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Updated: August 22, 2011 16:25 IST

Reckoning on stage

JAGANNATH J
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Ravi tried to delay having to go home. He never wanted to spend too much time there because ‘she' was always there these days.

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 the day were the hours he spent at school. He hated leaving school. He hated having to go home. her.

Ravi was 13 years old. An age when everything or, in Ravi's case, everyone around you seems to be against you. And she was on top of his list. Ever since his father married her Ravi had stopped talking normally to him. Who was she? Why in the world should he be calling her mother?

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 always thought Amma would come back to him sooner or later. He thought his wish was finally going to come true a month back.

“So Ravi, what would you say if Appa told you that he is bringing Amma back to your life?” his father 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. SheSince that day he had starting dreading every moment he spent at home.

Now as he approached the front porch of his house his mind started to think up excuses to stay away from the place till dinner. He had spent many evenings 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 said “friend's place for homework” and bolted to his room avoiding further interrogation. He heard his name being mentioned from inside the house.

“Of course 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?” Ravi recognised the voice of her mother or his ‘grandmother'.

“Look Amma, I married Vinod because I love him and I did not marry him to raise a family. Why should I when we already have a family? I couldn't have asked for anyone better than Ravi as my son. Amma Ravi is, and will remain, our only child”

her With loud steps he made his way to the front door and knocked on it. She opened it after a while. He headed straight to his room without acknowledging her or her mother. She had become used to his behaviour 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 his door and landed near her. She picked it up and looked it over. It was an invitation for parents of rank holders to the Annual Day function. The event was scheduled for the next day. SheShe

“Next is the award for the overall topper of Std. VIII. Can we have Ravi of VIII B on stage please?” the teacher announced.

Ravi made his way to the dais. He received the medal and the cup from the principal amidst loud applause.

“So Ravi, are your parents here to share this special moment with you? Is Mr. Vinod here?” the teacher enquired.

Ravi shook his head.

“What about your mother?

His eyes scanned the rows before resting on the corner chair of the very last row. He slowly lifted his hand and pointed at her.

Amma had come back after all…

Keywords: short story

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar

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