Writing101: Day six, Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?
I took a keen interest in him, right after I got to know his story. My eyes stalked him wherever he went, during class or lunch, and sometimes after school hours too.
He was one of the nuisance makers, the reincarnation of little devils who would interrupt the class, abruptly throw away other’s belongings, talk loudly and trouble others, but he did have a good side to him too. He helped the kids who were weaker than him in studies, always made an attempt to talk in English, finished his daily home work as well as took initiative.
I stood in the corridor, leaning my back against the wall and watched him. He was little over 4 feet, dressed in shabby clothes, bare footed, his hair always in a mess, his scrawny hands covered with dirt but never the less a huge beaming smile.
“Didi!” he screamed as he ran towards me.
I stood on my toes and raised my hands high up, and challenged him to give me a “hi-five”, he jumped as high as he could and tried unrelenting for a while, but couldn’t reach. I pretended to look away and lowered my hand; he finally got his hi-five, did a mini-jig out of happiness and rushed into his class.
As I watched him run around laughing, I could imagine how much effort it took for him to be happy.
He was a nine year old, who had a part time job. Having an alcoholic and abusive father, a younger sibling, an uneducated and impoverished family, a mother who was a maid in the locality and was repeatedly abused added with a severe dearth of money, was enough misery already.
He worked as a newspaper delivery boy in the mornings before coming to school and earned just enough money to fulfill his little desires of a chocolate once in a while or a new book and pencil, and gave whatever was left to his mother.
A few days back, he turned up to school with a big bruise on his head and a cut on his arm. After enquiry, I found out that his father had beaten him up because he confronted him. His father frequently stole this boy’s money and bullied him so that he could buy liquor. This was a daily occurrence. He had to go and buy liquor from the wine shop for his father, in case he raised his voice against this, he would be beaten and would go unfed.
The bell rang and all the kids rushed back to their class. I walked in to find him bragging about his wounds, that he got them while performing a heroic stunt that was performed in one of the popular movies. As I watched him excitedly chatter and answer the questions in the class, I realized how all of us wore a mask. A mask to hide our pain, a mask to show how happy we are, a mask to conceal who we truly are.
Just today I was thinking about how growing up had turned out to be a farce, how my dreams of being independent lay shred. I was having a tough time, being torn between my freedom and being my parent’s baby. I wished I could go back to my childhood, a much simpler time. It never struck me as to how these children never had a childhood. For them, growing up was the eternal dream.
All of us carry a story, it’s time we listened to some before judging.