Dawn was about to crawl in. Evening had drawn by then and the shrill cries of the beetles could be heard from the trees and bushes beside the road which was drowning in the blackness of the dusk when Ramesh and Raju were fumbling unstably across the road to get back home. They were yet in their school uniform and appeared filthy- their shirts tucked out, tie hanging hopelessly around the collar of the shirt and their pants filled with dust. Besides that, their eyes were gradually reddening with the trace of intoxication.
“We need to get back home soon. It’s going to be bad today.” Ramesh said with a trace of fear in his voice.
“When has it been good? It’s always the same, man.” Raju replied with utter hopelessness.
“Why do you act so pessimist when you are drunk, huh?”
“You would never understand what living a life like mine is. You live with your parents and they care for you. My devil uncle would not be worrying about me if I am late, he would be worrying that his cows go hungry if I don’t show up on time to feed them.”
Raju took a deep gasp of grief and continued. “That is the hellish life I am living without my parents. My parents must be toiling somewhere in the corner of Nepal to make their living unknown to what life their child is living. I was about ten or maybe twelve when they sent me to Sikkim perhaps because I was one of those many children they had whom they found difficult to raise.”
By then, Raju had lighted his cigarette and pulled it out of his mouth and puffed a mouthful of smoke in the dark and said dreamily staring at the smoke, “Life is not fair, man.”
“Shut up, man. Things will turn better someday.” Ramesh flung his arms around Raju trying to calm him down, fishing the same cigarette between his lips. “By the way, you have your selection match for school football team tomorrow morning, Govind sir was saying.” Ramesh lightly dug out the other topic.
Raju bloomed a little at this. “Oh yes. I should get selected.”
Both of them shook their hands and headed toward their homes.
To be continued ….