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“Don’t come to the living room when we have guests. DON’T. And never talk to any guests. Do you understand?”

He stared at his left toe, then the right toe. He dared not look up. He knew not his fault. The command was not unusual, and used to be repeated and re-established whenever the family had guests. Shen, the eight-year-old, loved to meet, greet, and talk. And this was a constant source of embarrassment to other family members. Along with the nourishing diet, education, and vitamins, he also got regular doses of ‘scolding’ . Any ‘Act of commission’ or ‘omission’ would eventually get him into trouble. The scolding was, at times, followed by a thrashing! Initially, he cried. But crying resulted in more scolding and the title ‘CRY BABY’.

A voracious reader, he recalled that in one of the western series books, the First Nations mother put her hands on her crying child’s mouth till he stopped whimpering. ‘No crying, even in great pain.’ He followed the wisdom that the child had received. From then, he shed no tears in public. Oh, that did not mean he didn’t cry. Only no tears, no show of emotions. Slowly, he learnt to hide his feelings. Like a true Western Hero! And Charlie Chaplin! He loved the rain; for while walking in the pouring rain, his out-pour of tears went unnoticed.

No Tears, No Emotions. Only the Blank Face.

During the courtship days, he thawed a little. He let Saanvi enter his heart. Together, they shared a vision. He wrote, and she responded to his passionate letters and poems.

“Come, step into my garden. I would like my roses to see you!” And she stepped into his life. Forever! People around them sighed. The ugly ogre got the princess!

Saanvi and Shen thrived, prospered, had children. They doted on their children–a boy (Gyan) and a girl (Anju). Scolding and Thrashing were taboos. Shen opened up a little more and expressed his genuine feelings. Everything was going great.

The children in their pre-teens responded well to the nourishing environment. Birthday parties, sleepovers, game nights, the works! Shen, a doting father, loved to join the children in their celebrations and enjoyed the childhood that he almost never had.

Much to the embarrassment of his children. A high-level meeting without the figurative head of the house resulted in no solution. Shen loved his newfound childhood.

“Dad, may I ask you a favour?”

“Anything for you. Just ask. If it’s within my powers, it’s yours.”

“Jarrod has a new PS3 console, and he is bringing it to our place to hook up to our new TV. He also has the latest games.”

“That’s great! I will also join you and maybe if all of us like the console, we shall buy it!”

Pin drop silence!

“But dad, that’s not what I want. When my friends come, do you mind staying in your bedroom, and not stepping out? Please, please…”

Shen looked at Saanvi, who pretended not to notice anything unusual.

It was time for the Western Hero to ride into the sunset.

He stared at his left toe, then the right toe. He dared not look up.

No Tears, No Emotions. Only the Blank Face.


October 21, 2021

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