Belated Apology


This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 48; the forty-eighth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

BELATED APOLOGY

The unclean, noisy fan in the room added to his troubles at the moment. Chinna clutched the report card in his hands, praying that the indelible marks inside would somehow, magically change.

He thought: I’m so screwed; dad will definitely kill me… But… That girl… That girl was so hot. That girl. My god… It’s my parents fault. All their fighting. No peace at home… That girl! Even the other day she was like Oh my god — No, no, Suresh, focus. This is such a toxic environment. Wish I could stay somewhere else. Why the hell does dad insist that I study! I can be a cricketer. No, no, actor — That girl. It’s her fragrance.

Chinna rushed to the window in his room that oversaw a nearby corridor in his apartments. His sudden appearance surprised that girl crossing the corridor and brought her to a sudden halt. Her face reddened. Chinna flushed.

He thought: Suresh, you idiot, Smile! No, not the right moment.

Her eyebrows arched. His heartbeat fastened. Her shapely eyebrows. The pink on her lips. Oh my! As casually as he possibly could, he looked through her, making it appear like he chanced upon her. That girl’s facial expression contorted like she had just discovered a fly in her chai. She stomped away. From the corner of his eye, he tracked her. The second she was out of sight, he slapped a palm on his chest. “Uff!”

Killing the delicacy of the moment, the noisy fan reentered the sounds of his universe. His fingers alerted him about the report in his grasp. He rubbed his bushy eyebrows.

Damn! I’ll just face Dad. He’ll slap me a little and I’ll pretend to be apologetic. Idiots! These parents! They just don’t understand me… But… That girl… Spoilt my entire reputation in front of her. She must think I’m a despo of some sort… Those eyes. Her hip…

Chinna flung the report card onto a table and lay on his bed. His sight settled on the noisy fan, while his mind concocted alternate realities; where he was a Superhero, behind whom that girl ran.

 

Chinna did not realize the sun setting or the door to his home opening or the bickering of his mother from the other room or his father’s paltry defenses and quips. His alternate realities captivated his mind.

He was wiping dripping blood off his cheeks and that girl rushed — chunni in her hand and love in her eyes — to aid his wiping. She stopped abruptly just inches away from him. He could hear her breathing. She inched her chunni-clad fingers closer to his face, never taking her eyes off his eyes. There were words and emotions exchanged between their eyes. And then, they both stopped. The kiss, it was inevitable. Chinna instinctively closed his eyes and bent —

Someone angrily banged his bedroom door as if robbers had swooped down on their house. “Chinna, open the door!” yelled his mother.

He sat up on his bed. Sweat beaded on his forehead. “Coming, ma! Coming.” He stepped out of bed, pulled up and zipped his trousers, and rushed to the door. As he opened, his mother stared down at him. “What were you doing? Behaving like the Maharaja of India?”

Oh ma! Just shut up! In his mind, he ran to the window and jumped out of it.

“… God only knows what you do in there with the door locked,” she said and crinkled her parrot-like nose. “Dinner is ready.” She walked to the dining table.

Chinna’s father sat in a sofa, a few away from the dining table. Light in the room tossed off his bald head, making it shine. His attention was immersed in some sports show. Chinna remembered India’s test match and itched to go watch the analysis. But the report card tore into his working memory. Let’s just take dinner and get back to the room.

He walked to the table and served himself some rice, some sambar and mango pickle. As he turned, he heard his father, “Suresh, when are the results for the quarterly examinations coming?”

What time pass! Of course, that Subramanian uncle would have boasted about his son’s results. “They are out, Dad.” He hurried to his room. That girl. I’m sure she does not have this boring dinner…

His father cleared his throat and threw a glance at Chinna, making him halt. “So?”

Chinna felt his throat dry up and heard his heart’s pounding in his ears. Fortunately, his mother intruded, “Oho. At least not when he is eating!”

His father punched the air. “All this pampering is spoiling him!”

“Don’t you raise your voice against me,” came back an equally loud reply from his mother.

Here they go again! Even two stray dogs don’t bark so much at each other. Chinna felt hopeful that the ensuing argument would sideline his result. Words, angry words were crossed like swords between his mother and father. Chinna started for his room again, when his father said, “Suresh! I asked about the results!”

“Don’t you ignore me,” yelled his mother. “Why do you have drag my parents into everything?”

Slapping a palm on his forehead, his father said, “I’m sorry.” He joined his palms together. “Please! Now, let me just talk to your son. His future is going down the drain.” Before his mother could react, his father cast an unflinching glance on Chinna. “So?”

Chinna faced his mother, expectantly. Clearly, it was her turn. “Not your son. Our son. And this is not over.” She settled at the dining table and served some dinner for herself. “Let our son finish his dinner first.” She gestured to a seat on the dining table and Chinna mutely followed.

Soon, their father joined them on the table. After serving himself dinner, he faced Chinna. “Suresh. Results?”

“Let him eat!” His mother stared at Chinna. “Just eat.”

His father spread his palm. “But, Aparn — ”

The clanging of a plate reverberated through the living room. Food was splashed all around. “My family is bad. I’m bad. My son is bad… ” Raw emotions thundered in the room. His mother started her standard act: cry, berate, cry, thump her chest, cry…

It is always about her. My father is such an incapable man. He can’t control anything. He does not even own a car! And he expects me to study hard! Yeah right! He just does not understand me. These people don’t even care about me. He could not take it anymore. He left the dining table urgently and dumped the plate in the kitchen. Returning to his room, he bolted it from inside.

Chinna lay on his bed, utterly dejected.

First the screwed up results. Then the shame in front of the girl. Now, this drama at home. Is life even worth living? Maybe I should run away. I’ll run away to Chennai. Even Thalaiva was a nothing. Even I’ll make a great…

The toxicity in his mind only spread with each passing second. His wild imagination scripted a future that was glorious and not bogged down by the stupid realities of life. Like his quarreling parents…

That girl stood in front of him. The pallu of her saree was down. Her mounds draped in a tight blouse, the buttons of which were itching to be released. Chinna sat on a sofa like a king: a leg crossed over the other and a wine glass in one hand. That girl was trying to please him. She wanted to act opposite him —

Someone banged his door. Chinna made an expression like he had stepped on a chewing gum. He yelled, “I’m sleeping.”

“Suresh, open the door.” His father said, “I want to talk.”

Chinna was in no mood for another lecture. But, his mother had already spoiled his father’s mood. He did not want to be whipped by a belt. Let’s just get this done with. He left the bed, opened the room and walked away without making any eye contact.

His father switched on the lights in the room and walked to the table. He opened the report card. After a dramatic pause, he said, “Oho, Suresh! Five subjects out of seven! Can’t you at least pass?”

Chinna kept his eyes focused on the floor.

“I’m talking to you. Answer me.”

Chinna still did not make eye contact, but perceived his father rushing to him. He had just lifted his head, when his father’s fist connected with his temple. Pain instantly translated as tears. “You go to tuitions also!” His father slapped him. “Why are you wasting money.” Another slap. “Why can’t you understand that this is important.” A knuckle to the skull. Another slap.

Chinna had enough. He pushed his father away. Shock took over his father’s face. Anger took over his. “No, dad! I don’t think this is important. At all.” He wiped his tears. “I did not ask for the tuitions.” Now, his voice cracked. “I don’t want to study. I’ll become a cricketer. An actor. A mechanic. Whatever. But, I will not study.”

His father rushed to him and flung his open palm at Chinna’s face. Chinna interrupted the action mid-air, clutching his father’s wrist. “I’m telling you I’m not interested in studies.” Chinna jerked away his father’s arm. “If you are frustrated, don’t show it on me.”

Not to be outdone, his father also shouted, “This is about you.” His father punched the air. “I don’t know what to tell you. Day by day, you are becoming a rogue!… ” That lecture continued for a long time. He stressed on the importance of education. Something about education being their passport out of a lower-middle class life. Something about pride. Something about respect.

But Chinna’s mind had trailed away…

#

 

30 years later

It was late evening when Suresh left his boss’ cabin. For the past hour, his boss had taken his case. Nothing new; Suresh was getting used to this. As he approached his desk, his neighbor cast a look of pity. “We all know he is… you know,” he said and winked his eye.

A smile almost crept up on Suresh’s face. But, in this dog-eat-dog, he could not be caught on the wrong foot. He simply shook his head and shut down his desktop. His neighbor waited for him as he finished packing up for the day. They walked out together bantering about the awfulness of their job.

As they reached the bike parking, his neighbor spread his thick black lips in a crescent smile. “Let’s go for a drink. My party.”

Suresh arched his bushy eyebrows.

The neighbour declared emphatically, “My daughter came first in class!”

Those words hit Suresh’s heart like an arrow. First! Again! Hope my son at least passed!

His neighbor innocently asked, “What about your son?”

The kids were in the same school. All through the evening, Suresh had received only forwards on watsapp. There was no message from either his son or his wife. Yet, he had to defend his dignity. “Oh, you know him. He managed to pass.”

His neighbor laughed, like it was the best joke he had heard all day long. “Your son is street smart. Education is not for him. You should get him into politics.”

And perhaps get married to your daughter too!” Suresh laughed.

His neighbor’s expression changed from bliss to sorrow in an instant. He pretended to look at some message on his smartphone. “Sorry, Suresh. Wife says come home early.”

Suresh felt relieved. “Yeah, I understand.” As they both left the premises on their bikes bidding each other adieu, Suresh felt a bit lighter. He had scored in that conversation. But his mind told him that this was no victory to be rejoiced.

 

Suresh reached his dilapidated apartments and saw kids playing cricket on the street. His son sat on a compound wall, but his focus was elsewhere. Suresh followed his son’s line of sight and noticed a group of girls walking in the distance. He shook his head in dejection.

As he entered his home, his wife yelled from the kitchen, “Suresh, is that you?”

He yelled an acknowledgement. She came rushing out and walked to one of the shelves to retrieve an envelope. She shook it in her palm and slammed it on their dining table. A cooker whistled angrily in the kitchen. She returned to her daily chore.

He put his keys in the usual spot and went to the table to check the envelope. His heart sank as he the envelope notified him of his delay on his home loan. His eyes swept across the room. Damn, even for this shithole, I have to go through this agony.

His wife shouted, “This is the second delay. Why can’t you just pay on time?”

He walked into the kitchen. “Oh, come on! You know all our money is tied up.”

“Yeah, yeah! If only you worked harder at work.”

Suresh did not appreciate the tone. He started, “Everything in this house is a result of my hardwork. Your father did not give us anythin — ”

She faced him, with unmistakable anger in her eyes. For the next half-hour, they fought. Bitterly. Acrimoniously. Filthily. His wife thumped his chest once or twice. But, he could not retaliate. Not after his wife had harassed him once with the threat of suing him on grounds of domestic violence. Finally, at loggerheads with each other, they quit for the evening. Many questions were left unanswered. Suresh knew that most of them did not have answers.

He walked to his bedroom and noticed the door to his son’s room shut. He wondered when his son had returned. He remembered the results. However, he decided to freshen up for the day and face the disappointment that was his son later in the evening.

 

Much after that night’s silent family dinner, Suresh knocked on his son’s bedroom door.

His son shouted, “I’m sleeping, Pa.”

His son’s disrespect annoyed him even more. He banged the door harder. He was the father and his son had no right to be treating him that way. He continued banging. A majority of his life was dedicated to ensuring that his son would become something. Bang. His dreams were quashed to accommodate that of his son. On hearing some movement inside, he paused banging.

The door opened, but his son did not meet him in the eye. Suresh wanted to pull his hair out. Am I alone in this world? My wife does not walk with me. My work is bullshit. Now, even my blood does not want to look at me? Attempting to contain all these wild-horse like emotions, Suresh walked into the dark room and switched on the lights. Scanning around, he spotted a report card lying in the middle of his son’s books. Hope sprung in his heart. Maybe, it is not as bad as always.

He opened. Red marks. Failed in all subjects. Damn! Why can’t this kid pay some attention! Anger pumped through his veins. “Kanna! Can’t you even pass?”

Kanna’s eyes were fixated on the floor. Suresh’s anger increased exponentially. At least he can look me in the eye. He balled his fingers into a fist and knuckled Kanna. “I pay for extra tuitions. And you still can’t pass!” Even though a teary-eyed Kanna faced him, his anger did not subside. He slapped him. “Why can’t you focus on studies!” He slapped Kanna again. “What do you think you’ll do with your life?”

Suresh was about to slap him again, when Kanna dodged and retreated from there. He ran straight to Suresh’s bedroom.

Suresh yelled, “Kanna! Come here.” By the time he reached his bedroom’s door, Kanna was wrapped around his wife’s protective arms. Being isolated in his own home made him even angrier. “Sujatha! All your pampering. Look where this has brought him!”

“Don’t point fingers at me.” Sujatha rubbed her hand on Kanna’s head. “You want to kill him or what?” She pecked Kanna on the forehead and faced Suresh. “It is just an exam.”

“No, it is not about today! It is his general attitude towards studies. All he does is play crick — ”

“That is no reason to kill him!”

“I’m not killing — ”

“Of course! Look at the bump on his head!” Sujatha started massaging Kanna’s forehead.

Regret sprouted in Suresh’s heart. Did I beat him so badly? He is just a kid. Still delicate!

Now, even Sujatha was crying. “My! my! You would have nearly killed my son today!”

Suresh threw his hands in the air, helplessly. Need to confront Kanna some other day.

 

That night, Suresh had to sleep in the living room. Thoughts raged in his mind. Why can’t Kanna understand! How can I make him understand! Why can’t we have a proper conversation! Sujatha also! Pampering him. Interfering in our relationship. He turned and twisted on the mattress. Dammit! He is just like me. But, I was wrong! Look at me! How can I tell him about my broken dreams! My broken heart. This attitude will not help anyone. I’m a failure. But, I hoped that my son…

He turned to lie on his back. In the dim light of the zero-watt bulb, his eyes caught his father’s potrait that was decorated with a garland of artificial flowers.

The raging thoughts paused.

His eyes watered…

Regret

 

*** The End ***

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. Participation Count: 05

Laugh, Love, Live

Shri.

20140803.

***

photo credit: Neil. Moralee via photopin cc

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7 thoughts on “Belated Apology

  1. Ohh ! So life does come a full circle, right ? A simple story, wonderfully penned ! All the best for BAT 🙂

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