The Kite (..contd)

Read Part I

Part II

Lallu always felt that she could not thank Suma and the family enough for the kindness and support they have been extending to her ever since her husband left them. She was more than just a maid in the household. Suma took care of the schooling expense and whenever she shopped for clothes or toys, she remembered to buy stuff for Gopu. She insisted that Lallu save the money she was paid as salary so that Gopu’s future is secured. A major portion of her salary was therefore directly deposited in the bank by Suma and Lallu would request to withdraw whenever there was a need. Suma would either shell it out herself most of the time and would withdraw from Lallu’s account rarely.

Lallu never disagreed with anything they said or any decisions they made on her behalf as she trusted them. She never felt the need to do so. Her life’s decisions were now made by Suma or Deepak. She had a little money in her purse but could not summon courage to buy, lest she offends her employers. It pained her to see Gopu’s small dream shattered and the feeling of servility that she’d called upon herself drove her mad.

She was still lost in thoughts when she heard Gopu calling out to her and this time he was almost pleading, “Amma, will you buy me one atleast now?”. “Gopu! Your mother is feeling tired already. Why do you keep pestering her like this? Didn’t uncle tell you that he’d buy one for you. You must wait and not yap continuously like this!” said Suma firmly! Lallu and Gopu’s eyes met for a few seconds and both looked away again. There was a lump in her throat while silent tears were rolling down Gopu’s cheeks. He wiped with the back of both his palms but they kept coming!

The stars shone in the dark sky and there were fewer kites. “Shall we start? Its late already and am sure you both are very hungry after all this play?” “Yes dad, am ravenous. We’ll go” said Sunil. Gopu remained silent and walked with his head low. Just as they were about to get into the car, the same girl selling the kites, came running to them and insisted that they buy a kite. Gopu hadn’t stirred. “Deepak, buy one for Gopu. He’s been pestering Lallu for quite some time!” said Suma.

The kite was bought but Gopu refused to take it. “C’mon Gopu! Take this. You wanted one, right?” said Suma. “Aunty, the only reason I love to come to beach is because I love to fly kites, like those kids out there. Just like Sunil wanted to shoot balloons. My grandpa used to buy me one without me having to ask. I thought amma would buy one too. Its of no use to me now. I don’t want one for adorning my home. You may have it”. Suma felt remorse for having ruined his evening and tears welled up. Lallu was blowing her nose in her pallu, no longer concealing her tears. If only there was control Z in life! They returned home in silence. Including the kite.

PS: I got to know of Fight That Mommy Guilt contest at artnavy’s, and am submitting this story as an entry..

The Kite

Gopu rushed home from school and got busy getting ready for the evening. The excitement was writ all over his chubby bespectacled face.. “Ma, hope you remember about the kite?” he called out to his mother even as his tiny hands were busy scrubbing his lunch box. “Yes dear! “, Lallu replied from the kitchen. The evening was warm, but Gopu was sweating more out of anxiety than the summer heat! Memories of his grandpa taking him to the beach and flying a kite together, kept crossing his mind. He recalled how his grandpa reveled in joy as Gopu yanked the kite higher and higher..

“I thought you were ready! Its already 5.00 and I promised Sunil’s ma that I’ll be there at 5.15. Whats come over you Gopu? C’mon, get ready! Quick!”, cried Gopu’s mother, startling him. “Yeah ma, in a giffy!”. The 7 year old hardly remembered his dad and it was his grand-pa who did his best to fill that void. Gopu had vague memories of seeing his dad off at the Chennai airport. What started as a phone call twice a week, dwindled to once a week, then once a month, and got more irregular as months progressed. The promised money never came and Gopu’s mom took to working. His grand-pa’s demise a few months earlier unsettled Gopu, leaving his mom more things to cope with.. Gopu was her world and she’d vowed to try everything in her means to make his world bright and hopeful..

Suma answered the door when Gopu climbed up the grill-gate and rang the bell. “What are you doing Gopu! get off the gate! You might hurt yourself!”, she bellowed! The little boy shrugged and said, “Aunty, I will be careful..” and walked past her to meet his pal Sunil. “Are you ready? See? I’ve worn your jeans.. It fits me so well..”. “Yeah, its nice. How is mine?”. “Very nice. Sunil, have you seen me fly a kite? I love it!” chirped Gopu. “Amma has promised to buy me one this evening. Do you want one too?”. “I like to shoot balloons. Hey, we’ll take the ball too..” said Sunil. The two caught up on an unfinished chess game from the previous day. The board and the coins lay on the table untouched.

Sunil’s dad, joined the kids on the game and 30 minutes later, Suma and Lallu were ready to go. The prospect of feeling the cool wind caress his cheek and allowing the sands of the beach clog his hair kept Gopu excited. Sunil’s dad drove the pack to the beach just in time to catch the sunset. Gopu caught sight of beautiful kites in the beach sky even as the car was being parked and his spirits soared as high as the kites. He was the first to hop out of the car. Gopu wondered how the birds never flew into the kites and how the string never caught a bird’s legs! He and Sunil loved walking bare-feet on the sand and were running ahead of their parents with their footwear adorning their little hands.

The aroma of onion and mirchi bajjis from Maami’s Bajji Stall wafted in the air and appealed to Gopu’s olfactory senses, and he turned around and gave his mom a cheeky look.. Lallu signaled a ‘No’ with her eyes and Gopu got the cue and failed to conceal his disappointment. “If only grandpa was here…” he thought.. Just as he turned away from his mom, he saw a girl, almost his age and height, thrust a kite into his hands and urged him to buy saying it would cost him only ten rupees.. He looked back hopefully at his mom and his eyes shone bright. “Gopu, give it back to her. Kids ought not be buying stuff on their own”, said Suma. Gopu looked at his mom who was shifting uneasily and she looked away from her son. Gopu was puzzled and wondered if something was actually wrong with the world. Lallu walked a little slowly and took out her small purse to check how much money she carried and zipped it again.

“Gopu, Sunil, come let us shoot some balloons” called out the dad. “No uncle, I do not want to shoot the balloons. I don’t like it. I want to fly a kite” replied Gopu. “Okay, I’ll surely buy you one ” he said and went on to shoot some balloons with Sunil. Sunil enjoyed it thoroughly and Gopu cheered him. He refused to trial it when Sunil’s dad asked him to take turns and shoot. “No, am interested only in the kite” he said with a little more emphasis.

“Here boys, take this ball”, said Suma after the boys came back from shooting. Gopu, Sunil and his dad played with the ball for a long time and Gopu was caught 9 out of 10 times gaping at a kite high in the sky instead of seeing the ball come at him! Lallu’s palms were moist and she gazed aimlessly at the sea and unconsciously kept rubbing her palms, concealing anxiety and helplessness. “Lallu, what happened? Why are you quiet all of a sudden? You look a little pale too?”. “No, nothing madam. Its, its just that I was reminded about Gopu’s grandpa.. Nothing else..” Lallu added.

[Part II…]