Yash was engrossed in his work, his overgrown hair falling over his face and obscuring his frown of concentration. He hated it but kept it long since it seemed to drive his father crazy. When would his dad treat him like the 14-year-old he was and not a snotty child like his younger brother Rishi. The insufferable shrimp was so well-behaved that it made Yash look like a surly adolescent. His amma was the only person who seemed to see him as he was. But she was busy with the business she was setting up with her friend. Yash was so proud of her, but he felt awkward showing it and so he stayed out of her way.
The attic was his refuge. Nobody came here and he was free to be himself. He loved to sit in the shabby space and draw. No one knew that he loved to draw. Yash’s classmates would have been mortified if they came to know of it. He could sit here for hours and sketch. “Amma would be shocked if she saw me now”, he thought. She wouldn’t recognize him with his hair tied back and a sketchbook in his hands.
Yash’s thoughts turned to Valentine’s day. It was just three days away and he had made plans with Rhea to meet after school. He hoped that she would agree to be his girlfriend. He had even bought a gift for her with his pocket-money, her favourite book. He just couldn’t understand her love of books, and he had never had the patience to read a book from start to finish. “What a lot of effort amma took to get me to read !” he thought ruefully. But all that had paid off with the shrimp. Rishi always had his head buried in a book.
Yash heard a car starting and he went to the tiny window to see who was leaving at this late hour. Amma stood at the gate looking at the departing taxi. Yash remembered that his father was going away for a month on work. She looked so lonely standing there. He placed his palm on the windowpane as though he could send her his love through the glass.
Next day morning saw the usual chaos at the breakfast table. Yash was teasing Rishi who was almost in tears, but Sunaina was unusually distracted. She was missing her husband. They had always spend Valentines day together. This year it would be just Rishi and her since Yash was sure to have made plans with his friends.
“Ma, do you have any plans for Valentines day?” asked Yash. Sunaina just shook her head mutely.
“I’ll be at home darling” she said. “ You just don’t stay out late since it’s a school night.” Yash couldn’t bear to see his amma so dejected and he made a decision.
“Ma, will you be my Valentine? “