Short Story: The Dreaming ‘Moon’: Shashank – SHLOKK

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Short Story

It was a bright sunny Saturday afternoon. A popular park ‘Shilparamam’, situated in the middle of high-rise buildings of IT companies in the city of Hyderabad, India was full of people. There were energies all around: the hustle & bustle of cars honking outside, the joy on the faces of kids playing, the calmness on the faces of old taking a walk, the romance in the hearts of the couples roaming around. There were faces, stories, thoughts, emotions, hopes, expectations lingering all around the park. It was a time to rejoice & relax. It was a time to come out of the busy monotonous life for some time.

The day was cheerful not just for the visitors but for the small shopkeepers as well. It was the day to earn. It was the day to ensure that for the rest of the week, their families would get to eat a full three times meal.

On one side a voice came out of a burqa: ‘Mehndi Lagwaalo’(Please get Henna done on your hands), a voice from another corner of the street shouted: ‘Kashmir se laaya huun shawls, bss 200 rupee mein lelo’(I have bought Shawls from Kashmir, selling here just for Rs 200).’ Stylish Earrings’, ‘Men’s Perfume’, ‘Good luck Charms’ were floating all around.

In the middle of all this, a man was sitting. A tall, dark Shashank was probably in his mid-20s. A brown cap, black shoes, red t-shirt, black jacket, torn jeans accompanied with a thick beard. His look and dressing style was in cognizance of the latest street trends. He believed he looked closer to some Telugu superstar. But somehow all this was not going in sync with the work that he was involved in.

Four paintings, all of the beautiful women: big eyes, thick hairs, perfect lips, were kept next to him for sale. He was busy finishing the 5th one as quickly as possible so that he can put that one as well for sale. A baby next to him, probably his son, was sleeping. There was a calmness on Shashank’s face that the baby was still not awake.

While colouring his painting with bright red, Shashank remembered his childhood days when he dreamt of opening his painting library someday in a posh locality of the city. He dreamt of the days when his ultimate goal of life was to become the next MF Hussain, to travel the world in a plane with his mother & take her to the Eiffel Tower.
Bhaiya ye painting kitne ki hai?’ (How much does this painting cost?) someone broke his daydreaming. ‘Sir 500 rupees’ he replied. ‘Kya? Isse acchi painting 50 ki mil jaaegi’ (What? You can get a better painting at just Rs 50), the man walked away.
It was usual for Shashank to hear this regularly now. He had seen a lot in his life. His furrowing forehead, the marks on his face, the burden of the family, the premature maturity on an immature face, the weight of responsibilities had taught him a lot. ‘Shashank’ in Hindi means ‘Moon’ but his existence was one among many people struggling to get a meal.
Thoughts were running in his mind: how much money will I be able to make today? How long will I be able to feed my baby, wife and other family members with this much little earnings? Is that’s what the rest of life is going to be all about? Will I be able to give rent to my master from the day’s earnings who have rented me this place? Will I ever be able to sit in an aeroplane?
There was a worry, but calmness. There was a desire but patience. There was anxiety, but the brightness on his face. He was determined…. he will be able to make it through this day….

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