Page was caught lying in the garden one fine morning. Now, Page was not a waste paper or a paper torn from some book. He was a 14 year old boy named Michael Page. And when I say he was caught lying in the garden, I don’t mean lying as in ‘he was rolling on the grass’. He was on his phone, talking to someone and apparently, lying about something.
“I really am sick. I have a running nose, fever and moreover I am feeling weak. I really can’t make it….. Yes, thanks for understanding.”
He ended the call and turned to go back inside. Only, he found himself staring at his father who had come out of the house while he was on the call.
“Why were you lying about being sick, Michael? And was it Andrea on the phone?”
“Okay, but why were you lying about being sick?”
“She called to ask me if I could tag along with a few friends to some concert she bought tickets for.”
“Well, that sounds like a good idea. Common, Michael. It is a weekend, go out with your friends and have some fun.”
“Hehe! Dad, you know me. You know how I feel about going out with friends. I can handle it if it is just 4 or 5 of us. But any group bigger than that, it makes me anxious, nervous and irritable. I don’t enjoy such gatherings. It has also something to do with the shit people talk when they get together. Utter non-sense and unimportant shit!”
“Michael! Stop talking like that.”
“But that is how I feel. You know I am introverted. Even if I go out, I would end up being alone and silent, unable to take part in the nonsensical discussions that often come up.”
“You are going to a concert. There won’t be any chance of having prolonged discussion because you know, people go to a concert to listen to music.”
“Ha! And I can’t stand those loud sounds. I don’t enjoy it. I find it peaceful to listen to music on my phone. And frankly, I can’t bear the screeching of metals music even if I am listening to it on my phone. I know better than to expect anything else from the concert Andrea is inviting me to.”
“Sigh! I do understand all of this, Michael. But getting some fresh air in the weekends after your stressful school week is necessary to keep your body and mind relaxed. And people usually hang out with their friends for this.”
“There again. How can you say my mind and body will relax if I go into a crazed crowd who keep shouting like mad people instead of silently listening to the music they have come for. Their noise will add up to the loud music and I would feel doubly mad and sad about going there. I don’t want t, please!”
His father finally caved in. “Fine. I just hope you learn to go out with friends once in a while. I think it is good for you.”, he said with a tone of utter dejection.
Michael groaned. Although he wanted to win the argument, he just couldn’t handle the sight of his father meekly giving up. There was sadness and concern written all over his father’s face. He knew why his parents keep telling him to get along and spend time with some friends. But Michael had his own way of looking at things and interpreting them. He had his own way of understanding the world and dealing with it. And he only hoped, just like his parents, that they would understand why he was being the way he was. He shook off his thoughts and said, “I will go!”
“You don’t have to, if you don’t want to. I just thought it’s a good idea.”
“No. You are right. I’ll go to the concert.”
His father smiled, but he know Michael was only doing it because he felt guilty.
Michael called up Andrea and told her he was coming. Since he accepted that he was going to the concert, he started to feel that maybe it won’t be that bad after all.
But boy was he wrong. The concert experience was one of his most terrible experiences. The band was called Three Golden Shouters. The noise levels were borderline insane, add to that a whole crowd of crazed people who also shouted. So basically it was “Three Golden Shouters and A Crowd of Crazed Shouters”. Michael thanked gods that he got out of the concert alive and only with a terrible headache. He was afraid when the next time his parents try to convince him to do something like this, he didn’t want to feel guilty about arguing and making his point. He thought it was unreasonable to put oneself through an unpleasant experience just because that is what everyone does and that is what is expected of him for him to be labelled normal.