Imaginative is the word that best describes me. In my childhood, I used to have visions that I would run away from home and start a business of my own. I don't know why I wanted to become a shopkeeper, but that's the only thing which fantasized me the most. I dreamed of running away to an unknown city where I could live as I wanted to. When I was a student of class three, I had a best friend, Kanai, with whom I used to play, walk, run, quarrel, fight, and then play again. He used to tag along with me all the time, no matter how cruel I became sometimes. We used to catch fish in the canal. We spent hours sitting by the canal; ironically though, we were unable to catch any fish, not even a tortoise.
Kanai wasn't a naive boy, but he used to do almost everything I wanted him to do. On one 21st February, we woke up early in the morning and walked for three to four miles barefoot to pay respect to the martyrs strewing flowers on the Shaheed Minar. Well, that was my idea too! After that, we got so exhausted that we could not walk back home and we didn't have money either. Kanai took me to one of his aunts' house where we had had breakfast.
I had a habit of saving money, mostly coins. When I could manage to save around a hundred, I would give them to my father who would give me a hundred taka note in exchange to make me happy. By doing this, I managed to save around six hundred and got my first chance to turn my dream in reality. Though I wanted to fly from home, I never wanted to go alone. I wanted a friend, and Kanai was my first choice. Well, I had never had a second choice.
I used to tell Kanai about my plans as to what we would do after getting away from home. I told him that we could buy a tiny shop where we could sleep at night. I also told him that if we could run our shop properly, then we would earn a lot of money and buy a bigger shop where we could build homes for pigeons on one side, as well. I loved pigeons. I always wanted to have a couple of pigeons-to feed them, to play with them, and to see them fly; however, mom never fancied likewise. She always goaded me to go to school which I hated the most. One thing, however, that I loved in school was the leisure period. This recess was sacrosanct to me as I could avoid my fellow students and find my refuge in a guava garden behind the main building. I was privileged to eat as many guavas as I wanted. Sometimes I used to bring one or two at home so that I could eat later.
Running away from home was my cherished dream. I never wanted to miss a single chance whenever I found one. The day I first told Kanai about my dream, he was a little confused about whether to accompany me or not. Later on, he realized that he would miss me the most if I went alone and never saw him again. So, it was easier for him to make up his mind.
Soon, it became the dream for both of us. We used to spend a good amount of time, each day, discussing how we might escape. We did not hurry. Quietly, we packed our things lightly. We did not want to burden ourselves. One morning while my father went to his workplace, I left home with my large shoulder-bag pretending to go to school so that mom didn't have any doubt about me.
For the first couple of hours, we walked like free birds in the sky. Afterward, we went to a house where lots of pigeons were kept for selling. The house was heaven to us as we found colourful pigeons thronged there. We were amazed to see the whole house surrounded by pigeons; most interestingly, they were not caged, rather they were free to fly. And when they flew, they flew in a group of ten to twelve. The magical show inspired us to buy some of the pigeons instantly.
Now, we became the happiest. We headed towards an unknown city. At noon, we spent a little amount of money to have lunch. Then, we got on a bus. Kanai was playing with the pigeons. I was struggling with my inner-self to not fall asleep. As usual, that was a vain attempt. After a while, when I woke up, I felt numb. To be honest, I was totally unable to describe the feeling of that particular moment. I felt an enormous hollowness inside me. I had this blank look in my eyes. I was gazing at the passing trees, canals, fields of crops and grass, and people. I felt like I was leaving something behind that desperately tried to hold on to my whole heart. I didn't feel like leaving home anymore. I didn't feel like running away. The source of such desperate numbness was aroused by the image of my mother-the person whose existence in my life owes no explanations, even though understated.
Have you ever feared the thought of emptiness!
Have you heard the sound of a spoiled heart
when night falls upon the tress
and dew drops from leaves?
It is deliciously cruel.
Few insects make noises inside your head
as if they carry messages from an outside world
to declare your grave hollowness…
In childhood, I could do literally nothing without her presence. She used to be the guardian angel that never did let me feel alone. During school, she used to wait for me outside the classroom. Once she had to go back home to do some household chores. The moment I realized that I could not see her outside the window, I burst into unstoppable tears that made my class teacher call my mother immediately.
On that day, on that very moment of eternal numbness, I could not think of anything, but my mom. I had to convince Kanai to step out of the bus at any stoppage and to buy two return tickets. Kanai didn't argue much. Perhaps, he was having almost a similar kind of a feeling! When I woke up from a nap, I found him sitting quietly, his collar soaked in salty water.
The writer is a student at Prachyanat School of Acting & Design