STORY: Social Life By Biswas Kanchan
There were too many memories pinning him down to this place. This small town which he equally hated and loved. All the lanes and by-lanes he knew by heart. Even the street dogs were familiar. That playground where he first played ball. His mother used to sit on the playground bench chatting with other women or sometimes knitting away quietly while he played ball with Chaang.
Chaang was his first friend, not because they were of same age or went to the same school but because they both had flat noses. Whereas other boys had noses of all shapes and sizes, he and Chaang had no nose at all. They were both badly bullied for the flat noses. He sometimes stood on the stool to look at the mirror. His father and mother had good high noses even his newborn baby sister had a cute button nose but why he had a flat nose with only two holes as nostrils he could never understand. Chaang was chinese he knew his mother had once read him about Chinese people but he was the only indian who had a Chinese nose.
The dog barked, a small white dog was standing nearby watching him. It barked and wagged its tail every day. He and the dog were friends too. Every day, while returning from school he found the dog waiting beside the bin where he emptied his half eaten tiffin box. The dog had its feast every day. He watched the dog eat away his bread or cake or biscuits whatever his mother gave for tiffin. He never had any appetite for food. He never ate much but for reasons not known to him his belly was always huge with food. Every day he showed his big belly to his mother just to verify that he had completely eaten his tiffin.
The mango tree grew in height, but he never did. He had planted the sapling with his own hands. Watching it grow in awe, he used to stand by its side matching their heights. The sapling grew into a shrub then to a tree but he remained small and stunted. Even Chaang who had no nose like him grew tall but he remained his tiny self.
Leaving aside his mother, the playground, the dog, the mango tree and Chaang, the hospital was his next favourite place. A place which he loved and regularly visited. His social life centred around the hospital; its smell, the bed whose head end could be raised or lowered, the other patients, all tiny children like him with flat noses and big bellies.
There were no bullies here only friendly doctors who examined his nose, ear, throat, chest and abdomen. Meticulously probing and gently stroking. His beloved object was the red coloured bag which hung from his bedside, the precious red fluid dripping slowly into his body. The fluid gave him energy and new vitality to his body and mind. Every visit to the hospital refreshed him like no other. It was the most enjoyable thing he did. He loved no other place more than the thalassemia children ward at the hospital. It was his social life.
These were the memories pinning him down to this place as he watched his coffin being slowly lowered in to the ground. He hated to leave behind his mother, the dog, the mango tree, Chaang… and his social life.
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