Short Stories

 Oblivious

Henry and his six-year-old daughter burst through the front door laughing their heads off.

“I won daddy!” squealed, Ivy.

She kicked her Nike trainers off which sent the family cat scurrying up the stairs. This prompted another bout of the giggles from the young madam. Ivy had taken, Henry, first to the ballpark and afterwards to the cinema where they both sat stuffing themselves with butter popcorn and ice cream as they watched the latest Disney film, “Finding Dory.”2005r-r_sport_cabin Ivy had spewed her money’s worth all over the Range Rover’s cream leather seats on the drive home. This, while, Ivy’s mum paid a visit to the hairdressers and beauty parlour.

Ivy sprawled on the living room carpet and thumbed the TV remote, her elbows planted firmly on a cushion she had thrown down from the sofa as soon as she’d entered the room.

“Daddy, can I have a drink and crisps please?”

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Henry had expected as much and promptly placed them next the cushion. He scooped a glossy motor magazine from the coffee table then wandered robotically over to the sofa and slumped down.

“Daddy, what’s that say?”

Henry’s eye’s rolled upwards and repeated the words on the screen, “Appeal on behalf of UNICEF.”

“What’s appeal?”

“Shush sweetheart, just watch.”

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Through the haze, even the skyscrapers of Dharavi seemed to gleam in the fetid afternoon sun. Pristine buildings of perhaps fifty stories or more.  As the camera zoomed out, the focus brought to bear the atrocious conditions under which the inhabitants of the nearby shanty town lived. This, they called home. Packed like sardines, the rusty red corrugations gave way here and there, to troughs hacked into the dust to carry away piss and shit.

The camera then zooms in again and we see six-year-old, Japendra, whose name means; unique. Japendra is cradling his young brother, Anuj, about three-years-old.

 

“Daddy, look, why do they have skeleton bones sticking out?”

“Because they’re hungry sweetheart.”

“Oh!”

“ Now be a good girl and be quiet while Daddy reads his magazine.”

 

The gravelly voiceover of the UNICEF reporter says that Japendra and Anuj were found crying outside their tin shack hut. Their father had left them to find work and hasn’t been seen for weeks. “Mamma sick. Mamma sleep two days,” Japendra told us.  We went inside…it smelled of death, their Mother was stone cold.

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“Daddy, when is mummy coming home?”

“Soon darling, we’re going to pick her up from the hairdressers.”

“Can we go to McDonalds after we pick her up, Daddy?”

“Okay sweetie, but promise you won’t be sick in the car again.”