-a short story by Vaishnavie Krishnasamy
"He looked at the letter in his hand. He stared at it long enough so that his eyes could have burnt it. He neatly folded it and placed it back inside the envelope. The brown envelope was then kept inside the deepest parts of his cupboard. It will remain there. Forever.”
I kept the pen down and read the whole story twice. It seemed a satisfactory end. I closed the notebook and left out a sigh. The clock on the table showed 7.30 am.
My sight fell on the small paper photo frame which was made by me that looked like a dragon spitting out fire. My mom had placed a photo of us in there. The photo was taken when I was a little girl and my father was carrying me on his back laughing into the camera. My mom was looking at me as if I was going to fall any time and I was wearing a bright pink frock and was giving a toothless grin. The photo looked so adorable. It always made me smile and made me think that I was the luckiest daughter in the whole world.
I went out of my room into the living room. My father was keenly reading a newspaper totally unaware of my entry. I knew better than to disturb him when he was reading his morning papers. I moved to the kitchen where my mom was wiping away tears that had formed because of the onions she had been cutting. I went there stealthily and hugged her from behind.
I asked her, “Can I help you mom?
“Yes dear. But, first brush your teeth and get ready. It is getting late” She said giving me a lovely smile.
“No mom. There is still plenty of time to get ready. I…”
“Listen dearie. You go and get ready. I am busy here.” That was the cue for me and I wandered back to the living room.
I said to my dad who had folded his main paper and was looking at the supplements as if they were a source of contamination, “Daddy! Good morning!”
“Good morning dear!” He replied brightly and then as if he had realized something more important, asked me, “Did you get up just now?”
“Dad! I woke up early and I was writing the ending for my story.”
“Oh! How did it go?”
“Okay dad! Have to do some corrections later!”
"Why don't you let me read your stories?"
For this I just smiled. I don't like others reading my stories and no amount of pestering will land my books on his table.
On hearing his phone ring, he left the room to attend the call. I sprawled myself on the sofa, comfortably resting my head on the arm rest and switched on the TV.
I tuned it to my favourite comedy channel. I was intently laughing at one of the jokes when my view was obstructed.
My mom was there with hands on her hips and was staring at me. “Okay mom! I am going” I took another hour to get ready and by the time I completed my breakfast the clock was ticking itself towards 10.
The sun had been shining brightly and my father and I was ready to go. We were going to my school. It had been my school to be exact. I was going to college in a few months then. I was unable to believe myself. I felt and acted like a kinder garden kid then. I was hoping to be like it forever.
We entered my school and there was already a huge crowd formed there. I was anticipating it. It was not a surprise because it was the day of high school final year results and depending on the marks scored we choose our course and college. I found my class teacher standing there talking busily with someone.
On spotting us, he smiled and came quickly towards us.
"Congratulations Mr.Ram! Your daughter has scored the first mark in the state!”
I usually did well. But that well? I wondered to myself. It had been a pleasant surprise. I moved towards the notice board where the marks of all students had been pasted and I saw that I had scored 97%. Not bad. I must have done well.
My best friend from childhood came running. “I knew you would make it! Congrats!” She crushed me with her generous hug.
I hugged her back equally. We had been the comrades of each other for all our lives until then and that had been the time for goodbyes.
“Now what have you decided to do?” she asked me with intense curiosity.
“I am going to join BA in the prestigious institute of...”
Before I could say further about the premier institute for which I had been trying so hard to get a place, she interrupted me.
“What?” She asked with utter disbelief.
“I have decided to pursue Bachelor of Arts. You must have heard of the..”
Again she interrupted me.
I really wanted to tell her about the prestigious institute in India where I have applied secretly without telling to anyone and had even got the admission letter from them. It was such a great honour to study there and I could further pursue writing as a career.
“You are going to do BA?”
I breathed out a huge sigh of relief. At last it had got into her.
“Are you mad or what?”
What had happened to her?
“What are you saying? Do you know how tough it is to get admission there?” I asked her with a glint of pride in my voice.
“You really are mad!” she said, shaking her head.
Now I could not control my anger and raising my voice I asked her,
“Why? What do you think that is wrong in what I am doing?”
“You have scored 97% and you wish to do Bachelor of arts? Don't you think that is so absurd?”
“NO! I don't think that as a worthless option and YES! I AM GOING TO DO BA!” I screamed at the top of my voice. Some students who were talking near us was now looking at us aghast.
Hiding the embarrassment I asked her again, “What is so wrong in it?”
With a look of great concern looming over her large wonderful eyes she asked, “What are you going to do after that?”
“I am going to be a writer! I thought you knew.”
“You have already mentioned about it. But I thought you were joking around saying that and i though you will make some serious decisions after the results. I thought you will go to..”
“I want to be a writer!”
I uttered with resolution and as if she never heard me she continued. To Medical College”
“To Medical College? You thought I will join a medical college? But why?"
“I think you have the capabilities and making for a good doctor.”
“May be. But that is not I wish for.” I didn't know what else to say.
“Have you discussed about this with your parents?”
“Yes. They are okay with it!”
“Oh! But.. I felt you were suited for...”
That was the end of the topic.
We chatted for a while about our school life and the recent gossips and then we bid our goodbyes.
My father looked so proudly at me. All my teachers congratulated me and in their faces I could see that I have made all of them proud. They were heaping huge praises on me. Some of the praises made me think whether I was really worth it.
Finally my father and I got into the car. My dad was driving and I was busy in my own thoughts. I had phoned mom already. She must have told the whole world by now. My dad was saying something about how tough it is to get such good marks in this competitive world. But i just gave a nod and went back to my thoughts.
To say truthfully I have never spoken about my ambition to become a writer with my parents. They knew I like writing stories, but they don't‟ know that I am interested in it as a career option. I was battling wars in my mind about how to approach them about it. Will they accept it? Or will they reject it as one of my silly pranks? Surely they will accept my wish. They have never said no to anything I have asked.
Also I have never asked anything unimaginable.
The car came to a halt. I got down from it without waiting for my dad. I went inside and sitting on the sofa, i went into thoughts again.
My mom came. She had been crying and she was crying then too. It certainly was not related with my marks and accolades.
Grandpa was not well.
We three went to see my grandpa at my grandparents‟home. It was an hour away from our home. He had been living alone since grandma passed away three years back and he always rejected my mom‟s plea that he come and live with us.
He just couldn't‟t leave the house where he had binding memories. We let him be. The travel seemed so long for me. He certainly was the closest person on earth after my parents. I felt as if we were crossing a universe to reach there.
The house looked dull. It too had become old just like grandpa. Grandpa was a very active person and he always had some work to do. Lying sick on bed was the first time for my eighty five year old grandpa.
I went and sat near him in his bed. He was too weak even to take hold of my hands. But his grip was like pincer.
With a soft voice he said, “I heard dear. It really pains me so much to realize that I won't be there when you become a full-fledged doctor. Be a good one dear. Treat them good. Don't‟t get money from the poor and treat all the patients with utmost care and respect. An honest doctor is always better than a good doctor. I will always be there with you and whenever you need me just imagine me there and I will be there. Don't‟worry dear and learn well and keep learning.” My mouth just wouldn't‟t open and my mind went blank.
I just sat there clutching his hand tightly.
“I know dear. But this is best for you.” He said and went into a sleep.
I went to the farthest corner of the room and sat there. Relatives were all over the place and no one took notice of me.
On the way back home I took the rear seat instead of the front seat I usually prefer. The mood was gloomy in the car. Mom had stopped crying and was looking into the darkness of the night and was feeling forlorn. The music that was playing in the radio was making my eyes heavy. With the car speeding past the scary surroundings, I fell asleep.
I woke up to the sound of my mom and dad talking to each other. It was barely audible and was just slightly better than a whispered talking. “I really wish she could go to medical school.” This made me get up from the half awakened state.
It was my mom.
“But we cant force her into going to medical school.” That was from my dad.
“I know. But it was my wish to become a doctor and unfortunately I couldn't‟t. Father was not in a financial position to pay for my tuition and accommodation at medical school. Father thinks that is his mistake and he regrets it till now. Even today he said “Send your daughter to medical school. Don't‟t worry about the expenses. I will help. But don't‟t deny her future and curtail her talents. She will become a great doctor one day. You will be happy for her then. Just see. It will happen one day.” I told him that it was my wish too and he seemed satisfied.”
“I too want her to go to medical school” It was my dad again.
“You have never told me about this before.” My mom's shock was apparent in her voice.
“Yes. But she has the brains and the care, concern and humanity for a doctor. She will make a good one.”
Having said that, my father went back to his own muse and my mom went back to her staring at the dark.
Tears were flowing down from my eyes. When my mom looked back suddenly to see whether I was awake, I pretended to be asleep and I hoped that my tears were not visible in the low light and thanked the darkness for it. It was already passed midnight and I could see the moon shining brightly ready to be shadowed away soon by the sun.
Soon the moon gave way for the sun. I felt a pair of hands caressing my hair. I opened my eyes. It was my mom. The sun was shining brightly through the window and I squeezed my eyes to look at the clock. “It is 9 am dearie. Get up and have your breakfast. You can go back to your sleep then.” I closed my eyes again and rested my head on mother's lap.
It felt comforting. “Did you sleep well?” I gave a feeble nod, still keeping my eyes closed.
“What have you planned about college dearie?”
“Why mom? Suddenly?”
“No dear. I just wanted to know about your plans and if you want any help in deciding we are always there.”
I could feel my eyes becoming wet. “Mom?”
“Will it be okay with dad and you if I want to…”
“Whatever you decide is okay with us.”
I got up from bed and looking into her face I asked, “Medical College?”
My mother didn't‟t reply.
“Will it be alright with dad and you if I want to go into medical school?”
“Yes dear. Yes. Is that what you really want?” my mom asked me looking speechless.
“Yes mom. After seeing grandpa like that I wanted to become a doctor and care for patients like him. I even have grandpa's blessings for it. So, is it okay?”
“Absolutely fine with me!” it was my dad. He came and sat on the corner of the bed and we both looked beseechingly into my mom's face. “I always thought you wanted something else in life. How wrong! Yes dear. You can join Medical School and you will become a great doctor one day.”
Yes. It was okay for all of us. I went back to my mother's lap and we all three were discussing about my further plans.
“She looked at the admission letter for BA in her hand. She stared at it long enough so that her eyes could have burnt it. She neatly folded it and placed it back inside the envelope. The brown envelope was then kept inside the deepest parts of her cupboard. It will remain there. Forever.”