Photo by Alex on Unsplash

Requiem

Antony Terence
Aug 12, 2019 · 5 min read

“Eight cylinders. 355 horsepower. 0 to 60 in 6 seconds, don’t hit the brakes now, come on!”

“Tony, didn’t your mom tell you about the speed limits in the city?”

A tall woman with short-cropped raven hair, one could tell that Ms. Saldanha D’Souza meant business. Fortunately, her bangs didn’t obscure her eyes, she probably did cross those speed limits as the pearl-white BMW X5 weaved through jam-packed lanes in the morning traffic with absolute ease.

As she parallel-parked her SUV effortlessly between an ebony Cadillac Escalade and a grey Nissan Sunny, Tony could hardly contain his excitement. A mere test-drive was more than enough for adrenaline to course through his veins.

“That was amazing! How did you afford… ”

“I know the right people,” she winked as she opened the door. The scrawny 7-year old struggled and finally managed to get out of the vehicle, the ground clearance didn’t make things any easier.

“Thank you, ma’am.”

“You’re welcome, Tony. Now run along, I’ve got some work that I have to attend to. Fred must be in the Physics lab with your mother.”

St. Joseph’s Cathedral stood ahead of him. The cruciform building wasn’t imposing or graceful as one would expect, yet it stirred in Tony a warm feeling of peace and tranquillity, as though he were at the hearth of a home from an era lost in time. The fact that it had a mosque next to it named, wait for it, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, never ceased to amaze him.

As he entered the complex, he pondered over what he could do that day. He had been meaning to explore the dusty library further, having found timeless classics and even a few video game discs in unmarked cases that adorned the seemingly endless shelves.

Since his mom worked at the convent school, he spent his summer there as he was “too young to take care of himself.” He wasn’t chilling at home like all of his classmates, but this beat going to school any day of the week, by a long shot. He could finally have his lunch without fear of being robbed of it, read novels without fear of his pencils being stolen too and play without fear of people telling him to stay inside so that he wouldn’t become darker than he already was.

But during the summer, only the teachers’ kids were around and they were truly birds of a different feather. Shruti’s board games and drawing challenges always provided a welcome respite from the heat. Joshua and Josiah were two brothers who could always be counted on for a quick Pokemon match or a round of cricket and heck, Leroy managed to sneak a PlayStation 2 in there. In a school where playing cards were confiscated on sight, chaos had become the new order.

Fortunately, he met the two brothers and his own in the corridor that led to the lab. They had a wooden bat and a tennis ball with them, which could only mean one thing.

“The Gameboys are out of charge, I suppose we’ll have to settle for actual cricket,” said Fred with an impish grin. “Father Barnabas could join us too, like last time.”

For someone who “refrains from indulging in any form of pleasure and devoted himself completely to God”, Father Barnabas was quite the heavy-hitter as a batsman. For what is pleasure but doing what people tell you not to do? Little did he know that it would take years before his petite frame of reference would expand to accommodate that concept.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t at his office. “Four of us, elder ones versus the young ones, let’s go!” declared Josiah as he took up a position a few metres away from the pillar that served as their wicket.

“That’s settled then,” Tony sighed as he stood at the crease. Joshua stood alongside his brother, eager to start. Just as he prepared himself for the first ball, a shadow silently strode towards Josiah and snatched the tennis ball from his hands.

“Hand over the bat and no one gets hurt.”

Leo D’Souza stepped towards Tony, who uneasily, but bravely held on to his bat. Leo had an advantage that only time could grant Tony; his age. A lean, mean machine, his bristly hair could have popped a balloon and his chiseled face had an expression that betrayed his egoistic disposition. He towered over Tony and his companions, his sleeveless sports tee made it seem as though his arms were built for action. Alas, Tony didn’t have two years on his hands, all he had was two seconds as Leo closed the distance between them.

“Just give it to him, it’s just a bat,” a part of Tony advised him.

“But it’s mine.”

Realizing that his dominance was being questioned by a silly brat, Leo raised him off the ground in a one-arm headlock as a cruel trophy of terror and began to furiously rub his head with his knuckles. Dazed, Tony could only watch in silence as Fred ran towards him. The insufferable 6-year old, always ready to take a bullet for him.

The oppressor silently raised his foot. Fred couldn’t switch direction quickly enough. As Leo’s shoe found its mark, the bat hit the ground with a resounding thud.


St. Joseph’s Cathedral stood ahead of him. The cruciform building wasn’t imposing or graceful as one would expect, yet it stirred in Tony a warm feeling of peace and tranquillity, as though he were at the hearth of a home from an era lost in time. The fact that it had a mosque next to it named, wait for it, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, never ceased to amaze him.

As he entered the complex, he pondered over what he could do that evening. Tony hadn’t seen the place in years. As he walked towards the cathedral, he spotted a familiar face in the sea of people and waved to her.

“My my, what a surprise! How are you doing Tony? How are Shirley and Fred doing?”

Time hadn’t been too harsh on her. Besides a few odd wrinkles, Ms. Saldanha D’Souza hadn’t changed at all.

“Everything’s going fine ma’am. How’s Leo doing?” Tony enquired, with equal parts curiosity and reminiscence.

The warmth drained from her face and was replaced by a deathlike pallor.

“He… Blood cancer.”

Any animosity that he had towards him vaporised on the spot. A shiver went down his spine and dread took his voice away, it was as though an impossible weight had been put on his shoulders. A lone tear escaped his right eye.

“I… ”

Abruptly, a pair of hands hugged him from behind.

The sight that greeted Tony knocked the air out of his lungs and turned his world upside down. His chubby visage, curly hair and warm eyes that looked up to him felt like they didn’t belong there, but there they were. It was Leo D’Souza in the flesh, but not quite.

“Hey, what’s up? Long time.”

The Junction

The Junction is a digital crossroads devoted to stories, culture, and ideas. Our interests are legion.

Antony Terence

Written by

A witty wordsmith adept at myth.

The Junction

The Junction is a digital crossroads devoted to stories, culture, and ideas. Our interests are legion.

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