He was sitting in front of a house. It was a slum, dirty houses lined in a room. Inside a voice called out. What are you doing, dreaming as usual? And you have not gone to school today. He thought of the school, that lousy decrepit building with that nosy old man as a teacher. Half the time he could not understand what he was saying, as he always mumbled. Forget him he thought. He did not reply.
He looked wistfully at the blue skies and the sun shone brightly enlivening his spirits. For once he thought of going out and playing in the village field near the pond. But he knew that the voice would call again. He started dreaming. He thought of the day when he could go to the city and see a movie, or better still eat in a restaurant, or still better get a job and settle there.
He had two younger brothers and one younger sister. But could he leave them, could he? The voice emerged once again. It was his mother calling. Come inside and do some work. As usual you have not gone to school. He played truant because he hated the school. Its dilapidated building, its rusty doors and its creaking blackboard. There was a television somewhere inside but he hardly could get to see it. They were told that lessons would be telecast but he hardly remembered viewing them, he longed to see at least one of them.
But the old hag, the headmaster, the teacher all rolled into one hardly gave them that opportunity. He just frowned at them and wrote something on the blackboard. Sometimes he wrote a sentence and asked them to pronounce which is the noun, the verb and the adjective. He did not understand them nor did he understand the cantankerous old man who did not like him, and who would berate him at the slightest opportunity. Moreover, his habit of looking below his spectacles irritated him to no end.
Today he had decided to take a holiday. His father was out in the paddy fields. His siblings had gone to the school. But who could he play with? His friends were all missing, perhaps they too had gone to school.
Again the voice shouted, come in and have some food, have your milk, you have not eaten since morning. Fasting he replied, fasting.
He was 13 to 14 years old, fairly tall for his age and slim. He had ruffled hair which kept on being what it was because he did not like to comb it properly. He hated the comb, he hated the mirror and he hated going to school. Especially, that old hag who hardly taught and did not know he was saying. One thing he liked although, was the play ground. Sometimes he lingered on there till late after school. He would like to go and sit by the shed, near the play field and after a few games of football or seven stones, he would simply love to sit by the shed and dream. Dream, not of going to college, but going to the city for a job.
He was awakened from his reverie. A shaft of people were running past towards his house and crossing it. Some were running towards the opposite direction. Someone said that someone has been shot. Someone said that the police van had arrived. Reluctantly he left the place and went inside.
You are so late the mother shouted. You can now have your lunch. He had a long nap that afternoon. In the evening he heard from his father that the old hag in the school, the headmaster and teacher was shot dead. By whom? he asked. By terrorists, his father replied.
He mother started crying. He was 14 years old, and this was the first time that he heard the word. His friends told him the next day, it is surprising that you haven't heard of this word before.
He started dreaming.