Open 2020, Short Stories - Vidya Ransam


Twirling Boy

By Vidya Ransam 


“Ma..., the technician is here,” I was excited. Why a kid would be so happy to open the door for a technician, you might wonder. Well, now that a guest is here, I get a break from the homework and studying. My extreme happiness had put a smirk on the technician’s face.


“Come on in, bhaiya,” ma invited the guy into the apartment. She didn’t smile. I hopped on one leg and followed them to the living room.


“This is the TV,” she pointed at the TV as if the guy can’t recognize the TV by just looking at it. Ma embarrasses me. Urh!


“You need to move it to that bedroom. Then fix the set-top-box as well. Next, connect those to Alexa. I want to be able to control the TV and the channels by using Alexa and set Alexa in the living room.”


Wait? She pointed to my bedroom, right? She wants to keep the TV in my bedroom! Aww. She loves me so much, isn’t she the best? Now, I twirl to celebrate! I stretched my left hand upwards, opened my palm like I was waiting for it to be held tight. My right hand was holding my imaginary dress wide open, and I twirled. I twirled, twirled, and twirled like a perfect girl.


A slap! It hurt! The pain was real. Did ma just slap me? It didn’t hurt like pa’s slap, but still. I looked at the technician. Oh God, his eyes said how awkward this was. I wanted to cry, but dad had said once that boys don’t cry, and my eyes never listened.


“Stop this nonsense and help him move the TV and stuff,” ma ordered.


I wiped my tears with my shirt and walked up to the guy. He disconnected all wires and handed me the set-top-box. I held it close to my chest and pretended like I was okay. He removed the TV from the wall and kept it on the sofa.


“You can keep that box on the sofa,” he said. I ignored him.


“Can you at least go get a piece of cloth to dust the back of the TV? It’s so dusty.” He didn’t order but asked. I liked him.


I kept the set-top-box on the sofa as he had asked and looked at him with a smile. “I will get the cloth,” I said.


I hopped to the kitchen on one leg. I love to hop in front of people. The amused look of the people is what I loved the most. I am no good at studying or singing or dancing. But I can hop better than all the girls I know, and I twirl like Cinderella, once ma told me.


Ma was mixing some sugar in the water. She was going to make a rasna drink. I wondered if she would make nimbu flavor. I was at the door hopping on my leg, and she was not even looking at me.


“Ma…, we need a cloth to dust the back of the TV,” I said. “It seems so dusty.”


“Take that small towel from the fridge handle,” she said without looking at me. I didn’t reply but hopped towards the fridge.


“Vihaan,” she finally called my name, “Stop hopping, just walk.” She looked at me. “Please.”


Oh, I remembered that look. A few days ago, pa beat me with a belt while I was twirling. I fell on the floor. My leg hurt so bad that I couldn’t get up. Ma held me up and asked me to go to my room. I couldn’t walk, so I hopped on the other leg. Then ma told me the same, “Vihaan, stop hopping, just walk. Please.” and she had the same look on her face. Pa kept on yelling at her while I limped to the room.


I don’t understand why pa is so angry. I am so good at twirling. Whenever he was around, I twirled like no one was watching. So he could see how good I was and be happy. He was happy at first, but now he has changed. He used to twirl ma. It was amazing to watch. He will walk slowly, stretching his hands towards ma. She will hold it and then he will raise her hand, and slowly twirl her. Oh, she twirls so slowly.


Then once, pa tried to twirl like ma and fell on the floor. I fell too, but I practiced every day since then. My friends Rahul and Manshu are class toppers, but none of them can twirl like me. Their parents are friends with pa, so I twirled for them at the party and they all appreciated me. I thought they would tell pa that I am great at twirling. I thought pa would be proud, but he beat me instead. I haven’t seen him after that day.


The guy had removed the holders from the wall. The holes on the wall look bad for a living room. I should do something creative to fix it. Or maybe put some photos on the wall.

“Here,...” I said while stretching out the cloth to the guy.


He took the cloth and put it on the TV and gave me those two holders.


“Come with me,” he said while walking to my bedroom. I followed him.


He is a little taller than pa and lean. He has a belt that has so many tools attached to it, mainly screws and screwdrivers. That’s so cool. When I grow up, maybe I should become a technician so I could have all these tools. He even has a marker pen kept on his ear. That’s so fascinating because I thought ears are for just listening. Stupid me! I took one of the holders and kept it on my ear. Oops, it fell, not as straight as a marker pen.


“Don’t break it,” he said.


“I am sorry.”


“What’s your name?”




“Oh yes, Vihaan. I heard your mother calling the name.”


I stayed silent. Did he have to remind me now about that embarrassing slap?


“Did it hurt?”


“No,” like he cares for my pain.


“Hmm, I have a nephew named Vihaan.”


“Can he twirl like me?” I don’t think so!


“Haha… No! No other Vihaan can twirl like you, I guess,” he said.


I smiled. That made me happy. At least he can see how good I am at twirling, not like pa.


“Other than twirling, what else do you like to do?”


“Hopping. I can hop nonstop for hours. When we play in school, I win all the time!”


“Aaha, that’s amazing,” he said with enthusiasm. “So, other than twirling, hopping, and all these girly-stuff, what else are you good at?”


“Girly-stuff? But I am not a girl. I am a boy.”


“Vihaan,” ma screamed my name and startled me. The holders fell from my hands.


“Go dust the TV and the set-top-box. Go now.” I ran to the living room.


I heard her asking the guy how long he would need to fix the TV on the wall. He said he needed ten more minutes. She came to the living room and I was so scared to even look at her. I tried to ignore her presence behind me and dusted the TV with care, like Cinderella.


“Dust it faster and drink this rasna.” I peeked at the rasna glass she kept on the table, it’s nimbu flavor. It’s my favorite!


I dusted with more enthusiasm and I drank the whole glass of rasna in one go. It tasted amazing.


“Now, go finish your homework. Pa will be here soon.”


Why is pa so angry? Maybe I should ask ma but I am scared. Ma is not angry, but her mood is bad. I don’t understand, I just wish I could twirl and fix everything. Ma once said twirling makes her happy, would she twirl with me? Should I try now? Maybe not.


“Ma’am, it’s all done. Can you try using Alexa once?” the guy said.


Ma walked closer to Alexa and said: “Alexa, turn on channel 110?” The Alexa speaker blinked the blue light and said something and then turned on the cartoon network channel.


“Alexa stop,” said ma.


Alexa blinked the blue light and turned it off.


“Everything looks good bhaiya. Thanks, I will get the money now,” ma said and went to her room to get her purse.


I watched the guy packing all his tools in his bag. Every tool has a proper place in his bag. He has an organized bag, I like him already. I am not going to say anything though, I am scared that ma might scream at me again. So, no more talking to strangers. She gave him money and thanked him one more time.


“Thank you, ma’am and bye Vihaan,” he said. I didn’t even look at him. I should have waved him a bye. He might think I was so rude, but I was not, I was just scared.


Ma ignored me and walked to the kitchen. I followed her slowly. I didn’t know what to say or do. I leaned onto the fully opened kitchen door.






“Are you mad at me?”


“No… Have you done your homework?”




“Now, go watch something on TV.”


“There are two holes on the wall. Can I decorate it?”


Ma looked at me. A blank look.


“We can put some photos. If you can make one more hole, then we can put three photos like a triangle. It will be nice to look at.”


“No dear. Let it be like that for today. Will think of this later.”


“Okay, ma.”


“Vihaan, come over here,” she said while showing her hand to me. I ran to her and hugged. She hugged me back and then kneeled in front of me and said: “I am sorry dear. Did it hurt?”


“No ma… it didn’t,” I said and showed the cheek she slapped. “See, it doesn’t hurt at all.”


“Hmm… How about your leg?”


“Oh, that hurts a little. But I can walk without limping, so it will be fine, you don’t worry.” I kissed her cheek.


The calling bell rang and we both knew it’s pa. I felt something different in her eyes. Is she scared or angry? I have never noticed this fear in her eyes before. Is it not pa at the door? Who can make her feared? The bell rang a second time and she ran to the door to open it. It’s pa, he looks different though. His shirt is half-tucked, he was leaning onto the casing of the door. Ma was trying to help him walk, but he pushed her away. Is he sick? What is going on?


“There is our twirling boy. The twirling BOYYYYY…” he said.


He walked towards me. He has something in him that’s scary. I wanted to run to ma but couldn’t move. My legs felt numb and I couldn't breathe. Ma came in the middle and asked me to go to my room. I ran with all my energy.


“Alexa, turn on channel 89,” Ma said while I was running. Alexa said something, and as I opened the door, the TV was playing some Hindi songs channel. I closed the door behind me and leaned onto it. I could hear my heartbeats. I couldn’t rest, so I took deep breaths while counting.








Some men and women are dancing like crazy on TV to a Hindi song. I don’t understand this language. The song is so loud but it has got a nice rhythm. I like the way they move, I can dance just like them if I try. Ma is a dancer, maybe she could teach me.


Ma…? What is happening out there? I am scared to open the door. Should I peek?


I walked towards the door. I am too scared to open the door. Keyhole? Can I see anything through that small hole? Let me try. Oh, I can see some part of the living room. Where’s ma? Did they go to their bedroom? I tried different angles and there, I can see ma. She is lying on the floor. I could see pa’s legs. He is kicking her on her belly. He kneels down and now I can’t see ma. He is moving his hands, but I can’t see clearly. He got up and left. Where did he go? I leaned onto the door. Where did he go? All of a sudden, the TV turned off.


I am scared now. Is he going to come here? Is he going to beat me too? My leg still hurts, I lied that it didn’t. Is he going to beat me again?


“Vihaan,” Ma cried. I couldn’t breathe or walk. I stood numb.


“Vihaan,...” Ma called again. She sounded like she was in so much pain. I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I opened the door and my eyes knew where to spot her. She was sitting on the floor. I ran to her and hugged.


“Go lock the main door. Go hurry.” I ran and locked the door. I secured the one at the bottom, just in case. I couldn’t reach the top lock, so I left it as it is.


Ma has marks on her face. Her eyes are red and her cheek has marks. Her lips have blood at the corner. Her neck has marks.


“Ma, I am scared. I love you.”


“I love you too and don’t be scared. You have me.” Ma hugged me.


“Where’s pa?”


“Well, pa had to leave.”


“Leave? Why? Where did he go? What happened?”


“Honey, he will be fine. You have me, mm?”


“Okay. Ma, I am still scared.”


“How about you wait for a second and I have a surprise for you, mm?”


She got up and slowly limped to her room. Her room door was already open and the shelf was also open. Some clothes were lying on the floor, I didn’t know what to do, so I watched her. She took out a kurti and walked to the bathroom. She smiled at me while closing the bathroom door. I slowly looked around the living room. I looked at the floor, pa hadn’t broken anything. No blood on the floor either. He left just like that.


“Alexa, play my favorite collection,” said ma. She is wearing her favorite kurti. It’s called an umbrella cut kurti, best for twirling. She gave me her shawl. Her soft pashmina shawl! I stretched my hands wide open with her shawl on the shoulders, ready to twirl. Alexa played a random song. I didn’t hear and I didn't twirl either. I just watched her. She has a smile on her face and she is twirling so slowly.


She looked at me and smiled.


And we twirled.



Vidya Ransam from India is an emerging author.


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