Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ratul's morning


Ratul woke up with a start...it's eight o' clock already! All the curtains were drawn, shadowing the entire room. 'That is why I slept so long..', thought Ratul. He went over the edge of the bed and tore apart the hangings from in front of the window. A watery breeze riffled through his hair..it must have been raining until now.

Ratul climbed down the bed with effort, sat on his wheelchair and drove it towards the window. He could see Sushant and Sudhir on the rooftop of their house, flying a petkati. Sushant was a very good kite runner - his father taught him. He was the one in control of the petkati; Sudhir was only holding the latai. Ratul looked up to the sky...there was an empty patch around Sushant's kite against the backdrop of the cloudy sky. He noticed that kites were fewer than yesteryear.

Ratul could hear the distant music of some unknown Hindi song. The pujo-pandal was only two houses away from theirs. The tune was sad. Ratul only liked songs that are cheerful. He thought of closing the window and was just about to turn the chair when Sushant jumped up punching the air. He had just cut down a chandial.

Ratul stared at the defeated chandial, floating helplessly towards the coconut tree behind Sushant's house. It was the sight he hated most, but then it was the sight he had to bear for his entire life ahead. Had he not jumped carelessly to catch a chandial two years ago, he could be on their roof today, running kites and hunting down Sushant's. His throat chocked and he grabbed the arms of his wheelchair strongly, trying with all his might not to cry. He must not cry..never. His parents have tried their best to keep him happy and help him overcome the hardest phase of his life. They have taught themselves to live with the fact that their son will never walk again. But on this very day, every year since then, they seem to lose their guard.

There was a knock on the door and Ratul's mother entered, carrying a pile of freshly ironed clothes. She put them down on the empty chair beside the bed, sat on the bedspread and ruffled his hair, saying,'Did you brush?'

Ratul concealed a trickle of tear, smiled at his mother and said, 'I was just going to..'. He turned his wheelchair, when a sudden splash of water entered the room through the window.

It was raining again.