Ajit felt it coming! He was unable to cope up. He was feeling irritated and disgruntled. He did not know what to do with himself. Why did he feel like pulling at his hair, or picking up his laptop, and smashing it into a thousand pieces? It had been now eight solid months, he had been locked up in the house, because of the Pandemic, COVID 19. His parents were paranoid about the Virus. They did not allow him to step out of the house, lest the aerosols in the air should travel through the narrow slit in the mask, into his lungs; and he became a victim. Ajit tried to reason out with them that he would be careful; he would keep the required social distancing and keep the mask on. He had to go out and meet his friends for his mental well-being, which was an urgent need. But no, not they! They would not understand! They were mortally afraid of the virus and they could not understand why their son insisted on meeting his friends, as they too did not socialize and did not feel the need to do so. Ajit had not been able to go to school, where he could be himself; joke, laugh, and be with boys of the same age. His school was not allowing children to attend. Being in the company of his parents all the time, was another big problem which he had to face day in and day out. Twenty-four hours, like Security guards, they were watching him, too solicitous for his well-being. They expected him to study eight hours a day, which according to them was absolutely necessary for him to be able to face the competitive world. He could not bear their constant supervision; He felt he was not able to breathe freely; it was stifling and was driving him crazy! Besides the phrase “all for your good” he had heard so often, that it lost its sanctity, and had the effect of whipping him sorely. Whenever he wanted to have some fun and ‘What’s App’ his friends, the parents first gave him a long-drawn lecture, on how he was ruining his future, and then took away the mobile phone from his possession. They had no understanding, that a student needed to study on his own volition. It would be futile to make him swallow knowledge at gun-point. Constantly there was a heated exchange of words, between him and his parents. He felt depression descend on him like foul weather, and he was deluged with self- pity and rebellion. He started getting all sorts of ideas, in his effort to escape from the thralldom. he contemplated ending his life?! Hanging from the ceiling fan would be painful, whereas jumping from the second floor, had its risks! What if he did not die, only his bones got broken. He would be shifted to a hospital, to be bed-ridden for six months.In the end, he decided the best action for him was to break the shackle and to wrench him away from all that he had come to hate. He would simply run for his freedom, and snap the fragile link which bound him to his family. He had to assert himself. He rang up his friends and told them to get some liquor and he would drown his sorrow in alcohol. He had heard people say when one drinks liquor, one is able to forget all worries and sorrow. So off he went for his mental relaxation to the camp of his friends, who were very much concerned about him, as he had confided in them, that he was on the brink of killing himself due to depression. The parents followed him to his friend’s house and ordered him back home. In front of his friends, he felt he had become a laughing stock. As he did not want to create a scene, he meekly obeyed. But within him, there was a fuming, frothing volcano ready to erupt. As soon as he reached home, he exploded. Why was he brought back? He was seventeen years old, in Class XII, surely he had the right to decide for himself his actions! He would drink liquor, take drugs, he would destroy himself, who were his parents to stop him! He shouted, he screamed, he bellowed, he roared! What right did his parents have, to humiliate him in front of his friends, and bring him back!! His head felt that it would explode, and cause devastation worse than the nuclear bomb. He could literally feel his brain-melting in its cavity, because of the heat generated by anger. His eyes fell on the car keys hanging from the fancy hook on the wall. He grabbed hold of it and ran out, pushing unceremoniously two children playing in the corridor. There was an instantaneous ear-splitting cry from them but Ajit could not care less! In a wild frenzy he unlocked the car, slammed the door, and reversed the car, unmindful of who he would hit. At that unfortunate moment, a driver happened to take out his car too from the parking lot. With a tremendous sound, he crashed into the car, which pirouetted with the impact. But Ajit was not bothered. He was in the mood to smash a few more cars. He pressed on the accelerator with all the vehemence he could muster, to give vent to his stifled inner self. There were shouts from all over. The parents had run out screaming, “Stop him! Stop him”! Four five Security Personal ran after him ordering him to stop. When all steps to stop him failed, they shouted to the gatekeeper to bar the exit. Ajit drove the car at break-neck speed up to the gate, then finding it locked; he reversed the car at the same speed, then accelerated, and crashed into the iron- gate. Sparks flew high up into the air with the impact. There was a deafening sound and the iron- gate flew into the air like a child’s toy. The bonnet of the car in close competition rose higher. The onlookers shouted in panic. The bonnet-less, number plate-less, car flew past, not knowing its destination, nor the state of the occupant within.
The parents stood as if lightning had struck them. They fixed their gaze at the disappearing car, as it grew smaller and smaller and went out of sight. Then the mother broke down and started sobbing, whilst the father could only say, “If my car is broken, I can bear it, but it will be hard to bear if I lose my son”.
It was hard to tell whether with the crash, Ajit had injured himself or not. The steering wheel might have trapped him, with no way to extricate him. He might have been bleeding profusely, with no one by his side. Such was the wild thoughts that had been tormenting both his parents. The neighbors and well-wishers had already called the police and given them his phone number as well as his number-plate number so that they would stop him. They all knew that he had been drinking heavily, and as such, it was very risky for him to drive. But his parents knew their child was getting more and more enmeshed in the police net. He was driving without a license, without a number plate. and without a bonnet, after having had liquor. It would entail exorbitant fines as well as perhaps police custody. Their hands and feet became icy cold. How could they endure the mental agony, if their son was put behind bars? They were trembling with panic that had gripped them.
All of a sudden the mobile phone started ringing. With great alacrity, Ajit’s mother held the handset to her ears. “Son where are you?” was her anxious query. ”Mom, I am going to Digha, where there will be no restriction, only boundless sky, and ocean. I cannot be kept within bounds anymore, but I have no money. I am held up because I am not being able to pay the toll tax. Tell Baba to transfer some money.” In his impetuosity, he had not taken his bank cards, his wallet, or his Driving License. He then came to realize that in no way could his parents provide him with funds. Besides what would he do when petrol got depleted?
The crash at the gate had acted like a mental therapy for him. It had shaken him out of his frenzy. Slowly he realized the damage he had caused, the hurt he had inflicted. Remorseful he drove back, ashamed and apologetic. He was confident that his parents would be waiting for him with open arms. Now he did not want the expanse of the universe, but only craved to be enwrapped in the close confines of his parent's arms.