Short Story: Stories of the Wind
The boy listened to the wind with his head cocked to one side. His
eyes were wide with rapt attention and his little tongue peeked from
the corner of his mouth. He nodded his head ever so slightly as if he
agreed to whatever the wind was saying. It said a lot of things these
Dusk was falling and the orange glow made the boy's face look
golden. The park was almost empty. The trees were ablaze with the fire
in the sky. The pond looked like a pool of gold. Two ducks waddled
their way across to the pond and waded into the water. They sailed
across the rippling surface, two golden galleons on the high seas.
The boy was happy, swinging his legs to a rhythm of his own as he
sat on the park bench. He wondered if his father heard the wind too.
He looked to his side.
The boy's father didn't have gold on his face. His eyes were not on
the pond and his ears were deaf to the wind. Instead he stared at the
dull glow of his laptop computer, his mind wrestling feverishly with
the figures on the screen. There was a frown furrowing his brows and his lips were set in a thin grim line. He looked at his watch impatiently. It will be an hour before he could drop the boy off at his mother’s. He used like these trips to the park with his son, but not anymore. Not since his wife left him, not since his business got tough. Now he had to have the boy when his wife allowed him, and she always did that at inconvenient times. There was a board meeting next week, and the figures had to be ready.
The boy tugged at his father's sleeve.
"Yes?" his father didn't let his eyes stray from the monitor, just
merely nodded his head. The boy could see the screen reflected in his
"Did you hear that?" The boy asked in a hushed whisper.
The father shook his head, not quite registering what he was asked.
He poked another stiff finger on the keyboard and scratched his chin.
The gold was more intense now. The pond glowed like a cauldron of
molten metal. The ducks looked like they've had a visit from King
Midas. A sparrow flew in from one of the trees and hopped to the
corner of the pond, dipping its little beak to drink. It looked at the
boy and tilted its head in recognition. The boy smiled happily. The
wind caressed his face. It fluttered through his long eyelashes.
His father sighed and wrenched his attention off the screen. The
gold eluded his eyes. He only saw his computer lurk in the periphery
of his vision, waiting. He looked at the boy.
"Yes?" the tone was impatient.
"I asked you if you heard what the wind said." The boy chewed his
"The wind...," the boy stressed on the syllables, "It spoke."
"Not to me it didn't."
"It speaks to everybody."
The father shut his laptop reluctantly. He tousled his boy's hair
and allowed a weary smile, "Really? So what did it say?"
The boy leaned back on the bench and hugged his knees. One sock
rode high on his shin while the other bunched down at his ankle.
"It said you were missing the sunset."
“Oh really," The father stretched his tired arms above his head.
He could hear his neck creaking, "I didn't hear it. I was busy
The boy smiled, "Yeah the wind said that too. It said you were too
busy working that you were missing the day go by."
"Well son, your dad has to work so he could make money."
"Money buys food, clothes, a place to live and other things. Like
your new trainers; like the ice cream we just had."
"Will I have to do that when I grow up?"
"Yes. So you can have all the best things in life."
"But will I have to get a computer like yours and stare at it all
The father chuckled, "Maybe."
"Then I'll miss what the wind says. I'll miss the sunset."
"You won't. You can do that on your holidays."
The boy wrinkled his nose, "I want to do it everyday."
"Then you have to make yourself very, very rich."
"Why?" said the boy, "Do I have to pay money to watch the sun set?"
The father sat quietly for a minute or two, his hands caressing his
son's head. He looked at the golden pond. He looked at the
ducks. He felt the wind blow on his face.
"No." he said, "You don't. But we all have to work to make money.
Sometimes work gets busy and tiring. Sometimes you don't get time to
watch the skies."
The boy wouldn't have it, "Why not? It's free isn't it? And it
doesn't take much time."
It was darker now. The sky went a deep hue of red and then the
curtain fell. The brightest of the stars started twinkling. The moon
was a golden crescent. The trees whispered in the wind.
The father decided not to argue. You are too young
now, he thought, to be told about the realities of
"I suppose you're right." He gave in.
The boy gave a winning smile. He grabbed his father's hand and held
it in his lap. "So will you listen to the wind with me, Dad?"
They both sat in silence for a while. The wind was colder but not
uncomfortably so. It eased the tired lines from the father's face. His
frown softened. His eyes grew brighter.
"Did you know the wind speaks a million languages?" The boy had
just learnt the word million and he liked using it as
often as possible. He spoke it out like a sacred chant.
"Does it?" the father asked.
"Oh yes. It blows across all the different places all the time. So
it learns to speak to everybody."
"It must be very clever."
"It is. It tells me stories. Sometimes at night when I can't sleep,
I open the window and let it in. It tells me stories of different
places and different people. It tells me about deserts and oceans,
about the icebergs and islands"
"That is nice. Are you reading too much? I hope you're not burying
your head in those books all the time." The father was concerned at
his son's eloquence.
The son smiled. "No dad. Not always."
It was getting quite dark now. The sky winked a
million winks at them.
"I think we better go. Your mother will be waiting."
They both got up and walked across the park. The boy wondered where
the ducks slept. He decided to ask the wind later.
He kissed his father goodbye at the door of his mother's apartment. The mother stood impatiently at the door, gripping the boy’s arm, her eyes speaking a million words of lost love and restless emotions. The father never looked at her eyes. He promised to meet the boy the next weekend. The wind sighed and swirled.
The father went home and changed his work clothes. He poured
himself a drink, opened his computer and perched behind his desk.
Figures danced a merry dance on the screen, little bars on the graph
jiggled a mambo. He got a headache. He heard the impatient knock of something trying to
push through the window. He walked across the room to the window and tried to open it. It was
stuck with years of disuse. Dust and grime of real life clogged its hinges.
He pushed harder and it creaked open. Rooftops were empty. Windows
shimmered with dull glows from television screens across the city. He
could hear laughter from surrounding houses; laughter and groans and
gasps and sighs in tune with whatever was on the TV.
The sky stretched across the rooftops, an endless pool of black.
There was no wind. He leaned outside and smelled the air. There were
fumes and spices, sweat and dust. There were pigeon droppings and
cheap perfumes, chemical odours and tobacco smoke.
He thought of what his boy said. He wondered when he stopped
looking at the sky. He wondered when he stopped smelling exotic lands
and salty seas.
He lifted his head and willed the wind to blow. It came slowly at
first. Just a faint gust. He smelled sea and then the lush jungles. He
smelled the sandstorm across the barren dunes. He smelled the ice
floes as they floated on still, cold oceans.
He sniffed harder, taking the wind into his lungs. He remembered
things. He remembered being a boy himself. Full of wonder and
bewilderment. When things were brighter and more colourful.
He wondered when he stopped looking .
He went to the desk and shut the computer. He pulled his chair to
face the window. He sat down and lifted his legs to rest them on the
sill. He closed his eyes and thought about his boy. The wind was stronger
now, and strangely fume free.
"Once upon a time…," the wind spoke in a soothing
whisper. It was a familiar tale, yet long forgotten. It brought back
memories of lands that time forgot. Lands that people forgot.
The boy and his father listened to the same story across the
rooftops. They smiled together, laughed together, groaned and gasped
The boy knew his father was listening. There's no
secret trick, he thought as the soft glow of the moon made his face
silver, the wind speaks to those who listen.
Copyright © Mohan Kumar 2010
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