This is quite a long story but you won’t regret reading it!
With a violent kick at the door, he barged into the cooking room and everyone was amazed at his demeanour. It was the first time that anybody had walked against the principles of the family. His mere act of kicking the door was less provocative. The way he had carved his hair; the zone just above his two ears was totally shaved off. No one in our family had ever dared to do their hair like Amir did. All aside, there was no sign of sideburns. It was as if an international footballer had visited our home.
He had a slender, fine and strongly-built physique. You wouldn’t dare to ask him a question two times. Dad took a while to absorb the fact. However, he restrained himself from opening his mouth. His bearing reminded me of a caged lion affronted by a human. The clock ticked nine at night. We all settled for dinner. Dad started to lean his eyes towards his right. With a mound of rice in his palm, he asked, “Amir, what are you carrying on your head?” We all knew what was he referring to. “Have you signed a contract with ruffians or this is what you’ve learnt from your new friends? You took five, ten rupee notes from me and this is what you have done to them? What kind of style is it?” Amir’s head had just felt a sudden push of gravity. As his facial expressions were invisible to us, it was the sight of his red ears that were a sign of concern.
Dad’s amazement was due. From the time he had started to butcher his hair, he had always done it according to a set of rules. Sideburns were not allowed to violate the space that was assigned to the beard; perfectly carpentered whiskers and thorough trimming of hair on the head. He used to say, “Take full benefit of the money you give to a barber. Don’t let him eat your money at ease.” He even remembered the count of haircuts he would go for, in a year.
An answer was sought from Amir. When nothing came up, dad ordered him to visit the shop early in the morning and fix his hair. I don’t know about Amir but I saw it as a warning for Amir where he had no choice but to fix his hair. His head was down and there were no crumbs of rice left on the plate. After a while, he raised his head. There was no sign of remorse on his face either. He was as good as dad. Amir washed his hands and stormed towards his room.
It was the month of long days and short nights. The season of energy and enthusiasm.
Every day, a poster of a cricket tournament would be put on the electric poles of our locality. And when there is a sea of happiness; the dark forces are ready to drain waste into it. The cricket tournaments would happen very close to the examinations. Whatsoever the condition, Amir was always on his heels when anyone would ask him to play a cricket match. Next day, he didn’t visit the barber shop. Someone had called him to play for their side. And he had drifted away before breakfast. His exams were near. Amir was appearing for his higher secondary level tests.
Furious at his invisibility, dad called Amir. Despite clicking the call button one hundred times, Amir was not picking up the phone. He was probably busy diving, to catch a ball. How could he pick up the phone?
Dad had gone to work and the sun was about to set. Amir arrived home. We all gazed at him. Mother bombarded him with questions. “Where were you? Your exams are near and you are wasting your valuable time playing cricket, you spoilt brat? You have been away for 12 hours! Your dad will grill you!”
There were no questions asked about his appetite. His vigourless and exhausted figure was proof that he had not eaten anything since morning. It was strange, his passion for cricket was real. He didn’t bother about the food and lived his entire day without eating anything. I had never seen him opening a book of physics let alone mathematics. His room was always locked and when he was pressurised to open it, I would always find him holding an English dictionary, every day and every time.
Late at night, dad arrived home and there was no point in meeting him. Late-night-homecoming was a sign of disaster. The sole reason of him being late was that he had to walk a distance of five kilometres to reach home.
Dad chose a different way that night to express his anger. He called Amir. I had to bang the door of my brother and then only was he able to hear dad’s voice. Amir went downstairs and stood in front of dad.
“Where the hell were you in the morning?”
“Remove your cap. Oh! You still haven’t fixed your hair.”
“Your life will be wasted. Stop playing cricket and start studying for the exams.”
There was no movement on the other side. The anger was duly channelised and Amir was ordered to retire in the room.
Deep into the night, I heard weird sounds. With my head under the blanket, I was trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. I failed to figure it out. So, I put aside the blanket and went straight to Amir’s door. I could hear Amir sobbing.
I shouted, “Amir, open the door.” There was no response. The sound of sobbing stopped. I shouted again, “Open the goddamn door.” Finally, he opened the door.
“What is it, leave me alone.”
“What is wrong with you Amir? Why are you weeping?”
I switched on a light right beside the door. A frightening secret was discovered. There was a stream of blood oozing out of Amir’s right hand. Tears in his eyes; blood on the floor. It was horrifyingly devastating. A giant scream left my mouth. Everyone was awake, running towards us.
Dad was panting and he straightaway got hold of Amir.
There were some words coming out of Amir’s mouth. I went near him.
He was saying, “Dad, I am passionate about cricket. I feel nauseated at the very sight of mathematics. I can’t bear the burden of physics numerical either. They are worse than monsters. Please let me follow my passion. I pledge to bring you a mountain of money. I pledge to bring you a sea of respect. I pledge to follow all the ethics and codes of life. Dad, I will be a good lad.”