The sound of the school bell would have been music to almost any student. But it was not the case with
Ravi. The happiest hours of his day were the ones spent at school. He hated leaving school. He despised going home. He detested being anywhere near her.
He kicked a pebble as he ambled along the road towards his house. It was all Amma’s fault, he thought. Why did she have to die? Why couldn’t she come back to him?
He decided to give her a piece of his mind when he talked to her before going to sleep that night. He had always thought Amma would come back to him sooner or later. He thought his wish was finally going to come true when his father had beckoned him a month back.
Ravi, what would you say if Appa told you that he is bringing Amma back to your life?” he had asked. Ravi had been delirious with joy then. With a smile his father had put a hand around his shoulder and led him to the drawing room. That was the first time he met her. She had smiled at him in a sickly sort of way. Unlike Amma, her smile did not radiate any warmth. He thought it was cold and evil. She had reached out to pet him and he had avoided her grasp and ran to his room. Since that day he had started dreading every moment he spent at home.
Now as he approached the front porch of his house his mind started to think up of further excuses to stay away from the place till dinner. He had spent many evenings of the past few weeks idling away at the corporation ground, three blocks away from his house, till dinner time. When his father had asked where he had been he had simply stated ‘friend’s place for homework’ and bolted to his room avoiding further interrogation. He decided to continue his habitual sojourn at the ground and started to step away from the gate when he heard his name being mentioned from inside the house.
Ravi is Vinod’s son and as good as your son. But don’t you wish to have a child of your own with Vinod?” a voice asked. From the whining nature of it Ravi recognized it as the voice of her mother or his ‘supposed’ grandmother.
“Look here Amma. I married Vinod because I love him and have been in love with him ever since I understood what love actually meant. I did not marry him to raise a family. Why should I indulge in it when we already have a family? I couldn’t have asked for anyone better than
Ravi as my son. Sorry to disappoint you Amma. But Ravi is, and will remain, our only child”
There was some retort to that by her mother but
Ravi’s attention had drifted away from the conversation. With loud steps he made his way to the front door and knocked on it. She opened it after a while. He trudged in and headed straight to his room without any sort of acknowledgement to her or her mother. She had become used to this behaviour of his by now. As always he closed his door with a loud bang.
Later that night as she made her way across
Ravi’s room to her own, something flew from beneath the crack of his door and landed near her. She picked it up and looked it over. It was an invitation meant for the parents of all rank holders asking them to be present when their wards were to be honoured by the school during the Annual Day festivities. The event was scheduled for the next day. She made her way silently into his room. He was fast asleep. She placed the invitation in his bag and quietly slipped away.
“Next is the award for the overall topper of class eight. Can we have Ravi of VIII B on stage please?” the teacher announced.
Ravi, are your parents here to share this special moment with you? Is Mr. Vinod here?” the teacher enquired.
“What about your mother?” she went on.
He remained silent.
Sensing the lack of response to be some personal trouble, the teacher started to get back to her list of awardees when
Ravi slowly looked up at the audience. His eyes scanned the rows before resting upon the corner chair of the very last row. He slowly lifted his hand and pointed at her.
Amma had come back after all…