Samara returned from her shift weary to her bones. She switched on the light. Evaan was lying on the sofa whimpering softly. There were angry welts all over his shin.

“Pa hit me with cane again.” He told her.

Fuming, she went to the kitchen to see Shivam downing a peg. He looked at her with agony filled eyes. “You think I like hitting my only son? He was cross-dressing again. Saying this is how he likes to dress…” Shivaam’s voice broke…

Samara sighed deeply. This was not the way.. “Hitting has not helped us in the past.”

“Do you realise what they call people like him Samara? He has to change. Our society has no place for those kinds…..” Shivam was worried.

She remembered the conversation at psychiatrist’s office…

At seven years of age; it is early to determine if Evaan is a cross-dresser or going through a phase. We advise monthly therapy sessions for all three of you as he grows. Medication is not an option …This is not a disease.”

Desperate, Shivam had resorted to cane to make him understand. But then, the bed wetting and stammers started.

“Am I crazy ma? Am I possessed, like granny says? I like wearing frocks and using your lip gloss. I feel beautiful in those. Pants are drab…”

 

******

 

It all started one year back…..

…..”He stole Mishti’s scarf in class today. He is our little Krishna.” His behaviour was initially labelled as mischief.

“…..Evaan…Thats Mumma’s make-up. It is not meant for boys…..” the reprimand had started….

And the final straw…

Dear Parent,
It has been noticed that Evaan Sehgal carries lipstick and hair clips in his school bag. The class teacher wants to meet you to discuss the issue.

That report unleashed a storm in her house. Overnight, Evan’s favourite clothes- pinks and mauves and the polka dots-were thrown away.

Evan’s tantrums and pleas did not soften his family. Shivam burnt his favourite pink teddy with a cigarette lighter; as the shocked seven year old looked on.

“Nothing pink or girly for you anymore. Your condition needs to be cured. I wont have a fag in my house at any cost.” Shivam had never looked so livid.

That night, Evaan snuggled close to Samara. “What is wrong with me mumma? Did I behave badly? Why did the Paul laugh at me for wearing a hair band? Why did Pa burn off Teddy? Am I sick Ma? Or am I different? I feel beautiful when I wear your scarves..Why am I like this?

Samara had a lump in her throat. “You are a boy Evan. Boys don’t play with pink teddies or wear mum’s make up or colour their rooms pink.”

“Why does Lord Krishna wear a headband and jewellery then? No one makes fun of him.Why am I different? What is this “Normal” ma? I like frocks…but Granpa says I cannot wear those…why do boys have to cut their hair short? Is behaving like other boys that important? Why Ma?”

“Should I drink and smoke like Pa?…Will I be a proper man then? Will Granpa and Granma and Pa love me like they did before?”

Samara looked down at her son. She had no answer….

 

***

A week later

“There is this Sadhu Maharaj who gives an herbal medicine. He may cure our problem. He is a great bhakt of Lord Vishnu.” Her father-in-law and Shivaam were discussing.

“I won’t let Evaan near any quack…..” Samara was firm.

“I agree with Samara. No sadhus and no herbs…”

“What harm will it cause, Samara? Its herbal.” Her in laws glanced furtively at each other.

 

*****

 

“Shivam, Evaan is having fits.” A terrified Samara shouted. Shivam rushed to Evaan’s room.One look at Evaan and he dialed for ambulance.

 

******

 

Evaan was in ICU. When both were at work, grandpa had fed Evaan the herbal medicine. Six hours later, Evaan started convulsing. Their insistence to “normalise” Evaan had almost killed him.

Samara finally lost it…

“Is your honour more important than my child’s life? Or are you happy to be rid of a defective piece in your family tree? I won’t have Evaan mistreated again. I will live separately if required!!”

“Will he live?” Shivam asked the doctor..He was wracked with guilt.

“We have done all we can.” The doctor remarked.

“I have to pray.” Shivaam walked towards the exit.

They both left in search of a temple.

“God,Please forgive me.I fasted for a healthy child. But when I had him, I hit him,mistreated him…Give me a second chance, even if I don’t deserve it…”

Samara joined him. “We will do good by him. We will stand by him. We will try to understand him. Keep him alive…..Just keep him healthy.

Clap clap…Samara heard a familiar sound and chiming of bangles. A tall eunuch in green bangles and yellow sari was gazing at them at the temple gate. Shivam rushed to him and emptied his wallet in his hands.

“They say your blessing can overturn the tide of luck. Please bless our son. Bring him back to us.”

The eunuch raised his hand over Shivam’s head and blessed, “May you son live and have a hale and hearty life.”

Samara and Shivam gazed at each other at the irony of the situation.

Shivam’s mobile buzzed. It was his father.

“Evan is out of danger. Doctor has allowed us to visit.”

They both collapsed on the floor of the temple, hugging each other and crying.

 

******

 

Evaan opened his eyes. Shivam bent forward to kiss his son.

“We are sorry for disappointing you Son. We tried to mould you to something you are not and almost lost you.We don’t understand you at this stage, but we will try.. We will attend those family shrink sessions together…and no more hitting, I promise…”

Evan blinked. He smiled at both parents. Three of them hugged. After all, they were a family.

***

This is an entry for UniK-4, a 1000-word writing event at ArtoonsInn.

Check the event guidelines here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/pride-unik-5-writing-event-artoonsinn/
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