The Wings Of Dreams
Phulwa and Rahul sat under the shade of the mango tree. Their faces were red by working on the field all day in this scorching heat.They had sat down to eat the lunch that they had carried from home.Thick chapattis with onion and green chillies were their first meal of the day. They had to finish tilling the land by sunset, or else they would get only a half day’s pay from the Zamindar. Fourteen and twelve years old, Phulwa and Rahul were the bread earners of their family of nine. Their father Raunak lal lay paralysed on bed with his eighty year old mother and six children to be fed. His wife Laxmi, worked from the break of dawn to midnight, doing all the house chores and tending to her husband, mother-in-law and children. Phulwa and Rahul were the older two children. They had started working on the fields of the zamindar to earn something, though, barely enough to keep the family alive.None of these challenges could lessen the sparkle of life, in the eyes of these two siblings.
The duo was drinking water from the brook after lunch, when suddenly there was a big splash. They turned around to see a girl almost their age, had fallen into the water. The girl, all drenched came out of the water with an embarrassing laugh. She wore beautiful, expensive clothes.
“I fell by mistake, you know,” she sort of clarified. “I am Smita. My uncle lives in that house and I have come here for the summer break. I had come to this village some five, six years back.” She pointed out to the big haveli of the zamindar.
“I am Phulwa and this is my brother Rahul. We live in this village,” said Phulwa as she introduced themselves.
There was an instant spark of friendship among the three children. Henceforth, everyday, Smita would come around the same time and the three would spend time chatting during the one hour lunch break of the two siblings. Smita would talk about her school, friends, her studies etc. She wanted to be a pilot, when she grew up. It was her dream, since childhood. When the siblings were asked about their dreams, a bit hesitantly, Phulwa said that she wanted to be a doctor and Rahul said that his one dream for many years now, was to be a teacher.The siblings had no idea though, how would their dreams come true.
The next afternoon brought in sudden, heavy rains. Nothing changed for the siblings though.They were there on the field. It was time for lunch break. There was no way that Smita would come in this torrential rain, they thought.Drenched to their bones, the two children sat under a small shelter next to the field and hungrily devoured the onion rotis and garlic paste from their aluminium lunch box. Suddenly Smita appeared from behind the bushes. She was holding a big umbrella that kept her from getting wet. She was clutching hard on something in her hand. It was a packet.
“Phulwa, Rahul, I have a surprise for you,” said she with gleaming eyes. Two pairs of eyes were fixed on the packet in her hand. Carefully Smita took out, a few books, notebooks and pencils from the packet and announced, “Today onwards, I am going to be your teacher and a very strict one at that.” She was all smiles. Phulwa and Rahul kept staring at her, with their eyes seeming to pop out. Under the shade of that big umbrella, with trembling hands, the siblings held the books. Despite the heavy rains , they could hear the heartbeats of their seemingly bursting hearts.
Thus started the new journey of Phulwa and Rahul. Both were eagerness personified.They would work hard with their hearts singing the whole day on the fields and after doing their share of the daily chores at home, they would sit with their books under the street lamp on the village main road, till the break of the dawn. Smita was to be there in the village for just two months and Phulwa and Rahul wanted to compress as much, into this. Every day , they would surprise their little teacher and it was difficult to tell, who had more enthusiasm, the teacher or the students.
Smita went away from the village but not from their lives. She would regularly, send books by post for the two and no one could believe when both the brother and sister appeared for the class VIII exam that year and cleared with flying colours.
On Smita’s request, the zamindar took over the responsibility of these two children. He called for Lakshmi, their mother and explained to her that he was ready to sponsor the education of these two siblings but they needed to go to the town, to a proper school. Lakshmi sat there with her head covered and bowed. After a few minutes she folded her hands and said softly, “Master, I give you my two children. I trust you and I have faith in God. My children have never stepped out of this village but I know they will manage. I know they will strive and succeed. I do not want to hold them back with my fear. I want to give them wings to fly. I trust them to be safe and shape their lives, the way they want to.” She lay prostrate on the ground in front of the zamindar, to show her gratitude, then slowly she got up and turned to go home. The zamindar silently bowed to the courage of this illiterate, village woman, who fighting all odds in life, had the courage to rise beyond her fear.
The zamindar, now an old man, was inaugurating the first hospital of the village. Phulwa was about to reach . She had completed her masters in medicine from the U S, where she had been sent with full sponsorship by the state government. On the basis of her work there, she had been offered a very highly paying job in a hospital but she had politely refused it. She had made her decision of working in her village.
Everyone turned to the car that entered the hospital gate. Phulwa with Rahul and Smita stepped out of it and headed to where everyone was gathered. Rahul had already set up a school, one of it’s kind, in the village for a comprehensive education for children. The school aimed at developing a fearless, happy mind in a child while imparting education.
It was an unbelievable co- incidence that Smita was flying the aircraft that carried Phulwa to her homeland. Phulwa and Rahul had arranged for Lakshmi, their mother, to be present for the inauguration . Everyone cheered when the zamindar picked up the pair of scissors with a red ribbon and to everybody’s surprise , called out for Lakshmi. Lakshmi came ahead shyly. The zamindar gave the pair of scissors in her hands saying, “She is the most befitting person to do this honor. She is truly an epitome of faith, courage and fearlessness. She is the one who has given wings to the dreams of her children and thus has inspired many.”
Lakshmi wanted to just disappear. She was overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. She somehow managed to cut the ribbon and fell in the zamindar’s feet.
Phulwa, Rahul and Swati stood there amidst all the cheers around. They had come a long way and a longer way, with open arms, awaited them.