“Meethi, don’t walk so fast! It’s pretty dark out there. Wait and walk with all of us.”
“Its ok Papa, I know the way back home. Don’t worry.”
“But there could be dogs there, wait till I come to you.”
“Then come fast na!”
“Wait a bit beta, Mom cant walk so fast.”
“OK! You come with Mom, I going ahead.”
“But the dogs! They will start chasing you!”
“Where are they Papa, I cant see any!”
“They are there, just around the corner.”
“I am telling you na, they are not there. And if they are, why should I be afraid? I have done anything to them. If anyone should be afraid, then its them. They should be afraid of me. I am already five, I am not afraid of dark or dogs!”
She was five and not afraid. May deep down, she knows, papa is there, right behind. Or may be her five years, have not shown her, how things could change; towards where it shouldn’t have. Even when she is right. Even when everything around her is right; it could still turn bad. Sometime we fail to believe in fairies, and they die. And demons take over. Hell raiser returns.
Home-works done, the kid with the curly hair, sits on his table. Looking at the ten yard sky visible from his window, he knew the clouds were gathering. He quietly starts building an elaborate grid with the pack of cards. One by one the layers started taking shape. A few more cards left, the anticipation made the breath move slower. He tried to hush the entire room, that all he commands. A quick glance at the grey ten yards, a few more layer added to it, an air of apprehension floating. Two more, may be three… and a gust creeps in, sweeps over the table, and… gone…
While rest of his family was enjoying the surf, the kid was oblivious to all his surrounding. Sand is stronger than cards. And he has collected shells and stones to decorate. Red, green and even a few little blue ones. The house was coming to shape nicely. The doorway, windows, terrace, wall around the open space around it. The floor above was also complete. The decorating pieces fell in place one by one. Just to create a drive way.. through the wall, to the main entrance.. he looked up, tried to find out rest of the known faces. He wanted to share his pride. Wiping his sweaty forehead, he pans his eyes around, and a smile was about to break on his lips; he found them. But he felt cold on his feet; it was not smile the tat broke, the surf had silently crept up. The dream was gone… washed out… before he could share it…
Bricks are stronger than sand; and definitely more stable than cards. One by one he carried the bricks from the narrow lane to the second floor roof top. One by one he started putting them together. It was not as intricate as the card house. Definitely not half as beautiful as the sand house. But its stronger. The strong roof top wind blowing from the river side couldn’t budge it a millimeter. There is no chance of sea waves creeping up to wash it off. He decorated it with the Shiuli and Jaba. He took his cousins dolls and placed them in it carefully. A few broken branches around it, made it look a bit softer, covering the barren bricks. He ran down the stairs to call his mother, and grand mom. Asked them to leave their cooking for a while and have a look at his dream first. He ran back upstairs, to make sure its still looking as beautiful, till they come. Beautiful? It was already a ruin. Only the fleeting tails of the monkey army gave him the hint. Its gone, once more…
She told him, “You looked like an angry kid, sitting in the corner with all doors and windows closed. Cross at the entire world, silent, damp eyes, hands and mind closed.” She was right. And then she came, to open the doors and windows. The light flooded the room, sun kissed his cheeks; Looking at the silken strands, tilted head, angled smile, he stood up; stepped out in the rain; only to look back and see, the wind gushed in through the window, surf washing in through the doors, and monkey army once more running amuck. And he went back to his corner.
The smell of the smoke coming out of the soldering iron was heavenly. The curly hair head was leaning onto the circuit board, the gleaming eyes were feasting on the plot unraveling slowly. As the expert hands slowly kept putting the pieces in the exact place, soldering them neatly, like a magician he was putting together the pieces of jigsaw puzzle. Occasionally he was glancing up, to record a view of the master; pride filling his heart for this man he knew as his father. Slowly, a foundation was getting laid. Snapshots and recording of the general, who silently and elegantly took over the roles of chief organizer of kalipujo, tantra-dharak and the leader of the Prasad serving team. The person who always took pride in his innumerable broken bones, yet never taking pride in the selfless eldest son of the family. The person towards everyone looked up, yet when the time came, he silently passed on the mantle. The dependable became the dependant.
Looking at the figure smaller than his forearm, lying between his proud parents, he remembered,
Yes its shared, but its there. He needs to treasure each moment. Maybe this is one of those opportunities that life has thrown towards him. One of those small packages, with a promise of a life time.
Promises, or were they silent expectations? Unfulfilled desires and dreams, lost in the war of life. In course of delivering the “needed” and “expected” to all around perhaps the very personal “aspirations” were wrapped and tucked behind some unwanted wish list. Just lighting a small candle or hope and prayer, that maybe – just a “maybe” another eldest will take care of them. That “maybe” might have been defeated by another “maybe”. This eldest might not be as capable as the “eldest” senior. And a lot of those tucked up aspirations just fizzled away, unlike the crackers they were bursting a few days back during Diwali. That day, the mute eyes and a clenched fist proudly declared that he fought his last battle with all his heart, and came back from the brink. But he was unaware that the last battle was still left, as he sank back. And this time the face turned only to show a pair of tearful eyes, telling “Sorry kid, I tried my best. I really gave my best shot. But my best was not enough. I lost it. I don’t have another battle left in me anymore. Please don’t ask me for it!” Its me who is sorry. I failed. “Maybe” I didn’t had it in me. You deserved better, much better. I know you dreamt for that peace and love all of your pears were enjoying. And just when the youngest gave you a piece of it, the time was up.
It was a bad time. The streams never stopped, not yet by a long shot. The bottle with the blue and pink pills kept popping in and out of its place. The sales of Cipralox saw a steady growth. Many said, 07-08 was worst for a long time. I knew its just another of them. They keep coming back. 91-92, 97-98, 02-03 and now 07-8. Amazing accuracy! It’s apparent, 09 will see the change; one more fight back, another resurrection. Another beginning from scratch. Another buildup, pieces being put together, and a wait for the storm to come and snatch it away. Well, when you are in the battle and still alive, you need to pick up the sword and keep swinging. Just that the kid went back his room, locked up, closed down; this time might not be for the monsoon to come back. His mind-brush keeps painting, a welcome note for 09, come lets begin the fight!!