Vikram sat back as he counted his money, feeling slightly disconcerted. “It isn’t much,” he thought, “but enough.” It was late and he had to get some sleep. Tomorrow would be like every other day for everyone else, but for him it would be completely different. He kept the money back in his little rustic, metallic box and sat back, contemplating how he had arrived at the situation he was in.
A young Vikram ran and gave Baba a hug. It was early in the morning, around 2 am, and Baba had started preparing tea for his early corporate customers. Vikram asked him, “Baba, why do these people catch such early flights? Why can’t they just fly during normal hours like the others?” Baba gave him a smile, and keeping his hand on his head, said, “These people are flying international. They are leaving India and going to another country, where the time will be different.” Vikram, obviously fascinated by the idea of countries other than India, started dreaming about these quaint lands.
That night he lay down on his bed and dreamt of lands full of trees which had chocolate as their barks and aam papad for its leaves. His dream had sweet men with quaint beards and caring women who gave free candy. Lands full of vigor and happiness, devoid of everything bad: poverty, hunger, fear. Devoid of every evil in his own country.
So, as he grew up, he started collecting, bit by bit, rupee after rupee, so that one day he could go to these lands. Of course, as he grew older his perception of these countries became more realistic and his dreams changed to those which were more probable to be true. But his fundamental dream remained the same: to move to a land where life was better.
Every night, after a hard day’s work of making and serving tea at the airport, he would lie in his bed and think of the ‘better lands’. Lands where he could be happy, where he wouldn’t worry about getting by and surviving every day. Then he would turn over and look at his little box. He would open it and admire the money he had accumulated. “This is not just money,” he would tell his frustrated wife Lata, “this is dream money. My dream money!” In a sense, they were his dreams.
Today, as he counted his money, he realized he had enough. Working every day at the airport, he had managed to ask one of the Customs workers the cost of a ticket to a nearby country called Singapore. Now he could afford to go there and start a life of happiness.
Lata looked into his room and knew. A very real fear came over as she realized it was finally happening. She always knew of Vikram’s dreams and although she didn’t feel the same way, she didn’t want to take away them away from him. She had prepared all of her married life for this moment. But as it finally arrived, it felt like it made no difference whatsoever. But she put on a brave face, saw her husband staring at his ‘dream money’ one last time, and went to sleep.
She woke up the next day, ready to be the angel who saved the early corporates from the morning blues with a pot of tea. As she reached the airport, she saw her husband standing there. Surprised, shocked, maybe even a little appalled, she went up to him furiously. Vikram looked at her and, unaware of the reason for his wife’s rage, got his running stance ready. “What are you doing here?!,” she yelled, “aren’t you supposed to be in your dream land right now?” Vikram looked at her.
“All my life I have imagined the perfect land where life will be better and happiness will abound. But if I go there and it isn’t how I imagined it will be, it’ll shatter me. I want everything to be perfect, like it always has been in my head. And I know that won’t be possible. So, I’m happy here itself. I’m better off dreaming about these lands because it gives me hope. And I don’t want to take hope away from myself,” said Vikram.
Lata, somewhere deep inside, wished he stayed for her. He probably did too. But she knew he’d never tell her that. So, she stormed off with her face full of anger.
Vikram, completely clueless as to why Lata reacted that way, started thinking of what he could do with his collected money. “Maybe I could get a color TV, so Lata and I can see my dream together,” he thought to himself.
– Siddharth Sarda (12C)