The New Normal 4.0: To Hell and Back

“You know how he is taken for a roller coaster ride every time he gets anxious. What you do not know are the triggers.”

“How can you watch a stupid TV reality show as if nothing has happened? 150 people died, Baba!”

It is the weekend after the killings of the school children in Peshawar, Pakistan. You had a tough quarter to close. You, along with your wife, are lounging on the sofa the two of you had picked up with so much love from a top-end shop.

Just when you thought that the week would pass with no conflict, a grenade is lobbed. You have to catch it. Letting it fall on the ground may mean the destruction of the goodies you gifted on your son’s birthday.

You know of the swings of his mood, followed by the swings of his body parts. You have lost your expensive spectacles, a ceramic elephant, a laptop – all to fits of rage the roars of which may scare a lion in the jungle.

You have learnt to be careful. You have learnt to calibrate your responses suiting his temper. You look at his face, there is no trace of a smile in his eyes or lips. He is really peeved.

“Oh, this is just to relax beta,” you sheepishly justify.

You have influenced him to value aesthetics. You have opened his eyes to divergent political and religious views. You have illustrated to him time and again that asking questions is a virtue. You have exposed your productive terrain to an opportune invader.

Rant starts, “Relax and die!. We should all be working towards leaving this planet altogether. Instead, we are all wasting time as if there is no tomorrow.”

It continues. 10 minutes, 15, 30…

His lips are dried, his voice broken, pupils dilated; when his monologue, interspersed with nods, light-hearted banter and leading queries from your side, fizzles out.

You know how he is taken for a roller coaster ride every time he gets anxious. What you do not know is the trigger.

What will make him go ballistic, you have no idea. You are so glad that you could contain his explosion with no collateral this time. You are relieved that he could digress and now, both of you are watching Amazing Spider Man for the nth time on the TV.

He is leaning on your shoulder, and you relish a moment as rare as that smile on his face. You count on such moments of happiness and pray it lasts. It was elusive always but seems priceless at present.

Every little situation which doesn’t fit in his ‘world view’ causes turbulence in his surreal flight.

“Instead of cutting the trees, can’t the filthy rich build their monsters elsewhere?”
“Levelling of hills just to build roads? To hell and back!” he chuckles at his own little joke.

You understand these chuckles pretty well now. You know that these are stunted cries - for help, in disgust. He can’t understand the way we live, the way schools teach, the way boys play basketball (all taller than him by a 6” ruler), the way cars honk on the streets, and many such mundane facts which will not make a ‘reasonable’ person bat even an eyelid.

You are his dumping ground for all the complaints about everything around. You train yourself every day more and more to bear the verbal storm.

These days, you are always scared. Your hands tremble if you find him calling at the odd hours. You have not yet forgotten the 3am drama before his physics exam. Getting shaken at the dead of a night with a familiar touch and seeing his silhouette through sleepy eyelashes, your throat is parched apprehensive of what’s coming.

“Sorry Baba, I was not fair to you. I should not have shouted,”

Only an apology is muttered. He doesn’t wait for any acknowledgement. He turns back quickly and locks himself in his own room, again, for the nth time.

You have grown used to such drama, now. Still, you feel a lump in your throat.

As he leaves taking the light from his cellphone with him. You don’t mind shedding copious, soundless tears, concealed in the pitch darkness.