“I just hate it,” Little Johnny screamed, struggling to undo his shoes with hand gloves still on. When neither of it gave in, he flung the half-come-undone shoes in air, pulled at his gloves and yelled all the while before storming off. The clacking and creaking of the wooden floor below traced his frantic steps to his room.
Johnny Sr picked up the shoes, untied the laces and placed them carefully in the rack. The gloves will need some sewing, he reckoned. Yet again. He then proceeded to make fire in the pit and tossed some fresh vegetables in the pan for the stew.
“That’s all we have each day – stew and porridge and soup,” is what Little Johnny would say, he figured and then let out a deep sigh.
But he’s probably not wrong; it’s been particularly hard for him. A motherless-child moving from the other side of the globe. From the land of infinite summer to the land of unforgiving winter.
“It might take him a couple-odd years. Besides, he’s only five,” Johnny Sr’s mate at work had assured him.
It was still hard to grapple with, nevertheless. But at least he’d now learnt to taper off when Little Johnny was in the midst of his legitimate rage, unlike the blizzard outside. A place like this only had space for one man’s temper. And with that nugget of wisdom, Little Johnny forced Johnny Sr to be reminded of both himself and the woman that tied the strings of their life together.
“He takes after you. No reason to not have your name,” She had explained to him with all his heart. In letters that came to him long after she was gone. He wondered why she never told him she was fighting the battle alone.
Little Johnny looked out his window as fresh snow continued to paint the roads, trees and houses white – the only color he seemed to dislike.
“I am going far away. Where I am going, you cannot come. But your father will come for you. You will love him as much as you love me, promise?”
He had promised. But he had not promised to love this far-off land or its unending winter. A land with no Sun or Summer.
“Dinner’s ready!” Johnny Sr declared, placing two hot bowls of stew on the table as Little Johnny began his slow, uninterested walk to the kitchen.
“Yes, yes, I will pay your money in full. I’m not running anywhere. Yes, I know. Thanks for paying the medical bills,” Johnny Sr appeared to be saying to someone in hushed tones over the phone. When he replaced the receiver and turned around, he found the five-year-old slurping the stew without complaints.
“Is everything alright?” He wondered.
The kid didn’t answer.
“I know…you don’t like it here. We will try to go back soon. Before next summer, I promise,” Johnny Sr continued.
Little Johnny glanced at the fireplace, finished the remaining of the stew and got up to leave. Near the door, he paused and turned around for a bit.
“It’s alright. Maybe Summer is within us.”
Johnny Sr looked on as Little Johnny sat by the window and gazed at the town being painted white.
Written by Vishaal Pathak