The sunlight would keep stinging your eyes unless you, yourself would stand up to draw the curtains. With legs cocked up on the table, Hemal slowly massaged her temples, convincing the disturbed soul of hers. Random thoughts came swirling inside her skull no matter how hard she tried to suppress, reforming in a hurricane of unsettlement. It’s funny how the world has changed nowadays. Her eyes kept shuffling towards her phone, getting pulled by a wireless rod. With a fraction of seconds, she snatched her phone and pressed some buttons until the ring was produced.
Expectedly, she was answered by a familiar voice.
“Are you coming tonight?” Hemal asked, her voice agitating in her throat.
“Aryan?” She spoke in alarm, her voice volunteered with fear.
“Yes Hemal! I am here only! I will come in half an hour. Keep the set-up ready.” Aryan replied, his agitated voice barely audible from the continuous honking blaring from the back.
“Where are you?” Hemal yelled, her phone now at a measurable distance from her ear.
The phone disconnected.
Hemal sighed and took a sip from her ceramic mug, as she mumbled assuringly “It’s just the bad connectivity, nothing unusual. Nope, moreover, he’s a man now. She rolled her hazy eyes about around the surroundings, fixing her eyes at nothing but a white wall.
It was an unusual morning. The sun deviated golden shades as it outshined its silver companies. I adjusted my hat in front of my eyes, blocking the defying rays and pulled up my round spectacles. I winced at the already formed mud path between the white-spotted hay grass and then glared at my cacked shoes.
“Here we go!” I yelled and ran towards either side, my long skirt pulled up till my knees with my hands, as I splashed mud on my way.
The little dirty run caught me panting and coughing but as I looked back, my origin stood a long way. I gazed to the resting piece in front of me, a fine playing park. I caught my breath as a voice rang out in the distance. I looked back to find a shadowy figure of a brunette dude in blurred blue shorts and a casual shirt. He was running towards me.
“Aryan” I grinned. Taking the chance on the knock, I ran forward. My limbs ached but the unseen forces couldn’t stop me, I kept swaying my hands.
Finally, I came across the farthest end of the park, decorated with bowing pine trees and thick bushes. I stepped inside the outgrown shrubbery and sat there, scratching here and there once in a while.
After continuous gazes on my watch and the endless countings of little dotted flowers, I stepped out. Maybe he wasn’t coming. I stroked off the tiny bits of grasses and thorns and started walking. I kept wondering at the clear sky, my curiosity boiling up as I saw the sharp-clawed eagles flying over my head. My gazing head was pulled up straight by an eerie shriek. I tried to ignore the noises first, afraid it might be something or someone I would prefer not to run into but the sobbing grew louder and louder as my steps approached and somehow, they sounded familiar.
As my feet took me further, I came across the sitting area. Empty jhulas or swings moved vacuously offering the rough air, a ride on way. Beautifully carved stones were scattered all over the place, all empty and still except...except one.
A chocolate haired aunty (adult) was sitting on one of the stones, her back facing me but she wasn’t the one crying.
My heartbeat somersaulted as my orbs travelled further. I rushed forward with a sudden jerk, my mind rambling with jumbled thoughts, unable to think what to do now. I kneeled before my ten-year-old brother. It was Aryan who was crying.
His forehead was dipped in splotches of blood and so was his shirt. Scratches were scattered all over his face as if forming freckles and big drops heaved his eyes. My stomach grew cold as I fixed my teary eyes at my blood-stained brother, my hands still trembling. An uncomfortable gulp formed in my throat as I tried to roll my tongue. “What-how?”
“I-I tried c-calling you.” He said, his sob growing even louder as he covered his vigorously bleeding elbow with his other arm.
My heart curled inside my soul, its curtains dripping with guilt. How could I? My-my brother came running towards me for help and I- I just ran away assuming it to be a little game of his. I should be ashamed of being such a woeful sister! At that time, I wished I could go back to that particular Tuesday. The day, when I was all ready and set but my tenacity had faltered. That day, when I was on the verge of ending all my problems but I didn’t. Under the fading light of the yellow bulb, the knife was just a few centimetres away from the tips of my fingernail then WHY? Why didn’t I? A thick tear fell down my left eye. At least then, I won’t be standing there right then, accusing myself and watching my brother sobbing with blood.
“Aryan! What took you so long and-” before Hemal could argue any more, she was pulled in a tight hug. Her face glowed up with a smile as she lightly patted his brother’s back.
“I am here now didi, please, now you can relax.”
“Ok fine” Hemal sighed “So...you ready?”
Silence met her ears. “What happened?” She asked, her forehead now forming thin creased linings.
The boy was staring down at his feet nervously, tangling his fingers with one another, his heartbeat speeding a race car. “I-I just.”
“You’re scared?” Hemal offered the words.
A delicate touch tapped his shoulder and quieted him. He looked up, meeting his sister's glinting eyes.
“Place your palm on your heart. Like this.” She instructed.
Aryan imitated her without raising any questions.
“Now say ‘all is well.”
“All is well?” Aryan exclaimed, almost bursting into chuckles. “Why?”
“Listen, that heart of yours is very turbulent. You have to learn to fool it. Blind him by making him believe ‘all is well’ and trust me, everything will turn out just fine.”
Hemal’s word sliced through Aryan as if giving him the sparkle of light, he has been looking for so long, and confidence refilled his soul. “Let’s go then” His cheerful voice bounced off the four white walls.
Both the siblings were sitting on a velvet dressed sofa graced with a marble centre table. Set up on the glass, was a laptop in front of whom, an anxious man sat. Aryan kept tapping his shoes against the marble tiles, his fingers crossed for a good omen.
He looked up at Hemal and said “You check.”
A cocked brow shot in return. “Oh common, it’s just the Lsat! You can do this.”
“It’s not JUST the Lsat. It’s THE Lsat. Please Hemal. Please. Be a good sister.”
She sighed and pulled the laptop on her lap. “Fine.” Her eyes shifted from end to end as she visited the result page. The finger taps on the keyboard assured Aryan, he has been logged in...now it’s just the...results!
The result page was loading and …. Hemal stared in horror as the score lined up in front of her eyes. It was a 144.
Hemal clenched her eyes tightly and laid back.
“What is it?” Aryan asked, his voice now full of desperation
Hemal nodded as a tear slipped down her closed eyes.
Aryan’s hand crawled up and covered his mouth “No! This can’t be...I can’t. I did so well.” His voice now moulted in sobs. He ran into the balcony.
“Aryan!” Hemal followed.
“It’s all over didi. I am not good enough.” Aryan spoke as he rested his back against the railing.
“No. It’s not! Hard work always pays off okay? Be brave. It’ll all be fine.” Hemal tried to consolidate but they both knew the words were not good enough to heal the damage those three digits have done.
“No didi. It’s all over. Mom and Dad had so many expectations! They sacrificed so much for me! And look at me. I am just a failure.”
“Don’t talk like that Aryan. Please listen to me.”
Tears overflowed his eyes. The pale face of his sister blurred with the rest of the burning lights, flickering a flame of despair in the young youth.
He placed his trembling fingers on his heart and said “All is not well”, flinging his body to the other side, waving off the world from the 22nd floor, while her sister yelled his name from the farthest end.