Avinash stood under the stream of cool water, numbed and devoid of thoughts. His eyes remained fixed on the striped marble ahead. For the first time, he was noticing the crack strewn across it. The water rolled down his bare torso and the pain rose up to his head. It’s when the headache seemed unbearable that he stirred into his senses. He felt as though his skull would explode with all the worries, uncertainties and doubts bottled within.
As soon as he stepped out on his room, the sight only fanned the fire within.
‘Ma!’ He shouted at the top of his voice. ‘How many times should I tell you to not barge into my room like that?’
He knew his terse manner towards his mother had been wrong. But little he cared now. The floodgates had opened and he wouldn’t dare to restrain the maddening waves of exploding emotions now.
‘Please go, Ma!’ He cried aloud, ‘don’t come in uninvited.’ His voice oozed more fire.
Watching him in silence for a minute, his mother tucked the broom under her arm and walked out. Her long, pregnant stare stabbed at Avinash’s heart but all he could care about was the laptop sitting on his dishevelled bed. Making a dash for it, he slammed it shut, scared. I hope she hasn’t read it, he thought anxiously.
Combing his hair and slipping into a boxer shorts, he came out and walked into the dining room where stood his mother arranging plates for his breakfast. He sat himself on a chair and waited as the lady served Roti and Sabji. Then she parked herself beside him on a chair, silent.
Avinash watched his mother, her sullen face for a while. ‘You have read it, haven’t you?’
The words failed to stir the calm woman into speech. She contemplated the food on his plate. ‘Only a line or two.’ She said at last. ‘When did you receive it – the termination mail?’
‘Early this morning.’ Avinash stifled his tears. Shoving the plate in the next moment, he got to his feet and declared, ‘I am not hungry. I’ve got a lot of things to do now.’
His mother pressed his hand. ‘Wait. Sit down.’ Surprisingly, he abided. ‘Even if you start applying for jobs now, it’ll take at least a day or two to get interview calls, I suppose.’ Avinash swallowed, eyes teary. His mother continued. ‘And a week or two more before you actually land a job.’ She placed her hand on his head, the warmth melting his pain. ‘There’s no point in punishing yourself. It’s not your fault, dear.’
Pushing the chunks of food down his throat while fighting his tears, he was about to leave the room when abruptly he turned, ‘Ma,’ his mother turned to him, ‘don’t tell Baba. He’ll only freak out and make things messier than they already are. I’ll tell him when I get a job.’
‘Why?’ She stood up. ‘If your happiness is for us to celebrate, your grief is a part of our life too. And dear, we may not be able to help much but we promise to walk with you through this difficult time. Give us a chance, will you?’
Tears rolled down Avinash’s face.
Do you know you can watch this story with my voice in it? Check out my Youtube channel ShortTells with Chirasree Bose now to see this story coming live before your eyes. Here you go –