“You never have money for anything! I wish I had a rich dad!”
Bala couldn’t hold his tears back. He had made sure that his son got the best education possible. Even after countless arguments with Sumathi he was intent on sending Bala to the highest reputed school in the neighbourhood. Bala was not able to find the strength in him to meet his wife’s sympathetic eyes. He had failed to provide for his family. He had failed as a father.
Sumathi scurried into the kitchen wiping her own tears. She was surprised that she actually didn’t regret slapping her son. He deserved every bit of it and still some more. How could she have given birth to such an inconsiderate child? She wondered if it was her fault that Shiva acted the way he did. She had not raised him well. She had failed as a mother.
Shiva was brimming with rage as he stomped his way to school cursing his parents. He couldn’t understand why he was more furious with his mother. How could she slap him defending that ill excuse for a man? He knew within that his father would refuse anyway. What he couldn’t take was standing there listening to another one of his father’s sob stories about how poor they were. He hated being poor. He hated pity even more.
As Shiva entered his class room, he encountered the very sight he had been dreading the whole way to school. It was Azhar smiling and waving his fat fingers at him animatedly.
“Hey, Shiva! Did you watch the DBZ episode yesterday? Oh! Sorry, forgot you don’t have a TV at home”, laughed Azhar the way only fifth grade boys could.
Shiva was hearing the joke for the hundredth time, but today it stung him more than it did previously. He was not in the mood to throw the usual fat joke at Azhar. Shiva just scoffed at Azhar with contempt and took his assigned seat next to Azhar.
“What’s up with you today?” asked Azhar quizzically.
Shiva rolled his eyes and cursed at Azhar to stay silent. Azhar being Azhar was not giving heed to Shiva and continued pestering him. Shiva at the loss of knowing how to shoo Azhar away, decided to relate the morning’s events to Azhar.
“So you are not coming for the excursion? I’ll sure miss pauper Shiva during the trip”, beamed Azhar with typical nonchalance.
Shiva hated how the other kids in his class never had to deal with the problems he had to deal with on a daily basis. It was like they all lived in a different world altogether where money was never a cause for worry. He wanted to be in their world. He hated his world.
“Can we stop talking about it now?” pleaded Shiva.
“Sure! Right after I tell everyone in class” grinned Azhar as he leapt off from his seat.
Azhar had made sure it was the class gossip of the day by the end of lunch hour. Azhar enjoyed every bit of the banter he shared with Shiva. When he saw Shiva sullen today, he knew he had some solid content to haze him with for the rest of the week or maybe even a month. The Dragon Ball Z joke was getting old and Azhar had been hoping to find something new. Shiva stayed silent for most part of the day except for a few a few curses directed at Azhar calling him fat. Azhar smirked off the usual insults and got more creative with his own jokes every passing hour. He was not able to hide his pride coming up with the wittiest jokes making fun of Shiva. Shiva hated being the butt of the joke all the time.
The best part of the day for Shiva was when the last bell rang. It didn’t last long as Azhar chose to tag along with him as he walked to the gate. Shiva tried to avoid Azhar by pretending to not hear him but it didn’t seem to serve the purpose.
Azhar waved bye to Shiva at the gate without getting any response. Azhar shrugged as he saw Shiva stroll his way home. Azhar turned to see his mother waiting for him at the car a few feet away. It was not often that his mother came to pick him up. He understood it must be hard for her to support the family on her own after they lost his father last year. He ran to his mother beaming and gave her a hug.
“Who’s your friend there?” she asked Azhar.
“Oh! That’s Shiva. School would be a lot less fun without him.”
“You should invite him home sometime.”
“I would, but I don’t know if he would come. He likes to keep to himself” said Azhar as they both got into the car.
“How was your day in class today?”
“It was alright. Too bad Shiva won’t make it to the excursion on Friday though.”