Shiva was cycling very hard to reach his school. He was late again to his first period and it was his Tamil teacher who would not listen to his reasons anymore. He was very fast and did not even realize that he had forgotten his homework notebook that day. He reached the school on time but as he expected he had to stay out of the class not because of his usual late reporting but because of his negligence in completion of home work. He felt that Life was hard on him, only him. The days had become very tougher as the exams approached. He was not a boy given to lethargic way of life. In fact he got up early in the morning, around 5 daily, and started his day’s work. He was an extraordinary boy with lot of responsibilities. It was a tough life for a boy of twelve to go about his work and school duties with perfect balance. Shiva was the only son of a vegetable vendor and he had grown up seeing his father do his daily chores. His father was sincere and his hard work was widely appreciated by everyone in the locality. The boy wanted to ease the burden of his father and so he started his work as a paper-boy and later distributing milk packets. He learnt his work quite easily and later in the evening he also helped his father in the shop along with his mother. After distributing papers to few streets in the locality he would rush to his school. But many days he was late to his classes and was even punished by some teachers. The boy had not disclosed in the school about his other side of his life though few of his friends knew it. Shiva knew very well that the revelation would only fetch him a nick name in his school. His life went on monotonously as ever. But Shiva had no regrets. He felt that it was his bound duty to help his aging father. He had not been extremely good at studies but an average performer. His only aim was to score well in order to get a fairly good job.
That day had been one of his unforgettable days in his life. Not that it brought about a colorful change to him but it was rather a day which would change his life forever. He went to school and was in the class in the third period. The school peon came asking for Shiva in a tensed manner. It was something awful he could think only that. Shiva had no inkling of what was awaiting him. He was asked to rush home without any other information. He started panicking and left in a hurry that he left his bicycle in the school and went running towards his home. His heart was racing with his steps. What would have happened? His parents were fine. Was there any theft in the shop? Even then they had nothing much to lose. He was running fast but his thoughts ran faster than his legs. As he neared the home, there were few people thronging the house. Something terrible had happened. As he went into his small thatched hut, he heard his mother wailing over his father’s ‘body’. Truth struck him like a thunderbolt. His father had passed away ‘without any difficulty’, that is what people said. When someone died all of a sudden without any ailment or difficulty, they had peacefully departed. They had been so good and blessed to have died that way. But death is death whatever the way was and it meant disaster for his mother and him. His mother was inconsolable. She had not seen his father sick even once. He was hale and healthy as far as she knew. Shiva broke down looking at his hapless mother. A boy of twelve what could he do. How would he live? Could he make it to school again? He had always aimed at a decent livelihood if not a luxurious one. He wanted to earn a fair sum and take care of his parents, but what would happen to his dreams? He could go to a government school but that meant his mother working full time which was going to be hard on her health. Many questions and the loss of his dear father forever were too much for him. They had none to wait for to conduct the funeral and so the same evening all the rites were performed. Shiva’s school friends had brought back his cycle home. He saw it and he also heard his headmaster and teachers say something to him. But nothing registered in his mind. He was too disturbed by the sudden turn of events in their lives. The people around felt sorry for the mother and son but dispersed slowly. His mother was another poor sight to see. She was too weak to speak. Both were squatting on the floor endlessly weeping. They did not know what their future was going to be. Shiva was glancing out constantly at his bicycle. The next morning the neighborhood neither missed their papers nor their milk packets. Life moved on.