A New Day
Point of View: The Second Person
A New Day
Arbitrating in a dispute between two teenagers is a ticklish job in itself. More so if parties involved happen to be very close friends, say a brother-and-sister duo, who you have seen the other day playing Scrabble or antakshari zestfully.
It is evening and you are relaxing. You just receive an SMS from your daughter, 'Dad, help'.
It should be a very disconcerting thing to come over you. Only ten minutes ago you have seen her in her room, happy and talkative, narrating you what happened in her class and how funny her teachers are. And now an SMS, 'Dad, help'?
In no moment you stride those twenty steps across the hall to reach her inside her room. And you find her crying, a bit artificially though, with feelings that feigned a love-rich anger and self-righteousness.
You enquire. The parties are now in the midst of their row--the younger brother and the elder sister--and each claiming in his/her way that justice should be given to him/her first. A quick justice nevertheless.
You've difficulty in grasping much of what they say, let alone memorising them to reproduce in your story. These cable television channels, these e-mails and blogsites have filled the accent of the teenagers with American nuances. When they open their mouth, you hear "dude", "cool", "kinda", "like", "anyways" and such other unutterable slang like "shit" and stuffs. Still you like them talking--this is the way things change, perhaps.
'What's the issue?' you ask your daughter who is in her late teens. She says her brother is messing up her room but you do not see any mess there. Yes, where there are teenagers crumpled beds or a few scattered books or music gizmos cannot be taken as a distressing spectacle of a mess. You have seen more mind-boggling jumbles earlier-in that very room itself.
'No, I haven't done anything to her room,' pleads your son. 'She has only tears to shed...at the drop of a hat.'
You have no clues as to whom to say what. More than one occasion in the recent past, you had seen your daughter hugging her brother, helping him in his homework and tiding up his bookshelf for him. Then you had thought how lucky you were to be the father of such a brood of understanding kids. You just can't blame her. She is so fine and so accommodating!
Nor can you blame your son. Often you have heard him praising your daughter. Girls are girls; you have always felt girls are to be pampered--it is not the job of a doting father alone; brothers, younger or elder have to share that fond responsibility of the family. You have seen your son pestering his sister to train him how to ride, to buy delicious fast food from the shopping mall. You do not think your son could be such a rogue as to make his darling sister unhappy.
But you have a job at hand. You cannot shirk that. You have been invited to adjudicate!
And you decide. Something that comes to you quickly and naturally. You know you are going to be partial: you ask your son to leave his sister's room and proceed to somewhere else. He agrees to it, but reluctantly, or maybe with a grudge against your partiality. You know that-you cannot help doing that domestic indiscretion.
The boy goes everywhere--from the drawing room to the study--and nowhere finds it comfortable enough. Other rooms are not air-conditioned. The room that belongs to your daughter is air-conditioned and the connected room occupied by your son is cooled through the interconnecting door, like a small spillway channel beyond a river dam. Your son comes back to that room, closer to his sister with whom he has not decided yet to mend his fence. He feels sleepy and sleeps his beauty sleep.
The next day. You feel you have not made your conscience clear. You want to do that. When your son is taking his breakfast, you reach there. He wishes you and you wish him back. Then you decide to broach the topic, quite dramatically.
'Son, you know how a drama is different from the real life?'
'A drama is a drama, dad,' he quips, 'and the real life is the real life.'
'Oh no, my dear. It's not so simple. Difference makes a drama, you know. More sound, more light, more stylistic delivery of words--everything is different in drama,' you say that, expanding your philosophical idea a little.
'So, how do they make a difference?' he asks.
'They do make, my son-they do. People like to see the difference and then…'
'Then what?' the obviously confused son asks you.
'Then people believe what they see in drama and in turn start disbelieving what they see in real life--like the spectators of that weird movie "Krish". They even jump off the balcony of the theater to emulate the hero and smash their bones,' you give the example to further your point.
'Oh, now I understand. You're asking me not to visit the risky movie "Krish". But I've already seen that,' your son discloses with a condescending smile on his lips.
'No, I'm not telling you about that. I'm just talking about what happened last night. I've started believing your drama: you brother and sister do not love each other. I really think all those cajoling and convivial togetherness of you both show very often are just insincere, say like drama. Maybe I'm wrong,' you just try to be lucid.
'But dad, "Krish" is a terrific movie. Today I'm going to see it for the second time with my sis.'
You are foxed. It is only morning. Last night you saw your son going to sleep after exhausting himself in his fight. You wonder when this little brat got the time to patch up with his sister.
A. N. Nanda
Labels: short story