When I woke up today, it was raining a little. Yes, I have seen countless monsoon mornings. But this morning still reminded me of one years ago.
That day Dad had woken up at about 3 in the morning. I was fast asleep. He woke Mom up. After tea, Dad took the fish hook, the bottle of worms, a net and a fishing line. Then he told Mom that he would return by morning and set out on his boat under the cloudy sky. I woke up as usual when the sun had begun to shine on the horizon and went to school.
He might be just a fisherman for the world but for me he was my loving Dad who would quite often allow me to accompany him to the coast and help me collect shells. One morning, I asked him, “Dad, are dreams like sea-shells or stars?”
He picked me up in his arms, “Why, what’s the difference?”
“Huge difference,” I said quickly. He put me down and asked, “how?”
“Sea-shells can be picked up and taken home but not stars.”
“Then, dreams are like sea-shells.” He laughed a little, “you better stop these stupid questions. Come, let’s go. Your mom must be waiting.”
That was when I was in standard-1 and loved the sea. When I grew up a little, I started hating it. Childishly I considered it a culprit for our sufferings. My friends said, “what? Your father is a fisherman?” They laughed about it among themselves. I was so ashamed that while writing my exam once, I wrote that my father is an engineer… But I still loved to watch the waves rocking back and forth on the sandy beaches. The sea was so beautiful I could see it all day and night but I couldn’t imagine then that they could even be dangerous at times.
Then on one holiday, as I turned ten, my father took me to the sea for my first fishing expedition. He taught me a few tricks of the game as well. While returning home, he seemed a little lost in himself and suddenly asked me, “you failed in the half-yearly exams?”
I looked down at my dirty feet. I was scared but angry too. I wanted to tell him that I had to go to school empty stomach and walk barefoot on gravel and sand with no shoes to wear on. How could I study like this? But all these questions were banished from my thought by the fear of some kind of impending punishment that could befall me anytime. But Dad, instead, kept his cool and turned to look at the sea and said slowly, “do you know, my father had sent me to school but when I was about thirteen or fourteen, one day he got struck by some mysterious disease and died within a couple of days. I dropped out after a month and started catching fish to help my mother. But I cannot see you doing this work. So dream and mind you! Dream Big!”
Suddenly I ached to ask that one question again – what are dreams like? But the first time I had asked, he hadn’t replied seriously and this time I was too old to ask. And the suffering and fire in his eyes frightened me. I asked myself, are dreams always supposed to be broken or evaporate with time? No, certainly not and so I also started dreaming.
Three years later, one morning a storm struck our life. That day, as Dad went out into the sea, he never came back. The boat, the net, the fish hook, the bottle of worms, the fishing line along with Dad disappeared. My mother’s struggles began. One month later I dropped out of school and from that day I have done just one job…
“Are you not going today?” My wife called from the kitchen.
Helplessly, I returned from my memories, “yes, of course.” My things were arranged. I could have been gone ten minutes if I had not been so lost. In my haste, I drained the teacup but before going out, I went to check on the little girl bundled in her blanket one last time. Somewhere on the shore, my boat is waiting for me… and the same old treacherous sea yearning to embrace me one more time or maybe who knows the last time. Now I wish my father had told me the truth about dreams.