When you’re in a good mood, you try and make others share that mood with you. Ask someone who knows a bipolar individual and they’d nod like a turbocharged bobble-head doll. Ranjit was never diagnosed with that disorder, but he was in high spirits when he walked into his flat. The first seeds of spring were blossoming in his head. But in his hall, a colossal tornado raged silently. On another day, it would have rendered his baby-face expressionless, but today Ranjit decided to tame the storm.
Vipin was sitting with Praval, a paper in his hand. He first looked at the paper with squinting eyes before shaking his head. Every time Ranjit blinked, the cycle would repeat. Praval greeted him with a lift of his eyebrows. Vipin, seemingly engrossed in whatever the paper said, noticed his brother’s action and glared at him in a manner Ranjit had never seen before. The way Praval’s face became bereft of colour told Ranjit that the paper in Vipin’s hand was Praval’s exam scores. It also told him the results were poor.
“Since when do you manage to barely scrape through a semester?”
Praval looked at Ranjit before turning towards his elder brother.
“It’s not that bad. I did pass, didn’t I?”
For the second time in as many minutes, Ranjit saw ravenous anger cloud Vipin’s face.
“That kind of sentence was reserved for me in our family. You have always had a good academic record, and it’s the one thing that can take you anywhere good in life!”
“What do you care? About my scores, I mean, not my future.”
“You aren’t doing drugs or anything, are you?”
The way Vipin pushed his head forward and lowered his voice made Ranjit laugh. A quick glance from his flatmate was enough to stifle it. He heard Praval sigh and pick his backpack.
“I’m not into something like that. But seeing that you’re so keen on knowing, here’s why I haven’t had as much time to study recently.”
Vipin was handed a new set of papers which made him frown and grunt instantly. Watching him look at them from different angles piqued Ranjit’s interest. He walked over and leaned over his flatmate’s shoulder.
“Praval, these are really good sketches!”
“Paintings, you doofus,” said Praval holding his face.
“Paintings, yes! I love the colour scheme and small but visible brush strokes! Why, this is Impressionistic style, if I’m not wrong?” Praval was stunned to hear Ranjit use the word, and his body conveyed that with another lift of eyebrows and a pair of bulging eyes. “My sister once told me about it. I wonder why I retained that knowledge.”
“The only impression he can do is of a man with no talent!” said Vipin with another grunt. Ranjit borrowed Praval’s countenance, while Praval turned into guppy fish at feeding time.
“What’s gotten into you today? Why are you so mean to your brother? I mean, what if your parents took this attitude to your career as a football goalkeeper?”
“What’s gotten into you today? Why are you siding with my brother, especially when he’s always trying to woo your sister?” barked Vipin, turning towards Ranjit.
“Ananya is an adult. She can look after herself. Besides, I don’t want you to crush his dream, like I once had mine.”
Both brothers forgot their own tussle and looked up at Ranjit with curiosity.
“I never knew you had a dream.”
“It was a silly thing, actually,” said Ranjit, trying to discourage Vipin’s prying. His flatmate didn’t say anything, but he looked at Ranjit with sad puppy eyes. Ranjit sighed.
“I wanted to be a gangster.”
Once again, Vipin’s glare killed someone’s laughter. This time it was Praval’s. The two sets of eyes were quick to return to Ranjit with even more interest.
“It was a stupid dream.”
“No dream is stupid,” said Praval, urging Ranjit to go on. “What changed your mind?”
Nervousness highlighted Ranjit’s baby-face. Even Vipin was finding it difficult to muffle his bubbling laughter.
“I grew up in a small village. Farming was the main occupation, and many carried guns. Ruffians were granted elite status, for they were regarded as no-nonsense men who knew how to get things done. I wanted to get things done. I just failed to realize you don’t break this career decision to your parents. My father knocked the living daylights out of me.”
Ranjit wanted to make others share his merry mood. But he had only been able to swap it.
Sadness spreads its wings to engulf everyone, while happiness requires some work. This is me working to that end. Won’t you do the same? 🙂