“So what do you want to become when you grow up?”
The boy did not take a moment to reflect. Pat came the reply, “I want to become a wizard, grandpa.”
The elderly gentleman looked confused. “You mean a Math wizard like Ramanujam? I did not know you were so interested in Math.”
“No, he is not, Pa. See his report card and you will know. The desire to become a wizard is this latest Harry Potter craze among today’s children.” Rama hardly lifted her head from the computer.
Natrajan nodded his head. “Ah! Chip of the old block, eh? Your dad wanted to be Sherlock Holmes when he was your age.”
Neeraj’s ears perked up, “Really? How was dad like as a kid?”
“Now! Now! Now! A conspiracy against me behind my back, eh?” A spare bespectacled man in his early thirties walked in to the house.
“Grandpa was telling me about how you were as a kid.”
“I am sure it definitely would not have been anything flattering. Pa was always a critical dad. Not that I am complaining.”
“Well, my son, you were so given to wild flights of fantasy. Someone had to keep you grounded. Do you remember even during your college days, you seriously believed you would become a psychohistorian?”
Shankar gave a sigh. “Only a few years into my job, the sad reality of life drove home.”
“Better late than never. Now you have a promising career, a loving family, a good standard of living – everything a man can ask for.”
“I know. But at what price? I am not sure if I wish my life for Neeraj. I hope at least he can live his dreams.”
“What dreams? Of becoming a wizard?” Rama was clearly tuned it to the conversation though she seemed to focusing intensely on the computer screen.
“Never miss a chance to land in your punches, eh? I am serious. I want Neeraj to find his true vocation. I don’t want to push him to become one more sheep in the engineering and MBA herd.”
“Well, we had to struggle to even give you an education. Engineering was what maximized your chances of finding employment. We could not afford to spend our hard earned money to let you pursue a vocation that can’t earn you your daily bread.” Natraj’s face had turned red.
“I am not blaming you, Pa. Your situation was different. Ours is different. You had to sacrifice even your basic necessities while I had to only sacrifice my dreams. Thanks to our sacrifices, Neeraj does not have to sacrifice anything.” There was a strong emphasis on 'our'.
“He says his true vocation is to become a wizard. How will you help him with that?”
“See, Pa – you can’t take what he says at face value. If you see his interests show him to be highly imaginative and will probably be happy in a creative profession.”
“So what kind of course will help him in such a vocation? I for one know no such course.”
“Why do we have to limit our horizon to what is available in India? I will send him abroad – maybe to UK for higher studies in the field of his choice.”
“That is where Hogwarts is located, dad.” Neeraj was looking excited.
“True, son! Not only Hogwarts. All of Enid Blyton’s stories and Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories are set here. UK is the place to study for those looking into get into literary field.”
“So you will spend your hard earned money to send your son to UK to a do a Masters in English literature? And what will he do after that?”
“Actually there are some interesting options I came across when I was researching something for my freelance writing assignment. For instance the University of Cambridge offers a Master of Studies in Creative writing. It looked like an interesting course. It deals not just with novel writing but the art of writing in all its many forms and guises. The website says students will also learn the art of the short story, flash fiction, writing for children, as well as poetry, literary non-fiction, criticism, reviews, and travel writing in the first year of study”
Natarajan was now glaring at Rama, giving her an ‘Et tu, Brute’ look.
“Well, I meant there are options. Not that I endorse Shankar’s crazy ideas. We still have plenty of time to think about Neeraj's future. He is still in his primary school.”
“I am eleven already. That is when children get their letters from Hogwarts.”
“Till you get your letter or your father puts you into a college in UK, you have to go to the local school only. And as long as you are going there, you need to complete your homework. Now enough of talk! Go into your room and get cracking on your homework.”
Everyone knew the dialogue was over the moment the fat lady sang. Shankar doubted if Rama would appreciate the reference though. Also though she was putting on a bit of weight lately, she was not really fat as such.