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Radhey was a crybaby. It was his signature characteristic.

From the time of his birth till the day of his death, Radhey’s face was a perpetual wetland. Salty streams had etched their course, puffing and wrinkling brown skin. But this was the least of Radhey’s concerns. His brain and heart were so busy competing for supremacy that his sense of self-awareness had dispersed.

There was no room for the three to scuffle.

Radhey’s father was the first to note his son’s strange behavior. No matter where they were or what they were doing, Radhey’s tears were ready to burst. It could be joy or sorrow; the boy would begin sobbing beforehand. Thinking his son was either stupid or possessed, the man took young Radhey to the thresholds of great saints and religious men.

Many cures were concocted, and liberal spells were recited, but all Radhey could do was crease his eyes harder, open his mouth wider, and bawl like he was shouldering the misery of the world. And whenever Radhey’s father asked him to stop, the boy made sure to cry an extra hour.

School was the worst time in Radhey’s life. He had no friends because of his sensitive condition. But enemies weren’t so hard to make, and he was bullied left, right, and center. There was no respite till he returned home and then his little sister would say or do something to kickstart his crying agenda.

A mother’s heart is soft and so Radhey’s mother kept her boy close to her. Almost tying him to the loose end of her sari, she watched over him, ready to strike down those who tried to provoke him. But mothers aren’t foolish and soon the woman came to know that Radhey’s crying was his own doing.

Then came the slaps and strings of abuses. Maybe periodic beatings could snap Radhey out of his teary stupor. But the boy turned into a man and months transformed into years, however nothing could change him.

On the eve of his sister’s wedding, a close relative offered a brilliant suggestion. Radhey needs a wife who can convert his sobs into smiles. Not wanting to openly disagree, Radhey’s parents politely nodded but later slapped their foreheads and whispered to each other – only a dummy would tolerate a loser like him. So marriage was out of the question, but the young man needed an occupation.

And Radhey was sent to an ashram to herd sheep and gain a sense of responsibility. Every morning to evening, Radhey walked with his flock. They would baa… he would sob… Each day passed a little better and a little lighter. Till one day, the sheep returned without Radhey. A group of three ventured out to find him.

Radhey’s lifeless body lay in the center of a field. The marks and wounds suggested that he had been trampled, most probably by the flock he herded. The men shook their heads and sighed deeply.

Even the poor sheep couldn’t tolerate his crying.

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45 Comments on “Crybaby Radhey – Flash Fiction Story

  1. That was a pretty astonishing & sad ending for Radhey. Born with some illness, facing the wrath of society & not to mention his own parents.
    Had they took him to a doctor instead of some religious crap, their son might have had a chance of getting cured.
    Story reflects various aspects which need to be cured from various areas.

    • Thanks Tanishq. Such are the ways of this world. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact problem but it’s definitely a mixture of many thoughts, weaknesses and misconstrued ideas. So many go through life never being understood. It’s actually every person for themselves.

  2. ‘Even the poor sheep couldn’t tolerate his crying’ – What a way to end a story and I’ll certainly look at sheep differently from now on. Maybe they’re not the content creatures I imagined them to be. Or perhaps you just don’t want to get on the wrong side of sheep. I particularly loved the start, Terveen. ‘Radhey’s face was a perpetual wetland’, such a vivid image. Great story, not so great outcome for Radhey…

    • Now sheep need some peace too.
      Thanks so much, Britta. 🙂
      I think Radhey is a character that doesn’t fit the mould of normal. He has a habit or condition that is relatively annoying. And sometimes, such things place a person on the wrong side of the fence. (Surrounded by angry sheep)
      It’s more of a crazy story that highlights the tragic outcomes of abnormalities.

  3. Shit, I’m bawling my eyes out…….

    Ditty in memory of Rodney (Aussie translation)

    Rodney was a bawler
    Poor lad had no hope
    Even Shaun disowned him
    Rodney silly dope

    Verse 2

    They took you to the thresholds
    Of saints/religious men
    Sent four and twenty blackbirds
    Thresholds (religious) ten

    Verse 3

    Poor nothing (Rod) could help you
    Your life turned out a mess
    It seems the sheep had had enough
    And couldn’t care a less

    RIP Rodney (aka Radhey)

    (Note to Terveen: You only left the boy on the thresholds. You gotta take him in for a start……)

    I did feel for Radhey (aka Rodney) hence my outpouring…….

  4. I looked up “ashram” and it is a beautiful word. I feel its rhyme. Radhey is suffering from a medical condition–I am almost sure of it. I actually know a girl like this who cried a lot as a child but she grows up as a healthy woman right now. Her boyfriend left her right before their wedding and she actually survived such a tragedy–cold feet before the big day–and became even stronger. For Radhey, it seems he’d better have some pills to calm his nerves.

    • Yes Haoyan. Someone who doesn’t fit in is always someone with a problem. I know crying most of the time is unhealthy but what if crying was the norm and everyone did it. We’ve dictated what is normal and abnormal. That’s why anything different is considered against nature’s order. It’s not nature but man dictating terms right now. Am I ranting? Maybe. But poor Radhey was never granted any peace.
      Thank you for always sharing your thoughts, experiences and wisdoms. 🙂

      • I don’t fit in. Ergo I have big problem. When warm fuzzies are handed out I always miss out…..What can I do? It’s driving me bonkers…….

  5. “Radhey’s parents politely nodded but later slapped their foreheads and whispered to each other – only a dummy would tolerate a loser like him.”

    What great and supportive parents. Perhaps the sheep trampled to death the wrong people.

    • HAHA! I think often family members are given a raw deal. It’s not easy living with someone like Radhey. Maybe there was something wrong with him or maybe he was just inclined to sobbing his heart out. Human beings can be strange. I have sufficient experience. But let’s not label who’s right or wrong. Frustrations often lift the ‘veil of goodness’ and speaking from the heart is better than ruining another person’s life by tying them to a huge responsibility like Radhey.
      Life is a two-way street. Have to avoid accidents. But the sheep didn’t think so. 🙂

      • Did they birth an overly sensitive child? Perhaps. But crying for no apparent reason could have been a sign of a mental illness or the result of pseudobulbar affect (frequent, involuntary and uncontrollable outbursts of crying).

        Neither of these should have condemned the poor lad to death by hooves. Imagine living in a world where sheep are judge, jury and executioner.

        Not a world I’d care to live in, so I suppose I’m next on the list to be hooved.

        Come at me, you sheepy bastards! I’ll be crying in my lamb stew!

  6. the central character dominates this compelling tale; some lines of dialogue would have topped it off nicely; I wanted to hear Rafhey speak —

  7. Oh, how tragic Poor Radhey, no cure for his condition, finally the animals found a way to end his misery. I can’t imagine bawling all the time, Terveen.

  8. That last line packs a punch. They tried herding him hid whole life to no avail and “even the sheep”–animals in desperate need of guidance–didn’t want him.

  9. Oh my! The poor guy had such a sad, terrible end. Maybe he kept crying because he had forseen what horror awaited him. Maybe he was on to something after all. A brilliant story, Terveen! Makes you think about how little patience we have for anyone different out there.

    • Thank you so much, Aaysid. 🙂
      I love your perspective. Maybe Radhey could look into the future. That’s brilliant.
      Wish I had thought of that.
      Yes, patience runs thin when it’s not what we want. That’s how it is…

  10. I really liked this line: “Radhey’s face was a perpetual wetland.” That’s everything I need to know about him. I enjoyed the ending to this one. I knew it wouldn’t end happy and I couldn’t wait to see what his fate would be. I like how a lot of your stories seem to be people whose lives are ruined by someone with some form of authority over them. It’s very relatable. I love it. Great story!

    • Thanks a lot, Tony! 🙂
      Now that you mentioned it, most of my stories are ‘not so happy endings’. I guess there’s a grimness that just won’t leave me. Haha.
      But yes, relatable. Appreciate it!

  11. You know for me the meaning of this piece was so immediately sensed and I realize we may have different religious beliefs which doesn’t matter to me at all, and hopefully not to you. I saw this whole story as a metaphor for the story of Christ. The boy was Christ preaching and saddened by the constant sin he faced every day and the abuse. He was constantly bullied by those that were in charge. The sheep were his true flock and he likely gave his life to protect them while they got away. The three sheep looking for him again a metaphor. This is brilliant. I know different poems mean different things to different people but this was an immediate thought to me. Sending hugs, Joni

    • Joni, your interpretation is wonderful. I’m amazed by its depth and wisdom. I think when we read words, we must offer them freedom. The interpretations shouldn’t be rigid, restrained or altered to fit a particular shape or stereotype. And writers should always be open to listening to various perceptions. I’m so glad that you shared this. I applaud you for it.
      Your honesty and genuineness is much appreciated. Much peace, love, and joy to you. Hope you have a great weekend! 🙂

      • Oh what a very thoughtful and lovely thing to say. I truly appreciate your kindness too. Poems and stories don’t always immediately speak to me like yours did. To me it was the perfect allegory and so beautifully written. Thank you Terveen and peace, love and joy to you also. Hugs 🤗 Joni

  12. In is interesting to read, and reflect upon this piece, Terveen. It reminds me that we all, everyone one of us, have a different way we approach life, and that there will be times of great sadness, times of confusion, times of elation; and, that through it all we do have a deep connectedness to each other, no matter how “different” someone seems to us. Hmmm. More reflection on this story for me. I loved it. 🤗

    • Thank you so much, Jeff. 🙂
      To each their own existence and sustenance. Nothing is ever fair. But we move forward as we know best. May not appeal to all.
      We all are very much alike. the similarities are deep in the core.

  13. Good story and illustration. The poor guy definitely ‘has issues’. …

    I sometimes wonder whether general male violence, philandering, sexism and controlling behavior toward girls/women are related to the same constraining societal idealization of the ‘real man’ (albeit perhaps more subtly than in the past): He is stiff-upper-lip physically and emotionally strong, financially successful, confidently fights and wins, assertively solves problems, and exemplifies sexual prowess.

    Meanwhile, there’s the Toronto Now article headlined “Keep Cats Out of Your Dating Profile, Ridiculous Study Suggests” and sub-headlined “Men were deemed less masculine and less attractive when they held up cats in their dating pics, according to researchers”. Supposedly weak or sensitive men need not apply, one presumes.

    Maybe society should be careful what it collectively wishes for.

    Shortly after Donald Trump was sworn-in as president, a 2016 survey of American women conducted not long after his abundant misogyny was exposed to the world revealed that a majority of respondents nonetheless found him appealing, presumably due to his alpha-male great financial success and confidence. …

    Crybaby Radhey seems to be at the opposite end of that spectrum.

    • Thank you for such an informative comment. I think the ‘bad guy’ image does appeal to many. What is the psychology exactly…there must be several triggers, viewpoints, and insecurities. Maybe it’s a ‘follow the leader’ thinking where it doesn’t matter whether the leader is an intellect or idiot.
      Crybaby Radhey definitely strays nowhere near. A complete 180 degrees turn. 🙂

      • Perhaps what I’m talking about has to do with something more innate, likely the male and female Ids. While nothing is absolute with every human being (unlike science’s general relativity), the average heterosexual man may be fundamentally/foremostly attracted to a woman’s superficial qualities, with deeper qualities enhancing the attraction; whereas the average heterosexual woman may be fundamentally/foremostly attracted to the defender/provider qualities. (Of course, the ‘defender’ quality can potentially end up being used against her.)

        In a nutshell, instinctual/reactive feelings and perceptions, perhaps like what may have been essentially behind the results of that men-holding-cats research (I mentioned above).

        • Yes, there is so much that can be attributed to basic instinct. That is the way most males and females are. And the defender quality being used ‘against’ is definitely something that has been seen time and again.
          Though not everyone follows these patterns, but somewhere thoughts and actions do dance around the boundaries.
          Thank you so much.

  14. Ah Terveen. That is such a crushing end. You have given such a brutal image to sheep. This is very interesting writing Terveen. Wonderful.

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