Updated: 5 days ago
Two orphaned siblings who mostly relive their happy memories from their sad past are bound to serve an unkind foreign Lord to repay their debt. When their lives seem hopeless, they meet a stranger with whom they change their life course.
“Brown Worms” by Harsha Modukuri is a tale of three individuals willing to pay their lives as a price in the pursuit of liberating themselves.
His unruly hair hiding half his face, his hands and legs trying hard to teeter through the mud, Vinay tried not to fall off as the bag on his shoulders weighed too much for his frail body. He was excited though. He’d been selected as a winner in four of the competitions, and he’d get prizes for them on the coming annual day. So, the rain hadn’t completely dampened his emotions and he expected an easy walk home from school. As much as he wanted to return home along with his friends, they had cycles and he had to always walk.
All throughout his journey, there’s only one thing that’d been running in his mind for an hour and that was how to ask his parents to come for the school’s annual day celebrations. They never attended any event on their own and even when requested, they always had an excuse ready. Even then, this year was special for him and he wanted his parents there. So, he decided to ask them politely and even explain the events and everything if needed.
Excited, he pushed open the gate and scanned the windows of the hall. There’s no one in it. So Dad wasn’t home. He walked in and set aside his bag and called his mother. There was no response. All right. She’s sleeping and is sick again. He felt sorry for his mother. He never knew why but he suspected there’s more to the story his parents told him about their love and the eventual marriage. This isn’t love. This can’t be.
He never saw any affection between his parents. His father loved him, sure, and his mother loved her son the way every mother would do, but was there ever a tinge of love between them? He’d no idea and there’s always one or more secrets lurking in those quarrels and shouts. They never ate dinners together, they never went out to see movies. They never did anything as a family. Vinay thought many times to ask his mother about this, but he couldn’t come up with the proper words and the embarrassment of hurting her caused dread in his stomach.
But again, there was no way he could have put it without hurting either of his parents. He’s fourteen and just beginning to understand and see things in a different way. Life wasn’t too reductive and binary enough like before.
Dad wasn’t home.
“Oh it was one of those days of too much work at the office” is what he used to think earlier. Now he certainly knew that Dad wasn’t home because he hated being here and there was definitely somewhere else he’d be peaceful and comfortable. A place where he met his old friends or probably, a place where he’d never have to see the faces of his wife and son.
His thoughts came to a halt as he heard a whimper from the bedroom. Realising he must attend to his mother, Vinay walked into the room to find her awake and smiling at him.
“I’m sorry about not making anything for you today Vinu.”
“I’m not feeling hungry maa.”
“Why don’t you go out and get yourself something?”
“I don’t want to go maa... it’s raining.”
“Oh... is he home yet?”
Vinay just nodded saying no and his mother’s face couldn’t help but reveal her sorrow.
This short story is available in paperback & ebook.