Riding with Willy
Please Note, Long post ahead.
I loved Willy. He was the best really. Better than my own people. I remember the day I met him. It is evident in my head, my most vivid memory actually. It was a sunny day. Bright sunny that makes you want to go out and take a deep breath. Sunny but pleasant when the sun rays don’t hurt you, and all you want to do is to prance about.
I remember I had no shoes on. It was my rare fee Sunday. I was lazing in the barn when I heard a loud commotion outside. Now I wasn’t worried. Fighting, beating, yelling and all that jazz was a part of my daily life. Yet I was never the one to scream or beat but the one who was yelled at and the one who was beaten up. I don’t know why I could never retaliate. It was not that I did not have it in me. I just wouldn’t even though I wanted to…
I don’t remember any other detail though, of these things, I only remember Willy. I was 15 when he came to our barn, and I knew in my heart that from that day onwards all would be good. My folks back home did not think so. They thought I was queer. They kept saying I had a big head. A big empty head. I would be made to sit at the end of the table. I ate only potato and peas. They thought I had a limited sense of taste. Not exact but they never really bothered.
Ma looked at me with watery eyes, and John my brother said she cried a lot and it was because of me. I did not deserve to live, they said. Whatever does that mean? John said all the fights at home happened because of me. I don't see how. Pa never spoke to me. I did not exist for him like I never existed for Pete. But it was okay. Pa never beat me. I liked him for that. Ma never said much either. I don't remember talking to them.
I liked church picnics though. I loved that people wore colourful clothes that day. They came with large baskets and mats. They would gather in chat and eat. They would meet their neighbours and laughter rang through the day. I never found anything funny. They thought I was funny. They stared at me. Especially the girls. They would laugh from a distance and smile. But if I went near them, they would shriek and run. I wonder why. John beat me up once. I don't know why. He was yelling as he pulled his punches. I had messed with his girl. I did not know what was going on. My cheek hurt for the rest of the week and Ma bought me chicken soup.
That was the Sunday before Willy came. I knew Willy would talk to me. I knew he would be my friend. Pa said I could have him. Told me Willy was an old horse. John and Pete just looked away.
He was shinning in the sun, Willy was. It was amazing. I had never felt anything before. Ma seemed to be smiling at me. I was happy, I think.
I spent all summer with Willy. We roamed in the barn, in the village and I rode him till the mountain once. Pa was worried for me that evening, but it was nice to get away from my farm.
Then one night they came from somewhere. Pa, John and Pete asked me to leave the barn. I was terrified of them, and John slapped me. He told me to get away. I did not want to go without Willy. Willy was uncomfortable and scared just like me. But I was the guy with a big head and had to leave.
They were in there with them for a long time. I knew they had come for Willy. I had eaten all my nails and felt dizzy that evening. Pa came in and went to his room. John and Pete spoke within themselves. Ma never said anything. I did not eat that night, and they did not ask why.
I did not sleep. I wanted to go to the barn. If Willy went, I would go too. I would go away I thought, in the morning.
The next morning seemed fine, but I knew Willy wasn’t there. I searched and searched. John and Pete laughed at me. They called me the big mad head. Ma wouldn’t look at me, and Pa was not to be found.
I had not eaten in three days. Ma tried once but I yelled, and she left me alone. Then they came again. I cowered behind Ma. They seemed to talk to Pa, John and Pete again. They were not looking at me. Suddenly, they took out something from a bag.
And that is when…I remembered that colour from somewhere. Those silky strands, the colour and the smell…it was Willy’s. What had they done to him? I was frantic, and Ma couldn’t control me.
The table was overturned, and spit was oozing from my mouth. John and Pete tried to grasp my hands and legs, but I kicked and scratched and then…
There was a loud sound. I thought I had gone deaf, but it helped to settle my anger. After what I thought was an eternity, I could hear Ma sobbing. John and Pete stood far apart and stared back at me. Pa just stood there motionless. They said I had shot him. Him who? I did not know him? I did not care. Him, who had taken Willy and showed Pa Willy’s hair, good I thought. Very good. I was contented. I missed Willy. Willy was dead. I knew I would find him one day and that day would be today.
I don’t remember the exact details, but I was sent away. Ma was wailing they said, and John and Pete said I should have gone long back.
I was sent to the house on the hill. Pa had come to see me yesterday, but he did not talk to me. In the morning they took me to this room. A huge one with harsh lights and put me on a cold bed. I don’t know what happened then. My head was feeling heavy, and suddenly I felt a jolt. A powerful shock. It happened again.
And again. It hurt. Now it doesn’t. I feel good now. I am waiting for Willy. He will take me down the hill house.
The doctor looked at his watch, “time of death: 9’O clock.”
I wonder whatever was that.