Mohan looked at his twin brother anxiously. Though he was only two minutes younger, he always looked up to Ratan for solutions to all their problems.
Ratan, the one to have a remedy for every problem nodded and placed an assuring hand on his brother’s shoulder, directing him towards the tapri to have a cold drink and find some respite from the scorching sun. He knew that their mom would be waiting for them at the chawl’s main gate and would get worried if they were late. But she might have to wait today. Ratan thought silently. For how long? He wasn’t sure.
Mohan could no longer contain his disquiet,
“I think the idea that you shared in the bus makes sense. Let’s run away.” He said with an undertone of finality. Yet, his vulnerability was evident from the way he tightly clamped the Campa Cola bottle within both his hands.
Ratan raised his eye brows. He had not expected Mohan to cave in to his idea so easily. He had never been the dare devil kinds. He was even afraid of confronting Sattu who blatantly bulldozed him at school. It was only because of his warning to the bully senior that Mohan had some respite.
“It was just a passing thought brother. Running away isn’t all that easy.” Ratan reasoned.
“No…” Mohan shook his head frantically, “I can’t bear that kind of beating again.” Tears brimmed in his eyes ready to roll down.
“We will run away and work hard and come back after a few years. Successful and standing on our feet.” Mohan kept the Campa bottle on the stool and held Ratan’s arm, “Then bauji will have no reason to be annoyed with us.”
Ratan clucked his tongue at the absurdity of Mohan’s words.
“Let’s go home instead and face the music. We’ll convince bauji that it won’t happen ever again. That we will score better next time.” Ratan tried to console. But Mohan was beyond reasoning.
“No! The effect of those canes on my back after last test’s results is still fresh in my mind. See…” Mohan ran his hands across his arms, “See… I am having goose bumps already. I am not going back home. Never.”
Just then Mohan’s eyes fell on a suspicious looking man whose teeth had withered away due to excessive consumption of tobacco. This shabby looking man had his eyes fixed on them. Mohan froze. Ratan’s eyes followed his line of sight. He straightened as he understood the fear in his brother’s eyes. A gang of goons, who kidnapped kids and killed them to sell their organs, was a story their father told them often while warning them to be careful when returning home from school.
He rubbed Mohan’s back to comfort him.
“Sometimes there is no happy choice, Mohan, only one less grievous than the others.”
With their heads bowed down, the 10 year old twins walked towards their home, silently bracing themselves for the spanking session in the evening.
The above story is an entry into #TheChoice a Five00-6 entry.
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