I am not sick!!
Aman ran as fast as he could to get to school on time. He jumped over the orphanage fence and dashed off to the paddy field and finally he managed to reach the school just before the assembly started.
It was an opening day after two months of summer vacation. He was promoted to 4th std. Aman was very eager to reach the class as it is always fun to reunite with friends after a long gap.
After assembly was dispersed Aman made his way to his class. He searched his friends everywhere but failed to find one. He got into his class and found his friends there already occupying and fighting silly for their seats.
Aman smiled and joined them and tapped Abhishek; his best friend, on his back.
“How dare you to touch me you son of a bitch …move away otherwise you may have to see all your teeth in your hands” Abhishek screamed.
Aman startled at Abhishek’s reaction. He didn’t expect this. He composed himself and said
“Abhi what is wrong with you…You are kidding me.
“No I said what I meant… keep away from us” Abhi spat those words without lessening his anger.
“Why should I abstain from you guys you are all my friends” Aman asked in a puzzled and quizzical way.
“We were Aman we were …not we are … now onwards you can’t be the same as before” Abhishek said
Why is it so? This time Aman lost the calmness in his words.
“Because you are sick Aman” Abhi said it without meeting his eyes with Aman’s
“What nonsense how could you say that… Just look at me I am perfectly okay!” Aman argued.
All other kids were watching the showdown going on between them.
“You are suffering from AIDS” Abhishek said it as if he had committed a serious sin by saying those words.
He continued… “If you study in our class, if you touch us, if you eat with us… We all will get sick so go away and never be around us.
What AIDS?? I don’t know what it is all about… and I am not sick” Aman said
“You know Aman your mother died of this disease. And it happens to those people who lead their life in a nasty and disreputable way. Your mother is a bad woman” Abhishek managed to say it despite it is a fact that is too far away for a 10 year old guy to fathom.
Aman lost his temper he slapped Abhishek in no time and warned
“Don’t say a word against my mom”
Abhi couldn’t withstand that blow so he fell down the floor.
All his class mates circled Abhi and stared Aman with hatred flashing in their eyes.
Aman understood that all his friends started to hate him. He felt himself as a total misfit in the class. He was exasperated with the way it was shaping. He took his bag and left the class with heads down and heavy heart.
When he reached the front gate he heard Aisha’s voice calling out his name.
Aman!! Stop… Stop there.
Aisha was his best friend in the school and she was one year younger than him.
Aman didn’t stop as he thought she might also had started to keep away from him
Without turning around he walked away leaving Aisha behind.
Sister Mary stopped watering the plants when she saw Aman rushes into Orphanage.
She followed him to her room. He sat on the chair with sulky face and patterns of dried tears were visible on his cheeks.
What happened to you Aman? you left school early? Don’t you have class today? She inquired.
He didn’t utter a word.
She repeated and put her hands on his shoulder.
“Tell me dear why you are so gloomy?
He held her hands tightly and said.
“Mary mom I don’t know who my father is… And I still remember my Mom’s face when she left me here and bid goodbye with tearful eyes… After that you were my father mother kith and kin… So please tell me why my mom left me behind? Was she sick? Do I carry the same disease…? I want to know…”
Mary was dumbstruck. She felt numb. She didn’t know how to answer that guy.
“Who asked you this sort of nonsense?
“Abhi Aman answered
“Aman he was teasing you by saying all these. You don’t have to be in tears. Leave it and get to school now if only if you are my hero Aman. Mary tried to console him.
Aman hesitantly left for school.
In school late in the afternoon…
“You son of a bitch slapped my boy” Abhishek’s mother screamed at Aman.
“I slapped him because he told nasty about my mom” Aman murmured with eyes brimmed with tears.
“He said it because he meant it” You know you are sick and you are going to be expelled from the school” She spat the words with increased rage.
Aman could say nothing.
Later in the evening Aman found himself out of the school he could no longer go to school, he is fired on those grounds that he couldn’t even fathom. Sister Mary was not in a position do anything in favor of Aman as it was a decision came from the school management itself. She tried to convince the management by hailing Aman’s medical report substantiating that he is safe and his mom got this disease after giving birth to Aman. But that truth didn’t help to save Aman in front of those callous people.
Thus, Aman was fired on unfounded reasons!!
Aman couldn’t accept the fact that he has been fired from school. He wept. He felt like all his ambitions n dreams are being crushed. He felt lost n defeated. Later he found himself in the wooden haven on the bank of paddy field. It was early moments of sunset. He sat there facing the departing sun. His eyes lacked sparkle and he was so listless. The thought of discontinuing his studies made his eyes moister.
Suddenly he felt tender fingers on his cheek wiping his tears off. It was Aisha sitting next to him. Her face was cloudy as well… She hugged Aman and said
“Aman Don’t be hurt and desperate… I know you are all okay and you don’t have any problem. But these stupid people around as wont understand the fact…They are all against you. They don’t even allow you to stay at orphanage. They don’t even hesitate to kill you…”
Aman stared at Aisha and whispered delicately.
“Where else I go?
Aisha didn’t know how to pacify her best friend.
She ruffled Aman’s hairs and said
“Village people threatened Mary sis. They warned her for getting rid of you. If she didn’t they will set fire to the entire orphanage building. She couldn’t do anything.
Aman burst out into louder cry and buried his face in his palms…
Aisha couldn’t help to stop her tears flowing down her cheeks.
She composed herself and said.
“You have to leave this village Aman… She said it despite the fact that she hates to leave Aman somewhere unknown.
Aman threw a hollow glance at Aisha. She could see lots of questions on his innocent face craving to be answered.
With that Aisha opened her school bag and fished out a piggy bank, some text books and bits of paper. She handed over each of them to Aman and explained the need of each.
Aisha held the bit of paper and said.
“This is my babas address he is working in Bareli village somewhere afar from here. You have to go there and this letter of mine would help him to identify you.”
She folded both letter and address and put it inside Aman’s pocket.
She collapsed the piggy bank and collected all coins and weary notes. Then she continued… “This is for your travel fare and books to continue your studies. I am sure my baba wouldn’t let u down.
Aman didn’t know how to react. He was too perplexed to make a decision. He took some more minutes to handle that drastic change. The thought of leaving behind Mary sis and Aisha made him more disappointed. Finally he made up his mind to flee because he longed to achieve something. He needed to fulfill his dreams.
He planted a gentle kiss on Aisha’s cheek and inched away from her towards the bus stop located on the other side of the field. He turned around to many times while walking, to catch last glances of Aisha. He needed to cherish those glances forever. He felt bit upset for not biding bye to Mary sis…then he walked away.
Aisha was transfixing her eyes at leaving Aman… Though she was so hurt somewhere deep inside she felt serene that Aman would be safe.
Aman boarded the last bus off village. He took the last seat. He was weary with the most dreadful day of his life that had just passed. He closed his eyes to fall asleep.
Aman! Doctor Aman!
Aman heard somebody calling out his name. He woke up from his sleep and looked around to find head nurse Reena staring at him. He was half sleepy and bit embarrassed too. It took some moments for Aman to figure out that he was sleeping in his consulting room though his rounds are over few hours ago and being haunted by his childhood miseries…
“You have been sleeping for two hours Dr. Aman. Your wife tried many times to your cell and she did even call to reception. She might be panicked.” Reena said.
“Oh! I am kind of tired and dozed off” Aman replied unwinding his stethoscope from his neck.
He took his cell phone and found 15 missed calls from “sweet home”
He dialed back. Call was answered on the other end…
“I am sorry Aisha I just overslept…I am on the way home…”
PS: to err is human to forgive is divine