Shoot To See What Cracks

Dad and daughter

Yes, I was a small town girl;

Caught inside the claws of board exams

My eyes;

They were only allowed to see text books

My brains;

Should only take the content from study material

Coz life would slip away in 0.001 marks,

Told all analog and digital sources.

“Is everything that exists now around my marks?

The food I eat, the time when I sleep, the things I see?”

Oh, yes!

Torturous hours that ate away my holidays,

Special classes they call’em, had just started!

I was trying to figure out if reality had only marks and exams

Or this is just a screen, claiming itself to be the only real thing!

Pages that ran for hundreds in text books didn’t interest me,

The illustrations of Enid Blyton and Tinkle did.

‘Let it wait! Finish boards’, said mom and dad.

‘Sit with only those who study better than you’, teachers said.

Today, was not like any other day;

My hands wanted to sway,

My feet wanted to walk on pebbles;

For I had always loved little troubles.

The moon, who I have missed seeing, so high,

Who I had missed seeing, shone on the sky.

Amidst shrubs and heaps my house stood

Anything will be slithering on the ground, as it could!

Pitch darkness, to me, did bring solace,

Making out things with my eyes was tough as a maze!

“Perfect!” My brain sounded

This is when I wanted my thoughts to break loose

When I could shoo away all formulas and definitions

And let the river in my mind, flow at its fastest!

Oops! Ain’t I supposed to be with my books?

Running equations over and over in my head?

Scanning the whole page leaving out the number alone?

Won’t asking for a walk under the night sky a be luxury to ask for?

By a girl who is appearing for the upcoming board exams?

These days…

Nothing should matter to me except my marks,

This was an untold rule, by the way world functioned around me!

I should not mind, if my shoes came apart,

Or if I lost in a game of darts,

Or if I didn’t get a good haircut,

All these were just 1/1000th important of a math short-cut!

Mind wavered just like the trees around

The breeze took me to a time 7 years back!

Sitting at the dining table and crying, I saw myself,

Excursion bag lying nearby.

The big day had just got over, school excursion to amusement park.

My first outing, that was, without family!

‘How many teachers are assisting you?

What is the time period?

How many are going with you?

What is the expense that you are paying?

What is the bus that you guys are taking?

At what time will you come back?’

Exhausted was I, after providing a precise answer;

To every single anxious query above.

I had to ask back just that,

The only one small question:

“Appa, can I take 20 rupees with me? I might wanna eat something”,

Oh! These words were hindered,

Quarter way through their journey;

They kept banging, in the head where they were stopped,

Rushing to come out.

The fool in me took lead,

‘Mayu! Dad is anxious, he is worried, tensed is he,

He won’t give you money, he will rather stop you from going!’

All day, along with the fool in me,

I had been watching crazy going mates about ice creams, lollipops and much more.

Here, penniless, I was sitting, wishing I got those words out.

Then came a pal, who generously got me ice cream with her coins!

I snapped at the fool, ‘Had you not stopped me,

I would have owned the biggest happiness here; you ruined it!

You ruined all of it’,

She refused to answer.

Poof! She was gone, leaving me in a puddle of tears and cream!

Back home, the cream has dried off from my face,

But the tears hadn’t.

Mom and Dad could only see an unexpected sad face, in place of a happy one!

It was before they opened their mouths to enquire,

I had gotten all the words that were blooming in my head:

Of how those previous words went unheard,

How the happiness I hoped to find went unseen along with them.

“Had you asked me, I would have given you 40 bucks.

I was thinking your teachers didn’t like children handling money.”

Was what I heard in the middle of so much sadness!

Could I hate myself more than how much I did back then?

Cursing myself, that is how

The then me, sat at that table crying over my partnership with the fool!

A leaf that fluttered to hit my head brought me back,

To the place where I stood longing to walk outside in the eeriness at 11.45 P.M.

“No fool! Don’t enter again. I will sort this out”,

Shouted a voice in my head!

Gathering courage, wanting to have more,

Than just exams and marks,

To feel the life I was living,

To make reality more beautiful,

To just let me be myself for a while,

I walked inside determined to ask:

If I can open the locked-for-the-night gates

And walk out for a bit.

“Pa! Can I just go out and take a walk,

I will unlock the gates and lock them myself when I am done!”

Surprisingly, these words came unblocked, unhindered.

Seconds in between seemed to last forever.

“It’s very late at night, you have to study so much” – Dad

(Expected! Duh! Go back and take those boring books – I thought)

Surprisingly, the voice continued,

“Here! Take the keys, come back before its late! And be safe, there might be snakes out there”

I think I jumped up, as I took those keys!

Knowing no bounds of freedom,

My feet lept forward, determined to make the most of ‘before it’s late’,

“Hey stop!” (What now – Confused me)

“Take this flashlight with you, I told you it’s not very safe”

And that was when I felt the river in my mind;

Flow at its fastest and deepest!