Raman was a thief. Fled to Dubai, leaving his 3-year-old son to foster homes. The kid was the reason he wanted to earn good overseas. Two years passed. The desire for earning consumed him. Lost track of his kid's life. Numerous efforts. Finally tracked him down, but with bad news – he had an accident, a year ago. Raman couldn't get all details from the foster-nun. Sent a gift with a note: "My first gift. Coming there soon. Stay happy." A tricycle. The kid loved it, stared at it all day, wishing he hadn’t lost his legs in the accident..
The doorbell rang. It was the delivery man delivering my 3-year-old son's Ipad. As his mom answered the door, my son left his 5-day-old tricycle and ran towards the door. It struck me how little value even big things have these days. Meanwhile, I saw a shadow of a kid longingly looking at the tricycle.“Or maybe the big things have become little things now,” I smirked, realising that the shadow was the little me who couldn't afford a similar one when I was little..
Having moved into their new apartment along with their 5-year old son Ben, Mike and Anna were all set for a new beginning sans memories of their horrifying past. For little did they know that things had not really changed for good. When one fine morning Ben came up to Anna and claimed that he had traded all his new toys with his 'brother'. Before a distraught Peter could even react, an uncanny figure resembling Ben walked past his tricycle. A teary Anna gazed at the family frame: Mike and Anna cuddling Ben and Peter at birth..
“That’s creative! How did you get this idea?”
“Not creative at all. I am calling it an embarrassment to mankind.”
“What? No! Why would you say that?”
“You see that child’s shadow? It is real, and it is dead for decades now.”
“I clicked that in Japan. You must have heard about Hiroshima & Nagasaki bombings during WWII? Everything, including humans, vaporised in an instant. However, the shadows were left behind due to thermal radiation. A grim reminder of how barbaric humans are capable of becoming.”.
Him: "Late fulfillment of desires of middle class has totally different meaning."
Him: "In teenage I started noticing designer cycles. Guys used to come school on bike but I am so middle class that I wished to have a cycle only."
Her: "Yeah go on."
Him: "Dad bought a bike, not to mention I got it 3-4 years later than the others."
Him: "Though dad always bought enough crackers, on Diwali I recall how I always thought to spend thousands from my salary."
Him: "Now I ride Bullet but lately I have started falling for Harley."
It was a rickety old cycle, worn with age and use. But he stared on, with a hunger in his eyes, as if it were an unwrapped Christmas present.
No one was watching. He grabbed it, and quickly pedalled away, as fast his little legs would allow.
Alas, to a poor kid's mind, what was the difference between right and wrong?.
“Rakesh, return the cycle right now!” she yelled.
Rakesh shook his head defiantly without taking his eyes off his seven-year-old child who was now approaching the brand new tricycle with sheer eagerness.
“He can’t ride it, he would fail…”
“Yes, I know he would fail, fail several times more than the other boys, but he would eventually learn to ride it and some day he would discover the path to a new beginning,” he said looking right into her eyes.
She slowly turned to look at their son and smiled, while allowing the tears to run down her cheeks..
"Let's go, Johnny! Grandpa is waiting for us!"
"Not now mom, how many times should I tell you?"
"Johnny, please! Stop with this nonsense."
"But mom, he is my best friend! And he wants to try it it, too, even if the tricycle is a little bit old."
"Johnny, your best friend went to Heaven last year. He is a little angel now."
"You always say this and it's not true. He came back and he is here."
The woman sighed and took her son's hand to leave.
But then the tricycle started to follow them slowly.
"We asked for another hound."
"He looks human. "
" He is figuring us out. What do you think he thinks we are?"
"Why bother, we can't fly. What's he doing hanging there in the air. He can't be human. He's a demon. "
The mother came running to find his ride alone, she didn't see the darkness in the shadow. .
"Tell me about this one. What was this about?"
"Umm.. Learning the joy of sharing, a small sacrifice that said, in order to get something, you first have to give something."
"In simple words, you gave up your tricycle. In exchange for what?"
"Me. The shadow is my brother's. I was on the receiving side."
"What story is he giving you now?"
"This one was trying to show you in good light."
"Was trying? You are supposed to be on my side. My better-half."
"That I am. The better half."
I laughed at that closing remark. To myself. Alone..
Ammu dreamt of a tricycle. She struggled hard to describe it, but could produce only some random sounds.
‘Bbu bbu bbu…!!’.
Two and half years ago, she was born into a dream. Doctors later confirmed autism.
And that day when she woke up from her dream, a tricycle came looking for her.
‘Ammu, let us go out and play.’
They went to the park nearby.
‘No play, just take rest,’ someone shouted.
Alas, Ammu turned into a shadow herself!
She lies hidden in silence as a shadow on the wall and comes out only for the tricycle every day. .