousand reasons to live for and today suddenly everything seemed to slip away. I was running around, .battling my fears. Every win somehow brought me closer to doom. And I still kept fighting. Trying to hold on to reasons. Reasons that made me live. Reasons that forced me to survive. Reasons that made me realize that there’s more to life than achievements but it was all in vain. I was fighting a battle I had already lost. My heart full of dread and my eyes full of tears I felt my despair overcoming my fears and in desperation I suddenly called out-maa…..

I suddenly was more aware of myself than I had felt till now. I tried to move and found that I wasn’t running on the streets as I thought I was. I was lying down on something too soft to be comfortable. I tried to move my hands and realized I was holding on to something soft again. I felt cold sweat, breaking out of every pore in my body. I opened my eyes but I could hardly see. It was a mix of bright lights and there was this loud noise I could hear and recognize but was unable to place. I tried to look around- get my bearings. With some effort I got up and looked around. I was in my room. The window was open and the dawn was breaking in. The sea outside was making a lot of noise. Noises I had grown to love. Noises I would sit and listen to, all night. till I fell asleep. I was sweating. Profusely now. It was a horrible dream. Like the past that used to haunt me every now and then. Head too heavy to shake off the impact it had, I made my way to kitchen. Thirsty all of a sudden but there was no water. So I opened the fridge and as I expected there was what I sought the most. Refuge. People call it beer nowadays but I prefer the word blessing. I took one out. Uncorked it with the help of m ever sharp canines and took one huge swig. It cooled me a little. My thirst sated and my mind liberated I now tried to feel along the path of partial success that I thought was gonna take me places. It had been a year now. A year full of hard work. A year full of staying awake at night and doing my bidding while the world I lived in slept away in peace. A year of living along the sea, learning to enjoy it’s ever swinging moods. A year of sitting on the beach alone every day and remembering the past. A year of being so alone that I felt that speaking to myself was normal. An year full of life that was well punctuated by my shifts and how I could take some time out to drink. It actually and surprisingly felt nice sometimes. To realize that I was actually able to survive through all this and create possibilities for the future. I didn’t like it at all. Except for the money (which was good). But it felt nice to see my name everywhere in this nocturnal world- splattered everywhere, pasted or posted on every wall. That every discussion among my managers brought about my name as the strongest contender to be promoted was a heady feeling in itself. I sat on the sill of my window overlooking the sea and watched the waves break over on the rocks continuously. It was a view I never tired of. Watching the sea break over the rocks, Dwarfed in comparison of the vast never ending sea. Threatening to engulf their existence everytime. But The rocks would always stay their ground. Weathering with time and the repeated assaults on their existence. They would still be there every morning I went for a walk on the sea shore and they’d be there every night while I waited for my cab to come and pick me up. It was reassuring. In my world that had broken apart in more ways then seemed possible it was these rocks that egged me on. Strange how no human could inspire me but these supposedly non living things did. I took the last swig from the bottle and diverted my attention to worldly things now. I could hear sounds of conversation being made in the other room. My homies it seemed were up early and were deep into conversation. I really wasn’t much interested but felt bound by duties to go and explore. So I headed to the room where the sounds emanated from. We lived in a three bedroom flat. Me, my friend Arvind and our friend Ishaan. The sounds were coming from Ishaan’s room. It was too early for arvind to wake up so I deducted that we had visitors. I simply walked into the room and was surprised to see them having breakfast. Parantha’s and Aloo ki sabji. At 8:00 am in the morning. I couldn’t help but ask

“Dude! How come we are actually having breakfast in the morning today? I hope everything is fine. Or may be I should go check whether the sun rose in the west just now?” Nobody though paid any attention to what I was saying. Instead I was greeted by a chorus of

“you animal!! You woke up finally.”

I wonder at times why people ask such questions. I mean such useless ones. Here I am standing, drinking a beer, talking and I am being asked if I am awake? I had no choice left but to resort to the usual craziness I’m known for.

“I hope not. This has to be a nightmare; waking up in the morning just to see your beer being consumed by pigs you are forced to call your friends.”

For a second everyone went silent. Then Ishaan spoke up.

“Dude. Don’t you think it’s better than waking up in the morning to see the girl you now can’t even recognize, serving this breakfast for us while we keep calling her ‘bhabhi’ all the time”.

Crap. Why do I have to drink so much? I wondered. I recalled the incident and all the trouble I had to go through for the next few weeks and now I was worried about last night. I could vaguely remember dancing with some girl.

“Hell!! This is heaven in comparison even though you guys stink like stale cat ****. Go ahead with the beer mate. There are still a few bottles we need to chill and there’s no space in the fridge”. And with this I made my way towards the window overlooking the sea and sat down on its sill. It was my favorite place to sit in the room. Turn my head a little and I could be so far away from the crowd inside, battling the high sea waves or flying across its vastness like a sea gull. Mindless. Thoughtless. Worriless....

yet to be completed.
cherrytaught cherrytaught
26-30, M
Sep 24, 2012