Sushma was excited. It was years since she walked into a toy shop. She blinked away the tears that threatened to overflow her eyes. ‘It’s not a time to cry,’ she admonished herself. ‘It’s a time to celebrate.’
She walked into the store and looked around lost. The colourful array of teddy bears, caps, cars, dolls and drums overwhelmed her. A young man of around 25 years of age walked towards her. He sized her up in a few seconds and jumped into assumptions. “Birthday gift, eh? What age? Boy or girl?” He asked.
“No,” she said. “It’s for my son.”
“He wants a ball. A red ball.”
The man bent down and disappeared behind the counter. He rummaged through some shelves.
“This one?” He asked her and showed a small, red, rubber ball clasped in his palm.
“No. This is small and hard. He might get hurt. I want a big air-filled one. Soft. Bright red.”
The man brought out a ladder and climbed on it. He searched in the loft behind the rows of gigantic stuffed animals and brought out a big beach ball. It was red in colour. Sushma squealed in joy and clapped her hand.
She took the ball and walked away rapidly, towards the hospital. For the last six years, her son, Hemant, had been in a coma. “It is a head injury, Sushma madam,” doctors had said. “His chances of waking up are less but be strong. God is Great.” When she had given up all hopes that he would ever recover his consciousness, he woke up bright and fresh this morning. The first thing he had demanded was a red ball.
Sushma walked into the hospital ward with the big red ball. With curious eyes narrowed on her, she jiggled the ball in front of Hemant. He squealed with joy and clapped his hand. He hugged the ball to his chest. Each time he threw the ball into the air and caught it, he gave a small cry of joy. Sushma ignored all the eyes boring into her. ‘What do they know?’ She thought. ‘It might seem funny to see a thirty-year-old man play with a beach ball but, for her, it was the happiest moment. He was alive and moving, not laid up in bed lifeless. Yes, he is behaving like an eight-year-old—So, what?’