Subham was lying on the bed staring at the roof of his small size bed-room. His gaze was aimless, eyes were buried into the holes of skull, and face was dry and expressionless which depicts an image of despair and impassiveness. The room consists of a table with a color TV in front of the door, a rack with three shelves at the side of his bed occupying the space of one side completely. The shelves were displaying one medal printed with ‘the outstanding student of the year’, some books and other medals, one table clock and rest of the place has been used for decoration. The bed had placed in such a way so that it can cover both the windows of the room.
The room was quite open and plenty of fresh air enters when both windows are kept open. There was one Arjun tree bending opposite just beside of his room. It seems that the tree was deliberated about the possibility of construction of the house at that place. Both the windows of the room had closed since when he came to home until his mother comes to sweep the floor in the morning. She opens one of the windows opposite of his face to avoid the sunlight and put her palm on his forehead to check his temperature. Just like other day, she didn’t realize what is happening with her son. Suddenly Subham got up from his bed and switched-off the alarm of the clock (though it was not ringing) and screamed to his mother “mom, why did you open the window?”
He closed the window with a piercing sound and went to sleep again. It was his regular routine to set an alarm of 8.a.m at the time of sleep and just half an hour before of ringing, he turns off the alarm. It had become his instinctual antipathy towards the sound of the alarm from last several years. Set up an alarm for the morning awake him, not the sound.
“Subha get up babu, go outside and have a walk. See what a pleasant morning outside. What would you like to take in the breakfast? Shall I prepare luchi & chole, your favorite.” she asked with an anticipating voice.
“Mom, for the god sake, please I want to stay alone mom.” he replied in a loud voice.
It was their usual conversation since when he came home two weeks ago. It didn’t make any difference to Subham. His mother is 45 years old and she looks much older than her age. She was suffering from pain in her knee joints from last 3-4 years. She had to take some rest by clutching her knees using both hands each time after a walk of 3-4 paces. She could not carry out her daily work properly but she never complained about it. She knew that she is the only person to take care the whole family; two times cocking in a day, cleaning of rooms, feeding of cows e.t.c. She went to see several local doctors but it did not improve her condition. Once, Subham accompanied his mother to the district hospital. The doctor had told that there is a need of surgery and it would cost nearly Rs. 50,000. After hearing that, she started to hate surgery. Rs. 50,000 is not a small amount and it means a lot to a lower middle class family like them.
“What is happening with you Subha, please tell me.” she asked in a softened voice.
She realized something is wrong with him and he doesn’t hide anything to her. In his childhood, whenever he got insulted by his teacher or had a fight with his friend or afraid to go somewhere without his father’s approval, he would silently come and try to sit inside her lap when she is busy in cocking or some other household work. It would make her understands everything. She would listen in details about the whole day’s incident, when she feed him with smashed extra boiled rice and boiled potato. She used to feel proud as a mother when she would console him, her only son by accepting all his mistakes and giving assurance that she will scold his wicked friend who has hurt her innocent son. Remembering all this, a tear rolled down from her eyes.
After a little silence, she asked “Are you doing well in your study?”
“You are still here mom; I said I want to stay alone for some time. Please leave.” he shouted in a state of rage.
That was a little bit unexpected to her because very rare he becomes angry and she can’t even remember last when she saw him in wrath. It didn’t make her emotional, she was not crying, she didn’t even leave the room instantly, rather she was experiencing a fright which is compelling to think some scariest scenario that she can ever imagine. A silence came down in the room. She slowly came out from the room while wiping out his tears by the edge of her cloth.
Subham was still staring at the roof, it seems that he was trying to figure out some problems and the result which was not coming satisfactory, was forcing him to find another solution. The day was not better as like as his childhood. Why a man can’t live a life of his own? Why someone work hard to make other’s dream victorious? People say it is always good to go back in the childhood. Childhood memory is precious and it helps to build a foundation for future life. But it is not always true.
Subham hates his early days of life. It frightened him most and he has a doubt that any other child ever spent a childhood like him. Off course some parts were happy but that small portion of happiness could not conceal the wound of miserable life that he was living from his childhood. How long he has to carry the burden that has forcefully loaded on him by his father. His father was in Indian army and took retirement 4-5 years back. He could remember clearly whenever he would come in leave; it would make him freeze to death to confront him. Throughout the whole day he has to study and never dare to leave the study even for toilet without his permission. When his leave would come to an end, Subha would be the happiest person in the world. Life was going on like this. 4-5 years back when he took early retirement, the disaster came down permanently in his life.
He didn’t wants to become an engineer. He wanted to be a writer. He wanted to write about human feelings, about their life, their success and defeat, their happiness and sorrow, their struggle against adversity, everything regarding a life. He loved to read novel from his childhood. Several times he read the novel “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, it would make him emotional; it would make him think again about his little dream that he never dare to tell his father till today. Whenever he tried to tell his father about his dream, he couldn’t, a fear to lose his dream forever would stop him. The hope that someday he will start the journey to follow his destiny, was giving the ability to live another day of his wretched life.
“Subha, what is your trouble tell me. You are not having your food properly, not talking with anyone, not going outside since when you are here” she asked while entering the room with a cup of tea. Somewhere she is afraid of something bad with his son.
“Babu, is everything alright in Kolkata? Tell me the truth Subha.” She asked in a muffled voice which makes clear the state of concern within her.
“Mom, I want to confess something. I can’t be happy anymore.” Subha replied after waking up from the bed.
“Mom, I am not happy, I want to be happy again”, by saying this, he broke down in tears. He was hiding his face between his knees while the sound of his cry portraying the pain that he was suppressing from years. She embraced her son with teary eyes. She doesn’t know how to console his little son who is grown up now.
“Mom, I don’t want to continue my engineering, I want to study literature to become a writer. I want to live my own life not others.”
Slowly everything was getting clear to her. Subha was a bright student from his childhood. But she didn’t notice him to become excited about his achievement, to feel happy for coming first in the class, to smile after clearing engineering entrance exam, to feel proud about him after securing a seat in computer engineering in Jadavpur University. It would seem that he is the most obedient son that a parent could expect, and it was a matter of pride not only to his father but sometimes she also used to feel proud about that.
“Beta, why didn’t you tell me before?”
“Because of father mom. I could not dare to go against him. He spoiled my childhood, my dream and tried to impose his dream on me. I am tired mom to work for his dream. But enough, I am not afraid anymore. At any cost I will follow my dream. The days that I have spent were a mental struggle to choose between my dreams and to follow father’s summons.”
He was speaking without taking any breath; his face was turning into red, he was shivering from inside, tears are rolling down from his eyes. Years of anger, hatred, frustration that were piled up inside him, is coming out with his emotion. Slowly she was feeling isolated from the surroundings; she can imagine her little anxious child studying the whole day by sacrificing his own dream, his happiness just to obey his father’s command. She also never protests anything against her husband because all the Indian women are used to accept her husband’s decisions at every aspect. She is also responsible for her son’s suffering and she is very much thankful to god that at last she came to know the reason before happening something dreadful with her only son.
“I am with you babu. Just calm down and follow your dream. I am also no more afraid of your father. Let him come, I will speak with him” she replied after a long deep breath.
A cloud of fear was slowly disappearing from her, her churning stomach was becoming calm after a sudden storm, she was feeling immense joy inside her to be a part of her son’s happiness. She opened both the windows of the room. The room got filled up with soft morning sunlight with a new hope, with a new beginning. Some birds were making noise in the Arjun tree, a child was crying somewhere of a neighbor, a fading voice of a vegetable vendor was coming from far away. After so long, she was enjoying the beauty of a morning. Everything was appearing to carry a peace in her mind.
“Subham get fresh babu, I will be preparing puri & chole for your breakfast” ……………….