It’s not that I don’t care, I’m afraid.
It was a silent dark night, the windows flew open and the candle flame quivered – an unexpected storm.
The grumpy old man had fallen asleep by the fireplace while reading a book and was disturbed by the storming wind. The wooden floor creaked in pain when he got up from his rocking chair. The dog lying beside his feet jolted up and whined in fear. The old man barked at him and asked the dog to shut up.
A bolt of lightning struck close followed by a loud thunderous, crackling sound. The dog howled and scampered around the house.
The power went off.
The old man cursed continually under his breath and began to walk slowly towards the kitchen to look for candles.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door.
“Who now?”, he thought.
It took him a good amount of time to reach the door. He opened it and saw a little girl with two braid plaits smiling at him.
“Who are you?”, croaked the old man.
The girl replied, “I live down the road. We moved-in yesterday. I.. uh, we need candles. Can I please borrow a few candles? One will also do.”
“You are soaked to the skin, girl! Come in.” said the old man and started walking, “There’s a dog inside, don’t get frightened. He will bark but he is a fool, never bites.”
The girl followed him, “Thank you sir, you are very kind. I am not scared of dogs, you see I have grown up playing with two massive hounds at my grandma’s place. Do you live alone? Where are your children? Why don’t you sit, it seems like you are finding it difficult to walk. I can help you light the candles. Point me to where they are and I will get them.”
“Chatty little prick, I am not kind. The candles are somewhere in the kitchen, go find them. Take one for yourself, light one for me and leave!”, said the old man and went back to his chair.
“Yes sir, I will be quick. Is there anything the matter with your back?”, asked the girl with a worried look.
“I slipped in my backyard and landed on my back. I was taken to the hospital for a surgery, those damned doctors placed two metal plates in my spine.” said the old man with great effort.
“Oh I am sorry to hear that, can I be of any help? My mother’s making vegetable broth I can quickly fetch some for you. Specially in this weather sir, I am sure the hot broth and some toasted slices of baguette will do you good.”, she said hopefully.
“Like I said earlier, there is no need for you to get pally with me. Take the candles and leave, girl”, he said dismissively.
The girl found the candles in a wooden box beside a pair of oven mitts. While in the kitchen she noticed its messy state, “Clearly he is finding it difficult to do things by himself, silly ol’ grandpa!”
She lit a candle and placed it on a table next to him. While the rest of the house was still in darkness, she sneaked out quietly, leaving the door slightly open and ran out.
The girl returned in a few minutes and noticed that the old man had fallen asleep. She placed the hot food on the dining table and lit another candle next to the food. She also left behind a huge basket in the kitchen filled with bread, butter, strawberry jam, and some fruits.
A few days had passed. The old man woke up early in the morning and decided to go on a walk to look for the girl. He had recovered and was neither grumpy or hungry anymore. He searched long and hard but there was no sign of the girl. He asked the neighbours and nearby stores but none had heard or seen a little girl with two braid plaits around. He went back home feeling disheartened.
One night, there was an unexpected storm again, rain pelted on the roof, windows rattled, winds howled, lightning flashed and crackled in the sky. The dog whimpered and hid underneath the old man’s chair. The power went off and he heard a soft knock on the door again.
There was a boy named Siddharth in her school. He was unlike the other boys, he looked like an old man with loose wrinkled skin. His purple-blue lips always had her attention every time he spoke. His voice was peculiar too, shaky and shrill. This boy was one of a kind with a bad temper. She would often look at him and turn away. One day, the teacher changed her seat and she was asked to sit beside him. It was a terrible thing to have happened to a 9-year old girl.
He sat in the corner by the wall and she was next to him. The girl did not dislike him for his looks but something inside her knew that this boy is an evil demon from hell in a child’s disguise. She felt like there were no bones in his body because he could never stand or sit straight, just loose hanging rubbery skin. He always slouched and looked like the letter ‘C’. But who would have imagined how strong he could be. He had a unique way of forming a fist with his thumb between his index and middle finger. He would often show it to her, feeling proud like he invented it. She can never forget that joy in his eyes every time he made that fist, because the next second she would be holding her arm in pain and rubbing it.
When he hit her the first time, the girl got angry and punched him back. But this made him angrier and it was followed by a quick succession of punches. He would go into a fit and punch the girl with both his fists, on her spine, shoulder, arms, and legs like a maniac. The girl was not crazy or as strong as him, so she would give up and say, “Okay, I am sorry please stop!” This would make him feel like a winner and he would stop. It was not only punches, sometimes he would poke her with his compass during geometry class, sometimes he would slap her hand with his steel ruler, and sometimes he would hit her with his bag while leaving. He was usually very quiet, did not talk to anyone or bother anyone much. But, he could lose his sanity any time and a series of punches could come her way, so she was always nice to him.
Every Wednesday, the school distributed The Times of India newspaper. There were four students per bench, every bench received two newspapers, and had to be shared with their partner. The girl’s partner, of course would be Siddharth, who would never share anything. He never let her read the newspaper in peace. Every week, one of the partners would get to take the newspaper home but the girl never got the chance to take it because he was a bully. The girl did not care much because she did not enjoy reading the news and there was always The Times of India newspaper at home. Soon, the girl started getting tired of the bullying and torture. Though, she feared his punches, she tried hard to punch him back with all her strength so he could feel the same pain as she did. Slowly, the fury of punches started to reduce. All the while, the girl was afraid of getting hurt and looking weak. But one day she decided no matter how much it hurts, “If he hurts me, I will not cry, I will not cause concern to my parents, and I will not complain to the teacher. I will find a way to deal with this bully in a manner that he understands.”
She stopped being nice to him. She stopped talking to him. She pretended like he did not exist. She knew this would cause trouble but she had to do this to save herself from his power punches.
He tried talking to her, she ignored.
He nudged her.
He pulled her hand. She turned sharply towards him with a burning rage in her eyes and yelled, “Don’t touch me!”, and she pulled away. He noticed the fearless anger and she saw his wide, shocked, ugly egg-shaped eyes. A slow evil smile formed on his lips, then came the punch with all his might. She used her strong, girly voice and screamed. She cried as loud as she could and hit him twice. Now the entire class’ eyes were on them. She hit him again and said, “Stay the hell away from me or I will complain to the teachers and bring my parents.” He tried to hide his embarrassment behind his hollow chuckle. But, he was a kid too and got worried that she would really do it and get him in trouble.
After this, he tried to hit her again a few more times, but she would face his punches without fear and hit him harder. Once she even called out to the teacher and said, “Excuse me sister, this guy is hitting me.” Nothing happened though, the teacher ignored her but this scared him. She started keeping the bag between them and drew a line over the desk. He would hesitate to cross the line, he knew that she did not fear him anymore so he stopped bothering her. Soon, the girl’s place changed and she never had to deal with his madness again.
A sneeze, a cough.
Rises panic in the air.
It’s not you,
A certain virus is to be blamed.
Sleep lingered on her eyelids
He carried her in his arms
And tucked her into bed.
His warm and loving side disappeared as he let out a monstrous roar. “Go away”, howled the beast and pushed a boulder off the cliff in his frenzy of rage. Now, he was all alone. In his loneliness, he pondered on how his bad side had taken total control of him. He stared blankly into the darkness of his cave and let out a deep sigh. A few minutes later, he noticed a faint light. He turned around to see that his loving caretakers were back but this time with torches of flame in their hands and fear and uncertainty in their eyes. The beast knew that it was his end, so he went back into the cave and sat with his head lowered down. The people approached slowly but hesitantly. They entered the cave and noiselessly placed the torches around the walls of the cave to brighten up the place. They came closer to the beast and sat down beside him. Slowly, they removed honey buns, loaves of bread, and chocolate cakes from their bags. The beast couldn’t understand and looked up at them only to find nothing but worry and love in their eyes. To his questioning look, they replied “We know it’s been a bad day, we left because we wanted to make things better for you. Come now, let us feast on some good food, it will ease your mind”.
When was the last time
You heard a comforting voice.
When did you last earn
A genuine loving smile.
When did you hold on tight
To a warm hand of concern.
When did somebody whisper
A few words of wisdom.
When there are rays of hope..
Filled with gestures of love..
You can always live life a little more.
When friends talk
You know it will take a while to stop.
It can go on for hours
When they reminisce the memories of their past.
When friends talk
The many emotions on their faces
Look like a movie.
Excitedly with light in their eyes
They open up and share their lives.
When friends talk
They disagree, get angry and fight.
But when they come back and smile
You can’t help but hug them tight.
Friends make life easier
They comfort and assure you
When they put their arm around you.
You know they will always be around you.
Silver foils, empty plates
Hungry kids stop and stare.
Dried lips, messy hair
Are you here to beg?
But why..you should be out there to play
Or is this your new game?
We throw away and waste.
Children out there are waiting to be fed.
A little more care, a little less greed
Can maybe feed the ones in need.
Protect and educate
Love and care
Let’s improve what we can today
Be humble and nice to everyone you meet.