The summer stung, the buzz of the mosquitoes deafened, the afternoons dragged.Every day of that summer, the little boy thought of escape. 

Today, he just sat with his mother and watched her cook dinner.

The roti puffed up as his mother flipped it with skilled but worn hands. 

“Let us go to the mountains, Ma,” he said. 

“I heard its cooler up there.”

His mother, flicking another roti onto the stove, did not answer.

“My school teacher hails from a town called Shimla up there.” 

Her little son always said things that she could never imagine. Go away to the mountains. She had never set foot outside the village. 

She still did not answer.

“She says you can find a job in one of the army canteens. She can help.”

She still did not say a thing.

Her entire life had been consumed by the woods surrounding the village and devoured by her husband, the one who would come home drunk each night and find excuses to beat her.

Her body ached from last night’s beating as she arched in front of the stove. He had been brutal last night. But he had always been brutal.

Tears rolled down her cheeks.

“Let us go now, Ma. Just you and me”.

She turned to look at him. He was looking at her, a sincere and pleading look in his eyes.

“We can be happy, Ma.”

Her eyes filled with tears. She knew what he was saying. Her wise little son was urging her to escape.

The sun beat down upon the mother and son as they looked at each other. In the silence of that summer afternoon, as she slowly reached over to hug her son, with no words shared, a decision was made.

The mountains beckoned. So did life.

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