Sunday, June 16, 2013

Short Story - The Essence Of Family- Blog Marathon 5

The Nook was the only place open at this late hour. The diner was situated in a burgeoning residential and business district regarded by real estate experts as one of the “top five up-and-coming” areas in the nation. As I waited in my car I looked through the window at the two men situated at the only occupied booth. A plate of burger and french fries was laid on the table alongside steaming coffee. Neither of the two men noticed the food as they talked nineteen to a dozen.

This was not the case few months back. My family consisting of my husband Marc and my son Reno lived in a 2 BHK apartment in the suburbs. Marc was working as an Assistant Director in an esteemed organization. We were a very close knitted family and loved the time we spent together. Week-ends were meant for barbeques and parks. Yearly family trips were much awaited event for all of us. Due to his hard-working and diligent work Marc was promoted to the Board of Directors. Very soon we moved into a lavish well furnished bungalow in the city. It was built on 3 acres of land and came with its own majestic well pruned lawn. For the first time we even had a butler along with 4 servants for the house-work. The house encompassed of four bedrooms along with a great hall for entertaining, guest and servant rooms. We even had a big swimming pool in the backyard.

I got introduced to the socialite club through a few friendly ladies from the neighborhood. They were a group of high society ladies who spend a significant amount of time entertaining and being entertained at the fashionable events. I was sucked in their glamorous and pristine world.

Reno was starting high school. At his previous place he was good student, an athlete (on the varsity swim and water polo tennis), and a lauded student journalist. On the recommendation of Marc’s other colleagues we enrolled him in one of the affluent schools in the city. Reno did not appreciate the fact that he had to leave his friends behind but Marc convinced him it would be fine and we were there for him.

Marc started putting in long hours at work; he also was travelling a lot. Reno had a hard time fitting in his new school. Most of the boys knew that he had just moved in from the suburbs and gave him a really tough time. He came home dejected to talk to either me or Marc but we both were busy in our own bubbled world of riches. Since Marc was not home most of the times he made it a point to get Reno the best of everything. He always provided the latest iphone, the latest mac, home-theatre system and also gave him lots of cash.

One week-end that Marc was home we decided to use the much neglected pool. Reno was eagerly looking forward for his Dad’s company. As we stepped in Marc’s cell phone rang and he rushed to an immediate board meeting. I was too tired and went to rest in my room. Reno was left alone. Marc’s company soon lost the contract of a major client they were handling. This was a major set back and all Board of Directors had to put in extra hours to get their business in order. Soon Marc took to drinking and started getting irritated and angry at minor things. He usually came home late at night in alcohol induced stupors. On one such night after reaching home he was checking his voicemail which had Reno’s teacher’s message. He notified Marc about Reno’s falling grades and asked him to visit school the next day. Rage filled in his bloodshot eyes and he walked over to Reno’s room, dragged the sleepy boy out of his bed and began thrashing him hard. Reno’s initial shcok turned to resentment and he started crying out loudly. Hearing all this commotion I ran down and could just about manage to stop Marc with the butler’s help and take him to his room.

Next day Marc left early. I too heard of Reno’s falling grades and decided to stay at home to question him. As soon as Reno was back from school I asked him about his school friends but he avoided answering any of my questions. He said he had some work and locked himself up in his room. I made some coffee for the two of us and decided to talk to him in his room. I went up the landing and knocked his room thrice before it was opened. Reno refused the coffee and did not allow me to enter inside. That is when I clearly noticed my son, his eyes were hazy looking, and I could see dark circles under them. I also noticed the fatigue in the lean structure that was enclosed in a loose sweatshirt he had on. Tears flowed down freely as I walked downstairs. That night I waited for Marc to return. I told him I was worried for our son. Marc consoled me stating that the previous nights events were taking a toll on my thoughts. I should just get some rest.

Sleep evaded me as I tossed and turned the whole night. The next day I cancelled all my to-attend functions and visited Reno’s school. I first met his school teacher who said that initially Reno was keen and eager to adapt to the new environment, was attending all his classes but off late he was absent for most and that affected his grades. He asked me to talk to one of Reno’s initial acquaintance by the name of Chuck.

Chuck informed me that Reno and he got together due to their common passion of water-polo. Reno was teased a lot in school as “low-class”. He hurt a lot at this nick-name and wanted to be cool like everyone else. He soon started flaunting all his latest toys in school. This caught the attention of the elite club of boys that invited him to their late night parties of booze. Mike attended a few but Reno was like a spider caught in his own web. He kept falling and falling deeper in the mesh. Soon he started keeping his distance from Chuck and others, started bunking classes and was seen only with the other gang of boys.

My heart ached on hearing all this, did this change in my baby happen under my very own eyes. I returned home and waited for Reno to get back. It was past midnight when Reno returned home. One look at his face and I knew things were totally out of control for us. I started questioning him and immediately he looked at me with contempt, “Where were you when I needed you the most. You and Dad left me by myself and now you want me to answer you. Never! “saying this, he strode towards his room. I was shocked beyond words. When Marc returned later I told him of the events of the day. Marc was in denial to all that I mentioned.

The next day after Reno left I ransacked his room. I found pills (psychedelics, ecstasy, uppers, downers), in addition there were syringe and needles with tiny bottles marked heroin, crack, and crystal meth. My body trembled as I took these up to Marc in our bedroom. We were like zombies. “This can’t be happening to our son – our Reno” he was protected by his intelligence, his education- his family. That is when it hit us hard, we were not available to our son when he needed us the most. Our greed for money and power left our adolescent teenager vulnerable and lonely. The past few months flashed before our eyes. Myself and Marc knew that we were accountable for all the change that had happened in Reno’s life. Without blinking an eye Marc took a decision then and there to quit his job. He was stressed out completely by the work pressures and now for the mammoth burden that it had laid on our family. He wanted to tell of his decision to Reno himself. We waited up together for Reno to return.

Reno was surprised to see both of us waiting for him. We drove to the Nook. Father and son went inside while I sat waiting in the car. Through the window I saw Marc put an arm over his son as they walked to the booth. The sat side by side as they placed their order. I could see Marc mouthing few words and suddenly there was a genuine shock and delightful surprise on Reno’s haggard face.

I parked the car and walked inside. I hugged the two best men in my life . We would get over this, after all we are a close knitted FAMILY.

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