It was dawn, right after it’s been raining all night. The sky was orange. Everyone seemed to be enjoying a nice morning walk, with a refreshing cool breeze.
A person walking his dog, noticed two kids standing by the roadside. A little boy and his sister; roughly 7 years in age, with their faces up, seemingly towards the sky. They were staring at something situated far away. He observed them both for a while, and then asked, “Hello kids! What are you looking at with such curiosity?” They answered, “Look at that building!! It’s huge! So many people can live inside it.” He glanced in that direction, and replied “Yes, it indeed is gigantic. Have you ever been in one before?”
“No we haven’t. We are from a very poor family. We live in a small tent. It’d be very stupid for us to even dream of visiting such nice places.”
“I see. Yes, not everyone gets to live in big houses. But it’s ok. Don’t let it put you down. We are all gifted with something unique in our own way, that no one else in this world has. So it always balances out.”
“What do you mean mister? We got no such thing. Our friends say our life is like this because we are bad kids and God is punishing us.”
“Oh no, don’t think things like that. It’s not true. You probably received your gift already, you just don’t realize it yet, because you are still growing up and learning about life.”
“We have it already? Let us think…we don’t own a lot of things so it shouldn’t be hard to find.”
The siblings pondered for a while, trying to decide what this unique thing could be.
A moment passed. Their eyes shifted towards the dogs when he started barking at them and running around in circles. The girl patted him and said “You have such a cute dog. His fur is so soft and warm, it reminds me of my…”, after a brief pause, her eyes lit up. “Hey big brother, could this unique thing be my teddy bear I hold every night to sleep, which I found in trash and thought it’s of no use because he didn’t have any eyes and was blind. But then you stitched him new eyes and now he can see again!”
“No little sis. It was no big deal. If anything, it has to be that plastic car I found lying on road, that someone threw because its rear wheels weren’t working. But we fixed it the same night within hours and now it moves again. I’m sure it’s that.”
“How is that car any unique? People have real cars like that, in which they sit and travel to places!”
His sight fell on the ground. “You’re right. Mine is just a small toy car. It’s nothing compared to real ones.”
Suddenly it started raining again, as if the sky was crying listening to their conversation. Or maybe it was just resonating what the person was feeling inside, talking with these kids. The three of them took shelter under a tree nearby, while the dog continued to run around in circles, with even more energy than before.
“Why is your dog not coming in? He’ll get wet.”, said the girl.
“It’s ok. He likes to feel the raindrops on his skin. It makes him very happy.”
“Oh ok. Hey mister, I think I figured it out!”, she said, “It’d be the dress our parents got for my birthday. Everyone said I was looking very pretty in that.”
“Yes sis, that could be it. It seems unique too because I have not seen anyone else wearing anything like it.”
“Could be. What do you both like to do, when your parents tell you to play somewhere else and not disturb them?”
“My brother draws things. He is very good at it. And I help him by giving him ideas & suggesting him which colors to use. But his drawings don’t move or fly; they’re just on paper so they’re of little to no value.”
He laughed at their innocence, and then answered, “Your teddy bear, the car, and the dress, they sure are all very valuable, since it gives you happiness. But you see, you both are thinking only about materialistic things, and most often than not, this unique special thing is not any physical object but something that you cannot see or touch…only feel.”
“How can something we cannot see, be of any value? If we cannot see it, it doesn’t exist!”
“Haha! That’s not always the case. You know, many of the people living in that giant building, they live a very hectic life. They wake up every morning, rush to work early, come home late; exhausted, barely eat dinner and fall asleep…just to wake up and do the same thing again. It’s not a very enjoyable life!”
“But they have money, and can buy anything they want. We can’t do that!”
“They can. But even after buying all those things, they can’t enjoy them. Because they have no time to cherish them. So what good are they? You, on the other hand, may not have all the things they do, but at least you can enjoy what you got.”
“Tell me something. Is your teddy bear that important to you, or is it that fact that your brother put efforts to stich eyes on him that helped him see again? Your toy car, it wouldn’t be as valuable as it is now, if it wasn’t for the thrill and memories of you and your sister staying up at night and fixing it together. Remember the clothes your parents got for you on your birthday? Now remember what they wore on that day…probably their routine ones. Not as good as yours, right? They put great deal of efforts and make lots of sacrifices for you. It’s all these bonds that are important, that makes you happy…no object or amount of money in this world is equivalent to this.”
The kids looked at each-other for a while, and said “You’re right mister. But look at all those people. They always buy new things for themselves and their kids. That’d make them so much happier.”
“I’m sure it does. But that happiness doesn’t last very long. Most of them are never content, and always want more. So their happiness fades away quickly. Remember, no one in this world gets to have everything. This is how it works. You may not have all the things they have, but they also don’t have all the things you have.”
“How can you say that? We don’t have anything that they don’t have! And they have everything that we don’t.”
“Oh you couldn’t be farther from the truth! Your brother, he has a talent for drawing. Not everyone has that. And he has you, his little sister, who has a gift of coming up with new ideas, without which he won’t have anything to draw in the first place. And that is not all. You are overlooking many things. You see, you both have eyes, with which you can admire the beauty of nature. You both can talk, hear voices and music that can speak to your heart. You can walk freely, run around and play games. You have each-other, and your parents that love you a lot. There’s so much you got. Not everyone has these, and no matter how much money someone has, these things cannot be bought.”
“How do you know so much about their life, mister? Did you ever got to go inside one of these?”
“Yes. I used to live in a building as big as this one, many years ago. Until I realized I am not enjoying that lifestyle anymore. So I left and now I live at the country side, near a forest, where I can see animals gazing grass and hear birds chirping every morning. I come to city every month to see how my friends here are doing.”
It stopped raining.
“Look the weather is clearing up. You should go now. Your parents would be worried about you.”
“Always remember what I said. And hold on to the gifts you have. What can be seen, may perish. But that, which you cannot see, will always be there with you. Those are the things, that makes you rich.”
They walked in opposite directions. The dog turned around and barked at them. The sun started shining brightly, again.
Next day, the kids woke up, with their parents packing their clothes and toys. They asked, “What’s happening mother. Are we moving to a new tent again?” Her mother looked in their eyes for a minute, and answered, “No children. We don’t have to live in a tent anymore. Some kind person gave us a nice place to live. So we’ll be living there from now on.” “Oh! Really? Please let us carry our own bags and toys, we are big kids now!” “There’s no need for that. The person also arranged us a ride.” They packed their belongings and waited for the decided time. Soon their ride came. It was a car, the one on which the boy’s toy car was modelled after, albeit a different color. The girl screamed with happiness, “Brother look! It’s the same car as yours. Now you’ll finally get to sit in it”. Soon after, they could see the same building they were looking at a day before. Their heart jumped with excitement. They asked “Father, are we going to live in this building?” “No children, our destination is a little farther from here.” he answered, as they crossed the building. On their arrival, they saw a cottage surrounded with plants and trees.
When they entered, a dog came barking towards them. The girl recognized him from yesterday. She started patting him, when she noticed a note tied around his neck. It read, “Hello kids! I know you’d have liked to live in that building instead, but I have this place I’d rather like you all to live in instead. It’s very similar to mine. You’ll like it here. Next time when I come around, let’s play with your teddy bear and your car together.”
Hi, I’m Teek. I started writing this short-story many months ago, but never got to finish it, until now. A few things in this book might seem random and out of the place to you. But they all poses some value to it, in their own way. Also, the carefree language I use and my dialect varies a lot. It’s a combination of what I’ve absorbed from all the people I meet, all the books I read, and the characters I befriended in them.
I’d like to mention few subtle things in this story, that are easy to miss, but carry some meaning or reason behind them –
The little girl speaks with a broken grammar and in a single-breath, because that’s a thing I adore most about little kids. Their innocence & honesty is what makes them so much lovable.
The dog likes feeling the raindrops on his skin, is something I experience myself. It helps me forget all the sadness in the world and connect with nature. Also, I always wanted to have a dog.
The person despises the lifestyle of the people living in the building, because my own schedule is very similar to those. But I’m trying to break free and cherish the little things, that can easily be forgotten. I’m also sneaking out some time and trying out many other things in life, one of them being writing these books.
When the kids were going back to their parents, the sun started shining “again”, even though it’s the first ray of that day. It refers to the kids feeling happy again, after realizing that they have so much in life to cherish and be grateful for…specially the things that rich people cannot buy with their money.
In the epilogue, the car sent to pickup the family is of a different color than the boy’s toy car. It denotes that you don’t always get things in life exactly as you would have wished them to be, but you can still find happiness in what you get, if you have a positive outlook.
In the epilogue, the person didn’t turn out to be a rich billionaire and owner of that building, offering them to live in it. It would be all too cliché. But this is something I am still learning myself, the hard way. It denotes that you cannot help the poor people or animals exactly the way you would want to, or solve the world problems in an instant, making their lives very happy and erase all their pain. But, you can still contribute a little every now and then, in ways possible for you. And maybe that “little” help from your side could mean a lot for them. You cannot change the world, but maybe you can try to change someone’s world.
Thank You For Reading!