By Alisha Souza
He slammed the door shut and threw himself on his bed, raging with hurt anger. Yes, he was angry but it was an anger dominated by pain. Who were they to tell him what he should and shouldn't do? How could they determine his life?
Seventeen year old Steven sat, pondering these things in agony. His curly-haired head fell in dejection upon his knees as he tried to keep the tears from falling. Downstairs, he could hear the ruckus his announcement had caused. His mother, hysterical, yet trying to calm down her livid husband. Steve felt her agony and cringed - either way, she was losing one person she loved dearly. Steven had always been a good child. He would never have hurt his mom unnecessarily but this was something he had to do. Something that would determine the course of his life. Did he really not have a say in such a monumental decision about his own life? In which world did that make sense? Enough was enough! He gritted his teeth and decided that he was going to go through with it. He had merely meant it as a threat, when he told them about it, but now, feeling stifled by life decisions that he had no say over, he decided it was the only way.
Gruffly wiping his tears on his sleeve, he got up and like a zombie, went about packing a few clothes and essentials in his bag. Slowly, he opened the bedroom door and hesitatingly stepped out. The noise downstairs had turned into a fragile silence - one that could be broken by a thoughtless word or a heartless gesture. He knew he was going to be the perpetrator of that crime. Looking one last time at the room he'd known for the last 15 years, he snatched his gaze away and walked down stairs.
He found them sitting in the kitchen amidst a reigning silence.. Without looking at either of them, he said, "I'm leaving. I can't live here knowing that my entire life is going to be decided by you. I want to dance. Maybe it's a bad decision but I need to realise that! You can't decide that for me, mom. It's not fair!" The silence continued to cloud the air. With that, he turned and headed toward the door. Looking at them one last time, he said quietly, “I don't know when I'll be back."
As he walked out of the only home he'd known, he heard his mom start to wail, "Henry, he's our son, you can't let him leave! Let him come back!" Henry's heart softened at the sound of his wife's heartbroken voice. He had always been a good husband. With his short cropped hair and ageing face, it had been his decent and kind personality that had attracted his wife to him in the forty-fifth year of his life. But, being a prisoner of the mental setup passed down from his parents, he could not and would not, let a son of his make a career as a dancer. As his wife's tears pierced his heart, he said to her, "Honey, there's nothing we can do. You know I'd do anything to keep you happy ... and I do want to keep you happy but ...," he stopped, helpless, at a loss for words.
His wife raised her tear-stained face and said, trying to pierce the stereotypical mentality, a product of their culture, "Why do we have to decide what our kids should be? Does he really have to be an engineer just because you are? Henry, if you want to keep this family together then just let him dance!" Saying this, she sank into a chair and buried her head in her hands, waiting and praying for her husband to make the right choice. She soon heard her husband's footsteps leave the house, calling out in vain to the boy who had already made his choice.
Alisa Souza is a new voice and aspiring writer. She is a student at Goa University reading English Literature.