The Boy on the Hill
“The Boy on the Hill” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Mahi Dasgupta, Kennedy High The Global School, India.
The Boy on the Hill
Though the Sun was still a semi-circle between the hills in the East, a small beam of sunlight found its way through the crack in the door, allowed itself to rest on Parsh’s table and reflected on the mirror. Exactly on this day, two years ago, Parsh had moved to this state. If he knew something, it was that war was destructive. Who knew, what fate was his father suffering, away at the war? He longed to be free as the blowing winds and the green grass rising up and down, due to it. He longed to return to the old, dusty school building and meet Vikram. But, those days were gone, probably forever. He knew somewhere a bright light of hope did exist, in the darkness of despair. But, his mind readily accepted that this light could not be accessed by him. His world was situated far, far away, in the midst of darkness.
Often he heard bullets firing off and the disturbing sounds of guns and the last cries of the soldiers. He wanted to rush downwards. Down the hill, but something stopped him. No it was not fear, but it was the uncertainty of being able to meet his father.
He just could not go, he had never seen the world outside. He slowly crept out of the bed, threw away the blankets and walked towards the bath. He was in no hurry, like any other day, but unlike any other day his memories took control of his mind. He smiled to himself, he knew that he was smiling at himself, or probably at his silliness. He lived not only to himself. He had realized he was not alone, but the birds and the chattering monkeys and the squirrel family on the Banyan tree and probably the Banyan tree itself stood by his side. Yes, indeed they were his companions and all of them were sailing on the same boat, but to an unknown island called life. Neither of them knew a happy life but they longed to know. The temperature lingered around -5 ºC for the past couple of weeks. Yes, indeed it was cold on the mountains.
His mind tends to race down through his memory lane. He remembered the days, when he was not alone. It was the days, when Vikram had broken the glass pane of his neighbor. The time was perfect for some hot chocolate between him and his father. He just could not forget the old disputed cricket match between him and his friends, or his aunt’s visits and how she was freaked to see a cockroach roaming merrily in the kitchen. One of those days in which he discovered Mr. Singh’s secret of baldness and how he had given him a chocolate to keep it only to himself. His mind chanted only the tunes of those days. He knew one thing- those were the best days of his life. Suddenly he heard a knock at the door.
It took a little time to identify the person. The same, old smile, the black hair, the symbol of courage in the brown eyes and the rough palm of the hand. “Father” Parsh cried out. The war was over. That day Vikram’s house was knocked. It was Parsh. Vikram surely noticed the missing smile on Parsh’s face.” What happened? Be happy! The war’s over” said Vikram, but in vain. Then slowly he stepped back and asked, “Something happened to your father?” This time he didn’t fail to get a reply “No! Something happened to my heart” said Parsh, confidently. “I…..am…going…....to…America….um….forever” said Parsh. His voice trembled. “My father has been posted to America”, he said.
The packing was all ready. Parsh was going. He looked through the window sadly, at the Banyan tree and its inhabitants. A bird sat on the lower branch of the tree, quite familiar with Parsh. It nodded its head from one side to another, as if questioning “What’s the matter?” Parsh simply sighed and moved slowly with a bag over his shoulder. He looked at the hut, and its roof, made of straws and hay. He sighed again. He would probably never, ever see it again.
The white car was ready. So was Parsh. He had the key chain, which Vikram had given him. He kept it tightly clutched to security in his firm palm. He had promised Vikram that he would return, some or the other day, but he doubted if he could fulfill it. The engine started and the car soon disappeared into the distance. If it was something that it left behind for Vikram, it was the friendship of Parsh and the black smoke.
Twenty years passed and finally Parsh was returning. As he walked through the village, he realized, it had turned into a city. The village, which was so familiar to Parsh, now seemed as though a guide would have to accompany him, but he has climbed the hills. He realized everything might have changed, but the hill was as perfect as ever. So was his hut and the Banyan tree. As he returned to this room in the hut, he looked through the window. The Banyan tree was perfectly standing at its same place as before. Some birds greeted him with quick chirping. He smiled at them. He opened his hand to make sure that Vikram’s key chain was with him. He had been successful in fulfilling his promise, and now was going to walk over to Vikram for proving it. He could see his house, down the hill at an edge. When the old, familiar cold air touched his cheeks, he could easily guess that the temperature was around -5 ºC. Indeed, it was cold on the mountains.