Shekhar was relatively quiet that day. He had done something he could never have imagined. An act whose consequences he had never fathomed. He walked slowly down to his friends house down the street. His head hung low, he avoided the stares of his neighbours. As he walked, his feet scraped the dust in dejection.
He wish he knew what exactly had swept through his mind as he swung that bottle through the air before it smashed to pieces.
He looked down at his feet. His shoes, bare at the soals, exposing his many soars and blisters to the dust kicked up. He could not have felt sorry for himself for he knew no better. Forever, it was always necessary to have lived with the problems, so abundant and so pervasive. Occasionally, he would glance at the new sneakers the kid in front of the class wore. But he never felt a desire to want, all he felt was pangs of guilt of what had conspired that day at home. It was his priority and his all important consequence to carry that luggage around.
His father had promised to be home that day at 8. It was after all his youngest brothers birthday. His father was a modest worker at the nearby steel plant, but if he wished he could have used the few Rupees he earned that day to feed his 3 children a decent meal.
He could see that Shalini had not eaten that day, neither had the younger Rohit. His mother could only manage a few Rotis which went into his fathers tiffin. A sacrifice they were all willing to make. They had hoped for a little too much, he thought.
He walked and looked down the road. Beyond a large banyan tree whose roots held as much wisdom as one might seek, lay his friends home. Ghanshyams father too worked at the factory, but he cared. Atleast they could eat. The house was not too run-down, neither was it too fancy. It had its own character, a roof with red tiles, few modest windows and a large door, decorated with paintings of elephants carrying Princes of an erstwhile era.
Instead of coming home, he had found his father in the nearby country liquour shop. He had popped in for one drink too many. He came looking for him when he realized that it was quite late for steel workers to return home. He might have dreaded that moment, but all the same he hoped that his father might instead have taken a detour to the bakery on his way home. He loved the cream rolls from the bakery.
He looked at the large door in front of him and knocked hard. An almost urgent desire to meet his friend crept outwards as he knocked. The guilt was hard to bear, all he wanted to do was confess and face the consequences. His young mind automatically led him to Ghanshyams house. He wondered why, at this sensitive time, did he not run instead.
He faced upto his father, with the heart of a lion. With tears in his eyes he mentioned how they had missed him, what they had hoped. A blank look of puzzlement stared back. Almost as if, something might have possessed him. He so much wanted things to be normal that he offered to walk his father back and forget everything. So what if they skipped a meal, dad would be home to contribute to the warmth.
One more drink he had said, slapping Shekhar across the face when he refused. Shekhar walked upto the bar, picked up the bottle and walked back calmly. He swung the bottle hard breaking it against his fathers temple. The blow knocked the older man back of his perch and onto the floor. What followed was more rage, the remnants of the shattered container went straight into his bosom.
Ghanshyam listened carefully as Shekhar wept, telling everything. He whispered “You could not have helped it bro, it’s alright, just let it go, I understand your reasons. “.
His guilt melted away with his tears, he was looking out at the cold streets. Ready to face the consequences, for he had already deposed before who had mattered most. His friend, mattered most, for he knew what was true!
He looked up, saw two stars. Close by, they accentuated each others brilliance. He just wished…