Meet our friend Harikrishnan. Don’t you see the five boys in school uniform munching their sandwiches at the Maria’s? Well, the third one from the right is Hari. He and his buddies are on their way back home after school.
“Guys, what about a movie tomorrow?” asked Abin, one of the five.
All four looked at him.
“Don’t we have maths tuitions?” reasoned Arjun.
“Anish sir would end the class by eleven. We can make it for the noon show.” it seems that Abin had worked his plans out.
“I’m always in for a movie.” Tony spoke in jest.
“Count me out, guys. Ramadan starts tomorrow, and cinemas are forbidden.” Shameem made his stand.
Arjun too gave in after some prodding by Tony and Abin.
The three of them turned to Hari.
“Let me ask my parents.”
“Don’t you have anything to study?” Indira asked her son.
“Abin, Arjun and Tony are going, mommy!”
“Didn’t Tony flunk the last monthly test? "Indira had an eidetic memory.
“Yeah, but Abin had A plus.”
“Good. Sit and study to make sure you too pull off A grades in the next monthly.”
“Oh please, mom! I promise I would. Let me go.”
“Movies don’t give you grades, son. Books might.”
The boys reached just in time for the movie though they had to settle for the front row seats. For the next two hours the four of them laughed their heads off to witty jokes, cheered the powerful hero, adored the mesmerizing lady lead, and tapped their feet to those dance numbers.
On his way home, Hari was fabricating his story. Luckily, none of his relatives or neighbours were present at the cinema. His mother certainly would ask him why he was late. He would tell her that his tutor had extended today’s session to discuss the previous year question papers. That should be enough to satisfy her.
“It’s not about the color, Sachin. The point is that you do not pay attention to what I tell you.”
His parents were having an argument about something, as Hari reached his home. In fact, Indira was so angry that she barely noticed her son was late. Not that they fought often, but when they did Hari knew it was best to leave them alone. Yet he had to present his now perfected alibi.
“Anish sir asked us to stay back, mom” he began. “He wanted to discuss the last year’s paper with us.”
Indira looked at him, her face seething with rage. “I’m not in a mood for talks, Hari. Go and wash up. There is 'puttu' and 'kadala' curry on the table. Leave me alone."
Hari spoke no more. He went and washed up. He had the food, and went to his room for a nap.
Hari woke up to a violent dream. Manikantan, the elephant of the nearby Devi temple was chasing him. No matter where he went, the tusker would not let go. Terrified, Hari was climbing up a banyan when he slipped and fell. That’s when he woke up, sweating profusely. He thanked God for it was a dream.
Two hours had passed. He stepped out of his room. Apparently his parents were no longer fighting. Indira was cooking spinach for supper, and Sachin was helping her with the dishes.
“Good evening son! Sorry for being rude earlier.”
“That is alright. Why were you fighting?”
“It was not a fight, dear. Sometimes we need to talk things out. But I should not have shouted at you.”
“You know what we are going to make up for it. Your papa has booked three tickets for the night show. Let us watch that movie of yours.”
Hari felt numb. He closed his eyes for a second. The elephant was running towards him.
(Edited by Shrestha Ghosal)