Ninja (Part 2)


He had a fleeting taste of that world, then the screen was switched off by his over-protective mother.

Then it was his third month at school, and there were crayons involved. The class room was a chaos, the opposite of the carefully organised and divided up house Tyrone was growing up in. The explosive liberty was seductive. At school, every time Tyrone made a noise a smidge too loud, he was not reprimanded, and this birthed a mischievous urge inside him. Every time he knocked into something and it wobbled, Tyrone’s heart soared. School was freedom from the rules of his father, and for the most part he enjoyed it. At times however, the differences were uncomfortable. For example, today the crayons were not evenly distributed, and Tyrone felt this was unjust. He lacked the vocabulary to explain why, unfortunately, and so made do. Each student was given paper, and then they went at it. Tyrone sat and studied the empty white space, deliberating. He looked at the others around him for inspiration, and tried not to get caught cheating. He did this by watching the teacher’s eyes. Whenever she looked away, Tyrone would steal a glance at the prolific artists that surrounded him. A rainbow on one girl’s sheet. Some sort of stick figures on another. Most of the kids nearby had settled for various mish-mashes of color. Abstract art was not for Tyrone. He wanted to reproduce something real. Then it hit him, like a hammer to the chest. The swordsmen.

It was last Sunday that he had violated one of his parent’s laws. A minor violation, but one that would prove fateful. Normally, he was forbidden from watching cartoons past noon. His mother usually sat nearby, knitting, or reading, and supervising, ready to turn off the T.V as soon as the last cartoon finished. That Sunday she took a phone call, and left Tyrone be. Tyrone thought he knew how to turn off the screen, but had not yet attempted to test his hypothesis. Thus some minutes passed, and a new cartoon came on. There were swords in this one, and indecipherable yelling- the stuff of legendary challenges. Indecipherable because it was not in English.Although Tyrone did not understand the words, he thought he understood the warriors. Tyrone’s heart soared during those few minutes. Then his mother reduced the screen to black, without a word, just as two warriors charged each other, curved swords drawn. Tyrone felt guilty at having witnessed this, though his mother did not mention it. So, now in front of his blank paper, Tyrone realized, he would need the color silver, and he set out to find it. Rummaging in the pile, only odd colors remained. He put up his hand and asked for silver-colored crayons. The teacher explained that this was not possible, and that he should make do with sketching the outline. So he did. Two warriors, both armed with swords. The warriors were a hurried affair, of disproportionate limbs, with arms much longer than legs. Then, the swords. Ah, here Tyrone was careful. He colored in the right-side warrior red, and gave him a massive sword, three times bigger than the man wielding it. After it was done Tyrone wondered at this warrior, who could hold such a great blade. Then to the man on the left, whose legs were colored blue. Tyrone gave him two much smaller swords- one in each hand. After a bit of thought, he gave him a third, on his back, to protect from the rear. Tyrone, sighed, and studied his debut. He decided that he was the warrior on the left- that three smaller swords are better than one, and quicker to use too.Shortly after that they were told by the teacher to draw their families. Tyrone thought himself quite the adept at crayons by this point, and resolved to make the arms less long in his next piece. He found it hard to concentrate when the other kids started shouting at each other. There weren’t enough peach colored crayons it seemed. From afar Tyrone watched the teacher settle the issue, with each student getting five minutes with the peach colored crayons to shade in their family members. After Tyrone drew mum and Dad, he pondered, thinking there was something missing. After some deliberation he settled for a tree to the side. The tree was exactly the same as the one Tyrone climbed- or at least a close approximation. That’s when Tyrone met Shanti for the first time.She had come over, having just snapped her own brown crayon in half, to take Tyrone’s. She did this by hovering behind him, causing a shadow to envelop Tyrone’s picture. Tyrone, so engrossed in his art, paid no attention to the change in illumination. As he switched to blue, to color in the sky, Shanti grabbed his brown crayon and proceeded to casually saunter back to her spot by the shelves. Tyrone stared after her for some few beats. Then realising he had just been burgled said “HEY! MINE!” and gave chase. The teacher was currently involved in breaking up another scuffle over the scarce pink and peach colored crayons, and did not see, nor condone the imminent invasion. Tyrone, bringing his picture with him, went up to Shanti, and demanded back his brown crayon. Shanti, without shame, or hesitation told Tyrone to just use black instead. She then offered Tyrone her black crayon. So he sat next to her, and filled in his parents with black. Shanti peered at the picture, and asked where Tyrone was in it. It was at that point Ben, a large, rather wide child, bundled pass the two, and hid behind Tyrone- a woefully insufficient body of cover. “My names Ben.” he said. He got up and dramatically glanced about, shielding his eyes from the glare of the halogen light strips above. Then he sat down in a huff, and took out his prizes from his pants. No less than three peach colored crayons. “Spares.” He said, when Shanti and Tyrone stared at him wide-eyed. They ducked as a passing purple crayon whizzed by, striking some poor girl in the nose. Collateral damage from the fight. Ben said to Tyrone, “Your lucky. You don’ need peach.” All three nodded at this. Then they went back to their drawings. Tyrone added his finishing touches- himself, clinging to a tree in the background.

When the chaos subsided, the teacher came around to inspect all their pieces. At Tyrone’s she paused, and bent over, and pointed to the tree. “Tyrone, why is there a monkey in the tree?” Tyrone explained that it was not a monkey, but himself, Tyrone. At this the teacher became incredibly apologetic and embarrassed, much to all the student’s surprise. They had never seen a teacher aplogize before. Tyrone asked her “Whats a monkey?” Having grown up in the city, Tyrone was quite unaware of them by this stage in his life. Some kids laughed at this. Then Shanti spoke up, loud and proud, “YOU’RE MONKEY!” and laughed. “BANDAR BANDAR!” The other kids who had been laughing, stopped suddenly- they had no idea what this word meant.

The teacher, flustered, and already hoping no one’s parents will hear about this terrible lesson, was also curious. Tyrone pestered Shanti, till she said “Bandar- means monkey! Mommy calls my brother Bandar. Thats your name now.” She said it with such finality. Ben felt quite jealous, having no nickname himself. “What about me? I want a name.”

Tyrone said, “You’re fat.”

Shanti then punched him in the arm. “That’s mean.”

And the three became quite good friends after that.