The Banyan Trees are organizing a short story writing competition with the theme being What does ‘Home’ mean to you? Is it your roots? Is it where you are from? Is it the different places life has taken you? Is it the journey itself? Or is it just a place you stay right now? So, I have written a story for the theme home. Please read the story and comment on the blog as even the comments here and on facebook will be considered in judging the best story. Hope you enjoy reading it. Here is the story.
“Machan, when is the interval da?” asked Pradeep in a hushed tone. Even in the dark one could not mistake his scowl and contempt at the umpteenth song which was playing before the interval. There was the usual hero worship song to start off followed by one were the hero hums a sentimental tune expressing his love for his mother. Pradeep wanted to strangulate the director at this point when a noisy five year old kid sitting on his mother’s lap screamed “Amma, Appa is rubbing his legs against mine!” helped Pradeep overcome the nausea created by the director’s creativity.
Pradeep suddenly felt a sharp pang in his abdomen. It was nature’s call and he had to address it immediately. He tried to place himself in different positions, even tried to close his eyes for a while. Alas, none of it would work, the call wouldn’t budge.
“Machan, when is the interval da?” asked Pradeep in a hushed tone.
“In another ten minutes da. Why what’s the matter?” asked Venkat.
“Urgenttttttttt Daaa!” said Pradeep barely able to hold back the rush to let his dam burst right then.
“Machan, if we get up now some Peter will scold us da, this is PVR, remember?” replied back Venkat.
“What to do now?” asked Pradeep, remembering with horror the days of his childhood when he would wet the bed. He was desperately hoping he wouldn’t wet the seat here.
There was silence from Venkat’s end for five minutes.
“Machan, go now da, it is time for some child sentiment song, were the hero will wash some kid’s arse and impress the heroine. People won’t say anything if you get up now” said Venkat breaking the uncomfortable silence.
This was what Pradeep wanted to hear and as he was about to leave his seat, Venkat murmured saying “I’ll also come da”.
As the song was playing both of them made their way out of the hall and approached the swanky restroom. Pradeep’s urgency was greater even than an athlete nearing his finish post. He walked furiously inside leaving Venkat chasing him. As they entered the restroom, Pradeep felt a vague unfamiliarity with the restroom.
“Machan, there seems to be none of the standing commodes that we usually have da” said Pradeep in a slightly confused tone.
“Hey this is PVR da, hip place, so no standing one’s. See da, they have built so many bathrooms. Just use them” said Venkat as he approached the washed basin and washed his face. Pradeep put away the weird feeling he had about the place and rushed to the nearest bathroom. If ever there was a competition for Fastest Unzipping of Pants, Pradeep would have won it hands down, I mean pants down.
“Aaaaahhhhh” he exclaimed with sheer relief as he drained his seven seas.
“Ahh, Machan, what a feeling da. This feeling is as good as the one we have after we come home for our semester holidays and have mom’s food.” exclaimed Pradeep as he was still flushing out barrels of hidden salty wealth. Continuing to drain his tank, he realized there was no response from Venkat.
“Venkat, are you there?” asked Pradeep. Suddenly, he felt his phone vibrate and with one hand holding his little brother, he carefully took his phone out from his pocket, lest it be rendered to the flotsam category washed away with the seven seas. The phone was a Nokia 1100; a gift from his mother. He was done with his seven seas draining and happily flushed them away while zipping up his pant. He then looked at the phone screen and to his surprise he found that the caller was Venkat. In the background he heard female voices. He thought he was hallucinating due to holding his pee for such a long duration. On one hand he could feel the phone vibrate and on the other he could hear woman’s voices. He let himself out of the bathroom and pressed the answer button.
“What da, you wanted some holy water from inside aa? Planning to become Moraji Desai aa” barked Ashwin on the phone.
“Idiot”, thundered Venkat, “Moraji had his own da not from others. Oh no, what am I blabbering” said Venkat, desperation in his voice.
“Machan, don’t come out da from the bathroom. Please Machan. Please da. Stay there” pleaded Venkat.
“I am already out da” said Pradeep adjusting his pants wondering why Venkat was so tensed.
“Oh no, Machan” cried Venkat, “it’s a Ladies restroom da. Somehow hide yourself inside”. Pradeep slowly turned around to see an army of fat women, fatter than those who feature in the Saas Bahu soaps. He froze in his tracks as he saw them march forward menacingly.
“How dare you enter a ladies restroom” thundered a lady who looked like the kind who would beat her husband daily with the Chapathi rolling stick.
“Attaaaaaaccckkkkkk” he heard a scream and to his horror found all the ladies charge at him in unison. He realized there was no way out .And then, it happened, all of it in slow motion. WHAM, BHAM, SLAM. And when he thought everything was over, one lady declared “Let us cut his d*** off. He should never be able to use a toilet again”. It was a real horror show and he screamed out as loud as he could “Ammaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
“Pradeep” screamed his mother, shaking him vigorously.
“Why are you shouting like this in the middle of the night?” Pradeep was up on his toes in a moment. He could see his mother scream. It was a dream.
“What happened da?” asked his concerned mother.
“Amma, I understood what the term Ditching your friend when you see a figure meant” said Pradeep with a smile on his face.
“What?” asked his perplexed mother, adding “There are no figures here Pradeep. Only ME. This is your home. Now sleep”.
He was tucked away safely in the comfort of his home. It was then he realized what home meant to him. A place where he had the freedom to dream. A place which could even resist a black hole. A dream within a dream. Home.