“You are an useless idiot.” Ekambaram’s father said. “Can’t you pass in even one exam?”
“Appa, I am not interested in studying, pa. Please understand.” Ekambaram said.
“Shut up, you stupid guy.” he said and lifted his hand, that’s when the mother stopped him.
“It’s ok, please leave him. I will talk to him, he will pass the next exam.” Ekambaram’s mother promised.
After that, the father cooled down and just went away from that place, as he didn’t want to talk anymore.
“Eka, what happened to you? Why are you saying you are not interested in studies?” his mother said.
“I am interested in painting ma. I am not interested in studies. I want to become a painter ma.”
“Look eka, these things won’t fit us. We are middle class people. We can’t afford to choose career of our own. You need to study well and get into a good job. That’s what will feed our family, look, now you are 15. By the time, you are 21, your appa will retire. You need to handle the responsibility of the family. We have a lot of loans to repay. So you need to go to a job immediately after passing out from college. But, now what are you doing? Struggling in your 10th standard.”
“Amma, I am simply not interested in studies. How much hard I try, nothing gets into my head. Why don’t you understand that?” he said.
“Look eka, I am talking with you with so much patience. Why are you so stubborn? Why don’t you understand the family’s situation. Don’t you feel you need to lessen the burden of appa? What kind of son are you?” she said.
“Amma, please leave this topic. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.” he said.
His mother got upset and left the place, with him pondering. Then he went to his room, and put a blank paper on the canvas and started painting. He painted the whole night. That’s what he usually did. He painted his heart out, whenever he was sad, happy, angry or in pain. Painting provided him solace.
After a few days, it was time for the last revision before the public exams. The school had called the parents to tell them that he won’t be allowed for the exam, as his pass record is pathetic. The school principal was not interested in sending a student to an exam, where they know that he would fail. Besides, the school’s pass percentage would go down. So they felt, he was better off not going for the exam. The parents somehow begged the school principal to allow him to write the exam. After much drama, the school principal finally agreed to send him to the board exam, but on one condition. He should pass the last revision exam.
“You useless idiot. How much insults we have to bear because of you? Why don’t you understand this? How much ever I tell you, it’s not getting into your head. Why?” Ekambaram’s father said, shouting.
“Speak something. Tell me that you will study well and get a pass in the revision exam.” he said, raising his voice.
“Eka, tell da. Please. Promise appa, that you will study well and pass the exam. Say it, Eka, say it. Come on.” Eka’s mother said.
“No. No. No, I won’t pass. I am not interested in studying, how many times should I need to tell you both? I am just not interested in studies. I want to become a painter.” he said, shouting.
“How dare you?” said the father and slapped him, repeatedly. He beat him like crazy.
“This is all due to those stupid paintings of yours. I should have never bought the painting kit for you, in the first place.” he said and headed towards his room.
Both mom and son followed. The father picked up the papers which he had painted.
“No appa. Please don’t do anything.” he said.
But his father didn’t listen and began tearing them up.
“Appa. Appaaaa….” he started crying. “Please don’t.” he said, pleading.
He tore up everything and threw away his painting kit.
“Useless idiot, useless paintings. Now I will see how you paint. If you don’t study and pass the exam, you have to out of the house, you understand? I can’t feed such an irresponsible son.” he said and went off.
“Eka, please leave all this da. It’s your life, why don’t you understand. If you study well, dad will forget everything.” the mother said.
His mother tried to console the crying son, but his father called her and asked her to leave her alone and not console him.
He cried, he cried, he cried for a long time. He didn’t eat anything. Even when his mother came to console him and wanted to feed him, he didn’t agree. So she kept the food in his room and went. He continued crying till midnight. After midnight, he closed the door and picked up a piece of paper that he had hidden in his drawer and also picked up the painting brush and colours. He had another painting kit, which he had hid. After fixing everything, he started painting again.
The next morning, the mother went to wake him up. It was unusual that he had locked the door. Usually, he didn’t. After a long time of banging the door, he didn’t open.
She got frightened and called the father. He came, he tried banging and when there was no response from Eka, he eventually broke the door open.
There, they found him lying in a pool of blood, he had slit his wrists with a knife. They both broke down and hugged the son who was now covered in blood.
After a long time of crying, they saw the painting that he had made.
He had made a portrait of a mother and father waving goodbye to their son, who was flying in the sky. Symbolically meaning that he was going to leave them by committing suicide.
The painting was beautiful and it felt so real. At the right bottom corner, he had signed
“The Useless Painter”
Dear readers, please feel free to comment/critique my stories. It would be of immense help. In case you already don’t know, I am writing this as part of the A to Z short story challenge
Here are the other stories that I have written as part of this challenge :
Please do take your time to read and drop in your comments. Thanks.