Lightning has always been scary to me, a fear I have carried on right from my childhood. However, it had lessened over the years, but didn’t die out completely. I was immersed so deep into thoughts that I hardly realized of how fearsome the sky was to look at. I was upset and that’s why I came here to sit alone for a few while, to cut-off from the world. This is the only way I found to keep the peace of my mind intact.
Life had turned so harsh and cruel towards me in the recent. The struggle with academics had now become a part of life and they don’t worry me anymore. But, of late, a few other things have surrounded me so awfully that I already see myself broken-down and crushed beneath.
All sorts of impressions surrounded my mind as I was sitting alone on the corner of that weak-rickety bench. The small drops of water from the heavens took me out of my cogitation. I got up, fixed the bag onto my shoulders and began walking back for home. It had been just a couple of minutes when all of a sudden it began pouring hard. I was forced to run and find a place with a roof overhead. All I did see was a tea-stall under a giant banyan tree some distance away from the road. I didn’t need to give a second thought to it. I rushed to reach the stall.
A boy, who would have been barely fourteen, was the sole worker at this small roadside tea-stall. He was washing the cups and, perhaps, wasn’t yet aware of my arrival. I too didn’t care at all. All I wanted was the rain to stop, for a while atleast so that I could reach home. I brought out my cellphone to pass the time.
He got up and turned. “It isn’t likely to stop any soon. Tell your mother that you have stopped by at a good restaurant.”
I looked back at him. He had a smile spread over his face. I was frustrated since the entire day and the way he tried to instruct me, I felt to have a blast upon him. However, I calmed down myself quickly.
“Do your work. And, this isn’t anything like a good restaurant.” I tore up.
“I know, but it’s gonna become one soon.”
“When it does, I would describe it that way to everybody. Okay!”
“But, it would take a lot of time. You need to say this to your mother soon. She might be worried for you.”
I didn’t respond. He kept silent for a few while and then started whispering songs in a low tone. When I next looked towards him, he was packing up everything in a school bag which appeared too small to accommodate anything more than a few notebooks. Maybe, it was time for him to call-off the day.
“Your school bag” I don’t know what made me break my silence. “Do you go to a school?”
“I have completed studying” his weird answer to me.
“You are still a child. You must have dropped out of school. Isn’t it?”
“No, I told you, I am done with school.”
Silence was in the air for a few moments, after which I said, “Can you make a cup of tea for me?”
The smile it brought to him showed how happy he was realizing that he is gonna have five-rupee more to his day’s earning. He at once got set to unpacking. The stove was lighted up again.
“So, what’s your name?” I tried to give plot to another round of conversation.
“Rizwan” His voice now had a completely different spark.
“Rizwan, where does your father work?”
“My father – he died last winter.” The zeal went down sharply as he said this.
I felt sorry for asking that. But I continued, “And, that’s why you left school and took this up!”
“No, I stopped going to the school even before that happened.”
“Why did you do that?” I asked as he handed over the hot cup to me.
“My parents admitted me to school. They said that I would be taught there a lot of things which would help me in earning. When I had learnt enough, I stopped going there.”
“What are the things you learnt in school?”
“Many things. But my favorite was arithmetic and hindi. During the festivals, loads of people pass by this road even in the mid-night. And, knowing hindi, I get the advantage to pull more people at my stall. Arithmetic had helped me to calculate accurately.”
He now felt very friendly. Gradually, he opened-up and revealed many things. He told me about his childhood, his family, his life at home and how he spends the entire day alone in this stall. A brief laugh would interrupt his narration. I used to join him in that, though there was much more struggle than fun in his stories. He said how scared and abandoned he felt when he came to the stall for the first time after his father died. He cried that whole day. But, he didn’t want his mother to know that, so he went home smiling.
“On some days, I don’t even manage a single customer. I borrow some money from a shop-keeper in the nearby market. I try my best to repay it. When I fail, I do work at his shop for a couple of hours.”
Rizwan had a real tough life, but his attitude towards everything was incredible. He dreamt to build a better home for his mother when he grows-up, the present one is too small as it had only one room. He wanted to open a restaurant too. Life had barely given him anything good, but he had extracted from it an amazing art – the art of being merry, even in situations when there’s no space for it.