“Hello, may I speak to Manuel John’s Papa?”
“Good morning, sir. I’m his class teacher, Stella Paul.”
“Good morning, teacher. What can I do for you?”
“Will you meeting me at the school today morning between ten and ten thirty?”
“Sure. I will..but…” The anxious father asked, “Why teacher? Any problem with my son? Did he do any mischief?’
“Oh… No…No… No… He’s alright.”
“Please, do come.”
“Okay, I shall.” He confirmed but could not figure out why such a sudden summons from his class teacher.
As he approached the staff room Stella Paul welcomed him with a smile.
“Come on in. please sit down.” She pointed to a chair.
He was facing his son’s class teacher for the first time in life. While he sat his hands quivered and his heart beat faster.
“Where do you work?”
“In Taluk Office as a peon”
‘Well… then you might be able to read handwritings.” Shoving a manuscript she said, “This is the school magazine handwritten by the students of IVth Standard. Your son also has contributed a short piece. You should read that. Please…I will be back within 15 minutes.”
Stella left the room. John glanced at the mag.
The cover page had a picture of a flower and a butterfly. He felt it fumed love and innocence of a child
He eagerly passed through other write-ups till he reached page ten:
‘My Onam Festival’ – by Manuel John. His paternal pride rose. He read:
‘This year our Onam festival began with a beat.
I was standing in the queue in front of our ration shop, my mother in another queue at Maveli store. And my father…he was in a serpentine queue facing a liquor shop run by Government of ‘God’ Own country.’
On the most auspicious day of the Onam I spread on the dining floor four fresh Naakila. Mother served a lavish Ona-Sadhya with six curries, pappad, Pazham, and payasam.
Anju, my younger chirpy sister ate like a hungry puppy. I began feasting on the food but could not go on eating. I saw Mommy’s share in the Naakila untouched and tears dropping down on the warm food. I noticed Papa’s naakila was empty. Where is papa?
Papa was all-out on the floor of tiled veranda not knowing anything around him. My heart cried in silence.
I wished papa was there to eat with us! We have no dislike for him. We love our Papa a lot… and a lot more. Papa cares for us. He brings in Onam, Easter and Christmas to our little house every year.
I deeply desired…If four of us were sitting together during the next Onam festival!
I am deeply longing for that auspicious day once in my life.
My eyes are welling up not allowing me to pour out on paper more of my little heartaches …’
Words shattered John. That was shock of his life. He turned a broken glass. His heart melted. Remorse drenched his shirt. He couldn’t raise his head.
“Mr. John, pull up,” Whispered Stella sitting across him, “Our Children are like blotting paper. They absorb everything from their surroundings. See…your son has only tiny dreams, petit wishes and small goodies. As parents it is our duty to respect them and to fulfill those little dreams at our cost.”
“Yes, M’ am. I will. Thank you very much.” Nodding his head John rose up.
“Wait a minute.” She said pressing the calling bell.
Within a couple of minutes Manuel appeared at the exit door with a flower bouquet in his hand.
Thomas P Kodiyan writes stories and essays both in his mother tongue Malayalam and in English. Recently he has authored a book for children. Currently he is the Associate Editor of Kerala Yuvatha Magazine, the official organ of the YMCA movement in Kerala. Visit: poomkaatu.blogspot.com