The First Step
“The First Step” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Tanmay Jain, St. Xavier Sr. Sec. School, India.
The First Step
After the dreadful partition of India marking the end of the tyrannical British Rule, the people of India accepted the regional diversity, some grudgingly and some happily, and all that came with it. Even after the half-century that has passed since the partition, there are a lot of violent and inhuman instances of discrimination based on religion, mostly against the followers of Islam. While some of these discrimination found itself in the media and under inspection from the citizens of this country, others were hidden under the fabric of society, yet had a very devastating effect of Muslims.
In the City of Jaipur, inside the walls of the pink city, through the maze of streets half-blocked by parked vehicles and bikers trying to get through, here is a small road. This road is where I live. Ours is probably the smallest colony in the city, only consisting of eight houses. Houses bigger than you’d ever see outside the Pink City’s Wall of Plenty. Our road, after agreement from all doesn’t allow any vehicle to enter, keeping it purely empty and open for the play of the kids, gossips of the ladies and the debates of the men. I should not brag but it was a typical yet the best neighbourhood in the colony.
I was eleven when it happened. Chowdary Uncle, famous for the sweets he used to generously bring for all the kids from his travels, moved out. Why, I don’t know. The house stayed empty for a while. Uncle had given the key to my father until the new tenants arrived so for like a month or so, the empty house became the new ' adds ' for me and my friends. Unlike his regular nature, father was quite happy letting us play in the house. He didn’t even warn us to be careful. Maybe it was because of the feud him and Uncle had had before he gave him the key.
The new tenants came in the night. They were very shady and I hardly saw them come out. The kid in the family didn’t go to school, so he stayed inside mostly and even when he did come out, he completely ignored any advances from me and the other kids. The Aunty in the house wore an unusual black dress, covering her entire face. She never talked nor did we ever saw out on her own. The uncle too looked unusual, he had a long beard and wore a very small cap. After I tried to make friends with the kid, a boy of somewhat my own age, unsuccessfully, my parents warned me very carefully to stay away from the new tenants. I never knew what was it that freaked them out but I realised that something had to be done.
Once, after seeing a movie ( only partly, I fell asleep ), me and my parents bought some samosas, the best Indian snack ever. We took some extra for my friends so my parents went back home while me and my friends enjoyed the treat with me lying about the plot of the movie. As we were talking, the matter of the new kid came in and immediately my eyes went to his house. Coincidentally, he was there too looking at us sadly through the window. This is the right moment, I thought. I tried to call him, “ Want a samosa ? It’s hot and dripping oil”. I wanted to talk to him, to understand the situation.
He vanished from the window and didn’t come. After a fortnight or so, my friend got samosas. Once again, our gang came. Only this time, I didn’t call him. He came on his own. As he slowly crept towards us behind me, my friends starting babbling and pointing in my direction. I looked behind so suddenly, the already afraid boy took a step back.
“ It’s okay “, I told him. If he had come this far, he must have saw something in us. But most probably it was the samosas.
As he came, he didn’t utter a word, he didn’t ask for the samosas, I offered it to him and he took it. At first hesitating, when he took a bite, it was hard to stop him.
“ First time , huh ?”, I asked him. How it possible to stay in India and not eat samosa, I don’t know.
He nodded, not caring to stop eating his favourite treat from now on. After the snacks were finished, we started talking. The kid became my friend. He wasn’t the afraid boy staring us through the window. No, he was our friend. We talked and talked until our parents took us away. Even after then, we began meeting up, a lot. He started playing with us, told us stories and much more interesting stuff. Soon, he was a favourite.
May be ...... May be all it takes is a little step. The right step. The first step.