Robin took out the spliff from his jeans pocket. lit it with the lighter. Puffed on it Whiffed. And relaxed. His eyes closed.
He was with his friends. Laxman and ranveer. They looked at him and smiled. “Why didn’t you come yesterday?” Asked ranveer.
“Oh. Father made big scene at home. He was raging high. He broke my guitar”.
“And didn’t you do anything about it?”
“No. it was my mum. She was crying. I couldn’t do anything”.
“Oh! So you got beaten! that’s what the stain on your shirt says”.
“I didn’t get beaten. its unwashed. Now mind your own business”. Exclaimed robin.
His friends were making fun of him. They used to laugh whenever he got beaten by his father. There always used to be an injury. It was blatant. Yet, they still enquired about it. Robin lied and they laughed. The same thing happened that day. Well, Robin was still silent. He was tired.
“Well, that’s harsh. You know, my father doesn’t even talk to me nowadays”. Laxman said. “By the way, when are the others coming.? Its late! They were there to thrash that kid I think they got beaten instead.” “Ha. Ha. Ha”. The two of them laughed.
Robin looked at them. He wasn’t angry. He was tired. Tired of the harsh remarks he had to listen to. At home, his father and now! even his friends had started making fun of him. He couldn’t bear them. He was frustrated. He was sad.
He took his coat that was kept on the railing of the terrace. It was their secret hiding spot. A place where they relaxed and shared. A place where the losers united. Yes, losers! That’s what they were called at school. And Robin, he was tired of hearing that. All he wanted was to bring some change. He wasn’t the same before. He was in his school band and it was a pretty great achievement for him.
Robin returned back home. It was 8. As he entered, he saw his fathers face. He looked infuriated.
“Do you even know what time is it?” His father threw this question upon him right on his arrival. “Sometimes I think I should just stop paying for you; You know such a big liability you are!”
Robin didn’t say anything. He was quiet. He seemed unmoved. He was relaxed. And after seeing such an emotion on his face, his father got closer to him and sniffed.
The expression was clear on his face. He understood that Robin had smoked. Earlier Robin used a chewing gum to hide the smell. But he was relaxed today and he didn’t know what was causing that. He was just too tired. Well it was not the first time he got caught.
“You’ve smoked. Shameless. I knew it. I knew he was hiding it again this time. You little piece of scrap!”
He raised his fist a little to slap robin. But he saw a hand coming towards him. She held his hand tight. It was robin’s mother. She had tears in her eyes. His savior. She loved her son although she hated what he did. She had hidden a lot of his secrets. She knew that her son could change.
She signaled him to go. Robin left. He walked quickly towards his room. Locked the door and rested his back on the gate.
He had a sigh of relief. He turned his face to look around and saw his broken guitar. He closed his eyes and memorized the day he was the happiest. It was 4 years ago at the school fest. When he played his guitar, he sang and the whole crowd cheered. They were astounded. He remembered the look on his father’s face. He was very happy. But he didn’t understand one thing, and it still haunted his dreams. The next day after the fest, when his father told him to forget about his dream of becoming a musician and take up engineering.
His father was very possessive about his future. He had booked a seat at the best iit coaching.
Robin was famous at school until then, bus his popularity started decreasing gradually after that incident. He got lost. His father used to lash at him all the time. He wanted him to be diligent. He wanted Robin to make his dream come true. Robin's father wanted to make sure that his son finds a seat in one of the iit’s but never asked him what he always had wanted to do.
Neither did robin ever realize where this road was taking him to. Whether it was a dead end or a cliff. Robin didn’t wanted to be what his father desired of him. He loved music. And that he knew that.
He laid supine. Took out his phone from his bag . switched it on. And browsed through the playlist. It had a broken screen. He plugged in his earphone and dived into the melodic voices of his favorite artists. Closed his eyes and listened.
An hour later, he heard some thud on his door. It was his mother with food. She didn’t say anything to him. Robin took the plate from her and sat on his table. His eyes fell on the piece of paper peeping through his textbooks. It was the participation form for the fest.
It was given to him by Riya. Riya the only one person who trusted him. She too was a singer.
And she really wanted him to perform. Robin liked her a lot. But he never told her about his feelings.
His father's decision and his dream. His father who never realized what Robin was going through. And there was only one person who cared about his dreams. It was Riya.
Next morning. He woke up with a firm decision in mind. Undeterred. He was going to fill up the form.
Robin finished up with his chores quick. Packed his backpack and left for school. And as he reached, the only person he had in his mind was Riya. He wanted to tell her that he had decided. That he will sing.
He knew that Riya would be the happiest to know about his decision.
He searched for her everywhere. There was no sign of her. He was behaving in a very outlandish manner. He was full of joy. The feeling you have when you defeat someone. And here, the victory was against his own inner self and his father. Robin knew that he’ll find a way. He was determined.
He had Riya in mind. He knew she would help him.
Finally, he found her in the music room. She was playing piano. He whistled and Riya turned around to see.
Robin said “I’ve decided. I will sing. I know there will be a few complications but…”
Riya interrupted. “But. What? you’ve made the best decision. Thank you.” “I know.. your father. We'll rock the stage and your father would see that”. She got up from her chair and rushed towards Robin, held his hand and pulled him to the other room to the music teacher.
“Sir! He’ll sing”. She shouted.
The music teacher turned back and smiled.. “Robin. I knew you would come. You know! You are a great singer. The finest our school has. But how do I trust you on this. How do I know that you’ll turn up on the performance day?
“Sir. Don’t worry its my responsibility to get him there”. Riya said.
“Okay then.. fine. Robin don’t turn me down this time. Its fine as Riya trusts you”. He smiled.
“Its gonna be fun”. Riya whispered into robins ears. She winked. “Come let me show you where the rehearsals are being held”. She took him to the rehearsal room. Robin was happy. He felt free. He did not think about his father. It was him. Just him. He loved music and he knew that he has made the right decision.
After the rehearsal was complete. Robin felt as if he’s got his breath back. Riya left the room. She told robin to meet her in the evening. And so, he started playing the guitar. He loved it. it was after a long time that he smiled. He was exuberant. And he knew that it was a wonderful start and that he was not going to look back again.
The door opened, and the music teacher entered. Robin was still busy with the guitar. There was another boy in the room. He had cigarette in his hand And as he saw the music teacher coming. He got tensed, and tried to throw it out of the window that was beside robin. But it didn’t go out, It hit the window pane and fell back in. It landed right up on Robin’s feet.
The music teacher had come to talk to Robin and then he saw the cigarette on his feet.
“Cigarettes! You bring cigarettes into this hall! How many times will you break my trust Robin. I showed some pity and allowed you in. it’s the first day and you’ve started smoking here!”
Robin looked at him dumbstruck. “Sir its not mine.. he tried to vindicate himself of an unknown crime.”
“How isn’t it yours?. How is it on your feet then?” Robin was scared. He was surprised. And before he could’ve said anything, the teacher rushed out bellicose to the principal’s office. Robin followed him.
He keep on clarifying”… sir.. sir.. its not my fault. Its not mine” But the teacher didn’t listen to anything. Robin knew he was in great trouble. The teacher complained to the principal. Robin had a bad image at school. The rules were strict. He got suspended. For a month.
For the next few days there was no sign of Robin. Neither did he meet his friends. Nor Riya. Rumors were spreading fast. Some said, he was being send to a boarding school. Some said, they’ve left the city. Riya tried to contact him many times. She knew the truth. Ravi told her, the boy who had the cigarettes.
They tried to explain but Robin did not turn up for days.
Robin was locked up at home. His phone was taken away from him. Neither was he allowed to go out nor talk to anyone. His father was sending him to a military school in a few days.
Robin used to lock himself up and cry. For hours. He tried committing suicide but every time he tried to, his mother’s face came up to his mind. He loved her. And he knew what would happen if he did so. he had no voice. He couldn’t sing. He couldn’t go back and meet Riya.
Robin’s father felt something inside him. He knew that his son would hate him for this. But he thought it was necessary for his future. He thought that music can lead his son to nothing. And like every other parent he wanted his son to follow a dream that every parent had. Parents who don’t ask their children what they want. Parent who don’t talk to their children, who don’t understand them. And Robin’s father was no different. He was the same.
The day was inching closer when Robin had to leave. Part his ways away from his dream. From music. From Riya. From his mother. But there was one person whom he was not going to miss. His father. He hated him. For everything. He was the sole reason for the change in him.
Finally, the day came. Robin’s father had all the arrangements made. his mother was helpless. She didn’t wanted him to go.
Neither did robin wanted to and so he escaped.
His father searched for him everywhere. Well, it was not his intention to runaway. He was helpless and had no other option left. He just wanted to avoid going to the military school. He never wanted to. Follow the strict rules or get into the army.
He didn’t stay out for long. And returned in the evening. His father was sitting on the sofa with his hand on his forehead. His mother was weeping. He walked towards the center table near the sofa.
His father looked up at him. He was angry. He stood up.
“What do you want now? Why don’t you just go away!” He slapped Robin. And suddenly, Robin raised his fist to slap his father but stopped. His father was surprised.
“What do you want me to do?” he shouted. “Why do you want me to do what you want!. Have you ever asked me what I like? I don’t want to see your face. You’ve been turning me blind all these years. I love music. Is it so difficult for you to fathom that? Please set me free and just keep paying my damn fees. That’s all I want from you. and let me sing. Let me live”.
After his long, provoking speech Robin slammed the door and left.
The fest was after 10 days. And there was no sign of Robin. but his name was still listed for a performance on the fest day. And it was much anticipated for. People were really waiting to get more of him. They had heard enough news. His disappearance made big headlines on the city’s daily.
On the fest day,People were eagerly waiting to see Robin. he has gotten famous over night. Riya performed. The team of dancers swayed in motion. And Robin’s name was about to be called.
It was Robin’s name on the list next. The anchor got down from the stage, walked towards the principal and gave him the mike.
He came up on the stage and announced “the next performer is quite special. He’s a fighter and one the finest singers the school has. He’s inspired me. All I can say now is dream. Dream as big as you can. But don’t stop . I won’t waste much time. I know you all have been eagerly waiting. The next performance is by Robin."
The crowd cheered as it heard Robin’s name called out. And finally, he appeared. He had problem walking. Had had a huge band aid on his forehead. He was taking the support of his music teacher. Riya was standing right behind him. She was happy. She quickly brought a chair and placed it at the center stage in front of the mike.
Robin adjusted himself in. Riya brought his signature guitar. And before starting, robin looked at the crowd. He was filled with joy. Had tears in his eyes. He had never expected that. And slowly he rubbed his eyes , adjusted the mike and began singing.
The crowd listened intently. It was lost in the melody of his voice. The crowd was surprised. It was the best performance of the evening. Robin’s mother was a part of the audience too. She was sitting on the second row. She looked proud. She was happy.
Robin was like a bird. He had charm and a beautiful voice. He felt like the whole audience was his and he flied from one end to the other. He felt free. He finally had got his voice back that was silenced for 4 years. He didn't forget music. It was his art. And an artist never forgets how to paint. Even though one can forget how to live, but that art can still bring back life inside the person.
He was flying.
He had finally found his path. And he decided that he would never look back. It was the happiest day of his life. He had his dream. He was painting blissfully. He was the artist.
An artist never dies. He stays there. His art stays. Forever..!
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