We set off in the silence of the early morning. The atmosphere was tense and forbidding as we got into the car. I grumbled to myself as my brother started whining for the umpteenth time. It was time for him to start a new journey in life called boarding school. My father was a man of ideals and according to him, boarding school helped one to be self dependent and nurture one’s talents. I had been at a boarding school for two years and had found it to be a different and enjoyable experience. However, my sentimental younger brother, was unwilling to leave our mother and go to a boarding school. That explained the stony silence in the car.
I sighed in exasperation as he sniffled yet again. I knew that my father was exercising all his self control to prevent himself from giving my younger brother a piece of his mind. My mother was comforting him while I dubiously stared out of the window. I knew that there was no point in all the melodrama he was creating because my father was not going to relent for anything in this world. He was a strict military man and one could bank on the fact that he stuck to his word.
I couldn’t bear the incumbent atmosphere of the sorrow of separation in the car. I requested my father to stop near a beautiful lake. I got out of the car and ran towards it as fast as I could. The cold, clear air that whipped across my face helped to soothe my fraught nerves. However, in my sudden bid for freedom, I had opened the door of the car a tad too fast. I saw my younger brother’s football bouncing towards the lake. It fell into the lake and bounced up and down on the waters. I was aghast when I heard a mournful howl. My brother had an unhealthy obsession for footballs. The one that was currently “drowning” – as he put it, was by far his favourite. I cursed silently as his howls increased. My father realised that he would refuse to enter the school premises without the football. With a huff of annoyance, he walked towards the lake with a stick that he had picked up nearby.
He stood at the bank and inched the stick slowly towards the ball, but it always seemed tantalisingly out of reach. Finally, he gave in to temptation and throwing caution to the winds, leaned out a bit too far. I watched everything as if it were in slow motion. I was mesmerised by the scene. One moment my father was outside the lake and the next, he had fallen headlong into it. I gasped when he emerged. He was covered with mud and slime. What looked like weeds were falling from his hair and rivulets of water ran down from every nook and cranny of his previously neat and perfectly pressed suit.
I was astounded to hear a peal of laughter. I realised that it was my brother’s voice. I gazed at him, dumbfounded. I only understood his mirth when I looked back at my father. His muddy state was enough to bring tears of laughter to my eyes. I snickered quietly and tried to give my brother a warning look to indicate that the joke had gone far enough. He was so lost in his infectious peals of laughter that he paid me no heed. After my father cleaned up, we got into the car and started towards our destination.
Every now and then, my brother would give out a few giggles looking at him. I thought that having seen his oh-so-strict father behaving like a school boy and falling into the lake must have proved to be a very hilarious sight for him. Needless to say, he headed off to boarding school quite cheerfully. He gave my father a sudden bear hug before entering the school premises. He and my father had displayed affection after a very long time. Usually, my brother was too timid to approach my father in the carefree, friendly way that he did now. Remember that proverb -every cloud has a silver lining? I think my father also saw the silver lining this time. Even though he had weeds in his hair and mud on his face, he looked far happier than I had ever seen him before.