(Disclaimer: This is a fictional account and narrated in first person to sound like an autobiographical excerpt)
“K.Vishal, 9th class D section, roll number 36” the handwritten label read when I handed over my quarterly exams progress report to my dad. He was wearing a green-yellow-black lungi, resembling the national flag of Dominica. He was sitting on the couch cross-legged. His hairy legs were partially visible through the lungi’s narrow opening.
Straight down the nose, he went through the progress card, even as he cleared his throat mobilizing what seemed to be three days’ worth of phlegm within. “B-grade..hmm” he uttered, his face clearly conveying frustration and irritation. This is his usual reaction every time I show him my report. If my time is bad, I may also be subject to manhandling. He is quite unpredictable. Like my future.
He had never been happy with my grades. For the first time, I pushed the envelope further by securing a B-grade. Yet, he was not happy. His expectations have always been unfair, given my average memory and IQ levels. Beyond 55% is not my cup of tea.
He began speaking to the progress report "What! Forty two in social? You almost failed in maths. Pathetic!”
‘Did you really study at all for the exams?” he asked looking at me, his lips puckered with annoyance. I could clearly sense his angry-meter mercury rising up.
When situations are not in my favour, I generally remain silent. I fear him a lot, for he is a walking nightmare for me. He doesn’t like me talking back and I never do, especially when progress report matters are concerned. Not even a sorry would work. Last time when I tried giving a logical explanation for why I hit Kamble at school, he was pissed off. He immediately beat me up. He usually works over me with my school belt.
So I let him vent his feelings and stood there silently.
He scratched his ribs. Scratching is usual for him, as he never wears a shirt at home. Infact, all married men in our family and relative circle hang around in their homes topless. And lungi is our cultural legacy. Especially the floral ones.
“Better realize next year would be your board exams. 10th class! Ramaswamy’s son got 556 and stood first in school. He got admission into Little flower junior college --- MPC. He is now preparing for EAMCET... See. That’s how children should be. And you? You will beg on the streets tomorrow ---You will regret, I‘m telling you!”
I was silent. I knew I won’t beg on the streets. Krishna uncle (my mom’s younger brother) who didn’t even complete his 10th, is in Dubai now. Happily married. With two kids.
“--- Are you listening to me, you idiot ?” he yelled.
I nodded in acknowledgement.
Idiot - That’s the word all his conversations with me usually end with. His another favorite word is ‘Rascal’. But this time he hasn’t used it at all. Not sure why.
He reached out to the reynolds pen on the tea-poi and put his signature. “Don’t expect my signature for half-yearly without an A-grade” he said with gritted teeth.
He then handed over the progress report to me and slowly covered himself with the Times Of India.
I had then taken a deep breath. My inner-self gave out a cry of relief. Then I marched into the kitchen to talk to my mom. Few months ago she promised me a hero ranger cycle if I get a B-grade in the quarterly. I'm somewhat excited.
- To be continued.