All That Matters

All That Matters

I wipe the counter a final time, the microfibre rough under my fingers, and sigh as the black granite top sparkles back at me. 

All neat and tidy.

I turn and find Suman standing there. 

“Suman, you gave me a scare! Why are you standing here like an apparition? Do you want some snacks?”

Suman shuffles, his gaze on the floor I have just mopped. This is unlike my teen-aged son. Ever since he sprouted a faint mustache two years back, and his voice cracked, he avoids us like the plague. I chalked it down to the hormones raging inside his body. That my job and home don’t leave me with enough time on my hands, is a fact I conveniently banish to the back of hundred other thoughts clamoring for attention.

“Mumma,” he whispers,” You always say I can come to you about anything that is disturbing me. There is something I need to talk to you about.”

The words are so soft I can’t even register their deep undertones. 

“You might want to sit down.” He says, the drawn out words giving rise to uneasiness in my heart. What can it be? 

He is so young, barely sixteen. What problems trouble him at such a young age? Friends being difficult? Bullying? Is he being bullied again? If he is, I will make sure his teachers hear of it. 

He has been the frequent target of bullying from an early age. It is incomprehensible for me how the other kids do not see his kind sensitive nature. We live in a world where anyone different is demonized, and a boy who prefers the company of books more than his peers, is nothing less than an anomaly in their eyes. 

Is it girl trouble? Kids these days start experimenting early. I will be happy if it involves girls. At least he is behaving like a teenager. 

He sits me in a chair at the dining table and pours out his tale. It turns out his problem involves girls but I can’t be more shocked. 

I look at his pleading face, begging for trust and understanding. Just like I had once sat at my mother’s feet, begging for her understanding about a boy. She had chosen not to believe in me. The affair hadn’t lasted, but my strained relations with my mother did. Will I be like my mother? No way.

“Let’s go shopping tomorrow,” I tell him. He grins, our hands held tightly, a promise of trust.


I wait before the trial room. He opens the door. No! I’ve to take care of the pronouns now. No more he/him but she/her.

The door opens and she steps out – barely recognisable in her new avatar.

It is her time to bloom, the way she wants.

It will be a long and difficult journey for both of us, assailed with doubts and setbacks. We both will struggle but at this moment she is happy, and that is all that matters.


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Sheerin Shahab
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