Wednesday, 14 June 2017


      "Get busy living, or get busy dying! But, for Heaven's sake, get your sorry carcass off my couch, and GET MOVING!" Mama hollered at Joe, when she saw him lolling on the couch, smoking his umpteenth cigarette.

           Joe - he was the good-for-nothing nephew, whom Dada had brought along to the city, to find some work. Much to Mama's chagrin.  Life was tough already, and now, to feed  an extra mouth would be taxing for her, but she did not complain. At least not in the first couple of months.

           We kids found him rather strange, but warmed up to him in a couple of weeks. He taught us to ride the bicycle, after all, how useless could he possibly be? I wondered.  I did find his slothfulness very annoying, though. Psst...he bathed just once a week! Eww!  We would pinch our noses, and make faces behind his back each time he passed us by. I don't know if he heard our sniggers; he never reacted to our mockery. I wonder now how we managed to learn riding from him, what with him running so close, by our side!  I think the thrill of pedalling  and propelling our cycles all by ourselves (with a little push from Joe) diverted our attention from his grimy frame and stinky garb.
       It was almost a month before Joe finally stepped out of the house, to do something worthwhile. Mama was so pleased - relieved, actually - that she crossed her fingers and mumbled a quick prayer to whosoever may pay heed! And, miraculously, Joe got the job! Dada was happy; proud, that his decision to help out his brother's son had been a wise one.
       But - as there is always a 'but' -  destiny only smiles on those, who toil to make things work, and bathe everyday. Joe was asked to leave...because he stank! Of course, that was the latter part of the reason for firing him. Primarily, he was a lazy bum, who would much rather eat and sleep. The reason he gave mama was something else, but, dada came to know all about his laziness, and his utter disregard for  work ethics from the employer, who had been a friend of Dada.
        History, as we know, has this uncanny tendency of repeating itself.  So, the next five places he was hired at, fired him within a few days of service, citing similar reasons. Torn between his duty towards his own family and a promise given to his brother, Dada tossed and turned in bed every night; the stress upsetting him  no end. And, Mama - poor woman - she slogged to put food on the dinner table at the end of each day. And, Joe - he ate like there was no tomorrow!
        Mama kept coaxing him to go  find some work at one place or the other. At first, her words were mellow, but as time went by, she began losing all her patience. Her voice became rather gruff, and her mood, sullen whenever she saw Joe lazing on our worn out couch, smoking, or building castles in the air.  At times, he did confess that he wanted to make something out of his life, which would suddenly brighten up mama's mood. But, he hardly displayed any eagerness to learn stuff, or even work at something in order to do it!

        Finally, he landed a job at the printing press where Dada worked.  Dada hadn't been keen on getting him hired, but then he felt that something would be better than nothing! And, so, thankfully, Joe began working! Although, there wasn't much of a change in his laid back attitude. He would take hours waking up and getting dressed. He was equally lethargic at work; he simply lacked any enthusiasm for life.  His clothes - however much mama cleaned - were always soiled; his lunch box always got lost or stolen during his commute to and from work; his shoes, tattered; and he, a pathetic excuse for a man, not worth a single dime.

       He did last at the press for a couple of months. But, ultimately, the number of complaints against him piled high. And, one day he got thrown out. That night, Mama just burst out in frustration. She called Dada to their room for a talk she had been wanting to have since long.
      Joe would have to leave. If we were to live in peace, if the children had to be looked after with the care they deserved, then Joe would have to be shown the door.
     Dada would apologise to his brother, and find another job for Joe, in some other town, but, Joe would have to leave.

       Dada broke the news to Joe the next morning. At first, he stared blankly at us all, then  it all began to sink in. His gaze  dropped to the ground, his shoulders slumped dejectedly, and finally, his carefree and indolent mien just abandoned him, leaving behind a crumpled pathetic mass of smelly skin and bones.
     Mama looked heart-broken, in spite of having detested the fellow since day one. She moved closer and sat beside him. Running her hand through his curly hair  she said, " Joe, you now realise how badly you need to change your ways, don't you? You are a good boy, but a wee bit lazy, you know? All you need to do, is dump that laziness in the trash can and clean up good, in ways more than one. I am sure you will go places! It won't be easy, but, you gotta do what you gotta do! And, remember one thing, boy - getting to a place of comfort can be uncomfortable, but, it's worth it all in the end!"

*The above post has been written for Wordy Wednesday.
This week's prompt: Sentence prompt:
    Get busy living, or get busy dying.
    Getting to a place of comfort can be uncomfortable.

1 comment:

  1. Love it, Shilpa. So well written. You made us feel for Lazy Joe and showed us both sides of the situation. I do hope he was able to mend his ways as he sounded like he had potential if not for the laziness.


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