Sun, 22 Sep, 2019

Creative Focus: Arjun and His Sweater

By Bidish Acharya

Arjun walked along a dusty, graveled street, kicking the stones as they came, feeling every bit of the air, like he had been out of a prison after a long time. It was the final day of the Sports’ week. Arjun was walking back from Tudikhel. The school he studied in had taken part in an Inter School Sports’ competition, where he had had to sit at the edge of the ground as an audience member and cheer for the players. Arjun was not so fond of sports, though he ended up playing cricket sometimes. He was also not very good at it. He made it to the community cricket team only when the team was short on players, and the only thing expected from him was to stand still in front of the wicket. Arjun never worried about that as he was sure, cricket, or sports in general, was not a part of the future he saw for himself. By his nature, he always dreamt bigger. His friends and neighbors would often mock him, for his thoughts were of such ‘day dreaming’ type. His teacher was once amazed by his reply when he had asked him “What do you want to do the most?” Arjun had replied, “Climb the Mt. Everest” Arjun was from a very poor family. His father, Jagadish, was a carpenter and he could hardly earn enough money to manage his family. His mother, Jayanti washed clothes and utensils in Ram Prasad’s house. Ram was the biggest businessman in the community. He would often give some of his children’s used clothes and books to Arjun. One way or another, they would do just enough to survive in as part of a decent community in Kathmandu. After walking for exactly 20 minutes, Arjun finally reached the final turn on his way back home. There, he met his friend Shaan, who had already arrived, for his dad had a bike to pick him up. He was perfectly dressed to hit some balls with his bat. “ Bharkhar aako?” Shaan asked. “ Ah yar.” Arjun replied. “Where’s your sweater?” Shaan questioned Arjun. Arjun looked down to find himself without a sweater. He was sure he had worn one in the morning. As a lot of moments started storming in his mind, he remembered himself opening his sweater to avoid the sun rays that were directly landing down at his stand of the playground. “I had opened it on the ground. I might have left it there.” He said nervously. “Oh! It must have been lost then.” Shaan said. His mother called him and he left explaining Arjun’s lost-a-sweater story to her. Arjun was worried. His father had always asked him to take great care of things, but Arjun would always end up disappointing him. His brain took him back to a bitter memory of being beaten by his dad, when he had played cricket with his school shoes on and accidentally torn it apart. The same night, he was locked outside of the house by his father as part of the punishment. His mother had shed a lot of tears to convince his father to let Arjun in. Arjun could not breathe normally. His breathing had become as fast as the tongue of a snake. He started thinking of different ways to somehow get over this. But, he was not able to think of any suitable reasoning. Winter was just arriving and Arjun had no suitable way to escape. However, he planned to walk quietly into his room without being noticed by any of his family members. He had already dreamt of a conversation with his Dad, where he had successfully escaped the incident. This way or that, he tried to get away with this issue for the day, hoping that things might somehow get better tomorrow. A glimmer of hope still managed to enter his mind: perhaps one of his friends had found his sweater and kept it safely. He had had enough with these thoughts as he finally opened the gate of his house with some frequent breathing and nervous expression. No sooner had he entered in, all the escapes he had devised in his mind seemed to completely vanish. His steps were as direct as a Grade V question paper. He walked straight inside the front door. His Dad was seated comfortably in the chair with a newspaper in his hand. Arjun tried to walk past him without being intervened, but… “Arjun, check if this fits you or not” he said, directing a plastic bag to him. “What is it, Dad?” He said excitedly, acting the exact way a 12-year-old would react after getting something new. “A new sweater for you.”