Two-three months ago, my school had sent a note to all students. It was about a competition organized by Scholastic India which involved story-writing. Basically, it meant that school children across the country were given a chance to hand in an original story written by them on any of the topics given below:
1. A BIZARRE DREAM
2. IF GOD CAME DOWN TO EARTH
I knew, of course, that there must be more talented children my age who loved writing who were far better then me. But I still gave my best shot. I chose the first topic, A Bizarre Dream. All my classmates expected me to turn a story in anyways, because every one knows about my special writing hobby. I can assure that they were right! 😀 Now I’ll share my story with you guys… whether I win the prize or not. I hope you like it. Here goes….
THE BIZARRE DREAM
I lay on my bed staring at the night sky. The peaceful stars ushered me to the world of sleep. I felt myself dissolving….going….down, down, down…..
I fell with a bump on a grassy path in bright daylight. I was in a place I had never been in before, yet there was an aura of familiarity which did not frighten me. I moved on, galloping along a jade lane.
As I walked around, I suddenly could hear some distant noises. I followed that noise, and in no time I reached a merry little market place. Shouts surrounded me.
“A hot cross bun for a penny!”
“Milk straight from the cowherd!”
Various shopkeepers yelled out their products while children and mothers and fathers rushed to and fro.
“Oh, mummy, do let’s buy those cakes!”
“Fred, what do you think about these potatoes?”
I smiled at all the hustle in the marketplace. I first wondered if I should have bought anything, but it dawned upon me that since I had no idea where on Earth I was, there wasn’t really any use for me to rush into shops and buying butter. I didn’t even know if I was on Earth. It all felt very supernatural. Moreover, I didn’t have any money! Or at least I thought I didn’t. I suddenly put my hand in my pocket and miraculously pulled out ten pounds.
“Whoa,” I said to myself in amazement. My first impulse was to spend all of it on an amazing chocolate displayed grandly in one shop. Children pressed against the window and poking their mothers to buy it. But I ignored my instinct and kept going. I believed that something better was out there. So I kept walking along the green lane until I reached a funny little house-shop.
In big, black capital letters, across the door of that house was written:
I entered and was welcomed to a sunny, many windowed cottage by a tall, old, old man. His snowy beard was tucked into his belt and black eyes stared at me behind a pair of cracked glasses. There was something odd about this man, as well as something mysterious with his shop. His desk was surrounded by huge shelves, and those shelves consisted of hundreds of glass jars, which I assumed contained dreams. Perhaps it was the fact that I was used to being in a strange place, but I wasn’t as astonished as I normally would have become.
“What kind of dream might you be looking for, milady?” The man politely asked.
I replied after a few seconds of thought: “Well, I was hoping for a dream which is really, really weird. A bizarre dream, basically. One that is so strange, that I can laugh at it. Not a scary one though, for fear is the last thing I like. Before cruelty and betrayal. But that’s out of context.”
The man suddenly chuckled at my words. I went slightly red. What had I said that was so funny? I felt foolish, a ten-year old child standing next to a chuckling old man. “Ahem,” I coughed purposely, to remind him that I still existed.
The man stopped laughing, but he still had a mysterious smile on his face as though he knew something I didn’t.
“Don’t you think fear is a choice and not fact? And oh, of course, a bizarre dream! The shelf which is directly right to you is full of them. You can read the labels on them to get an idea of what the dream will be like.” He said.
I had just started to look around when a small child of about four years came into the shop. He was wearing rags. I had a feeling that he was very poor.
“Sir?” he asked the old man. “Do you happen to have a dream that can make someone happy? My Ma and Pa are very poor, sir. We live just outside your cottage. We are the shoe-polishers. I want a dream so that they can forget about their hunger. I want them to be happy. Please, do you have one?”
I was extremely touched by the little boy’s consideration and love for his parents. He was poor, but he was filled with benevolence and innocence. I was much moved.
The old man looked around at his shelves. He picked out a jar himself. On it was a label saying:
“This dream is about how a family who is poor but very kind get blessed by God. They soon live in a nice hut where they live and have a happy family. God casts a spell over their lives to make sure that they never get hurt. The family lives happily ever after.”
He handed it to the boy. “I am afraid that this one will cost ten pounds. How much money do you have, son?”
The boy sadly opened his fist to display three one-penny coins. “I am sorry sir, I don’t have enough money. I should better go.”
I was in a dilemma. What would I spend my money on? My dream, for entertainment reasons, or the boy’s dream, for a change in his life? I glanced at the shelves of bizarre dreams. They all cost more than ten. So there was no point saving it for mine. I called out “Boy!” just as he was heading out the door. He turned his head and replied, “Yes, mam?”
I ushered him back in, handed him my ten pounds. He was overcome by joy.
“Thank you, ma’am! I do not know how to express my gratitude!” I patted him and said, “You don’t have to.”
He smiled at me. I smiled at him. When the boy left, I looked back at the old man. He grinned.
“Hold on! You…” I broke off. I spoke again. “I can’t believe this. Oh, Louie Grandpa! It is you!”
He smiled. You see, in my real neighborhood, there was a little cottage where Old Louie Grandpa lived. We all called him Grandpa. He was a mysterious old creature, but everyone always went to his home for advice. He nodded in agreement.
“But right now lassie, I am a dream merchant. I am Louie Grandpa, yes, but in another world. The real one.”
I was confused when Louie Grandpa said, ‘the real world’. What did he mean? He chuckled at my expression.
“What?” I said.
“Lassie, you wanted a bizarre dream, didn’t you?” I nodded. He laughed all the more.
“What?” I said again.
“Ah, do you not see?”
“Why ask for a weird dream, when you already are in one?”
I didn’t understand. But suddenly I got it. All of this was a dream! I smiled confusedly at the old man. He smiled back. He raised his bony hand and his long fingers clicked against each other. SNAP! His fingers went. Suddenly, I felt somebody shaking me.
“Wake up, Tapasmi, or you’ll be late for school!”
I was suddenly back in my normal bed, in my normal home, from the most extraordinary place in existence. Mamma was shaking me awake.
As I changed into my school uniform, memories splashed in my mind. The market-place…the little boy….and Louie Grandpa.
I learnt a lot from my dream. Kindness, quickness. But it was imagination which stretched across my mind the most. When I walked to school that day, I saw Louie Grandpa passing by for his morning walk. One special smile and a wink- and I knew that he knew. We were more than neighbors now! No, he was a dream merchant, and I was his customer. A very special one. A dream in consciousness, and different people from different worlds! Connected in network of dreams.
So friends, this is the story of the weirdest (however delighting) thing that happened to me. The oddest situation I had been in. The story of my most bizarre dream. Tell me friend, what’s yours?