STORY : Fire affair

It was not anybody’s idea. We were kids. Wanted to have fun. And had fun.

 

Group of teens walking back from tuitions or some game maybe. Same path that we traveled so so often. Evening was getting old and sweaty. We knew the buildings very well. Like specialists we had studied the people living in those buildings – in detail and objectively. We knew the lean – oldie who we could often see from his windows looking at his pictures of gods like its TV – fixed. We knew the father who would tie his son with a bottle of water and a textbook, so that he has to study and study only. Or the huge building in ruins which housed a beautiful newly wed girl. And we of course knew the blue-house.

 

RS was with us. As usual he whistled as we came by ‘blue-house’. And as usual, we waited like dogs for meat. And down came chocolates. The kid girl appeared in the balcony of the ‘Three storey blue house’.

 

RS had some kind of relation with her. He did not like or dislike her. Winning her was a challenge. First when he started flirting with her, RS kept it a secret. He just did not care to say it. But the girl did not. She started speaking of a boy who loves her. And rumors reached RS via some friends that some guy is after her. And as RS is RS, he started to plan to beat the other guy up. Only to find out that it was he himself whom he was going to fight. When the Kid girl knew of the story, she was impressed. First time in her life somebody wanted to fight to get her, literally. She fell in love.

 

So everytime we passed by, and RS whistled. She threw Chocolates from the balcony. For RS and yeah also us, cause we just happened to be there. And we loved it. Free chocolate rain was something that we in our school-hood days thought real luxury. We walked for kilometers rather taking bus, to save some money for cigarettes , Cheap street food , and cheap movie tickets. So we pressured RS to be in the relationship, so that we get our chocolates.

 

But nothing is perpetual. Nor were our days of free chocolate rain. The Kid girl had ofcourse a dad. A late working dad who never had the chance to come home when we were there. Seems like he had the chance that day.

 

Nobody noticed the car pulling in the other side of the lane. The Kid girl had come down by that time, RS was chewing a chocolate gum or something like that with one hand at her buttocks, a little far from us. Several chirruping birds were going off to their nests. Sun had just set.

 

From that under that blackish maroon sky emerged the uncle type man. In late fifties maybe. He directly pushed RS and pulled the kid girl towards him.

 

Long story short. The Dad had come home early. Saw his kid daughter felt up by a teen boy with his friends around. He got angry. Asked us to get home or he might show his might – of which we now realized he had none. But we were kids then- some sort of kids atleast. We did not say much. And grudgingly walked away. We felt insulted to have lost to some uncle in front of a girl kind of stuff. But that was it. It was only when we looked at RS’s face we realized our days of chocolate rain is over.

 

RS is a simple boy. Sensitive but Practical. He was more sensitive when younger, but mostly it transformed to his urge of adventure. He would like situations which are primal and animalistic. That aroused his senses. Thus anger, when he could act on it, made him cruel at times. Subversive cruelty is something that we all shared maybe, in different ways. That was one of our unconscious similarities. Cruelty came as fun. Later even if we reflected, the deeds were done.

 

In our childhood, a street with CCTV was a street that we would go to see as some novelty. Technology was growing, but mass acceptance was still not there. Smartphones were still not in market. Not every home had a computer. Computers still required AC rooms. Laptop was rich man’s stuff. Phone booths were still there on every roadside to make calls, or anonymous calls.

 

So when we decided to do it, there was no obstacle that we could fathom. After 12 am all would be sleeping, except the street dogs. No CCTV, no geolocation stuff, we did not have to think of anything. Only how would we escape our own homes at such late night and come back undetected by our parents. But we had contingency plans for sneaking out at nights alone. It wasn’t common practice but it would not be the first time either.

 

The plan was very very dangerous. We knew it. But never never think of circumstances before you do stuff, or else you have gone senile. That was the philosophy we followed. Not recommendable? Well ofcourse not recommendable. But children pine to be devils or gods. Not ‘just’ men. They always hate ‘justness’. Well we hated it. And we weren’t gods. One of us was considered a god cause he was very empathetic from the start. We did not bring him to these things. We had empathy too, but our empathy came after the deeds, pranks and fights. His empathy, often unrequited, came first.

Even he was there with us this time. In this game atleast. Devilishness and lure of forbidden adventure overpowered him that day as it did to us. “He must have insurance to cover his losses”- he advocated, more to his conscience than to us.

All amongst us would bring newspapers, as much we can carry in one hand, and walk through deserted streets of the centuries old city, and meet behind the colossal ruins of the dead Pharma Factory, at 1 am.

 

Nobody was on time. RS reached most late. 1.45. We were all lacking courage to do what we have thought of. Back in our mind we were sure we wont do it. Still as long as we don’t go back home. We still know we can do it.

 

While the humid night was slowly cooling down. We knew we gotta go back. Its no way and it can be , should  be done. Yet every time we thought it can’t, it can’t, it can’t. We knew we had to too.

 

RS and SM had already finished their smokes, they are now chewing some lozenges and spitting a part of those lozenges in their hands and rubbing it. It was to prevent or hands from smelling like we had smoked. It meant going-home-time.  I stood up. Threw the cigarette and crushed it. “Lets walk to the ‘Blue-house’. Atleast lets walk to it.”

They agreed. We started walking.

 

The innocent black old ambassador was sleeping like dead in front of the ‘blue-house’. Not even a rat on that lane. Those streets were barely lighted then. Nobody would recognize us even if they saw. In the dark only the half moon could make us see the shadow – the kid girl’s father’s car. The black Ambassador. Their home had no garage. Like all old houses of the locality. All cars stayed in lanes.

 

We started getting ready. Now there was no going back. Something has changed us to fanatics now. The newspapers were rolled up and one of the sides of the roll were lit, like torches. Each one except SM had a burning torch ready in their hands. SM picked up a full sized brick and threw at the windscreen. Just as it broke with some kind sound, we threw the burning torches inside the car. And ran. Ran like hell. We reached our starting point behind the ruinous factory.

 

It was relief. Joy. Breathlessness. Power. And fear. We looked at each other like kings after bloody victories. But all we found are shaken teens. Just boys. Realization seeped in with a very rapid jolt. It was a crime. There would be police involved. Parents would know. For the first time these came to our mind. We sat dumbstruck. The sweaty night was breaking into  a cool breeze. Our parents would say feeling the coldness of the breeze that its raining somewhere nearby and would estimate how far, if they could feel it now. But they are sleeping. Their children, who are in schools and go to tuitions to study, have just vandalized a car and burned a car. What if it explodes and kills someone. We would be murderers. We wanted to cry. We could not. Through the deserted streets we rushed home in frenzy. Even the howl of street dogs scared me to death. I reached home. Looked at my sleeping parents once, and back to bed. Shivering , sweating and awake. The next day would break. It will bring light. We won’t be we anymore.

 

Next morning came like fever. The light was not comforting. I could not eat. Each time my landline rang I started shivering. My parents noticed. I knew I had to escape, it was getting impossible.

My mother thought I was sick. Asked me to skip school. But I had to go. The rest would be there. I needed to see the rest of my crime partners. I wanted to cuddle my mother and weep. I couldnot, I can not show, nobody but us must know.

We did not have cell phones then. It was not so cheap nor common for teens to carry cells. There was landline. There was meeting personally. There was stealing our parents’ cell phones for sometime and going to the washrooms to talk about stuff cant talk openly via landline. So I gotta go to school today.

 

“Did the girl call? Wont she call if its serious”, first question when we saw RS.

 

“She calls at late night from her father’s cell. Old man does not know how to check the call list even”.

 

“Should we go there today like we go for chocolates? We don’t know anything right? We should do as usual”.

 

“CK you bastard. The old goat had insulted us yesterday. That’s why we won’t go ever again there. Not because we know of the car. And we don’t know about the car. It NEEEVEEER HAAPEND. Gottit?”.

 

“But they got SM’s finger print on the brick?”

 

SM turned white. Then for the first time he started crying. We had skipped the school that day and sitting on railway tracks with our school uniforms on. Any other time this truant-ness would be excitement enough. But we did not even smoke this time. We were just sitting. Suddenly, we wanted to be just a kid for sometime. We did not talk about girls, or which boy we beat up recently. We were just sorry for everything. None of us could pray . We were the voluntary criminals here. Its better even if God does not know.

 

As SM started to weep. Slowly we all started to weep. Under the cloudy sky, upon the railway tracks we cuddled and cried. The more we cried we realized we need to cry further. But tears were drying up soon. Even tears should not know. But we still needed to cry. So we tried, tried hard to weep without tears. The smell of shit from the railway tracks resonated with us.

 

A train had rushed in. Howling its horn and marching its wheels. We had to get up. Life is not a static crying cuddle. It can’t be. As we moved to locality, evening had come slowly. The Street lights near the Bazaar and Railway station were lit by then. The people and the crowd around moved shouted reacted as we have seen then since always.

We Felt clensed. It’s a huge moving world. Time has sure washed our crime away. Billions live in this planet, a billion in this country. One car burned by a few kids, what does it matter? Its not even a drop in the ocean it seems.

 

“Maybe it did not even burn, I mean only the windscreen was broken. That was it, paperfire could not burn a car”.

 

“Nobody can even dream of us doing such a thing? We are just students, who would even suspect students or bloody burning a car”.

 

“If it burns”.

 

“Yeah if”.

 

“Hey, boys? Is that SECAWW uniform, What are you boys doing here? In school time? In School uniform? Hey come here, hey, I got your faces?”.

 

We ran. Who would know the principal would leave for home early today, and go by the same route. Got out faces, blaaaa. The lady is old as hell, if she can remember our faces tomorrow by looking at us at this evening time from so far away then we can all top the university nationwide.

 

But the bloody hag remembered next day. We got threatened next day with guardian call and stuff. Got to stand in the courtyard for some periods and all sort of nonsense. But we were worried like hell. Not because of the punishments. They were fun if you are punished together at times. But because RS did not come to school. We were worried sick. Post school we ran to his home.

 

RS wasn’t there. We knew from the look of RS’s mother’s face that she knows he has gone to school. We realized something serious has happened. Even RS isn’t that a loafer that he would skip school two days in a row, after specially getting caught yesterday. This kind of skipping happened once or twice a year at max.

 

We told his mother, so that she would not be suspicious, that we know he was in school but he went to get some information from a friend, post that we all would group study at their place. So we would wait for him.

She was ok. She knew group study means we would have fun. But she was cool with fun as long it is normal.

 

RS returned in some time. His face we could not decipher. It was different. We generally have never seen before such an expression in his face. He seemed calm tired and something else. Some sort of sad happiness. We wanted to ask if the Kid girl had called and what did she say? But we could not. Anyways, he realized we were tensed.

 

“I never thought I would say this.. But I think I love that kid girl, I love her from today.. But we can never be together again.”

 

He looked at the dull colored ceiling and sighed. Then smiled and looked at us.

 

Where did this come from. We were speechless. We were confounded. We were mesmerized. After all worries, RS is saying something from his heart. We could feel it. There has been something which had impacted him massively. What ever tension we had. We have to listen to this. We have to feel this. We have to share his enlightenment now. All this thought was not conscious. We just knew. This is important.

 

“We are not getting into trouble. The fire burned the seat covers but then she woke up and called her father. Her father called the neighbors and they put the fire down. Police had came but they themselves said its impossible to catch who did this and advised to keep an active watchman for night for each lane.”

 

We were relaxed a lot. But, we knew from his face it is secondary news. The primary news is yet to come.

 

“She skipped school for the first time today. She was so so tensed. We made out in the bush by the lake. I was thinking I have to make out so that I keep normal appearance. I thought her immature. Body and mind. I did not know then, I did not know? I did not know how pathetic I am, a pedophile. She is 15, 3 bloody years younger than me. I did not know what is greatness, what is love, I have to be strong. This pain is love. I have to stay away from her. If she sacrifices. Then I can too.”

 

Well. RS saying this!!!!! Its we were awed. We were stargazing. But what he said then we had no idea coming.

 

“She knows. She knew all along. She was awake the entire night cause she was tensed how I would react. She thought she lost me because of her father’s treatment of us. She was awake behind those window glasses. We never saw her. But he saw her burning her car. She did not realise what we were doing, once we did that and left she called her father and averted the fire.”

 

We did not know what to say. We did not know we would be known as criminals or not.

 

“She asked me to meet. I made out as I normally do. She looked at me. She said she had seen me and all the rest of the story. She said “I cant tell my father its you. I cant hurt you in anyway. I cant stay with you who gave my father so much tension.” Her father was so tensed and was thinking if they are at life risk. “My last time touching you” She said.

She protected me. And she protected her father from my whims in the future. I loved her so so much today, I actually came to know her. I shall, I shall respect her even if it burns me.”

 

RS fell to tears. We all slowly did. RS had known magical love for the first time, and we have known through our friend.

This our tears can know, should know.

 

Footsteps outside the room. We came back to reality. We have our complain sheets to sign from our parents. We told RS he was saved that he skipped school today. Enlightened as he was he replied, “sign them yourselves, who the hell knows your parents’ signature in school.”

 

And we did that.

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