The child sobbed away his unfulfilled wish. Customarily, he would cry a little longer, maybe run around the house for a while, get a beating from Father, but today he was tired. Every time he had asked for something from his parents, he faced objection. Of course he understood a little that Mother can never be wrong. That even one chocolate is enough to damage his newly formed permanent teeth completely, that new toys make a good boy spoilt, going out to play attracts kidnappers and other plights.
Today was no different. The family had been touring in the lakeside, of a populated hill station. The child cried after he was refused a boat ride. But today Mother made a miracle happen. She stopped him from crying his t-shirt into a pulp.
“Here!” Mother said, with a smile, “I got you this!” She handed him a set of crayons and a drawing book. “You can draw whatever you want. You don’t have to ask for it from Papa. Draw it and it will come to life!”
“How do you know?” the child asked as his eyes widened with intrigue.
“I know. It works. Promise.” She held his shoulder firmly and reassured.
Thus miracle happened. He drew a boat in a lake, surrounded by trees bigger in proportion than the lake, a few hills sprawled across the edges in blue and purple. He was no little kid. He painted the lake grey just like it looked now. The boat sailed across it, and on board were he and Mother. He could see both of them happy, he, was shrieking with laughter as ducks swam by. Mother held him firmly, to protect him as always.
The next day the family returned home, and unlike other days he was happy. The child grabbed his drawing book and crayons to sleep at night.
His happiness knew no measure now. He drew everything he wanted to and found it right in front of him happening. Rides on Ferris wheels, a bicycle which he had only seen in his most tantalizing dreams, chocolates, pastries and everything under the Sun. The child cried with joy. He never got tired of this exotic high, the euphoric thought of having every dream fulfilled by magic. The magic of the crayons. Nobody could see his bicycle, or his new pencil box, or the new action figures but him. Outsiders would appreciate the improvement in his sketching, which got realistic day by day for a seven year old.
He would settle his homework quickly (because he was a good boy) and sit down with his crayons, ignoring his mother’s cries and his father’s usual showdown after a ‘jolly time’ with colleagues at some party. Earlier he got a fair share of his father’s beatings. But now that he remained quiet mostly, his mother, alone, had to face the conundrum. He cried secretly for his mother sometimes though, in the bathroom, but knew he was helpless.
That evening, after a rare visit to the park, he was dropped home by an older boy from the colony. He was excited to draw a motorcycle, the hot topic for the colony teenagers’ discussion which he overheard while taking the swing. He found the door open to their apartment that day, which was not a regular observation.
“Mother!” The child cried out. A little inquisitive, he slowly walked up to his parents’ bedroom.
There she was. Sitting on the floor, devastated, her nose oozing blood. On seeing her son, she hurriedly wiped her face, soaked wet with tears. Her lips were swollen, her disorderly hair which had been grabbed and pulled at by her husband, nearly covered up her eyes which shone with a mixture of embarrassment and guilt.
“I am sorry!” she mumbled. “I will get you food.” She started to get up. The child ran to her, and pulled her to his small chest, where now his heart beat faster than a rabbit’s. “No Mother, I am sorry! I am here for you now!” he cried. “You sit.” He instructed his mother firmly. She obeyed. The child hurried to the kitchen. He was a fast learner. He boiled noodles, not with great difficulty. He had seen his mother do that ten thousand and one times and thus had learned the art. He cleaned up her wounds, fed her and lulled her to sleep. “Everything is going to be okay. You know I am here now, for you.”
The Father did not return home that night. Nor did he return the day after, or the next. They couldn’t reach him contact him in any way, no friend, no colleague, not even the secretary he would spend most of his time with had any news about him or his car. The apartment became an assembly of their kin, reassuring panic-stricken Mother. The boy, now the man of the house, busily scuttled around the house attending relatives.
Everything seemed unsettled till a phone call arrived conveying the news. The Police implored Mother to come and identify a body which had been found in the jungle by the highway along with a car wrecked beyond repair or recognition. It was him. She knew for sure after confirming the number plates. Mother was silent. She was not crying. There was an uproar of cries from the relatives. She went to the sofa and sat down silently. They all tried to convince her to ‘cry out of shock’. She took a look at her son. He came forward handed her a cup of tea.
“Let’s go to the police station.” He spoke silently. Mother nodded.
The child went to his bedroom. He changed into one of his better shirts. He grabbed his drawing book and turned to the last page. He looked intently at the drawing.
A car had smashed itself into a tree and was on fire. A man locked inside, shouting for help.
He quickly tore up the page and tucked it under his pillow. He wrapped up his drawing book and set of crayons in a plastic bag. Excusing himself from his kinfolk, he ran down the stairs, outside the gate of the building, and threw the bag in the colony vat and hurried back to the building.
A little child, rag -picking outside was on his toes already. He fished the vat and found the bag with the book and the crayons. With a smile, he grabbed the set and walked away.