Flash in the Pantry: Blue-pencilled by Naga Vydyanathan

The shrill ring of the phone broke the busy silence of Arya’s workplace. It was from Ayan’s school, the principal wanted Arya to come over for a chit chat over Ayan’s recent abnormal behaviour. Arya gave a sigh, directed, not at her son, but at the school authorities – patience, tolerance and acceptance seemed to be in the want these days.

As Arya drove to the school, her thoughts meandered to her own childhood. She was a timid boy on the outside, always the butt of jokes for her feminine air. As a child, she loved dressing up, playing with dolls, dancing, and would burst into tears at the drop of a hat – all of these stereotypical feminine traits. Those were confusing, in fact, traumatic years, her mind was in perpetual turmoil between what it wanted and what was accepted.

She remembered how her parents had loved dressing her up as a girl in her toddler years – she had saved every picture from those memorable times. Looking through them, even now, brought a smile to her lips. It was a brutal shock to her, when, as she grew older, suddenly the “dressing up” or dancing was no longer viewed as cute. Being just a child of six, Arya couldn’t fathom the sudden shift in attitude. Her mom, who used to encourage her to prance around in borrowed frocks, now, showed disgust when she enjoyed playing with girls and dolls.  School was another hell where she was constantly ridiculed for being a sissy. “Act like a boy” were the constant words that fell on her ears. She was crushed the day she overheard her parents lying to their family friends about her, trying to portray her as a normal boy, albeit a bit timid. Arya couldn’t decide which was more cruel – not understanding or not willing to understand. She felt as if precious parts of her life were blue-pencilled by the world around her.

Then, at college, she met Arnav. It was a huge relief to meet someone who was similar to her, one who could understand her psyche. Life didn’t seem so bad after all. They decided to be a couple. After one last futile attempt at being accepted by her parents, Arya and Arnav started their life together in the US. What a cruel irony when the people and land that you view as your own do not accept you for who you are! 

As Arya drove into the school premises, bracing herself for the meet with the school principal, she promised herself that she would not try to mould her son’s life with a blue pencil. The sky was a pristine blue, reflecting the resolute calm running in Arya’s mind.

(First published by Flash Fiction North).

Naga Vydyanathan, a computer scientist by profession, is an aspiring writer. Being passionate about language and reading, it has always been a secret desire for Naga to be a writer one day. A thoughtful and deep thinker, Naga writes flash fiction, focusing on the minds and thoughts of her characters. Her debut flash fiction has appeared in Twist and Twain.

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