“Why would you sit with me at all?”

He wasn’t pleased about something and left the house in a hurry, leaving his mom bewildered.

Minutes later, he was at a clinic. The rage he held as he closed the grilled gate of his home meant that he hadn’t the time to think about how the scabs on his legs would be exposed to the world if he were to wear the pair of navy blue berms. But it didn’t quite matter since some of the people in the waiting room would probably have some scabs of their own, concealed or otherwise.

Unlike the previous trips to the clinic, he hadn’t much time to allow too many of the wandering thoughts to take shape. The iPad is a wonderful invention, he thought to himself, as his fingers swiped across the touch screen, flipping from one news article to another.

There were a smattering of patients all waiting for their turn either to see the specialist or get their creams, ointments, shampoos or soaps. The location and the expertise of the consultants here meant that many of them were the well-heeled. The brief moments when he looked up and around, he could imagine how these people all lived in landed homes and condos, driving their way here in their spanking new cars.

Just then, a mother and son walked into the clinic. Both had blonde hair. They spoke in an accent. He didn’t think much about them at first. A few moments later, they were ushered into a room.

Then, the unmistakable heart-wrenching cry of a kid rang out. That preceded a long and drawn out meltdown from the kid as the mother and son were ushered out. This was making it a bit of a challenge for him to read the stuff from the iPad. As much as he knew there would be times when nothing can be done to pacify a kid, he wished the mom would do something so that the little boy would stop crying.

But something the mom said (to the boy) etched in his mind for a long time to come.

“You’re a brave boy and you know that,” were the nine words the mom spoke gently to the boy.

As these words crept into his head, he found it even harder to focus on the screen. Memories were collectively triggered, as though a can of worms was yanked open. A surge of emotions preceded the faintest of cries…

He spent the next few minutes thinking about the times – in his childhood and during his youth – when it would have made a world of difference if his own mother said those nine words to him. Instinctively, he knew that his life would possibly be very, very different now.

But those were the lost opportunities, those times lost that could never be relived, regained or redeemed.

And until today, his mother had never, ever said those nine words to him. He could still wish, but it would probably never come to pass.

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