Ma hollered from the kitchen. “Bunty, Bunty!!! Are you deaf?” She was at the door, furious, her nose red with anger, almost like the button on the teddy’s nose. Or maybe, she was crying again in the kitchen, trying to hide her tears, behind her anger. She is not happy, most of the time. For as long as I remember, I’ve seen her grim, lost in her thoughts. She moves around the house mechanically, feeding me on time, helping me with homework, finishing other work, but she’s not with me. I can tell. 

Dad left the house few months back. She says he’s gone for a long office trip. He has not called me ever since. Though the house is peaceful, Mom is still not happy. They used to argue all night and day, all the time. I felt guilty. I often heard Mom say, she was living in this house because of me. She had to leave her office to take care of me. She is not happy about it. I feel bad, I brought her so much agony. I don’t feel sad when she screams at me, after all I’m the culprit. She threw my plate yesterday when I refused to eat. It broke into pieces. The noise scared me. I sat like a stone, lost, when she hugged me and said sorry. I wanted to cry but held my tears. She’d be miserable if I cried. Sorry Ma, I wish I could become invisible and give you some solace from the prison you feel you are locked in, because of me. 

I step out to meet my friends at the park. The school is off today and my football gang is out on the field. Playing with my friends, I forget all the distress at home. “Rahul, which team today?’’ Rahul doesn’t respond. ‘’Is he upset, am I out of his team?’’ I walk up to his rival. ‘’Aye Deepu, I’ll play on your side?’’ He ignores me too. The game has started. I am standing in middle of the field and no one notices me! What!! ‘’Guys I’m here, here.’’ Nobody responds. ‘’Can’t you see me? I’m invisible or what?’’ Invisible, really? I walk up to Saira, she’s playing kabaddi with girls. She doesn’t notice me either. Oh! I’m actually invisible, God!!

Wow, that means even the ice cream vendor won’t be able to see me? He is there today, the ice cream vendor and his friend. His friend is eating ice cream. I stand next to them. Neil, a senior from my school, also walks up. In a quick second, the friend hands something from his pocket to Neil. Neil pays the ice cream vendor and darts off. What was it, not ice cream for sure! I sneak out an ice cream and slurp, in the meantime. The friend quickly gets on his bike, I ride pillion with him and hold the side of the seat firm. An invisible bike ride would be fun. 

It’s getting dark, I am loving this adventure. He drives on the main road for some time, then we stop at the dead end of a dark alley.  There is a tin shed at the corner and few men are huddled around plastic tables. He takes one of the chairs. They are talking and drinking from dirty looking glasses. He gets up after sometime, I carefully wait next to his bike, so that I don’t get left behind. We ride again and reach an old building. He goes up to a room on the first floor and shuts the wooden door. I sit on a shop’s verandah under the open sky and don’t know when, I fall off to sleep. 

A dog is barking in my ear, oh is it morning or noon? Where’s the bike? I see him, with a phone to his ear, coming down. Our ride commences till we reach another house near a large garbage dump yard. Oh, my sense of small still works. I peep inside. Few men are exchanging small packets wrapped in newspaper. He has one too. He comes out after sometime and we ride again. We stop near a school. Two boys approach him and he hands something to them. We wander on roads in different directions. I have memorized the names on the sign boards I saw, since last evening. I sure can use some of my cramming ability. Social Studies teacher will be proud. 

He is smoking at a corner shop. Oh wait, isn’t this near my area? Ma must be worried, I’ve been away whole night. “Bunty what are you doing here?” Someone calls me from behind. Suresh uncle? He can see me? “Your mom has been looking for you all over, where were you?”

Ma is on the sofa, her palms cover her face. I can see neighbours and a policeman in the small living room. “Bunty?” Ma looks up, she runs and hugs me. Her eyes are red, swollen. She didn’t sleep last night. 

“A boy of ten was kidnapped from a park near his locality last week. He was taken to various locations before he managed to escape and reached home next day. The courageous little boy helped the police in locating the places he was taken to. While searching for the kidnappers, police uncovered an underground drug racket being operated from these locations. Few people have already been arrested and large quantity of drugs have been seized. This little hero used his presence of mind at the right moment, memorising the names on signboards and dodged the kidnappers who had blindfolded him. He ascribes his courage to his mother, who is raising him single handedly. The administration has announced a cash reward and prize for the little detective.’’ The newsreader smiles. 

Ma is smiling a lot these days. She got a job. We are happy.

I am going to buy a bike as soon I grow up. I love bike rides.

***

When was the last time you read some modern sea stories—stories of ships and the seafarers who man them? Tales of adventure, love, romance, piracy, intrigue... and human nature? Well, look no further.

These are twelve stories of the sea, but not necessarily for seafarers alone. They are for anybody and everybody who likes to read fiction. And a ripping good yarn, as sailors used to say once upon a time.

Written by a sea captain who has spent his entire adult life at sea, more than forty years on the waves and still counting, these are stories set in the 70s, 80s up till the present day.

Will you come aboard now? The voyage is about to begin.

Link to buy this book: https://www.amazon.in/Driftwood-Beetashok-Chatterjee/dp/9385854771 and also at selected bookstores all over India.


Author:Beetashok Chatterjee, ex-Claws Club member at ArtoonsInn.

***

The story you've read is an entry for UniK-5, #Invisible, a room8 Writing event by ArtoonsInn.
Check the event guidelines here: https://artoonsinn.com/unik-5-writing-event-artoonsinn/

Photo by: chuttersnap

Thanks for reading.

%d bloggers like this: