I Wish, I Wish from the Depth of my Heart… | Act Youth Force
Hassan stood there beneath the tree as dappled sunlight flickered through the trees and casted on his face a mosaic of light and shadow. The shrill sound of the school bell pinched his ears, and he involuntarily dashed forward, his lips curling into a blissful smile. Gently, swift breezes slowly caressed his skin and stirred fine wisps of hair dangling down his forehead; his destination was now just a touch away. At a distance he could see the school building loom up in front of him like a massive cloud, adrift in the sky, yet his every step took him a thousand yards away. He could see the hustle and bustle of the children; the confused hum of their voices stroked his ears like cotton buds but in spite of being so close, his dream of joining them felt so distant. Then all of a sudden a tormenting darkness swept across like a massive tide shattering the vision of the school into a million shards of glass, along with Hassan’s dream.
He opened his eyes and found himself lying in his familiar dingy and scantily furnished room—an abode for not only himself but for ten other boys like him. His gaze shifted from one end to the other in search of the school and the children until he realized that it had only been yet another dream. Suddenly, an ear-piercing siren rang, jolting the boys from their peaceful slumber—the real torment was about to commence. Before getting out of bed he whispered “I wish, I wish from the depth of my heart that one day my dream will come true”.
Like the beginning of all other strenuous days, the long queue of ten-year old mine workers was led to the site of extraction. From the crack of dawn to the fall of dusk, it was an unremitting struggle for them all; cracking rocks and transporting heavy trolleys was a predicament for them on its own, yet their bodies made every effort to combat obstacle after obstacle. Hassan, the youngest of them all, was perhaps the one for whom even the coldest of hearts could easily be thawed. The frailty of his meager body before the large trolleys and sharp hammers primed the sympathy of many passing by but few rather none ever dared to intervene.
Life had never been kind to Hassan, and after losing his father at a young age he became the only source of support for his eight older sisters and an invalid mother who herself worked from morning till night to fulfill their needs. Having no other choice, Hassan began working from an age, children generally start school at. Memory was not so utterly torpid in his mind that he could not recall the day his mother had forcefully dragged him to his new job.
“You are a boy and boys need to learn to support their families”. These were the words of advice his mother had given him–a seven year old boy– before they had left that very day.
‘Boys are supposed to support their families’. Like a serpent, these words slithered around the periphery of his life and haunted his dreams and imaginations. While his friends were dropped off at school every day, Hassan walked miles just to follow a grueling routine of never ending hard work.
Hassan often yearned for freedom and the feeling of being able to go to school like all other children his age. He envisioned himself attired in a school uniform dashing off to his class with his bag swinging wildly behind his back; he imagined a classroom, a large group of caring friends, and a kind-hearted teacher who would teach them with gentleness, concern, and care. Every day, he tried to console himself by the assurance, that one day his dream of going to school would materialize to reality.
“I wish, I wish from the depth of my heart that one day my dream will come true”. He reiterated this prayer every day with the hope that God would hear him, but with the passage of time his hopefulness began to tarnish. Whenever he came across other children his age who could go to school and were free from the worries, life had in store for him, jealousy the green-eyed monster would start rearing its head in his heart.
Why was he the one chosen for this torment? Why were their lives so blissful while his was a graveyard of buried hopes and dreams? Such pessimistic thoughts caused sorrow to reside in his heart. The whole day he simply lived in anticipation for the sun to sink behind the hills and for the dusk to swathe the sky in smothers of purple and pink, marking an end to his day long torment.
However, on one of his visits back home, he mustered enough courage to appeal to his mother one last time.
“Mother I-I can’t work anymore I w-want to go to s-school”, he stuttered apprehensively, his face downcast, shoulders slumped, and fingers absently twirling a loose thread on the hem of his shirt.
Arching her eyebrows, she raised her face towards him, her lips curled into a distasteful frown.
“Then how will we manage to earn good enough to get food for us, when a selfish boy like you would not want to earn, huh? Next time you say such a thing, I will spank you really badly!”, she yelled, shaking him roughly.
That night Hassan had laid on his bed and not a tear trickling down his cheek despite the shattering of a long kept hope. Such instances had for him transitioned from novelty to habit. Now he laid there gazing at the half moon in the sky riddled with stars, perhaps still waiting for the torment to end, and perhaps still waiting for his dream to come true one day.
How lucky were those children who could go to school? This thought kept on brewing in his mind until his eyelids feel heavy and shut.