Thursday, February 16, 2017

Time tells the truth ...

Kannan was meeting Ramakrishnan Mama after a very long time, or rather should say he avoided meeting him just for that one incident. 

"Hello Ramakrishnan Mama, How are you?" Kannan asked without a smile. His words were not from the heart. Even after 30 odd years, the scars of those words remain in his heart. Some moments are better avoided and forgotten than remembered and rekindle the emotions which hurt you.

Ramakrishnan Mama , Appa's cousin's husband, was a person who always had airs about him, working for a private sector company, and the way he would talk would give a feeling as if he owned it. His salt and pepper well combed hair, silver rimmed glasses and dark complexion, chequred shirt and grey bell bottomed trousers gave him a look, which Kannan was not so comfortable with. His smile did not have much of the warmth of love, or at least that’s what Kannan thought. His son Sidhdharth Ramakrishnan was Kannan's playmate, the one of very few he had of his age or less, as Kannan was the youngest among the children in Appa's family. 

"Kanna ... how about going home and will be back in the evening" asked Sidhdharth.
"Sure Sidhdhu ... I will tell Amma and come soon" replied Kannan running towards home.

He went panting to the room where Amma was reading a magazine, one of her pastimes in the late afternoons. He reluctantly tugged Amma's saree.

"Amma... can I go to Sidhdhu's place and come back in the evening"
Amma took her attention away from the article in which she was engrossed and did not even see Kannan coming in. Amma smiled and replied
"Ok, be careful on the roads"
"Amma... I am taking the cycle" Kannan had that wicked smile as it was his new found passion to roam around in his newly gifted BSA SLR. 
Amma smiled and that smile said it all ... permission granted.

Kannan ran to his BSA SLR, standing shining in deep red color with the rim and spokes shining in the afternoon sun. He mounted it with ease and started off ... to gain the speed; he would stand and pedal fast, then sit and pedal to maintain the speed intermittently and rushed through the compound drive ways to reach the main road. It was as if he had conquered the roads, when the shining cycle with the smiling Kannan on it sped through the roads. His soft hair would be flying back, eyes would shine, smile giving away the joy in his ride. Within no time he reached Sidhdhu's house which was just a few minutes away. The ten year old Kannan was tall enough to be mistaken for a teen. He looked around in pride and parked his cycle by the side. Locked it and took the key tossed it up in the air and caught it. He squeaked the metal gates and rang the bell. 

Sidhdhu opened the doors and looked at the shining cycle outside

"Kanna... one ride" Sidhdhu pleadingly asked.
"No Amma has asked me not to give the cycle to anyone", came the reply from the proud owner.

They went inside and Sidhdhu was so happy to have Kannan sound. Talks, games, music... they had fun for over two hours when Ramakrishnan Mama reached home after work.

"So Kannan ... new cycle" asked Ramakrishnan Mama
Kannan smiled and slowly got up. Kids always find it difficult to be themselves when elders are around. 

"It's getting late... I have to go now" said Kannan and waved at Sidhdhu and ran out of the house to his cycle and quickly vanished from sight with his speed.

A few days had gone by. It was a Saturday evening and as Kannan walked back home he saw Ramakrishnan Mama standing there. 

"Kanna ... I would like to talk to you" said Ramakrishnan Mama
Kannan went up to him and stood there silent. The regular sweet smile was missing as he did not know what Ramakrishnan Mama wanted from him. Did Sidhdhu complain about anything, or is it about the cycle... thoughts hunted the ten year old. 
"I want you to tell me the truth ... You had come home last week and an Audio Cassette from my collection ... the Jagjeet Singh Chitra Singh cassette... its missing. I want you to give it back... No one else has come home after that or before that"
Ramakrishnan Mama said in a stern voice with a smirk on his lips. He had kept his hand on Kannan's shoulder giving a feeling of being the Investigating Officer for a supremely important murder case was being solved there.
"But... I did not take it" said Kannan with the pain of being accused of something which he had not done.
"I am giving you time..."said Ramakrishnan Mama.
Kannan's eyes turned red and tears started rolling down his fair cheeks. He pushed the hands from his shoulder and ran home. He threw himself to the bed and cried his heart out.

"I won’t steal, I did not, I will never ... but Ramakrishnan Mama believes I did so" Kannan was talking to himself. "Why would he say that...? I did nothing wrong". Kannan kept crying till the pillow was wet with the small boy’s tears. He had not gone downstairs till late

"Kanna ..." called Appa.

Kannan was shocked, Appa has come back from office, Did Ramakrishnan Mama complain about him, Is Appa calling to scold him ... thoughts ran wild. He slowly went down with his heart beating fast.

"My dear dearest chandu .... time for Dinner" Appa petted his beloved son and with one hand grabbed him with love. Kannan's heart came back to a normal tempo. There is nothing wrong, he thought. 

There was no talk about the cassette. 

Days passed and was almost a month since he had gone to Sidhdhu's house, far from normal. That evening while walking back home, he saw Ramakrishnan Mama talking to Mohan Periyappa, Kannan's paternal uncle. Kannan did not know whether to move forward or to retrace his steps. He walked towards home, with his ears awaiting a call and it was not long before he heard

"Kanna ... "

It was Mohan Periyappa. Kannan did not look back but walked forward without a reply. He ran home and went straight to Amma. The wandering thoughts came back to Kannan. Was Ramakrishnan Mama still hunting for his Audio Cassette, why was he blamed for something he had never thought of...

"Mami....." He heard Ramakrishnan Mama call Amma "Where is Kannan"
"He is here Ramakrishna ... come inside... Tea" Amma offered.
"No no ... just had" he replied and walking in turned to Kannan "You are not to be seen these days... Sidhdhu was asking about you"
Kannan remained silent.
"By the way ... I got the cassette... I had given to my friend in the office... I forgot"
The moments of pain and anguish Kannan went through never let him smile with his full heart to Ramakrishnan Mama again. Blamed for nothing, making him a thief for a theft which never happened, the smirk on his face with the sense of accomplishment that he found the culprit, all made Kannan aloof from him. The friendship with Sidhdhu remained for a very long time, but the question still remains in Kannan's head... "Why was I blamed for something I did not do".

Some words hurt you for a lifetime...

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