Friday, July 06, 2007

Child's Play

"This should do it. Another couple of cupfuls of sand and this would be complete." He had marked the boundaries of his castle with shells he had come across his strolls on the beach. The castle itself had been made by his little hands, decorated with all the things he had loved. Everyday he had brought along one of his favourite things and given it a place in the castle. He himself imagined moving into his 'home' very soon. Not that he did not realise it was very small for him. But still, when he slept at night, he could see himself living in that home, with all his favourite things around him. All his toys, his books, his playthings. He was building a home for himself in the sand. Life would be so wonderful in that house. Such were his thoughts!

He lifted up his eyes and saw that the sun was setting, its golden rays bouncing off the silent waves of the ocean and tickling his vision. "Time to go home." His mom's voice rang in his head. He pulled out the big cardboard box which read in all the English he could scribble. "Varun's hause. Pleze do not distrub" and covered the castle with it. Inside his mother had made cookies. Munching the fresh and hot confectionery, he switched on the television and watched Popeye beat up Bluto. His father came back from office soon, and then he spent the evening chatting to him about the new factory that he was setting up. Not that he understood a lot, or at all, of what his father used to say, but he liked talking to him that way. After all, he was grown up. Very soon he will be 10 years into the world. He was definitely a grown up now.

The next evening, he lifted the box to resume the castle work. It was just a few days away from completion. Today, he was going to put in his most cherished toy in the castle. He opened his bag and pulled out his little red ferrari. He placed it at the entrance gate. To him, it never seemed illogical as to what a ferrari would be doing in front of a castle. But all the same, it was his house, and this was his car.

That day before leaving, he saw the skies turning red. It occurred to him to raise the fence. He had ample shells with him. It would have taken him only half an hour to scatter them all around the castle, safeguarding it from the waves. It could get stormy in some days, he had thought. Deciding to do the reinforcement the next day, he ran back to his mother, who was waiting for him with snacks.

That night, the storm hit the sea. Giant waves made their way to the house. He saw from his window how badly it was raining. The winds blew away the cardboard cover. The castle was all at the mercy of the wind and the water. He wanted to run out to the courtyard and protect his "home". His mother had forbidden him to do that, fearing he would catch a cold. He had shouted out to his father to cover the castle as he drove in after work, but he couldn't listen to the boy's voice above the thunderclaps.

He saw from the window as the "fence" crumbled. "I should have raised the fence," he thought. The castle's top was blown off the next. And then to his horror, a large wave approached the castle, menacingly as though it was determined to crush out all his dreams tonight. He ran downstairs, pleading to his mother to let him out in the courtyard. She didn't know why he was so desperate and crying. His father took him inside to the television and switched on the cartoons. They didn't interest him anymore. All he could think of right now, was the castle. A giant splash at their doorstep made him rush frantically to the window.

The castle was gone.

So were the books, the GI joes, his ferrari. Everything.

His mother called out to his father to take care of the porch. He heard him talking, "Its nothing, it'll soon be over. Don't worry. It was in the weather report today. Just a minor tropical disturbance, it'll be over by the morning."

He was sent to sleep. He couldn't sleep. He couldn't believe it was gone. He went to his mother. Climbed alongside her in the bed. She could see the tears going down his cheeks.
"What happened beta?"
"Mamma, the house is gone. MY house is gone."
"Don't worry beta, it was really very bad weather. It could not have survived."
"No mamma, I should have raised the fence"
"It was only a castle made of sand. Raising the fence would not have helped. It had that fate."
"No mamma, it was my house!" She just couldn't understand!
"Arrey beta, it was only a week that you have been building it. Tomorrow, we'll start again, OK? Now sleep."
Only a week? It was 7 days of his work. Full seven days! The mother could not understand the difference of the duration which she had perceived and what it meant to her little boy.
We'll build it again? But what will I put inside the new one? My GI Joes, my ferrari all went away with this one. What will we put in the new one, mamma?

He knew he could not make her understand all this. He sulked back into his room.

The next morning, he woke up and rushed out. The place was flat. No signs of the castle, or its inhabitants. No ferrari, none of the books, no toys. He suddenly felt a rage. At himself, for not raising the fence, at the weather for being so ugly, at his mother, for talking as if it was just another sand castle. He just felt very angry.

When you are 10, and very angry, you cry. He ran towards the ocean, screaming that he had taken away his house, tears running down his cheeks, his hands trembling with anger, his feet working up a sprint and then tiring themselves on the sand. He kept shouting and cursing the ocean. His mother looked at his father. "Child's play," they nodded to each other in affirmation.

The ocean just moved to and fro, smiling at the little kid.


  1. Makes a gud read...
    I am not a critic, but you write well :)

  2. Hey. Finally read it. Nice story.

  3. If we all raise the fences, we will all be on facebook trying to make friends out there, as everyone around us will be hiding behind them... oh gosh what am i saying...SO thats whats wrong with the world?! Loved your story.