Runaway Kid | Sachin Sharma

 


Runaway Kid

Sachin Sharma

The Heineken Memorial Award


 

Sam entered the joggers’ park and perched on the first bench he found. Dried up tears had left salty trails on his cheeks. It was his birthday. He was turning 6, but no one at home seemed to remember. With a broken heart and a small bag, he had run away forever. It had been only 15 minutes but it felt like a decade.

“Someone might come looking any moment now,” he hoped, biting nails with his milk teeth.

Sam was split.

One part of him wondered if any one would even realise that he was missing. No one loved him anymore. His baby sister had stolen all the love that used to come his way. And he was now a big boy, expected to grow up faster than he could imagine. His mom wouldn’t give him treats like she used to and dad would not carry him on his shoulders anymore.

And the other part of Sam was concerned about his parents.

“They be going through a lot right now?” He thought.

Honestly, he wanted to be found out without much difficulty. He had chosen this park for convenience. 250 meters away from home — practically the worst place to hide.

“They must be blaming my little sister for this, but they should know that it’s not her fault,” he imagined.

He looked at his Spiderman watch and whispered “Time to eat”.

He opened his bag and emptied it on the bench— a teddy bear, a soft ball, a piggy bank, a framed family photo of 4. Finally the packet of cookies showed up. He opened the pack and as he was about to eat, he felt a furry touch on his knees. Sam was startled. A pooch was standing and staring in anticipation.

Sam smiled and flung the cookie at him. The puppy jumped and caught it mid air. In no time he was ready for another. He tossed one more and he caught this one more gracefully. Sam caressed the top of his brows. Now there were only 3 cookies left. The uncertainty crept in and he knew he could not continue feeding the puppy anymore. He ate one himself. The dog’s eyes closely observed his movements as he took the cookie out and kept it in his own mouth.

With slight disappointment and a lot of hope, the pooch started to wag his tail. Sam felt guilty but was still hungry. So he broke the next cookie in two and fed one half to the puppy. Sam wanted to finish his half, but the pup’s gaze made it seem like a crime. So Sam planned an escapade.

He took the soft ball, bounced it on the ground twice and pretended to throw it. The pup shot himself flying in the direction of the throw. Sam picked up his stuff and ran to the farthest corner of the park. The trick had worked.

He found another bench and lied down and started thinking about his day.

“They must’ve forgotten that it’s my birthday. They just keep forgetting stuff.“

Suddenly he felt a weird smell and touch of a wet nose near his elbow. He jumped up from the bench to look. The pup had managed to find a ball for him.

Sam was smitten by this and thought, “Has he lost his family too?” They both kept looking at each other like long lorn lovers. Sam felt tingling in the corner of his eyes. He hugged the puppy. Sam was not worried anymore. He had found a companion and could spend his life in this park. Sam noticed there was no collar on the pup, but a soft ribbon tied around his neck.

*

“So, you think he liked his birthday present?” his dad asked his mom observing Sam from the far end of the park.

***