PS. Based on a true story.
Abhay has been studying in boarding school ever since he was 10. Col Brown Cambridge School, Dehradun was a renowned one.
Travelling 370km just to drop your son to his school every month would have been really hard. But Mr. Shukla showed perfect. As if it didn’t really matter to him. Or pretending he was strong enough. But what he never missed was driving his son 370km across the curves of hills and mountains.
They weren’t allowed to keep cellphones with them in the hostel. And anyone found to have one had to face their wrath. So the only way to talk to your family was the landline in the administrative block that you were allowed to use only at weekends. Though some kids managed to secretly keep a cellphone in Mrs. Grimpson’s tombstone, shrouded not just from the school and hostel officials, but also from their parents. It wasn’t to keep in touch with your family whenever you missed them badly, rather, to play mobile games.
But, Abhay was a delicate tot. He had that photograph of him with his family stuck at the side wall of his cemented bed as he didn’t need to wait for a particular moment to miss them. All through the week, he used to eagerly wait for Saturdays, encircling all Saturdays in the pocket-size calendar with Sai Baba’s pic that his dad had given him at the time of joining.
Ironically, talking to his dad made him even more doleful. All his dad talked about were the ordinary parent-talks like how was he performing in his class and if he needed money and so on. And he wondered if his dad really cared much for him. He remembered he had often seen his mom cry whenever it was time for him to get back to hostel, but his dad, he was firm like a broad mountain; the real life symbolization for “Men don’t cry.”
Time passed, though with a snail’s pace. And with time, he got his hands at taekwondo, judo, karate and boxing and there wasn’t a single sport he didn’t play every evening. Playground became his new compadre. And soon, his house was filled with district, state as well as national level awards and medals. By the time he completed his matriculation, he could have opened his own trophy store if he wished to.
Today is his day of driving his son to the boarding school for the very first time and his heart aches. Standing at the main entrance of the school, he could see his son all mousy and timid. When everyone was waiting for Abhay to get into the car and drive them back home, he goes to his son for his final fatherly words.
“Listen son.” He says, “I know you’re scared inside. But believe me when I say you are strong enough. Today, your feet may be feeble and refuse to carry the anguish of this detachment, but one day, they will be strong enough to carry the load of a family with a son in boardings.” And continued, “And one more thing son. There’s a cemetery behind the school premises. Mrs. Grimpson has a surprise for you.”