He watches as mother goes inside the room to summon his dad up for dinner. He has been resting on his bed in his usual silent but frustrated disposition. Shaun can feel the tinge of nervousness on his mother’s face while she approaches the room. Both of them know it; he is in a bad mood. She enters…
The door is not completely closed and sitting across the veranda, Shaun can see whatever happens. He cannot listen what is actually being articulated, but he sees a frustrated dad turning to see while mother asks him to come for dinner. What he sees next is a hurling of words, such words that make the already frightened face don a flaccid expression, an overpowering pallor.
Before his mother entered, Shaun had decided that it was enough for him now. He was not going to bear all crap, all blaming and anger and tears and all that depressing stuff that had blown him off his senses innumerable times before. But what he saw today made it seem all the more worse this time. It was actually a consistent graph, each time their quarrels had grown increasingly merciless; and it was this reason that made Shaun intervene as he feared that the limit may be crossed. The limit may be crossed. Oh poor boy, the limit had already been crossed – innumerable times.
Once again, he hopped down from the railing bar at which he had been seated, sped towards the door where the drama was on. With each nearing step, he could hear the words more clearly. And now he was there, audience to those shameless blames thrown by his dad upon his mom. He heard those unbelievable words where his father blamed his mother for all the failures that he had faced in his professional life, for the fact that he had to live on someone else’s means, for the fact that today he and his family were as homeless as the group of people living on the footpath, for the fact that they were at the mercy of these shelter-givers who could have them out whenever they fancy. He scorned her for her tries of making us stable, for the hard work that she put in so that the shelter-givers did not get a reason to get them going, for each and every bit of life that she had suffered. He stated that she had brought ill-fate with her in dowry to their marriage; that his unison with her was the beginning of the apocalypse that was about to befall him. To Shaun, this was nothing new – although with each word fired, his lachrymals responded with equal violence. He could feel that his mother was at the brink of a violent outburst of tears and he just wanted to grab this man by the neck and give him ample punishment, but this was not what his mom had taught him. He stayed – his body, not his tears. Sorry, their tears…
He cried that night, erupted actually. As he wrote –
“I am writing this note to you Ma. Ever since I have come to my senses, I have seen you as the best person in the world. I have idealized you for all that I think and do. With you, I have been witness to a whole lot of learning experiences. You have been my school better than any other organization; and I have worshipped you. You have been the source of uncountable successes of mine, the origin of all happiness of mine, the root and cause of everything positive that I have within me today. But it is not all positive that I have in me.
You and Dad have been excellent parents. I still adore you both for those sacrifices that you have done for me; but in this course of life, I have also seen you both as husband and wife. And with each such witnessing, I have gradually lost belief in this institution of marriage. I do understand the motive and logic behind marriage, but its consequences have taken me aback.
Each and every time I saw you and dad quarrel, I’ve had this strange feeling that it is me who stands shamelessly as the root and cause of all of dad’s sufferings and, consequently, your sufferings too. Both of you could have been very well off if dad did not have to give all his earnings for my hefty education fee. And this has pricked me to limits of pain.
It has been a great mental trauma to see how two people who swear to be each other’s support in life come to blame each other for all the bad in their lives. I know it is nothing as compared to the pain that you have taken all these years. You were always stronger Ma. Let me confess something Ma, I have often come to the idea of killing myself, releasing myself from all this tension, but not executed it because the moment I closed my eyes with all the tears, all I saw was you. I would no doubt free myself, but at the cost of having caged you once again. And I did not want to cage you and all those dreams that you have associated with thoughts of my bright future.
But what future Ma? Will things ever get back to normal? Even if I become a big man, will I be able to give back to you both those moments of happiness that you missed? Will I be able to erase from the record of Time all those tough moments the cause of which was I? Will I be able to make those words return which dad hurled at you when he was tensed? Will I be able to quash all failures that dad met with? Will you and dad ever reconcile, laughing and enjoying life as you once did? Maybe; but I cannot see an affirmative here Ma. I am still confused Ma. I love you. I want you to be happy. But what will give me what I want?
Is it my death? Or is it my life?”
Shaun’s mother woke up to another morning. As she approached Shaun’s room to wake him up, she could guess the tears he would have cried last night. She herself had cried. Shaun wouldn’t have slept early.
As she was about to knock, she saw a piece of paper lying halfway through the door on the floor – the very note that Shaun had written last night. She opened it; read through it; and before she had finished reading, the paper was already wet enough to make it look as though it had been thrown in water. With trembling hands, she pushed the door open.
What could she have seen?