Not so much further away, in another tent, a small boy was looking outside at the sudden emptiness of mounds and growing silence. He looked up at the sky in wonder and asked his mother “Is somebody smoking there, high above? ” The mother, who was wasting away in her drink, answered with a simple nod. After a minute she turned to her son and said, “Come here and wrap yourself in this shawl. It is cold out there. Come close to me so can warm you. ” The boy ignored the call and kept staring outside at the sky, when a shadow fell on his vision.
The hooded-man had walked past the boy, prompting the boys curiosity, “Who walks outside, when everyone is inside? ‘ The drunken mother looked at her title boy and then away, “Only those who keep hoping for something more,” she then suddenly added a warning, “But, you don’t follow them, boy. Those who do what others don’t always get lost. ” “Where do they get lost? ‘ The boy asked. The mother fell into fits of hiccup, which she tried to sooth by drinking in mouthful of liquor.
Little did her subconscious know that the liquor would only make it worse, “The get lost in false *hiccup* hope *hiccup*” The little boy giggled at the state of his mother who soon fell into a deep slumber. The boy crawled towards her and picked up the shawl which was previously offered to him, and placed it gently around his mother’s sleeping figure. He then crawled back the same position he had left and looked outside; searching for the man he had spotted early and spotted him some distance away. The hooded-man was already disappearing from sight, so the boy ran to him, bare-footed and unprotected.
He ran until he knew his voice would reach the fellow, “Wait! ” he shouted, reaching out his hand at the same time. The man stopped to turn around at the voice calling out and saw a small hand raised in a sign for him to see and the boy to tell, that he wanted the man to elk no further. So, the man waited until the boy caught up to him. “Where are you going? The boy blurted. The hooded-man seemed a bit taken aback by the sudden question, ‘Why do you ask? ‘ The boy shook his head in disapproval. “Mother says, when somebody asks you a question, you answer it or keep quite. The man walked turned and started walking away. Clearly the boy had not expected that to happen for he jumped in front of the man, his arms spread forming a barrier, “YOU cannot walk away now, until you answer the question. ” The man smirked and said, “l can walk past there he aid pointing to the space on the right, “and there,” pointing to the left, “Unless you can magically stretch your arms. ” The boy scowled at himself for lacking such an important feature. He then started running left and right, and back again. Continuing the motion, back and forth, “See?
I can reach two places like this too! ” said the boy, his voice breaking with each run, panting. The man waited for the boy to run to the left and when he did, the fellow just walked in the open right. The boy saw this and he turned around, only to slip and catch the hem of the cloak. The man stopped to look at the pressure which was pulling on his cloak, blinking down at the boy, “Get up and go home to your mother. ” The boy stood up and started to stomp his feet in anger, “But I want to know! ” The man looked at the boy was a hard and scary stare, “l could eat you. ” I could eat you too,” said the boy simply which made the man snort. The fellow then started to search the boys face, expecting some fear that he could use. But, a child so small and so innocent; someone who could threaten just the way he was, could not know fear. For, at such age a child is protected by a strong psychological weapon, called curiosity. “Come hen. ” The man decided. The boys face lit up with happiness, and they walked away. The boy unconsciously caught the man’s hand in his. The man too, suddenly felt protective of this little child and held on tightly.
The boy tripped several times on the way, his eyes only on the man who couldn’t help but notice it too, “Look ahead lad, or you will fall and break something. ” The boy obeyed, for a while, until he again started staring again, “Why do you wear that? ” was what he asked next, pointing on the man’s head. ‘ ‘That is a hood. ” “l know what it is! ” the boy said, agitated, “But why do you wear that? “It protects me from the sun. ” The boy turned his head to see the back of his shirt and placed a hand there and said mournfully, “l want to wear one too. ” The man’s eyes widened with an idea “Go back and tell your mother to make you one. The boy saw through the plan, “No. Only after we return from where you are going. ” The man sighed. There was silence for a while until the boy spoke up again, “People who go out while the others are in, get lost the boy tried to recall what were the words his mother used, ” false hope! ” he exclaimed after recalling and then all off sudden set a serious pose. The man looked at the boy in surprise, “Where did you hear that? ‘ “l just know that,” the boy said proudly. The man did not believe him but decided to play along until the boy spoke the truth, “That is very narrow-minded of you. “Now, what is that? ” asked the boy in a confused tone. “It is to have water but not drink it when you are thirsty. ” ‘ “Why wouldn’t he drink it? He will die! ” the man nodded in response. “That is foolish! ” the boy added in disapproval. “And that is being narrow-minded. ” That said the boy pouted as the realization of the meaning dawned on him. He was not foolish and would not accept insult for what he did not say, so he spoke the truth then, “My mother told me about that false hope thing I said before. ” The man smiled, “Now you spoke the truth, huh? ” said the man, teasing the boy.
The boy ignored, feeling ashamed of his lie, “l am sorry,” he said, voice laced with guilt and then all of a sudden with anger, “My mother is not foolish! ” The man nodded looking ahead, “l know. She is a good person since she taught you some good,” he said, looking down at the boy now, and smiling. The gesture made the boy grin. They had reached a hill at which point the man helped the boy, up a few mints after which he started climbing up himself. The hand of the man was always on the small back of the little child, keeping the boy at ease. They had almost reached the peak when the boy asked, “What if the water was poisoned? ‘The what the man blurted confused. Until he recalled their previous conversation, “Well then he is being cautious, as in being careful,” he added the last part in a hurry since the boy was going to ask what cautious meant. Reaching the top of the hill, they settled to rest for a while, for the man knew he could go on, but the small body of the child might not be able to. So,” the boy started, “being foolish is to be narrow-minded, which is to be cautious? ” The man looked at the boy wondering at how much could such a small mind taken in, “That is a perspective. ” “What is a pars-uh-puking? The man’s eyes twinkled at the sight of the little boy trying to pronounce the word. It made him happy that there was someone in that gloomy camp who could bring some light into the dark world of lost hope and many death, “It means to have two sides to life. ” ‘What are two sides and what is life? ” The man fell into a deep thought then, wondering how to explain such hard questions in a simple way. The boy patted him on the arm, asking for attention and answer. “YOU know where your home is right? And how everything is around there, right? ‘ the boy nodded in answer, ‘then describe me that place. The boys mood escalated with joy at the thought of telling something which he thought the man did not know, for why would he ask a question if he knew the answer to it. And so the boy started, “The place is big, with brown sand everywhere. Have two neighbors. One is uncle Edmund and the other is an old lady, who never takes a bath. I can tell, you know, because whenever I walk by it smells horrible there. I one day even told her to bath but she said there will be nothing to drink! Anyway, there is some yellow grass on the brown sand, which if anyone breaks will be punished.
So we cannot even walk on it. Then there is the really hot wind in the morning, because of which I feel so sweaty when wake up. And at night the same wind becomes cold and don’t like that either. But Uncle Edmund loves it and I hate it -?” “That is perspective. ” “What he likes and what I don’t like? ” “Very good. You learn fast. ” The boy grinned, feeling pride in himself and nodded his head in happiness,” I will tell you more! The man did not even stop him; “l don’t like the sand. It always goes into my eyes and mouth making them itchy and painful.
There isn’t much food for animals either,” the boy kept talking on and on, “l know that because my dog died, uh” he started to count, closing his hand into a fist and releasing the fingers one by one, starting from the pinky on the right hand, to the pointy on the left and when he could not decide, he said, “He died five days ago! His name was Tommy. My friends name was also Tommy, but he died too, uh he started to count on his fingers again but stopped when all the fingers were used up, ” So many years ago. Mother said he died when I used to crawl! ” he raised his hands to show the years, that had gone by since the death. Did you cry when he was dying? ” “No, he told me if I cried he would not talk to me and would become Sammy friend. ” ‘Was Sammy a bad boy? ‘ “He used to ask food from us,” the boy muttered, “Mother said, fill your tummy’s first and then give others. But by the time we were done there was nothing left. But he would always come for food and we would not have for him. He always stared at us when we ate and it made me very angry. One day Tommy and I threw stones at him so he would stop coming. We thought it would work because when that ugly black dog came one day, we threw stones at him too and he never came again.
What I hated the most was, when told Sammy no every time, I felt something bad here,” the boy said in a very annoyed tone, pointing at his chest, “l felt like I was going to cry. ” The man patted the boys head, “That must be guilt. ” “Huh? Is it bad? Will I die from it too? The old woman said Tommy died because of it. That’s why I started giving some food to Sammy so he won’t hurt me. ” “Sammy did nothing. Tommy died because he was sick. Maybe he ate something bad. “Tommy ate a lot from the pile people use to burn at night. There was lot of food there, he told me. The man pulled the boy in his cloak as the first drop of rain started to fall, just drops, nothing too heavy. The man stared far ahead, where lights were shining, probably from the torches of the camp. “Guilt is not a bad thing lad. It is bad when you stop feeling it. ” The boy looked up at the man, “What happens when you don’t feel it? ” The man looked down at the boy, their eyes meeting, “You become alone forever. ” “Alone? ‘ The man nodded, “Mother and everything that makes you smile like this,” he lulled the boys cheeks into a smile, “will leave you forever. The boy clasped his hand to the mouth, feigning shock. The man laughed and so did the boy, “You know if we planted enough trees that give food, we can save more Tommy’s in the world and all Sammy will stop asking for food. ” “Really? ” The boy said in surprise, “But the tree we had before was cut down, wasn’t it? For the man who is greater than all? Mother said if all do what he says, he will give us food and warm bed. If we don’t do as he asks, he will feed us to the hungry black dogs and use our other parts to make more grass. The boy said, shivering in fear. Then this will be our secret then. ” The man said, ‘We will help others secretly and make everything good again” He said putting a finger to his lips, in a gesture to hush. The boy giggled. The boy had another question in mind though, “Are they good? ” The man said, ‘Yes, they are if, you give them water and food to live. ” “Then what will we have? ” the boy asked. The man smiled at the question, “If you give them food and water, they will give you food and water. ” “They are like Tommy. ” “Yes, they are like Tommy, they are friends. ” “Where do we find them?