Fear was dripping from the little nine year old at the same rate as the alcohol that poured next to him. Guilt, blacker than darkness, made it difficult for him to breathe.Suffocating, the little hand shot out to grip something, anything human. It found its mark, and touched a shoulder timidly. But was it humanity that made the owner of the shoulder grip the little hand and jerk it back. Not very hard, it didnt hurt, not physically at least.The child gave a yelp anyway. Could we hear, if we tried hard enough, the pain in the yelp? Not the physical one, already told you, nobody hurt him, but the one caused by something deeper? Or was it because he had clamped his fingers so hard to block out the fear and anxiety?
He knew he was going to hell anyway. His teacher Miss Shirley Perriera had already informed the class what was a sin and what constituted as punishment for it. "Listen children, if you are bad kids, your mummy and daddy will not be happy. Would you like it? Remember if they are angry or sad, its because you have not done your homework or have been bad in some way. So always try to keep them happy. They are the reason for your existence. And if you still make them angry then you will go to hell. But if you are are good boys and girls then they will be happy and the starts will shine for you." " But Miss, dont stars shine always? They keep shining whether we are good or bad. They wouldnt burn up all thier hydrogen just because we didnt sleep at the time our parents asked us to" , asked Anita in her infinite wisdom and innocence, her head crammed with Encyclopedia Britannica which her parents read every night before she went to bed. "Oh honey, but they do...everything happens for a reason. Stars - what reason do they have to burn? They do not give us heat or light like the sun. They dont give us tides like the moon. They shine to show appreciation. Remember kids, nothing happens for no reason at all!"
Yes, he must be the reason his parents were yelling at each other now. Both had drank several glasses from the bottle whose name he was not allowed to know but the stench of which he couldnt forget. It came back to him, sometimes early morning in the bus when other kids were nodding off, sometimes while calculating seven times eight or sometimes during lunch, when he ate the same sandwich his maid for him every day. On his way back home , in the school bus, when other kids were playing dumb charades, he would sit stonily knowing he was going back to the place where everything went wrong because of him.
And now his mother was screaming abuses at his father. She poured the liquid from one hand and the bitterness flowed out of her mouth. Hurling abuses at the man whom once she loved so much that she left her own father heart broken when she eloped, at the same face which she once found boyishly handsome, now looked infidel.Treachery in the eyes of her husband blinded her maternity. Irritated by her son's desire for comfort at such a time, she flung his hand away and heard a small yelp. Guilt flooded her and in an attempt to make him go away from this precinct of hatred, she said "GO. Go from here. It is all because of you. Are you happy now? Its past your bedtime. Dont make me even more worried. As it is I have too much to worry about. JUST GO, I SAID!" The last line said a little louder when she heard the nine year old voice say "But Ma, what did I...?"
Did the nine year old feet then go to see if the stars were shining now? Did he notice the black sky and think that it was because he was being a bad boy again? Did he hear his mother suddenly wail "Look at the bloody sky, no stars! I have such a dull life.I wonder whose fault it is." The last line said is a whisper, almost to herself, did it reach nine year old ears? Did he start berating himelf in his nine year old head? He knew his mother wanted to see the stars. Did he know he had to make a sacrifice for the stars to shine? Did he know what to do to give his mother a moment of distraction from it all. He somehow knew that all troubles would end if only the stars came out.Did his hands wobble when he used them to make himself stand on the ledge?
Hearing a loud thud, the still bickering couple rushed to the balcony. Momentarily distracted by the unusually bright sky with numerous stars, they then stared at the ground in blind horror.
Stars dont shine for no reason at all.