Stolen Dreams

What a Twist! “Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly.” ― Langston Hughes

“Mom! Mom!” Adesh walks into the kitchen with winged steps looking for his mom. His mind is thronged with delightful thoughts. His mom sits on the packed dirt floor close to the stove with a far-away look on her oval face, her eyebrows drawn together, her lips squeezed flat and lines across her forehead as she contemplated to herself. Her soft lilac-colored, many times patched dress contrasts with the clay and thatch of her home. Her right cheek rested on the palm of her hand and she stared at the boiling rice in the small chipped clay pot . Her thoughts fly rapidly through her mind and she dwells on how she will send her son to school, manage the house and find a job. The candle in the far corner, haphazardly placed on top of a brick, flickers slowly in the wind, casting a shifting circle of light. Upon hearing her son’s footsteps and exclamations, she shakes off her thoughts, looks up to find him and smiles. He is her happiness, her love, her life.

Her eyes alight on her son, ” Is everything alright? What is in your hand?” Adesh bends down,hugs his mom tightly, and sits on the floor. His eyes sparkle with excitement. “Mom, today a miracle happened! I met a guy near the big bookstore- the one with lots of books! books about different countries, books with different stories, alphabet books, books with beautiful pictures” He could barely take a breath, he was so excited. Adesh softly squeezed his mom’s hand, his eyes dancing with excitement “And books with pictures of kings, mountains, and trees!” His mom smiled even larger, and with some puzzlement, waiting to hear the rest of the story. “I am scared to go into that bookstore so I always stand close to the stairs and try to look at the displays. I was leaning close to the last step of the store and staring at the books, then I felt a heavy hand on my shoulder. I startled and  turned my head to see a tall gentleman with a blue striped shirt, a black pant, a black jacket. He looked at me from the corner of his eyes and with a small smile asked me,’I have noticed that everyday you come and stare at the books, but never buy any books.’ Then instead of waiting for my answer, he asked ‘Do you want to read some of  those books? I can even help you start going to the school‘ .I swallowed, lifted my brown eyes towards the tall gentleman and asked ‘How? Are you going pay for my school and the books?’ The tall gentleman chuckled, and pulled out a few rupees from his pocket  ‘Sure. And you have to work for the money.The company will pay you, provide a house to live and once in six months you can come home to spend time with your family. You can save money, go back to school and fulfill your dream. Doesn’t it sound great? Discuss this with your family and let me know tomorrow morning in this same place, before I leave the country. And here are a few rupees to buy things necessary for the trip. I forgot to ask you your name?’ I cleared my throat and said ‘ My name is Adesh.’ My hands shook as I took the money.”

Adesh looked at his mom and held out the bag held tightly in his hand, as if it was the most precious item in the world, “I  was racing back home through the market and and I bought this for you. Go ahead open the bag.”  Adesh’s mom reached for the bag, astonished at the story, and pulled out a pretty blue dress with soft white flowers on it. Her face is awash with equal parts happiness and surprise. She pulls Adesh close and hugs him again. “Wow, such a pretty dress! And did you buy anything for you?” “No mom. You have a torn dress and wear it all the time and I have two nice shirts so I so not need any thing.” Adesh is on cloud nine. He changes the topic and in a chirpy voice he asks his mom,” So what do you say mom? Please say yes. I want to work and bring lots and lots of money. Then you can buy more new dresses, colorful bangles, milk , a few fruits, repair the house and I can go to school. Then he moves close to his mother , “Really mom I want to study, go to school and be  like the famous people I see in the torn newspapers on the side of the road. Pictures of very rich,educated  people and some say that the rich people do help the poor people like us and give money to the school too. So can I go with him? Please mom?”

Adesh’s mother sees the beautiful, colorful and vibrant  hopes and dreams in her  child’s eyes and they float so brightly close to each other. She does not have a husband or anyone else to help her take care of the house. It is hard to let go of her only love. She glances at the sweet face of her son and smiles joyfully “Yes. You can go if that is the only way to fulfill your dream.” Then she tries to hide her tears, extends her both arms, wraps tightly around the small body of her son.

The next day, a  thunderstorm looms over the town, thick and rich with monsoon rain. The wind drives the rain against it in furious ways. Adesh gets ready to leave for town to meet the gentleman with high hopes. His journey starts, hope and dreams get wings. Soon he finds out that he has to work from early morning to night in a cocoa farm. He works day after day hacking the cocoa pods. He holds the pod length wise and gives it two quick cracks scrapping it open to  reveal the milky cocoa beans. He drops the bins on a  growing pile. It is so hard,he thinks. He opens both his palms and looks at  the cuts and scratches. He stands and wipes his sweats from his small forehead.He looks for some food in his pocket but it is empty. He has not eaten for the whole day, except one small banana in the morning. He sits down on the side of the big pile of the cocoa bean. He bends his head down and thinks that It is almost four years that I have not seen  my mom. I do not how to go back home. My mom must be waiting for me. Then he sobs. He wants to go back to his mom and back to his home.The gentle man lied. There is no money to send to her mom or for him to eat enough or to save for school. He looks around but everywhere there is only darkness and shattered dreams and shattered hopes. images (3)

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