Kids can’t be burdened with the evil that has etched itself to the existence of mankind. They are the early morning breeze that cools the burning heat radiating from leathery skins that have weathered unspeakable storms. Kids should have no worries whatsoever. But he sits quietly in one corner, watching the other kids laugh in abandon, his bruised shoulders slumped in partial defeat. No one can tell why a kid of seven years has the demeanor of a man who witnessed World War I and II and survived cancer. No one can break through the walls he has built around himself. He looks up, and the sullenness etched on the planes of his young face bespeaks of a battle being fought within.

He has just been told, “Your father is a very bad man, he will be in prison for a while and I would make sure he doesn’t bother us anymore even when he gets out.”

The swollen mouth from which the words are uttered couldn’t suppress a triumphant smile. The sparkle in the eyes would have even given away the malicious glee she felt, if her battered face had denied her the pleasure of spreading her lips into a smile. She is his mother and to her, she has succeeded in ‘rescuing’ him.

He wants to scream.

He flashes back.

Last night, while he had slept, dreaming of sweet nothings and everything good, they had yanked him out of bed and pulled him into their misery. His mum had held him on one hand and his dad on the other.

They had yanked hard, simultaneously, while screaming, “I’ll take him! He’s mine!” It had gone on for several minutes. He was sure his arms were going to pull off their sockets in no time.

He remembers the hot tears that had welled up in his eyes, even before his mouth could open wide to let out a screech. A screech of pain. A cry for help. A helpless attempt in returning sanity to the madness dancing in his parents’ eyes.

They had released him immediately, bewilderment filling their glazed eyes and for a moment, and he had felt a surge of hope.

Are they normal now? Have their hearts listened to his?

But why would life be ever fair to anyone?

The blows had resumed, making scrunchy noises as they landed on delicate bones and skull.
The blood curling screams.
The breaking of furniture.
The neighbours frantic bangings on the door.

The police.

Has it always been like this? He doesn’t think so.

There was a time when there was laughter and there was sunshine. When kisses were what caressed his cheeks at night and beautiful music was what filled  up his ears when he woke up. There was a time when he rode on his dad’s shoulders with mum squealing gleefully with an edge of horror, while he cackled with delight. There was a time when marriage was what he experienced.

Till they moved from that big apartment to a smaller one and dad had to put in extra hours. Till mum stopped staying home and began a job that took her away and he scarcely saw her at all. Till having both his parents doth on him was gradually becoming a fairy tale.

Then the fights started. Little at first.
The quarrels.
A slap there.
A blow there.
He had tried at first. Jumped on his dad’s back. Pulled at his mom’s hands. Screamed.
A black eye ended his efforts.

Years later, it was every night. Pure, concentrated battering of human skin, ego and the innocence of a child.

What had gone wrong? Was every family like that?

He doesn’t really care. There is no excuse.

He hates everyone now. His mother, his dad, his neighbours that hide smirks behind concerned faces, school, his friends, teachers, people, the world.

He shrugs and grimaces. The bruises are still there. His mother didn’t even bother to check. He hates her the most. He would rather live in a slum than be with her. He’s sure now. He will never have a family of his own. It’s better to be alone than struggling to live with anyone. There isn’t love in the world, just selfish people desperately seeking their comfort.

People that can teach him otherwise, aren’t fit to even teach themselves.

He drops his head low again.

Another damaged child has been born.



-The Horseman


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