Doctor, don’t believe a word they say.
They say, ‘I failed’.
It is more right to say they failed me.
I did not study as I should have. But how could I study?
All the time I am blamed. I didn’t do that; I didn’t do this, I never read, I do not attend classes, I do not eat properly, I do not sleep properly, I do not go to bed on time, I spend most of the time on the ‘Net’. I am blamed for everything. Do I do anything right?
They say I do not eat from home because I eat from outside with friends. The truth is I always have tummy problems and I am so thin. They say I have stomach problems because I eat junk with friends. I am also accused of drinking alcohol with my friends. I don’t drink every day. It is only occasional, once or twice in a week. In fact I drink only on the days I go for math tuition. On tuition days I hang out with friends. The tuition fees go for drinks. My friends also contribute and then if I do not take part, it does not look nice. My people do not understand these things.
My friends are brainy. They pass all the exams. No idea how they manage that. I fail and keep failing. Right? I do not study as I should, but that is because I do not get any peace at home. I go and drink with my friends so that I may get some peace. You know!, a well-being? Peace? How can I make my parents understand that? They do not understand transactional analysis, you know? Doctor, do you know several psychologists and counselors came to my school? They all say ‘parental injunctions’ and over- protective parents put off children. Please tell my parents, make them understand that. They cannot think outside their limited traditional ways. Those things do not work anymore. I am over 18 and a major. Why can’t they let me be me? They do that in the West and the youngsters are freed do their own thing. What bliss! They talk about teenage pregnancies and shooting in schools. But don’t such things happen in adult circles? That is part of life and part of growing up? Why make a big fuss about it? My parents have super ideas. They say my intellect gets dull with drinking; it kills my appetite according to my parents. I eat less, sleep less, laze around and do not touch my books. I have no respect for anyone including my parents. I do not stand up when elders come home; I do not say stupid ‘Namaste’ (greetings) to any. I have had enough and have given up on the older generation. They do not understand. That is the real problem. My father no longer beats me up these days. He stopped on the day I hit him back. What to do? Tell me what would you do if you are beaten up day after day hoping I would stop my drinking habit? It only reinforced my determination to consume more. I think I did the right thing, because he stopped his third degrees tortures from that day. I heard my mother advising him “He has grown above your shoulders. No use beating him” Though less ‘educated’, she has more sense at times than this ‘Government Secretary’ of my father. I tell you he is so hopeless. He is always angry with me. Only me! He is all sugar and honey to my younger sister. She must be a good girl. She never gets any beatings or even scolding. She knows the, mind of my father even before he thinks a thought. She knows exactly what my father and mother want. She complies even before being asked. She never, creates a situation that invites a scolding. I sometimes think she has some ‘Chatan seva’ (evil worship) or something. She keeps everything in order. She Helps Amma in the kitchen makes her bed as soon as she gets up. I must add that she makes my bed also after I get up. She sweeps the ‘muttam’ (yard) in the morning, lights the ‘deepam’ (oil lamp) at dusk, recites the ‘sandhyanamam’ (evening worship stanzas) without fail, and studies all the time. She is ranked top in her class. Everyone loves her. She is an angel. I too want to love her, but end up hurting her. When I do that I get thrashed. Now I hate her. Talking about angels; my home is supposed to hold three angels of different wingspan. My achan (father) is an angel with pronounced fangs in place of wings; Amma is an angel with only half of a tongue; and my baby sister; the true angel with snow-white feathers. It is not easy to live in a house with three angels. One many fanged archangel is enough to destroy the peace in this place which is supposed to be a haven according to him. The father, mother and the sister were in the waiting room hoping and praying some magical trick in counseling would turn the young man into a fine angel like his sister. I called them in and let Shreenivasan go out for a walk. The three came in. We were silent and in quiet brooding for perhaps 3 to 4 minutes. The air was thick with gloom and a sense of hopelessness. There was a whimpering from the father who is supposed to be a many- fangled oaf. In short order he burst into tears; an uncontrollable flow of tears. The girl too started crying, seeing her father cry. The father held his daughter in a tight grip. The mother sat ramrod, face distraught in pain, solidified in pain and anger. The place became dense physically. I do not believe in superstitions, but the electricity failed at that moment for a couple of seconds. The statue came to life “I will try to tell you, to the extent possible by me, what my son keeps thinking. I know this from what he says at times. He keeps searching the Net whenever he is at home for some time. ‘He says partiality kills families; your daughter, your baby is the perfect angel for you. You really do not need me. You cannot love me. Your rejection of me is total. Right, you live happily with your daughter. I hate seeing your faces. I prefer to look at the lifeless images in the net. I want to go away and study in some place far away from home. I want to join for Commerce in S… college in the next town. I can live in the hostel there. Or get me a Bike, if you want to give me anything. I can come home every evening. Or I will live as I am. I have enough friends. That will do for me’” It took another hour for all the details of the pitched battles at home to emerge. I told them love cannot be purchased with unwise gifts. A motorbike certainly is not the right gift for an angry boy given to alcoholic drinks. Love and acceptance are prescription remedies for impossible situations like theirs. The girl added her bit about her love for her brother. She was not against a motorbike for her brother, if that would bring some peace at home. They all left after almost two hours and after many more sobs and many more doubts. They all agreed firmness in love alone is the way out of the mess. Three days later the father called and said, “What is the point? His love is more important to us. He does not sense our love for him. He is focused on getting what he wants. His measure of love is for materials that can be had for the asking. So yesterday I gave him a Honda 100; KL 7 BB… He was so happy and even gave me a hug which never ever happened before. He said he will join Maharaja’s for BA Economics. I think things have turned out fine doctor.” The following month, on a Monday, the picture of a smashed up bike was in on the 8th page of the local daily. KL 7 BB… was readable. The rider died on the spot.
Sreenivasan got what he asked for. Everything was done in love. Did love kill him? If not what, who? Think.
© ALEX MATHEW
WHO STOLE THE COOKIES?