Published as a part of a context on Penmancy.com
Prompt: Create a short story of 450-500 words that revolves around one character deliberately harbouring a secret from other character(s) in the story.
It was my first day as a paediatric audiologist in a government organisation and a remote sense of foreboding gripped me in its clutches.
The day was uneventful until the last child entered along with his father. But unlike most families coming here, these appeared very well-off. The father, a pot-bellied stout man with a receding hairline and reeking of Yardley, held a little child not more than 2 years old, in his arms. He looked around and rolled his eyes at the state of our assessment set-up, that screamed of government apathy.
There was no name mentioned on the case paper, but given my exhaustion, I let the detail pass for the moment. The visibly nervous child clung to the father who in turn patted the kid and danced a bit! I was moved to see the father-son bond.
Yet, something about the father didn’t sit right. It felt like he harboured a secret and the courtesy he bestowed on me was a mere façade. They entered the inner test cabin.
I began the test procedure, simultaneously observing the duo. The child clung further and the father now seemed uncomfortable.
I continued testing but there was something I couldn’t figure out. I always prided in my ability to gauge emotions and reactions, a pertinent parameter in my profession, but here I was clueless.
Within five minutes the dreaded moment arrived. The child had severe to profound hearing loss.
Right then a harried man entered my room panting and holding a bunch of files. Before I could fathom the situation, the father who had stepped outside the test cabin, asked in an eerily sweet voice.
“So, doc, what’s the result? Is he… deaf?”
“I want to know a few details to correlate my findings clinically” I replied pensively.
The other man tried to take the child but the little one had adhered itself to the father and screamed in revolt.
“You see, doc…” the father continued curtly. “… We were considering adopting this kid and as a part of the proceedings we had got him home yesterday… but a visiting relative suspected this kid is abnormal… is that true? We came here because we needed a government certificate only…”
I looked at the other man, flabbergasted at the turn of events.
“I… am the social worker assigned to this case. I need the report for… the kid’s file.” He spoke hurriedly.
I had to reveal the findings that matched the one with the BERA* reports taken moments before they entered my testing room.
“This child is smart and his other milestones seem to be on track. He will do wonders with rehabilitation…” I began my tirade looking at the child’s other reports.
Please don’t abandon him…
The ‘father’ wasted no time in plucking away the kid and giving him back to the social worker even as the little one wailed, flailing his limbs.
The ‘father’ stormed out of the room leaving behind a traumatised child whose cry reverberated throughout the floor….
The *BERA hearing test is an electrophysiological test procedure that helps in identifying and studying the electrical potential generated at various levels of the auditory system, starting from the cochlea to the cortex.