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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Family · #2258573
A true rockstar
Words: 800

He first picked up the guitar when he was two years old. Or rather, attempted to pick it up — it being his Dad's guitar, it was far too big for his little self to carry.

His Dad had one made for him, a tiny one. When his Dad practiced his music, the little boy played along. He learned by imitation, he absorbed, he remembered. By the time he was seven years old, he was doing gigs for birthday parties and weekends at the local cafe.

It was natural that his nickname in the family was 'Rockstar', and that everyone was proud of his musical prowess.

The pandemic hit and his family and friends urged him to play for them on Zoom. Once he had the technology figured out, he did that.

The vaccine came along. People had their first dose, and their second. His grandma declared that it was now safe for the family to gather in person again, and she chose her grand-daughter's 21st birthday for the great reunion. It went without saying that he'd perform for his cousin on this important day.

He travelled there by train with his parents and brother, carrying his precious guitar along. They were meeting up at the old family bungalow, a sprawling expanse of rooms, balconies and gardens. His parents, his Dad's brother and sister and their spouses and kids, and his grandpa and grandma were already there. They met up on the Friday, and were to spend the weekend together, the party being on Saturday evening. They'd disperse after lunch on Sunday.

The greetings and hugs dispensed with, the family started planning what-was-where for the party. A key element was the mic for him and his guitar. His oldest cousin set up a sound system ('hired for this party,' grandma beamed) and he tested it out and made the necessary adjustments. Everyone helped with the snacks and decorations.

Party time. The only other invitees were the families of two close friends, who travelled by road and reached an hour early.


What was this?

With a half-hour to go, there was a van driving up.

Nobody was expected, were they? Everyone who was to come was here already.

Being nearest, he went to the driveway with his parents.

The van had driven up and people were climbing out of it.

He stopped and stared.

He recognized the duo. They were a brother-sister pair, dubbed 'the singing sensations'. They were carrying a guitar and a drum between them.

"Is this where the 21st birthday reunion is?" the young lady called out. "We've been hired by the girl's grandma to play at the party."

His mother took one look at his face and did an about-turn. She marched in to the house and headed for her mother-in-law's room. Grandma was in front of her mirror, dressed in her favourite saree, putting her earrings on.

"What is the meaning of this?" the outraged parent demanded.

"Meaning of what?" Grandma asked, calmly, looking down at her bracelets, judging which one matched her earrings best.

"You've hired someone to sing at the party. You made my son think he was going to be the only one performing. He had his heart set on this. He has composed and rehearsed special numbers just for today."

"Ah, but it's her 21st. We need special entertainment, not just a cousin belting away. He can sing after they're done, can't he?"

"After they're done? They'll play for the whole party. Who'll he play to, the walls?"

"Don't over-react, now. And listen, your hair isn't looking quite right. Did you wash it this morning like I told you to?"

"You're thinking about my hair when you've broken my son's heart!"

"I said don't over-react. He can play after they're done. I have to do what's best for ALL my grandkids, I can't favour him. It's her 21st, she needs proper entertainment."

"My son IS proper entertainment. Why did you lead us on like this?"

"Now don't bother me. Go and do something about your hair."

She stormed off.

She found her husband in one of the balconies, putting up balloons. "I want to go home," she declared.

"We can't go now. I heard about those singers. I understand. We'll leave after the party."

The singers played and sang and people danced and sang along. They played till the wee hours of the morning, there was no time 'after' for anyone else to take the mic.

It was, of course, too late to leave. "Right after breakfast," her husband promised.

It was at that breakfast that their son proved he was a true Rockstar.

He didn't sulk. He didn't stop talking to his Grandma.

Instead, he went to the kitchen and made pancakes for everyone, to show there were no hard feelings.
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