Friday, 8 April 2016

The Shoulder.. A story

                          The boy to his place by the window of the kindergarten classroom as usual, waiting for him to come. Today was the parent- teacher's meet. All had arrived by now in tow with their parents. The teacher called out his name but he could have hardly heard. The boy's eyes word transfixed at the school gate which was the only thing which he could see through the window. His father would come today. He knew, at least today, he had to. His dad had promised him that he would come this time. The meet had started. In the background make out the sounds of his friends chirping loudly around the parents. Showing them the handcrafted little project they had made overtime. A single tear drop rolled past his chubby cheeks to wet the paper he clutched. He was going to give it to his dad. A picture of them standing by the crooked little red house while the almost circular sun smiled over them. The parents were now talking with his teacher turn by turn while the teacher gave each of them a toffee and
a pat, telling their parents how good their kid was. All were having fun. He wanted it too. He wanted his dad to smile at him the same way. To lift him up the same way Rahul's dad had. He hadn't come this time too. His dad had not kept his promise. All he had wished was for him to come and carry him around on his shoulders as he always had... 

                             She took her place by the window off the bus as usual, waiting now for her stop to arrive. She was late. It was already past time for her to reach the school. It was his parent-teacher meet today. Why did it have to be today? It was on these days he was inconsolable. Even his favorite ice cream wouldn't work. He would miss his father.  Why did he have to make promises which were impossible to keep? But then such was life. She had to be strong for both of them. She couldn't skip this errand no matter what.. The day's chores were over but she still couldn't go over to the parent-teacher meet. This one last task was important. Everyone around her had told her it was futile. But she was a head strong woman. She wouldn't give up. She felt her eyes moisten and a tear drop gently fall on the envelope she held. She clutched it tighter and wiped off the tear, lest it spoil the contents. It was all they had. She loved him. Beyond the words that lay scribbled inside the envelope. It was more than what this piece of paper could ever carry. She wasn't even sure whether he would get it. Would he still be the same? The man who she had loved. Loved with all her heart.The man she had married.. It was never going to be an easy journey. She knew it. But how could she explain it to their son who was waiting.. Waiting for his father, her husband to keep his promise.. To return. She posted the envelope and made her way to the school. She was helpless. All she could do was keep her shoulder ready for her little son who would rush into her arms this time again with his tear stained cheeks. Shedding his and her share of tears, on the only solace of her shoulders..
                         He took his place by the window of the camouflaged barracks, waiting for them to come. His eyes focused on to the hostile terrain scanning for any signs of movement. It was a high-intensity situation. Intelligence had reported of an imminent attack planned by the enemy from the south end. His battalions had been recalled. He had almost packed up to leave. He was about to meet his son and his wife. Finally he could have gone for the parent-teacher meet his kiddo has always insisted upon, he was happy and then... Duty called.... They had to report to their barracks. He had an unpacked in a hurry and grabbed his essentials and a crumpled stack of papers. The papers now lay crumpled beside him. He had read each of them hundred times. Every desolate night, those letters had kept him going... He could still feel the different texture on the paper where once he had allowed his emotions to show up. Is tear drop mingled with the dried spot on the letter. That was the closest he could be with them. Her eyes, the smell of her hair, all were a distant memory. His arms missed her. The hug which would solve any problem. His shoulders missed carrying his little kid.It was a different world here.. He adjusted the scope on his sniper. But for now he knew there were other things to consider, His had a greater responsibility. He closed his eyes and whispered... 'Sorry! I promise.. I'll be there the next time!!'.. For his shoulders now carried the weight of the nation he served.

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