Be a man, Ritesh

by Renu Thappa

“Ritesh! Stop crying. Be a man.”

All his life, Ritesh was taught to be a man by his father. His father was an army officer who also used to train the new recruits at camp. For him, having strength and suppressing emotions was being a man. He followed the same mantra in his life, taught recruiters the same and expected his son, Ritesh to do the same.

Ritesh although was a sharp kid, he lacked physical strength. He often used to fall down while walking and Ritesh’s father never picked him up. In his mind, he was ‘training’ Ritesh to be strong and independent. Ritesh was so scared of his father that whenever he went back to his battalion, Ritesh used to dance happily as he could do whatever he wanted in his father’s absence.

Years passed and Ritesh grew up to be an adult but his fear was more than ever. Now, Ritesh could make his own decisions but it always clashed with his father’s decisions. Apart from the usual altercations, sometimes things would take terrible turns leading to tussles between the father son duo.

Ritesh, tired of the usual dramas and his father’s ego, ran away from home but it didn’t make things any better. Instead, he soon realised that the world was filled with people like his father. They all were filthy and spoke too much. Ritesh’s neighbour, his landlord, the annoying kid on the street, and the outside world. They all had annoying, useless things to discuss about and shared a common thing. Their gaze! The gaze of mockery just like his father’s. This was the triggering point for Ritesh.

He locked himself up in the container he rented and cried. He scratched his hands, legs, body in anger and pulled some of his hairs out. He screamed in aggression, tore his clothes, and fell on the ground. Ritesh layed on the floor for a while, reflecting on his actions until there was a knock on the door.

It was the annoying kid from the street who always pranked Ritesh by knocking on his door and running away. This time, he did the same. Ritesh stood up, opened the door silently and waited for the kid to knock again. Just when the kid came running, Ritesh smashed a brick on his head. The kid fell down. Ritesh covered his mouth and tied his hands with his clothes and dragged him inside the container.

He then quickly turned on the stove, put a container and filled it halfway through with water. Just when the water started to simmer, Ritesh threw the kid’s body inside. Just like his father used to throw chickens alive, inside the boiling water when he was a kid.
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From afar, he could see the tiny bubbles of water on the surface and the kid’s legs popping out for help. The kid kept resisting and splashing the water with his legs but after a while, it all ended.

Ritesh went back to see what he did but it was too late now. The kid’s body was now floating on the surface.

He took a deep breath, laughed and spoke, “Be a man, kid. Be a man. Stop crying and die like a man!”

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