‘Ok ask’ said Karan
‘Don’t misunderstand me. What do you think? Are you a person who deserves respect for any of his traits?’ asked his mother.
He went silent. He thought. He mumbled. He perspired. He rummaged his mind and memory to find the answer. But the answer wasn’t found. He was too perplexed. Blank to be more precise. He looked at his mother’s face, she wasn’t smiling anymore, and she wasn’t looking at him either. They were both standing on the sidewalk outside a mall waiting for the bus. The sudden question had startled him a bit. Why did she ask him this?
‘Couldn’t find the answer?’
‘Why did you ask me this?’
‘I wanted to know how much you know yourself. Apparently you don’t know anything.’
‘Or maybe I don’t have the traits that are worth respect’
‘No son. You are underestimating yourself.’
‘But father never appreciates what i do. He keeps pointing out my mistakes.’
‘That’s for your own good’
‘So what qualities of mine deserve respect?’
‘You must ask yourself that.’
‘I think i am useless’
There was a long pause. She didn’t speak, till they boarded a bus. Fortunately they found seats. They sat in silence, without a word. Karan was still expecting a few words to come out of his mother’s mouth. She seemed a bit angry.
‘Beta. Listen. You are not useless. Not even a bit. When you were born, people said that i should have a second child, a second option to fall back on. But i refused. Because i knew you are enough. You are enough to take care of me. You are enough to protect me. You are enough to make my life better and best.’ she said, her eyes shimmering with tears. ‘So don’t ever say that you are useless. I didn’t give you life, for you to call it useless. I want you to live with pride.’ she said and smiled, on the verge of sobbing.
‘But why couldn’t i find an answer—’ he said
‘Because you haven’t realized your worth yet. You’ll have to search for the answers.’
‘For calling myself useless’ Karan said and smiled.
His mother smiled and looked out the window. She thought that Karan may find respect for himself, but the truth was, he kept scratching the surface of his blank mind and he found nothing. He had no answers. He had lost all the arrogance and respect for himself. He tried to hide it but he was terrified and depressed inside.
Days later Karan was still wondering and searching for answers. He kept asking the same question to his friends at school and to himself, “Is there anything in me worth respect?” And finally he also asked Poornima the same question. He expected a nice answer. An answer that would satisfy him and smother all the doubts in him. They loved each other, she must be having an answer for it. Oh young love!
‘Karan, i can’t say anything. I don’t know you that well’ Poornima said shrugging.
‘What? Why? You can’t find anything worth respect in me?’
‘Its not like there’s nothing in you. I just can’t figure it out’
‘I am useless’
‘No you are not Karan’
‘Yes I am’
He stormed off leaving Poornima sitting alone in the cafeteria. They had been bunking classes. He was annoyed. But with whom or what? Himself? His existence? His uselessness?
He avoided talking to anyone the rest of the day. He was really disappointed with everyone. He was surprised at how incapable people were at finding the good qualities in him. Maybe there weren’t any. Or maybe not.
Poornima tried approaching him the next day but he was still the same. She had thought about the answer of his question the whole night. She had the answers ready. But Karan didn’t want to talk. For the first time he was avoiding everyone, including Poornima. He had never been rude or ignorant to Poornima after his first mistake. After he knowingly did one of the biggest blunders of his life. He had pushed her away from his life. He had broken her expectations. He had proved how idiotically ridiculous he could act. But of course he soon realized how important she was to her. And how much he still loved her deep down. He tried, and tried and tried. And finally, he gained her trust back. He cherished her ever since he never got angry at her. He always calmed her down. He was probably the only person in the world who could handle her strong and stubborn attitude and anger with sheer ease. But now what he was doing was completely the opposite of what he had been doing. But maybe this time it was Poornima’s turn to calm him down. Only she could have told him, how important he was.
But she waited for the right moment.
‘Why don’t you study!’ Karan’s father had been shouting since he entered the house. ‘You never take anything seriously!’
‘Father i do study. That’s all i can do. I don’t want to be first. I am fine being average.’
‘Can average people achieve anything? Is my son going to be nothing but ‘AVERAGE’!?’
‘This is what your son wants to be father. He wants to live a normal non-extravagant life’
‘You are quitter. A complete quitter. You give up so soon! You had so much talent but you ruined it. You could have been an artist, but you wanted the Sundays to be spared didn’t you? Idiot’
‘What could i have possibly done? Pursue my talent? What would have been the point? In the the end i’ll end up being either an engineer, a doctor or a clerk at a bank. I don’t want to do the useless. At some point even i had dreams. But it’s impossible father. I’ll die paying bills and worrying about my bank balance anyway, so why even try?’
His father had went silent. What Karan said was the bitter truth. Karan had little chance of becoming what he wanted to be. He had dreams of becoming of a game tester at Ubisoft, to get paid for playing videogames, he wanted to be a painter and paint portraits that would be auctioned, he wanted to be a writer, and write bestsellers. But none of those dreams fascinated his Father, for him Karan’s were just a gamble of life. His father wanted him to take up Science and become an engineer, else his life would be meaningless.
‘You know what son? You are right, you are useless. You are just a parasite living off my money. You don’t deserve your grandfather’s name, you don’t respect it, and you are nothing like him, he was so much more hardworking than you. You are just a disgrace. I think it would be nice to have a second child.’ said his father, in the most sarcastic tone, probably trying to negatively motivate him but it striked Karan on the wrong nerve.
‘Yes. Exactly. But you don’t see do you, that all this is because of you? I might have been living on your money, but you have mentally disturbed me. Do you really think i have enough valor and energy left to pursue my dreams or to score 90% marks after what i have seen and gone through. Our family was never normal. Ever since the day i realized how much you despise mother, i have been traumatized. You lost all respect for me. If only our family was normal. If only you had treated her like a wife and not a servant. I might have scored 99% marks. But that’s not the case. You aren’t good enough to be my father!’
The moment those words escaped Karan’s mouth, his father slapped him. His lips were bleeding, and his cheek was blackened. Tears in his eyes, Karan smiled a wicked smile.
‘Bitter truth wasn’t it?’
He smirked and swaggered his way out of the door. His father stood there thinking what he had done. Was it really his mistake?
He went to Poornima’s house. He wanted to cry, putting his head on her lap. He always told her everything. Every single detail of his life. And she listened with eagerness, ready to give him advice any minute. She really was his true partner, no one else could have handled Karan’s depression this well.
It was 7 in the evening and Karan stood at Poornima’s doorstep. Eyes bloodshot, arms heavy, mind dizzy he struggled to stand, he needed to sit down and compose himself. He finally rang the doorbell. Poornima opened the door she was surprised to see him.
‘Karan? What are you doing here? What happened?’
‘I don’t know. I need you.’ and broke into tear.
‘Hey don’t cry Karan. What happened?’ she went over the threshold barefooted and wrapped her arms around him. ‘I am here. Tell me what happened’
Karan hugged her tighter, and kept on sobbing and didn’t say anything.
‘Its okay Karan i am here…’
Thay sat down and Karan put his head on her lap and continued sobbing.
‘I am—so useless’ he said with a broken voice. ‘I am a disgrace he said. I don’t deserve my name he said. A second child would be good he said. Am i really that bad? Is there nothing in me worth respect. I can’t search anymore. I am tired.’
‘Karan. I have the answer. You are not useless.’
‘Tell me how—’ Karan said
‘There’s so much in you. You are just so unaware of it. Your determination. You grit. Your bravery. Even after so much you still smile, you still laugh, you still love. You never gave up, and kept on loving me. You don’t show it but you care for your mother so much. You do mistakes but you learn from them and change. You haven’t given up on life yet, even after so much of trouble and problems.’ she took a pause and wiped a tear away. ‘You promised to stay with me forever, and till now you are keeping your promise. There’s so much in you that deserves respect Karan. So much that i can’t finish’ Karan got up and looked into Poornima’s eyes. He could see love, so much of it. Karan heard what her eyes wanted to say. She loved him.
‘I got my answers’
‘Now go, your mother must be worried’
He got up to his feet wiped his tears and glanced at her for one last time and walked away. She looked at him as he disappeared from sight.
He went back home. His mother was anxiously waiting for him. It was only after 14 calls that she realized that he had left his phone back at home.
‘Where were you!’
‘Father— umm i went out to buy something for my school project’
‘You could have told me! Your father hasn’t been speaking to me since i came back home.’
‘What happened to him?’ he asked, even though he knew very well what had happened to him.
‘I don’t know’
‘I’ll go talk to him’
He stood outside his father’s room looking down at the floor. He was confused whether he should be guilty or not. He had spoken of the truth, he thought. But it was wrong of him to say all those words, he was his father. He knocked on the open door’
‘What is it now?’
‘Father—’ a long pause followed
‘Say it son’
‘I am sorry’
It wasn’t what his father was expecting but it was probably what he wanted to hear. He was sad but happy.
‘Its alright son. It’s alright’
Karan had tears in his eyes, despite all that he had gone through, he was still his father. He still respected him. He walked away hiding his tears, but he was stopped by his father.
‘Son, i am sorry too. I shouldn’t have said all that. You aren’t useless. I am proud of what you are. Become what you want to become son, i am with you.’
‘Thank you father, for understanding me’
His father smiled and Karan couldn’t keep his grin from escaping. He lunged at his father and hugged him tight. A few seconds passed, father and son understood each other now.
‘Now go’ said his father
Karan went to his room where his mother was waiting for him. Karan was smiling, even though the thought of the past and present problems and hurdles was still fresh in his mind. He took a seat in front of his mother.
‘I found it’ he said
‘What did you find?’
His mother was a bit confused, but then she remembered.
‘Oh. That answer. What is the answer then’
‘That I do have something worth respect.’
‘That I am not useless’