They were the same eyes staring at him from sunken sockets, but there was something remarkably different about the way he felt. It was almost as if he was being quenched after a prolonged treatment, like coming together from atomic pieces littered hither and thither, but sometimes, you know, quenching causes cracks to develop.
His mother’s arms were open wide to welcome, the same way they used to receive him when he would be back from school. Her eyes shone the oddly familiar good-god-my-son-is-back glint. Everywhere his eyes flitted to, the house emanated the same warm air of homeliness. Yet it was all so different, so uncanny. He was glad that he was back home, but this was somehow not the way he wanted it to be.
Many an hour had he whiled away, analysing this change in his perspective, trying to find a long-lost variety of happiness he remembered was truly happy, but what he could not put his finger upon, he never conjectured. There had been times when all he had dreamt of were faraway lands, treasures in the depths of seas and mysterious creatures and monsters. Those were the days when he was pampered by good-natured old men and women, graceful ladies and dapper gentlemen, and a little bundle of joy that was his sister. Just when those days disappeared, like breath into mist, he never realised.
Out of the blue, he found himself stuck in this mechanical system that reiterated infinitely. Smiles were rare, straight faces copious, and business omnipresent. Every morning he woke up feeling reluctant, like he used to do when he was at school. But there was a difference. A difference that had barged in on nearly all of his feelings subtly- so subtly that it did not change anything at all, except making its presence felt. This kind of difference drove away all of his courage, and made him feel sort of scared. He just wanted it to go.
He was no longer reluctant to go to school and study, no longer afraid of punishments and impositions; he could just not gather the courage to face reality- a reality that demanded way too much from him- tolerance, diplomacy, tact, practicality and all things objective. Somewhere in a sly corner of his heart, he had always known that this was coming; but somewhere in a sly corner of his heart, he always wishes to return to bliss- pure, heavenly, sensual bliss.
Conversations are not as simple as they used to be, smiles not as graceful. Kindness is frowned upon like a sin; getting your own way out is the mantra of the day. Confidence is hard to find, in others and self alike, but assurances and advice never fail to inundate. Like so many others, he has entered a labyrinth he is not sure he will find the way out of- and this, perhaps, is why he craves spots of sunshine, just like a day-animal in the dead of night.
He knows he is growing up, he is well aware he has to, but he fails to realise that it is not as simple as it seems. It is an endless loop that none of the human race has ever run. To grow up, he needs to grow up.