Monday, January 23, 2017

The Tall Boy on the Swing

Eight year old Shankar was clutching his scratched arm and he was angry. Really angry.

He stormed inside his home shouting on top of his voice. "Mom! It is not my fault." Shankar was still young and believed that his mother still believed him when he talked and Shankar felt that the best way to get your point across was to shout it through. It worked with his friends and Shankar genuinely believed that it would work with his mother.

"Mom?" Shankar shouted again and realized that his mother was not paying attention because she was not even there at home.

He raced through his home only to find his mother sitting in the back garden. And that was when Shankar saw a tall boy. The tall boy was sitting on Shankar's swing. It was his! Shankar was angry as he came forward wondering who the boy was and wondered why his mother had let the stranger boy sit on his swing when he had specifically told his mother that no one was to be allowed on it.

And that was when Shankar properly saw the boy. The tall boy looked his own age, but the tall boy looked like he had had many nightmares all at the same time. Despite this, the boy was looking stubbornly at the ground...defiant. Shankar realized immediately that the boy had something to do with his mom who was a cop. But he still did not understand why his mom brought a troubled looking boy home.

Shankar stepped on the garden and stepped on a twig as there was a rustling noise and his mother and the tall boy turned to look at him. Shankar thought he saw the tall boy tremble. But he dismissed it. It had to be his imagination. Besides he had bigger things to worry about.

"What happened to you?" His mother Lavinia demanded staring at Shankar shocked.

"I...I was playing," Shankar said with whatever tact he could manage. Besides, Shankar really felt that the boy did not need to know anything.

Shankar saw a completely exasperated look pass his mother's face as he realized that his mother did not believe him. And Shankar just could not understand why. Agreed that Shankar had been in fights a lot – But honestly the others in the locality were completely stupid and they always started it. Shankar just could not understand why the people were so silly and could not even understand basic things. He just reacted to the stupidity of the people around him. Shankar even found his teachers at school, stupid. And Shankar honestly did not know why a week back, his teacher had called his mother and they both had an a very long talk and his mom had been furious with him that day. But Shankar was lying low since that time. At least until he knew why his mother was so furious.

And now his mother just brought a boy home.

"This is Shankar, my son." Lavinia said pulling Shankar with her and looking at the tall boy.

For a few seconds, Shankar ignored his mom and looked at the boy. Up close, Shankar looked at the boy and was slightly shocked. The boy was not sad...He was haunted.

"Shankar....?" Lavinia started as she clutched her son's shoulders.

"I didn't start the fight!" Shankar told his mother interrupting what she was going to say. There were somethings best clarified before things went really bad.

For once his mother laughed when she heard him and Shankar was surprised. This reaction he really had not expected. Because this was the time his mother usually started yelling at him. Shankar looked at the tall boy...Probably it really was useful to have the boy around. Seemed to keep mom in a good mood.

"Shankar, would you like it if he stayed with us?" His mother asked him.

"Yes!" Shankar said immediately. Shankar was thinking about very real and grounded matters. The boy seemed to calm his mother down and when Shankar did one of his more dubious works than Shankar was thinking of sending the boy to talk with his mother. Shankar besides studied the boy and realized that the boy could really fight. So that was one who would fight for him, when he was fighting with Yash.

His mother and the boy both looked shocked at Shankar. Like they could not believe what he had said.

Shankar for his part was looking magnificently shocked because on hearing him, his mother laughed though there were tears in her eyes as his mother had hugged him tightly and Shankar could feel the tears in her face, wetting him. Shankar was thoroughly freaked out about his mom doing that.

His mom had left the two boys and slowly gone back to the house.

"What is your name?" Shankar asked the boy.

"Arlan," the boy mumbled.

"Where are your parents?" Shankar asked Arlan confused.

Shankar was almost shocked as he saw Arlan trembling with sadness. "I don't know," Arlan said suddenly looking at Shankar defiantly. "During the riots a month back, there was a fire in our house. After that there was an explosion..." Arlan looked depressed as he saw the ground as he was twisting the swing ropes and Shankar saw that his hands were trembling badly. "After that I could not find my parents," Arlan mumbled.

"I will help you find them," Shankar said immediately.

Arlan looked at Shankar with amazement as a beautiful smile lit up his face.

Shankar nodded. "Your parents would also be searching for you. We will ask people. They will know about your parents." Shankar said confidently. He had found his nosy neighbour's cat, which had been lost. This could not be more difficult. "Until you find them, you can stay at my room," Shankar said pointing at the first floor of his home.

"Thank you!"Arlan looked unbearably sad and gratified at the same time as Shankar suddenly looked at him suspiciously.

"You will see a lot of things in my room and if you tell mom about it, I will box your ears," Shankar told Arlan in a sharp voice.

"Why? What are you making?" Arlan asked confused.

"I am building a plane to travel in space," Shankar said proudly.

"Plane?" Arlan asked in an excited voice.

"My dad..." Shankar frowned for a few seconds wondering why he was feeling so bad. "My mom said that dad is not with us because he has a new home in the skies," Shankar said finally. "I am building a plane so that I can go and see him."

"I will help you," Arlan said immediately.

Shankar looked suspiciously at Arlan and Arlan nodded. "I won't tell your mom anything," Arlan promised.

Both Shankar and Arlan smiled as they were slowly walking inside the home.

Lavinia saw the two boys who were smiling and wondered whether she was doing the right thing - Shankar's school teachers had been frank -  He was belligerent because he just did not know how to express his grief. And they all pointed out that he was too intelligent which was why he did not feel comfortable talking to other people – because Shankar found people stupid.

Lavinia saw the two boys again as Arlan said something as Shankar laughed. The two boys were still laughing as they rushed upstairs, not even paying attention to her.

Lavinia smiled without meaning to as she picked up her pen and pulled out the papers from her drawers.

She signed the adoption papers without any other thought.  

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