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This or That

by Gouri
(Bangalore, India)

He had left home in anger. How could he have? How could he have believed that his father would support him no matter what? He now realized that he should not have said that to his father. He had done a huge mistake by revealing his dream to his father. His father would now stop him from going to dance classes. He could not still forget his father's reaction when he said to his father that he wanted to be a professional dancer.

Suddenly, he felt a tapping on his shoulder. He then realized that he was at his friend's house. His friend Amit was talking to him. "Why are you so quiet? I have been talking to you for the last five minutes".
"I am sorry, it's just...Anyway, what were you saying"? He came to his friend Amit's house immediately after the fight with his father.

Amit wanted to be a doctor and was preparing for his entrance exams. He could tell that his friend was annoyed by the interruption but he chose to ignore that. He wanted someone to listen to him now.
"I was saying, maybe your father is right."
"Why? What is wrong with dance? Is'nt it a profession too? I want to be a dancer."
"Listen, there is nothing wrong with dance. It's just...I don't want to discourage you...but choosing dance as a profession is tough and also it is more like female-dominated. And also you will be judged for being a male dancer. Are you sure you can go through all the stigma?"
"I understand that being a male dancer is tough but still there are male dancers who are famous even here. I am studying dance for the past five years. The teacher said that there is potential in me and that I can be a great dancer."

Amit signed. "Fine, you do as you wish. Listen, it's quite late now. I think you should go now. Your father must be worried about you."
"Yeah, I will get going. Thanks for listening to me."
"Anytime. You just be happy. Reach home safely. Bye."
"Yeah, goodbye. See you later." He left after saying goodbyes to Amit and his parents.

It was quite late at night. He knew that his father would be worried. But, he was angry and did not want to go home. He took out his phone and saw that there were 13 missed calls from his father. He calmed down and decided to go home. It was not a long walk and he would reach his home within ten minutes.

Suddenly, his phone buzzed. It was a call from his father. After much contemplation, he answered the phone. "I am here. I will reach home by a few minutes," and cut the phone without giving his father a chance to speak.

After a few minutes, he reached his home. Taking a deep breath, he walked inside and could see his father was waiting anxiously in the living room. He started to walk past his father to his room.
"Listen, son, I want to talk to you. Have you eaten anything?"
"I don't have anything to talk to you and I am not hungry."
"See, I have found a good coaching center and the fees there is affordable. We will go and join tomorrow itself. You have already wasted enough time. Now, is the time to prepare for the future. If you study hard and clear the entrance exams, then there is no need to worry. You will become a good engineer."
"I already told you I am not interested in engineering. So, I won't study that"
"Then, what will you do? Become a dancer and bring shame to the family? You will be an engineer and it's final"
"No, it is not final. I won't study engineering. I want to be a dancer and not anything else. That's final."
"Why can't you understand? You cannot be a dancer."
"Then I cannot be anything else."

His father looked shocked and did not know what to say. This was the first time that
they are fighting like this. He was sad and did not know what to do. Tears welled up in his eyes as he saw his son storm to his room.

The son was sad about his behavior towards his father. He knew that he had hurt his father. He remembered about the hardships they had faced since his mother's death. His father had always supported him until now. Maybe, he should study engineering. He did not want to do something that would make his father sad and upset for the rest of his life. And, maybe engineering is not that bad. He cried as he thought all this. He did not want to lose his father too.

The father was sitting in the garden looking at the full moon that was glowing in the sky. It was a beautiful night and he smiled even though his life was dark now. He had always dreamed of his son becoming an engineer. It was not only his dream but his wife's too. They wanted their son to have a bright future. But, his son wanted to be a dancer. At first, when he said that he wanted to study dance, he thought that it was a joke. But, when he realized that his son was serious, he had tried hard to change his mind. But, he somehow convinced his mother, and he had to agree. After his mother died, he had allowed him to continue his dance, as he thought that it would give his son peace of mind. But now, he wanted to dance as his future. What should he do? Should he support him or not?
He turned back and saw his son standing behind him. "Yes?"
"I think ... I will be an engineer."
He could not believe his ears. Did his son really say that?
"Really? Thank God. I am glad you realized it at least now."
"Yes, We will go to the coaching classes tomorrow."

The son felt like crying. He turned around and started to leave.
"Yes?" What did his father want now?
"You really want to be an engineer?"
His son did not know what to say. All he said was "I will manage."

His father looked at him. He could see that his father was in deep thought.
"You don't have to be an engineer if you don't want to be"
"What? I meant, why?"
"I always wanted you to be an engineer. But, more than that I want you to be happy. I don't want you to do something to just make me happy. I could see that you don't want to be an engineer. Even when you said you are ready to be an engineer, I could see your pain and agony in your face. I can't do something that will snatch your happiness just for me to be happy. You can study dance as you wish. I will change my mind gradually and accept your decision."
"You don't have to say anything. Just do what your mind says. I have a request though."
"What? What is it?"
"I want you to get a degree. Any degree. Just for job security. I think you should get a college degree. You can also learn the dance side by side. And after completing your college, you can concentrate fully on dance. Just think about it. You can also enroll in a dance school."
"Yes, dad. I understand. I will consider what you say."

The father felt a sense of joy as his son hugged him. He knew what he did was right. It was his son's life and he should only guide him. He will be happy when he sees his son happy. He had complete faith in his son. He looked at his watch. It was exactly midnight.

"Happy Birthday, son. May you have a prosperous year ahead."
"Thank you, dad. Look at the sky. It is very beautiful today? Isn't it?"
They both stared at the sky and looked forward to a special year filled with joy and happiness.

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