Tag Archives: death

The Dreams We See

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” – Lanton Hughes, American poet.

All my life, I’ve grown up reading stories. So have you, probably, and many other people.

I accept I was a nerd back in high school, though not your typical nerd from out of a teenage novel! I missed my P.E. classes to read books in the library. Though it was clearly against the rules, the grey-haired librarian didn’t seem to mind. Nor did she ever complain to anyone that I spent a half of the school hours hiding in there.

When she didn’t have a class, she’d choose books and give them to me. She even let me borrow two books when we were allowed to take only one!

On a fine autumn day, she asked me if I write stories.

Being only in sixth grade, her question took me by surprise.

“No,” I replied. “I only read.”

“You should try to write a story someday,” she told me.

“But no one will read it,” I stated.

“I will,” she promised.

I never got a chance to give her my story to read. I left school the same year and I didn’t really have a chance to contact her.

How or when I began writing is a memory that has already left my mind. All that I remember is that I used to write secretly. I was afraid of how my piece of writing would be received by an audience. In between classes, in the lunch breaks, I would sit in a lone corner and scribble a poem or two in the last pages of some copy. I knew no teacher bothered to look at the last pages and so, my little secret was safe.

Until one day. My English teacher interrupted a class and asked me to meet her in the staff room during the lunch break.

When I visited her, I found her reading something intently. As I walked closer, I realized that she was going through the little poems I had written.

“You write so beautifully!” she exclaimed.

I really didn’t know how to react. Was I supposed to be scared because she had found out? Or was I supposed to be happy because she felt it was good?

“Don’t ever give up,” she continued. “You have an extraordinary talent. Keep this dream alive and someday you’ll reach there.

She reminded me of my old librarian.

I found a confidence after hearing her. And since then, I’ve always shared my work with people.

People often ask me if I have ever dreamt of becoming a writer. That very question never fails to take me by surprise.

“Yes,” I tell them. “It is my dream to become a writer.”

It is a dream that has been with me for as long as I can remember. While some dreams come and go, this stays with me.

Someday, I’m going to write something for the old librarian to read. I remember her promise.

Someday, I’m going to thank her for igniting my dream.

Someday, I’m going to wake up and live my only dream.

I still remember a couple of lines from the same poem which i had scribbled at the back of my English copy. it reads like this-

“They told you, dreams are important,

That dreams are hidden somewhere in the sky, beneath the golden hue;

They told you to hold on to your dreams,

For sometimes, they find you.

The Rain That Never Came

The sweet-smelling dust of a scorching May evening settled in front of Daya’s house. The blistering sun had dipped down beneath the horizon, the salmon sky sporting a canopy of faint grey clouds which never rained. As the darkness spread its veil over the land, the clouds seemed to be devoured into the night, replaced by a sprinkle of stars. The clouds brought with them, a little spark of hope- a hope that led farmers like Daya to believe that it would rain that night. When it didn’t, they felt their hearts wrenched out till it shed the last drop of blood. This type of hope was dangerous, for it brought them happy dreams and later pushed them into the dungeons of delusion.

 That evening was no different.

 Daya sat in front of his house, on top of the weak bamboo fence that had cost him a small fortune.

When his old father had passed away, the land in front of their dingy hut had been passed on to him. With high hopes and brimming dreams, he had taken out his broken bicycle with the bent wheel frame and leather-less seat and rode to the marketplace where he had brought five fences to cover either side of his land.

 On his way back from the marketplace, he had stopped at the moneylender Govind ji’s house and asked him for a little bit of money to buy the seeds and the fertilizers. When the scrawny, greedy man with a bald head had hesitated, Daya had told him about the piece of fertile land he had inherited and how it would reap the gold. With eyes on the little land, the moneylender had given some money to Daya.

 It was strange how things had suddenly started favouring him. He had money. He had the land. He had the spirits. And he had a bundle of hopes that he was going to make it big. Perhaps, they might appoint him as a member of the Farmer’s Association in their little town of Kaman. For a man who had spent almost half of his life doing odd jobs on another person’s land, even six feet of earth meant a lot to him.

 That very evening, the rains had come lashing down on the little village, quenching the thirst of the parched soil. The rain had drenched the flamboyant trees and their leaves had turned a shade brighter. Little saplings were awoken from their slumber and they greeted the silver sheets of rain as it crashed deafeningly on the thatched roof of Daya’s hut. In a matter of few minutes, the sky had gone from an eloquent blue to an ominous shade of gravel grey.

 Daya and his wife had sat in a corner of their little hut, escaping the dripping droplets of rain. As occasional flashes of lightning lit up the dark sky, Daya had felt a uncontainable joy at the pit of his heart. Oh, how he would plant the radishes and carrots and potatoes in this little land! Oh, how generous were the lords to bring them a spell of showers in early summer! It certainly meant something good, didn’t it? Daya’s poor human heart exploited his hopes with richer thoughts.

 Daya had tilled his land with viral enthusiasm, singing songs in merry stupor and buying his wife a brocaded silk saree from the market. When his wife had complained, he had asked her not to worry for they were going to be rich! Such were his hopes that it drove him into a frenzy.

 Each night he had gone to sleep, smelling the rain that lingered in the air and the canopy of stars in the desert night sky.

 However, only the smell of rain had lingered. It never came down in a glorious downpour. It never kissed his land and never brought it back to life. It doused off all his dreams, zoning them out into oblivion.

 How he had waited for the rain! How he had waited for his hopes to come back!

 Two dry months.

 And it hadn’t rained.

 The last traces of summer wind waltzed past him, creeping into his lonely house where his pale wife lay, bathed in the glorious light of the evening that trickled in through the little windows. The same saree, that  Daya had given her months ago, was wrapped around her in a careless fashion, rough knots of her unwashed, dark hair drowning into the creases of the fabric.

 The sound of a little bird rose and fell with the wind, the wispy clouds clearing from the sky to make way for the stars.

 The chilly desert air had taken its toll, but it did nothing to the restless, thirsty throats of the couple who hadn’t eaten for a week. The land in front of their house had cracked open. The little saplings that Daya had planted had withered away, leaving no trace behind.

 A faint light from the lantern flickered inside his house and smelling the scent of the burnt wick and the smoked glass, Daya turned around to see the same, obliterated by the rapidly darkening night. The darkness of the moment devoured his sanity, transforming him into a madman.

 Everything had started chalking his doom.

 When he had visited the mukhiya the other day, he had waved Daya off. At a time when drought had taken over the land, there was very little anyone could do for anybody.

 The greedy, heartless moneylender had come to his house, demanding him to return the money. Poor Daya could only give him the brass utensils and a pair of bronze bangles that belonged to his wife. Although the man had his eyes set on the piece of land, he left, knowing that the land wouldn’t be of any use as the drought had set in.

 There was nothing left in the house. Only two pitchers of clear water stayed in a desolate corner of the house, staring at the agony of the helpless couple.

 Daya jumped off the fence and started making his way inside his little abode. The tatters, he wore were unwashed, and covered with freckles of dirt and his bony chest glistened as the low light of the lantern hit him. His wife sat leaning against the mud wall, her hand on her head, wondering if they were suffering because of some sin they had committed in their previous lives.

Oh, the heartbreaking explanations we resort to!

 The things that had seemed to be going so well had instantly stopped, driving their ripened dreams into an unfathomable dead-end. Life was a brute, wasn’t it? And so was the restless human heart that held on to the withering thread of hope, thinking that one day or the other, radiance shall come through the pain.

 Daya staggered down beside his wife, crawling up to the bed and leaning against it. Staring at the faint darkness that was interrupted by the light from the night sky, he let out a hollow laugh.

 “It will rain!” he cried in feverish excitement. “We will grow everything on our land! We will be rich! Everyone will look up to us!”

 A slight sob escaped his wife’s lips.

 On a dull, summer night, when the moon was high up in the sky, a blissful cry erupted from somewhere, the breeze carrying its echoes into forgettable corners of the land.

 From nowhere, the air became thick with moisture, the rain-laden breeze calling out to the people of the land. A clammy haze of rain spread across the land, hiding the moon and the stars somewhere behind their drapes.

 Tiny drops of rain splattered across the unpaved paths, clearing out the sand and trickling in between the cracks. A few drops trickled into Daya’s house through the thatched roof and landed on their limp bodies. If only they had held on to that hope for a little more.

 The next morning, all the people of the land knew was that, the drought had driven yet another farmer to his death. No one sympathized. They blamed it on fate and they blamed it the sins the poor couple had probably committed in their previous lives. No one blamed the rain. No one blamed the drought. For them, it had become an everyday phenomenon, waking up each day to hear how a couple of farmers had given up. They stared at their abject poverty and prayed it didn’t happen to them.

 It rained for the next few days as well.

 If only Daya was alive to see the same. If only…

A Plate Full Of Mom

“One of the most important relationships we have is the relationship we have with our mothers.”

When Mom had to go away for a week to attend one of her training conferences, I hadn’t thought I’d miss her cooking that much! Her cooking!

Since my early childhood days, I’ve always been a lonely kid. Put me in an empty room with something to eat and a pen and a paper and I guarantee that I can live my entire life in the same space.

So, the day Mom left to attend the conference, naturally I didn’t miss her that much. Being a working woman, Mom was hardly around me. The little time we got after she returned home from her work, she spent it in the kitchen, cooking dinner and doing other little works.

Growing up, I didn’t have a particularly good relationship with my mom. Perhaps, it was because of the fact that I was a rebellious teenager with very different tastes than my mother. We’d argue on almost everything – clothes, food, books, subjects, languages, cultures and food. In short, we were both hot-headed and adamant to prove our point to each other.

Food – whatever she cooked, I didn’t like. She didn’t like that I didn’t like what she cooked. And I hardly knew how to cook! So each day, four of us, including my crazy eleven year old brother and my Dad, sat at the dining table hearing my grumbles and Mom’s constant complaints against my so-called attitude.

But that was five years ago.

Now, I believe I’m a sober teenager. My hormones have calmed down and I did realize how crazy a teen I had been! Relationships have improved and that counts the one between me and my mom. We understand each other better and hopefully, though the arguments haven’t completely stopped, they aren’t really that serious.

However, I still have a problem with her cooking.

Dad tells me that it’s probably because I’m bored of eating the same thing again and again and he is probably right. Sometimes, I believe the same too. But is there a solution? No. So until I learn how to cook (which seems like the next birth) and I’m finally independent and have a job, I’ve to depend on Mom.

Mom had to go for almost a week and we were given our pocket-money to order take-outs for dinner. The entire idea of eating out for an entire week, thrilled me! As most of you must have predicted by now, I’m a big foodie. Give me food and I’m the happiest soul around. But I’m really picky when it comes to food.

Dad, being the more inventive person in our house, decided that we should cook something and not order everyday. So that is what we did. Basically, he cooked.

And though I’ve seen that some men are great cooks, I can vouch that my dad is not. He can make some decent dishes, agreed, but when he tries to cook something he doesn’t know, it’s always a blunder that somehow ends up tasting good to him. And he forces us to eat it!

That is exactly what happened on the rainy Friday night when he got back home early.

I still do not know what he made. He called it something and we ate it without a noise. My brother even went on to say it was so good he could eat it everyday! Obviously, he meant it in a very sarcastic sense but Dad took it as words of encouragement and decided that we were going to eat the same thing again the next night.

I remember swinging my feet wildly and hitting my brother under the table.

The other day, when Dad had left for his office, we were hungry. So my brother and I decided to try something new. Given my complete inexperience when it comes to cooking, I had a difficult time trying to find something to make. We would’ve bought instant noodles but we were lazy.

“Cookies!” my brother suggested.

I agreed.

Half an hour later, he was mixing the batter for the second batch of cookies while I was reading a recipe book. A part of me wanted the cookies to taste exactly like Mom’s. So I took special care while adding the flour and eggs and chocolate, making sure the measure was accurate enough.

In between the little party in the kitchen, I remembered the last time she had made those cookies for us. It was a long while ago. Now that I sat on the kitchen top, reading through a recipe book, it felt as if Mom’s recipe to deliciousness had left along with her. It hadn’t been passed on to me and I had this nagging thought at the back of my brain that something might be wrong with the cookies.

It was then I realized that I had always loved Mom’s cooking, no matter what. I had always complained but that was plainly because I was bored with eating the very same thing, not because her cooking was bad.

The alarm of the oven went off and I helped my brother in pulling the tray out.

The cookies had weird shapes. Though they had looked good when we had poured them into the tray, after being baked, they had those weird amoeboid shapes. However, they tasted great! Perfect!

“Exactly like Mom’s!” my brother exclaimed as he stuffed a handful of cookies into his mouth.

No, the cookies didn’t taste like the ones Mom made. They lacked one thing. One person.

They lacked Mom.