Keshu woke up with a start. This was not the first time, every night he was hearing something upstairs in his playroom, but he convinced himself it was his imagination or some rats running around. But today he was sure he heard it, maybe he was half awake. Or perhaps he was expecting it in the back of his mind.
Slowly, he coaxed himself out of his sleepy laziness and tiptoed upstairs. The clock on the wall, near the landing on the stairs, said it was 2a.m. He yawned and walked up, reaching the door to his playroom. Keshu’s father was a senior government officer and hailed form a prosperous local community. Born with a silver spoon, Keshu got double of everything he wanted and was developing and arrogant streak.
This worried Keshu’s father, Rameshji, who was a cultured and responsible citizen. Due to some medical reasons, Keshu’s mother couldn’t bear another child. His parents felt this was unfortunate, as they believed the presence of another child, a brother or sister, would mellow Keshu’s rude behaviour. Keshu stared at the light coming from under his playroom’s door. Was there someone in the room? How could they get in? Were they thieves, stealing his expensive toys? Could he dare stop them? Were they armed? Thoughts ran like mice in his head. Some of the world’s rarest and choicest toys, lovingly gifted to Keshu by his father, were inside the playroom.
But Keshu rarely acknowledged the gifts, nor even thanked his father properly. More recently, about a week back, Keshu’s father gave him a beautiful doll, “Ayush”, an image of a popular superhero, almost two feet tall and very lifelike. It was such a costly doll that Keshu’s mother was very concerned and they talked in hushed tones late into the might, whether it was right to pamper him so.
However, Ramesh was certain that Keshu was a Good child and trusted that he would change his ways one day. He loved his son more than anything else in the world.
Slowly, Keshu pushed the door open and peered in. He was surprised to see a small boy, dressed in rags and sporting dishevelled hair, playing with Ayush.
“Leave it” said Keshu, puling the doll from the strange lad.
The Boy moved back, protesting, “I was just playing with it.”
“You are stealing toys”, accused Keshu.
“No!” exclaimed the lad, “I am not. I am just playing with Ayush. I saw your dad give it to you on your birthday.”
Keshu hesitated. “Who are you? And how did you get in?”
“I am Kishan”, said the boy. “I live in the workers colony opposite your house. Whenever I climb the Mango tree in our colony, I can see your playroom. And I entered through the window,” ended Kishan grinning mischievously.
“But why at this time? And why stealthily? You could have asked me,” attacked Keshu again.
“I never saw you playing with any of the kids around here or sharing your toys. I thought you would refuse.” Said Kishan.
“But then why did you come, if you knew I wouldn’t like it?”, asked Keshu, now genuinely curious.
“I never saw you playing with Ayush,” replied Kishan. “And such a waste of such a beautiful doll. I felt the superhero deserved more.”
Keshu stared at Kishan for a few moments. “I never have anyone to play with. I have no brother or sister at home,” he replied quietly, bowing his head to hide his feelings.
“But you can play with us down there in our colony. We play hide and seek, marbles, climb the trees and have a lot of fun. Come to my place tomorrow morning,” offered Kishan.
“Sure I will,” said Keshu, brightening a bit. “And keep Ayush with you. You know his value more than I do,” he added, thrusting the doll into Kishan’s hand. Kishan smiled at his new friend, quickly disappearing through the window.
Ramesh, who was listening from behind the playroom door, shared a satisfied smile with his wife, standing beside him, her hand in his.