Twice or thrice a week, late in the night when I am usually tapping away at the keyboard, I hear a knock on my door. I instantly know who it is, for he never rings the bells but knocks. He is a friend -- a man who runs a grocery store on the next street. (I've mentioned him in one of my previous posts). He would have had a long day, and after closing the shop, he would expect to unwind at my place by taking the lid off his mind. The subjects we discuss range from religion to sex, and often before we start talking, I pour myself a drink. Alcohol can transform small talk into a conversation.
Two nights ago I heard the knock. I was already drinking and in the middle of writing. I was determined to wind up the piece before diverting my attention to him but the story he began to tell made me push the laptop away and start typing on the keyboard inside the head.
There is boy, about 14 or 15, who comes to his shop very often, to buy bread, eggs and stuff like that. The father of the boy also shows up once in a while. "A young, good-looking man, just like Arvind Swamy" -- that's how my friend describes the father. That morning, the father came to the shop to get a pre-paid mobile connection. He filled out the application form and when my friend, the shopkeeper, saw his date of birth, he could barely believe his eyes: 28 December 1974. Unable to hide his surprise, he asked the man: "That boy who comes here, isn't he your son?"
"Yes, he is."
"How old is he?"
"And you are 1974-born?"
The man told my friend a story. The story would have been very common but for the age of the characters involved. A 16-year-old boy falls in love with a classmate. One day, when no one else is around, lust gets the better of them, rather him, and they end up doing what they shouldn't have. Soon after their parents discover their affair and seek to separate them. But they elope. Many years later -- many years after the child is born -- the couple's parents come around. Today, they all are living happily ever since.
How happy is that happily, I do not know. When the son is 20, the father would be 36. They might have to answer uncomfortable questions. But then, answer to who? The society? The society is prone to asking uncomfortable questions anyway. It loves to finger you and pokes it nose into your life. Still, I -- in my present age -- would not like to be seen as the father of a son or a daughter who is 15. It sounds so odd. I mean it is not just done.
But if it is not done, then why does Nature bestow reproductive abilities to a human being at the age of 13 or 14? And Nature does not do anything without reason. Well, women did become mothers at that age till only a few decades ago. And men, in the olden days, usually became fathers even before they were 20. That way, our "Arvind Swamy" can hold his head high, even though the society might think of him as a creature to be kept in the zoo.
On second thoughts, the zoo might be a better place to live in for people like him and his family. The zoo, after all, showcases Nature's creation. Whereas the society creates rules for Nature's creations and makes this world appear like a circus. We are all part of the Great Circus, aren't we? We, like the monkeys and the bears in the circus, always dance to somebody else's tunes and rarely follow the instincts Nature endows us with.