Balvihar July 2019
“The boy stood on the burning deck…”
Ravi kept reading the poem loud so many times that his mom Aarti wondered whether he was doing it mechanically.
“Is everything okay with you Ravi? Are you feeling hungry or tired?”
“I am okay Ma.” he answered hastily.
Aarti switched off the kitchen lights and came to sit beside her son. He looked disturbed.
She placed her hands over his ” What is it? Can we talk about it?”
Ravi thought his mom was the best… she never uttered a word that hurt him.
But would she be the same if she got to know what he did? Pangs of shame haunted Ravi.
Aarti offered to read the poem once for him. The mom-son duo would do this often. Aarti would read out loud and Ravi would just listen once. He could then repeat exactly whatever his mom had read out to him.
She began as she picked up his notebook. ” Ok, now let’s see what’s here”
“It’s not the poem, Na”, he said in a low voice, his head bent.
“Go ahead, I am listening” Aarti waited patiently, as her son continued.
” I lost Appa’s watch” he blurted out finally. Aarti calmly asked him “Tell us what happened.” as Ravi’s dad, Suraj walked into the room.
“My classmates wear such costly watches to school and when I see them everyday, I feel bad about not having a watch of my own.” Ravi told them.
” I wanted to ask Appa’s permission to wear his watch one day, I was too tempted to take it to school and show off to the others. I feared Appa or you might not allow me to do it”, he continued.
” I was being very careful with the watch, but I realised after lunch time, that the watch was missing. I am not sure where I lost it. I am so sorry Appa, Amma,” and Ravi broke into sobs.
His dad Suraj who worked as a clerk in a private company was very hardworking man. Suraj and Aarti put in their best efforts to send their only child Ravi to one of the best schools in their city.
“We already knew that you had taken the watch to school. I noticed you dropping it into your lunch bag this morning,” Aarti answered quietly.
” It’s okaye. Calm down now. We are happy that you realised your mistake”, Suraj said as he took out the watch from his pocket. ” I had followed you to school this morning and informed your school’s watchman about it. ” When he noticed you leaving the watch while washing your hands after lunch, he picked it up and later gave me a call. So here it is.”
Ravi was shocked and struggled to react. ” You both knew what I was doing, but allowed me to learn on my own, while ensuring that nothing embarassing happened?”
“How lucky am I!” Ravi reached into his bag and drew a parents’ day invitation from school.
” I used to feel awkward that we were not as rich as my other school mates were and I was always comparing . How wrong I was”.
“You both are the best, dearest Amma and Appa. I am sure you will be proud to watch me receive the best student award for the year.”
“Of course we will be there to cheer for you”, Aarti and Suraj hugged her son.
In no time, Ravi memorised the poem ” Casabianca”, the story of a 13- year- old sailor boy who stood on the burning deck of the ship waiting for his father’s permission to move from his post, not knowing that his father was already dead. The poem was very touching but it strengthened Ravi’s resolve to always obey his parents and do the right thing.