This is the picture which was provided in the contest and we were asked to write a short story/poem on this picture. It's my first attempt at writing short stories.
So, here goes my story-
BOATS OF LIFE
It’s a Sunday morning. I’m feeling like king of the world. No appointments and no meetings for today. Last night, it rained and suddenly the dull dry surroundings transformed into a lively one, bearing the early fragrance of monsoon. I woke up late, thinking of the things I would do today - maybe a new novel or a football match with the students of my colony. I don’t know how people spend their holiday sleeping on the couch! I believe that the more you rest, the more you rust!
I got up and opened the curtains of my window to welcome the mesmerising view outside. Children were having fun in the small pond formed due to rain. Some were collecting the raw mangoes (kairi) which were dispersed on the grounds, like the poor patients dispersed outside a government hospital, owing to the powerful winds which followed the rain. But my attention was caught by a small girl who was trying to make boats and float them in water. She was my neighbour’s daughter. She was making two boats - a large and a smaller one. It was like a deja-vu for me. Something stirred inside me, and I noticed that a lump was forming in my throat. I sat in the time-machine and reached my favourite destination- my childhood.
The surroundings were similar; I was having ‘just after the rain’ fun with my best friend Gautam. We always used to hang out together. As in every relationship, we had our own differences. While I was a cheerful kid, he used to be the pig-headed one, but these differences never created a rift in our friendship.
That day, we were playing our most favourite game- Boat racing. We used to make boats and leave them in water. The first boat to reach the other end would win the race. While making boats, I asked Gautam why he always fought with other children and what made him follow Rajeev, the infamous bully of our school, and Rahul - the kleptomaniac? He just sat there, lost in making boats, without looking at me. After some time, he showed me two boats, a large and a smaller one, and asked me what did I see? On seeing my bamboozled face, he explained - “Look, here we have two boats. You and most of the other people are the smaller one; small, fragile, and without any support. I’m the bigger one. Large, strong, and people like Rajeev are my support. I can cross this whole sea, against the winds and storms of life, because I have such people supporting me. And I’m not following them; I’m just using them for my own benefit. This is the real life, you have to be a bootlicker or con someone for your own success”. After explaining this, he left the two boats in the water and said, “You will see that the bigger boat will cross the river, while the smaller one will sink in between!” and left. That was the last time I talked to him as the following week my dad was transferred to a new town.
After some years, I came to know that Gautam was arrested by the police and he was charged for a forged business deal and a harassment case. When he tried to use his contacts, no one helped him. At that instant, his words came back to me and I was really sorry for what happened to him but somewhere deep down my heart, I always knew this outcome. He didn’t know that at that time too after he left, that bigger boat never reached its destination. A small stone/hurdle came in its path, and it SANK owing to its own heavy weight. The first part to sink was its support, whereas the smaller boat, without any support, reached its destination safely!
Suddenly the doorbell rang, and I was hauled back into reality. I opened the door and found that same girl on my doorstep. She came and hugged me, and asked me to accompany her as she was having some problems in making boats.
I always thought that I never got a chance to explain my views to Gautam and to make him understand his faults; maybe that would have changed him. Today, I’m not going to repeat that mistake. I’ll help this girl in making boats and explain to her the ‘reality’ of life - that you have to survive in this world on your own and no shortcuts can take you to the top. You ought to have some principles and a little faith in humanity. As the French proverb goes, “There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience.”
I held her hand and started towards the grounds. From behind the clouds, the sun was trying to appear on the horizon.