R-3199

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Chapter 8

I had gotten up in the night to go for ‘a leak’ as they called it here and I had heard mama speak about Lisa’s dada to my dada. So I had gone into their room and joined in the conversation. I was so proud of him now. He had lost his mama when he was born, never really had a proper dada’s love and then he had also lost his wife. I don’t know if I would have had the strength to go on. He had then brought up Lisa all on his own. Wow! Now I knew why she went so quiet in front of him. I was already growing very fond of him. I looked at dada and imagined him watching cartoons with me and couldn’t help but laugh. He’d probably keep receiving calls and at all the breaks he’d rush, go make a call and then come running back. It wasn’t that he was a good father. He was. I loved him and I wouldn’t want him to change for anything in the world but having a father like Lisa’s had its advantages. For a minute I felt a little jealous that Lisa had such a great dad and I told mama this. She looked at me and said, “Baba, poor Lisa doesn’t have a mama. You shouldn’t think like that about her. The poor thing only has a dada to be with.” I hadn’t thought about that and it made me feel so bad inside. I shouldn’t have thought like that. I said I was sorry to mama and she said just say your sorry to god and pray that Lisa and her dad are happy together. So I sent up a prayer for her and her real nice dada and told god that I was sorry for thinking like that. I felt much better after that.

The dreaded day was upon us. The morning of the PTA meeting had arrived but I wasn’t feeling too scared. Yes, it would be a little scary meeting all the teachers but I thought about what I had told Lisa’s dad and how he had called me a man. I thought about that and felt a nice glow inside. It felt really good. I was smiling to myself and finishing up with breakfast when I heard mama on the phone. She was talking to Lisa’s dad. “Sure we can go together. Why not? You’ll be here by ten thirty? Yeah, that’ll be perfect. Alright, see you then.” She looked into the dining table and said, “That was Lisa’s dad, he said he’ll be here by ten thirty. We’ll be going with him. So please get ready by then.”

“Yes mama, I’ll be ready. Dada’s not coming right?” I asked hopefully. She looked at me and smiled. “No, he isn’t coming but I’ll tell him everything your teacher tells me.” That was great news, mama I could handle if they said anything about how talkative I was, dada I was a little worried about. Even better, uncle would be there. He’d praise me, of that I was sure. I couldn’t help feeling that this day was going to go real well. By ten fifteen I was all dressed up and ready. Ten thirty on the dot I heard a car honking. I looked out and there was Lisa’s car on the opposite side of the road. I shouted out at mum, “Mama! Mama, Lisa is here. Come fast, I’m going.” And I ran out the front door. Lisa was in the back and she seemed to be looking out at me. I waved at uncle and he smiled and waved back. I ran across the front porch, right out the gate and that’s when it happened. The funny thing is that it seemed to all happen in slow motion. I was running across the road when suddenly both their faces which were smiling a second back turned and were filled with terror. At the same time I heard the squeal of tyres and smelt the acrid smell of burning rubber. I turned and looked to my left and at the same time I heard a sort of long drawn out cry, “Noooo…” the last thing I remembered was this huge monstrous tyre bearing down upon me before I passed out.

When I opened my eyes all I could see was white light. I knew what this was then. I was dead and this was heaven. I tried getting up and that’s when the pain hit me. My leg hurt so badly that I screamed out. That’s when everything came into focus. I was in heaven but then everyone I knew seemed to be there too. Was this visiting hours or was it simply that they had all come to heaven with me? Then I looked more closely at them. Their faces showed so much concern. Then I noticed that they were trying to say something. I concentrated a little harder and I heard, “Baba, are you ok? Can you hear me? Here, look” she said and snapped he fingers. Suddenly I heard her clearly and I found my voice. I asked, “Is this heaven?” the lot of them burst out laughing. I didn’t see what the joke was. I mean it was a perfectly normal question. Then I saw dada and he ran a hand through my hair and said, “No baby, this is not heaven. You’re ok. You’re in the hospital.” I looked at mama, then at dada and they both nodded. I smiled; thank god I was only in the hospital. I didn’t want to go to heaven so early. I hadn’t been to Disneyland yet. I hadn’t said bye to Ramu and grandpa and grandma properly. I was so glad. Then I suddenly remembered Lisa and uncle and I asked, “Where are uncle and Lisa? Did you’ll go to the meeting? What did they say? What happened?” “Slow down there slugger” I heard Lisa’s dad’s voice say. I looked around and he was standing by my feet doing something. I looked down and suddenly I realized that I couldn’t feel my leg. I looked down and started shouting, “Mama! Mama! I can’t feel my leg mama! I don’t have a leg mama. It’s gone, it’s gone!! Mama!!!” she put her arm on my head trying to calm me down and said, “Don’t worry its still there.” “No!!! You don’t understand. I can’t feel it there. You cut it off. No! No! This cant be!! I want my leg back.” Mama pulled back my sheet and said, “Look! You have your leg just where it’s supposed to be. No one’s cut it off or taken anything away.” I looked down and sure enough there was my leg. Uncle was doing something to it. He was putting some sort of white thing on my leg. I tried moving my leg but I couldn’t feel it. I looked at uncle and then he said, “You can’t feel your leg can you?” I shook my head in reply. “Well that’s because I gave you an injection, just so that you won’t feel the pain. Don’t you worry. Everything is going to be ok.” I looked at him and saw the smile on his face. Now I started feeling a little stupid for reacting like that. Of course my leg was there. Where was it going to go? Not like it was going to take a walk on its own. Oh god! What would uncle have thought? Just yesterday he had called me a fine young gentleman and today, here I was bawling like a small child. Well I was a small child and I hoped that uncle considered that. I mean losing a leg for a child is a big thing. For grownups it’s ok. At least they’ve walked and run around so much. We kids have so much more walking and running to do. I looked down at uncle again and he smiled back and asked, “Do you feel any pain?” I looked at him and answered, “No. I’m fine.” though I did feel a little pain on my left buttock. I must have scraped it when I fell I thought. “That’s my boy, taking it like a man” he said. I smiled. Uncle didn’t think I was a wuzz. Then I looked at mama and dada. They were just standing there and looking at me. I smiled at them and said, “I’m ok. Don’t worry about a thing. There’s nothing wrong with me.” At this point for some reason mama burst out crying. I couldn’t understand it. I hadn’t gone to heaven, so then why was she crying? “Mama, mama, I’m still here. I’ve not gone to heaven. Why are you crying now? Nothings wrong with me.” She looked at me and between her sobs, in a voice that she used when she was worried about me actually but tried to pretend like she was angry said, “Do you know what could have happened to you? Why didn’t you wait for me? Why did you run across the road like that? If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, when crossing a road, look right, left then right again and if there is no traffic coming only then cross the road. Did you do that? No! You just ran out onto the road, just like that.” I looked at mama trying so hard to get angry, smiled at her and said, “I’m sorry mama. I won’t do anything like that ever again. I will not do anything that stupid again.” Then I asked dada, “What was it that hit me?” he said, “You’re very lucky it was only a bike. He saw you running and managed to slow down. The poor man, he was so worried about you. He was here till some time back.” “Please tell that uncle that I’m sorry too. I didn’t mean to do that to his bike. I’m really sorry.” Then uncle spoke up, he said, “alright now, I’m going to give you a little injection to help you sleep. Your not scared of injections are you?” I looked at him, then dada and mama and said, “Uncle I was just hit by a bike. I think I can take the pain of an injection.” The tension in the room was broken. They all laughed with me. Even mama laughed at what I had said.


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