Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The boy and the boy in me

Childhood dreams….don’t you think they are beautiful?  They may transform with the passing years, cherishing each dream we dreamt can be a beautiful reality.

The cries woke me up. The neighboring little kid must have woken up.
How I wished I could sleep longer. Right in front of my bed was this huge antique clock that belonged to my grandfather, old and abased but still it served its purpose. It was telling me that it was already five in the morning. As usual I got ready for my work. As I headed out, my wife handed me my packed tiffin.
“Please try to come home early.”
“I’ll try.”
I knew it was not possible to get home early. My wife knew it too. However she always asks this of me. I had no choice because of my profession.
I reached my workplace. It was ready to move… workplace. I am a bus conductor.
“Ok!!! All set! Let’s move.”
As the bus headed from stop to stop, I got busier and busier. Being in the profession for almost seven years, I was a perfectionist at it. My brain grew with the number of years. Memorizing every passenger, who has the ticket, who doesn’t ….I knew them all. I was the God in my bus.
“Sir, give me a ticket.” I heard a boy calling me out.
I was taken aback. Never in my life was I called a “sir”. I turned to check out who was that little fellow.
He was young boy and looked some 10-11 years old. He was carrying a guitar case. They were of the same size.
“Boy, where are you headed to?” I asked.
“The music academy”
“That’s five stops away. Here you go…the ticket. That’s nine rupees.”
He handed me the coins.
I smiled to myself. This boy….he was not scared of anything. I wanted to ask why he was travelling all by himself but I had others passengers to attend to so I wasn’t able to.
Days went by. The boy became a regular passenger.
One Sunday morning, I woke up hearing my wife’s yells.
“Shoo!!! How dare you eat all these fish?!!”
“It must be that stray cat again.” I thought to myself.
I got up and got ready. It was a day I waited for. It was Sunday and there would be less rush in the bus without all those office goers. I was hoping to talk to the boy. As usual my wife handed me my tiffin and I was off to work.
Later when the boy got on the bus, I went to the sit next to his.
“Good morning, sir!”
“Boy, so music classes even on Sundays?”
“I’m happy with it” he smiled.
“So what is your name? And your age?”
“Nanaopu…..I am in 8th standard and I’m twelve years old.”
“But kid…why do you take the bus alone?”
“Bus is comfortable. Both my parents are working so they don’t have much time.” he answered calmly. “Sir, can I ask you something?”
“Sure, shoot!”
“How do I organize my own concert?”
I laughed out loud. He gave me a what-is-so-funny-about look.
“Hey! Sorry…I just don’t know where that spirit comes out from a small body like you.”I looked around; some new passengers were on board.
“I’ll be back.”
After a while I got back to the sit next to his.
“Many years back….when I was in school…music ran in my veins.” I started. He turned towards me. “Like you...I too owned a guitar. Like you…I wanted to have a concert of my own. My father wanted me to focus on studies and not on music. Well I was a rebellious one. But when my father died I had to become the breadwinner and eventually that’s when I sold my guitar. I have never played since that day.”
He was silent.
“Your stop is next.”
“I won’t go today. I want to hear you play.”
I was going to deny it but it was a tempting offer so I ended up agreeing with him.
During the lunch hours we went to a corner. He took out his guitar from his case. It was an acoustic guitar…six strings. I could smell the freshness of the cedar. He handed me the guitar and a pick. My hands trembled as I touched it. I picked a string. I was reminded of my days when I ruled the world with my guitar.
I played all my way.
“Hey …you just made a string skipping.”
I smiled at him. “Boy, I was one hell of a guitarist.”
He took the guitar. As he started playing I gasped. He was really good for his age. 
From that day the lunch hours were our practice hours. Each day Nanaopu’s question  struck my mind. “How do I organize my own concert?”
His present dream was a lost dream of mine.
Weeks later, as we sat in our practice spot I asked him “You really want to have a concert?”
“Yes, when I grow up I want to be a guitarist.”
“Will u be ready if I say let’s have the concert now?”
“Sir, we don’t have money to organize that. I can’t even ask my parents...the sum is huge.”
“Who says we need money? We have the guitar….we just need audiences to call it a concert.” As I said this I winked at him. I could see the excitement in his eyes.
“I can bring another guitar for you. How will we have the audiences?”
“Have you forgotten that I’m a bus conductor? The bus can be a big medium for advertisement.”
It was all set that we would perform the coming Sunday at three in the afternoon. We decided to play at the park in front of the main bus stop. It was four days away. Music…..we practiced every day. And I would tell every passenger about our concert as I handed them the tickets.
The day before the big day I told the bus owner that I wouldn’t be able to work the next day. He yelled at me.
“If you don’t come tomorrow you will not be allowed to come back forever.”
I knew this was coming. However I didn’t say anything. I didn’t tell my wife about the concert. She wouldn’t like the idea.
The next day, I really didn’t go for work. The bus owner would want to behead me. I didn’t care at that moment. I really wanted to play in front of a crowd for once.
I strolled in the park in search of a perfect spot. Nanaopu joined after a while. When we have found our right spot under the tree, we had a final rehearsal. We ate what my wife had packed. We had our guitars in our hands and we were ready. It was past three, a small crowd gathered. I could recognize many of my regular passengers.
As we started playing the crowd increased. It wasn’t a huge one though. I had the greatest moment of my life. The crowd clapped and cheered for us as we played. Nanaopu attracted much attention as he was so young for all those. I was happy for him.
We finally had our first concert. A concert without any microphone , without any speakers, without any singers and without a stage. But we had the “music” running in us.
When I got home that day, my wife was so angry with me. The bus owner came and told her what I had been up to.
I didn’t hear anything what she was saying. It was a great day and I wouldn’t want to spoil it. The next day, I went to the bus owner, apologized and asked him to take me back. He didn’t resist for long after all I am a perfect bus conductor.
I still met Nanaopu and listened to him play. I would love to see him as great guitarist someday. As for me, I had achieved what I had always wanted as a boy….to have my own concert.
I am still the perfect bus conductor and I love my job. Music will run in me forever though.
Thank you Nanaopu!