A blanket of silence descended over the entire area. People could be seen gathered on the street, talking in hushed tones. Every now and then a cry would pierce the afternoon sky followed by others. Yet Raghu was blissfully unaware of all this. He was busy having a meal in Chandran Uncle’s house.
Chandran Uncle was Raghu’s neighbor and a close family friend. Uncle was Raghu’s best friend. Raghu loved him because he understood him, played with him, and helped him get into the school bus. He was happy that Uncle had come to pick him up from school today. Class usually got over at 4.00 p.m. But today Raghu was back by 12 noon. He was just getting ready to have lunch with his other classmates, when the peon had come over and taken him to the principal’s room. Raghu was angry at having to leave his meal. Today was his favourite ‘poori- bhaji’ and he was looking forward to enjoying it when the peon had barged in and beckoned him to accompany him. He wanted to protest but knew it was of no avail. Summons from the Principal meant it was immediate and no one dared dilly- dally.
On reaching the Principal’s room Raghu was delighted to see Chandran Uncle. He ran up to him and embraced him. The Principal told Raghu to pack up his bag and leave for home. Raghu did not understand why? But he was not bothered. The thought of pillion- riding on Uncle’s pulsar was enough to excite him. Reaching back, Uncle took him directly to his house. Raghu did not question that too. He was only bothered about the yummy laddoos Aunt kept in that big ‘dabba’ on the top most kitchen shelf. True to her promise Aunt gave him a laddoo after he finished his meal.
Meal over, Raghu wished to doze off for a while so he stretched his legs on the inviting ‘charpoy’ in the courtyard and slowly drifted off to sleep. Uncle looked on as Raghu slept. His eyes were moist. At 4.00 pm, Raghu woke up to Uncle’s call. After sipping a strong cup of tea offered by Aunt, Raghu decided to go home. After all, mother would be waiting for him to take charge of their ‘kirana’ shop. But on reaching home he found the house full of people. Raghu was bewildered. “Where was ‘amma?” She was not to be seen around. He felt lost. Tears welled up in his eyes. Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder. It was Uncle. Raghu dug his head in Uncle’s chest.
Patting Raghu’s head, Uncle slowly detached him and led him inside. There in front of him lay Raj his elder brother. He was covered up to the neck in a white cloth. On seeing Raghu the women started wailing. Raghu was startled. He could not make out what was happening. He clutched Uncle’s hand tightly and tried to drag him out. But Uncle held on firmly. In a low tone he explained to Raghu that his brother was no more. That he had left them. Suddenly he heard his mother wail. Raghu ran in the direction of the sound. He embraced his mother tightly and started to sob. All eyes were moist. The embrace continued for 10 minutes. The embrace over Raghu ran calling out to his friends.
Later when uncle came out, he saw Raghu play with his friends all younger to him by ages, on the street. He did not have the heart to stop him. Ignorance indeed is bliss he thought to himself. Raghu was a 5 year old boy in the body of a 26 year old youth. His life revolved around ‘Amma’, Raj, Chandran Uncle, the ‘Kirana’ shop and his friends in the special school that he attended and in the neighbourhood . He was not able to comprehend the seriousness of the situation. The moment he saw his brother lie their lifeless, he cried because the others cried. But that was temporary. The cry over, he was back to being his own self – the boy with a broken smile and drooping eyes for whom joy and sorrow were the same.
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. This weekend we had to weave a post including, ‘Ignorance indeed is bliss, he/she thought to himself/herself.’
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