Dream Come True Part 4 & 5
This story is basically about a boy who is very lazy and boring, but he has a unique hobby. It is to listen to the stories of other people. He is an arm-chair traveller, who roams from one place to another and comes to know about different people, cultures, beliefs, enchanting and not- so-enchanting places, superstitions, miracles and super-natural encounters as also about the inner thoughts that at times bother us as human beings - all through the stories of other people or casual conversation with interesting characters.
Table Of Contents
Visit to an Enchanting Place
Home Sweet Home
Siberian Winds in Hokkaido
Trek to Himalayas
Story in Revenge
Backlash at Payback Time
Siberian winds in Hokkaido
I reached my home in a few minutes and dozed off on the sofa in the living room, with my shoes on. Soon I could hear noisy chats all around. I could make out it was Okawa san talking to my dad. He is indeed the great river that his name means. He was full of stories. He had come all the way from Japan to meet my dad after many years. 7 years, to be precise. I recollected my dad used to mention his name often. He knew almost every nook and corner of Hokkaido. I was pretty much excited to hear his stories. ‘How cold and chilly the Siberian winds could be!,’ he said, ‘I discovered when a whale almost collided into me off the coast of Senkaku islands’. “What the hell he was doing there?” I wondered. Okawa san continued: “ The idea was to hop on to a ferry and go bird-watching to Vladivostok in Russia, but the ferry capsized and I found myself hanging on to the giant back of a whale. Oops! As it is, the water was too cold. The moving whale and the chilly wind almost took my breath away.” ‘Oh Gosh! Why was I shivering on the sofa?’ I woke up with a jerk and sprinted to switch off the aircon. It was freezing cold in the living room. Looked around for the remote and found to my horror someone had set the temp at 12 degree C. Must be my brother. He likes to really chill his room. But where was Okawa san? Where was my dad? Was it a dream? I gulped down a glass of water, switched on all the lights and went on a mission to find my dad and Okawa san. And just then I heard both of them walking in, from the front door. So it must have been a dream, I reasoned. But no, it wasn’t. Dad said “Shikamaru, you missed out on Okawa’s strange stories of Senkaku islands. As you were asleep on the sofa, Okawa suggested that we go out for a walk along the river. You know we have been out for 2 hours and yet the story is incomplete.” Okawa san promised to re-tell the story the next day and I again tried to sleep off. Hokkaido and the Senkaku islands were refusing to leave my mind. Could not focus on any thing. Very soon I heard my mom’s voice: “it’s time you were off to your tuition classes. Get ready in 5 minutes and be out the door”. Nothing else would have cut my mind off the whale. Reached the tuition centre almost on time. Same routine. Mathematics, followed by some other mundane subjects taught as part of science curriculum. Magic, music travel and discovery could be much more interesting. Be that as it may, I attend my classes and try to put in the best effort possible. Hope my grades improve this year! Back home, I tag on to my dad and Okawa san in their evening walk. Okawa san continues: “Hey, son! You finish your school and come to Japan. I not only take you to Senkaku, but show you all the hidden gems of Hokkaido. Not only see animals and birds, you can have your own hideout there to work in peace on your projects.” Projects ? yes, we need to do them all the time for those school credits. But my idea is to someday teach Public Policy at a great Asian University and also write an interesting novel like Aesop’s Fables or the great Indian storybook called Panchatantra (Five Principles). Yes, they entertain and yet also teach principles of public life. Hokkaido would be my hideout to work on my lofty projects, I assure Okawa san. But that has to wait. I must first finish my personal project.
Trek to Himalayas
It’s a Sunday. Yet pretty much early morning for me. I pick up my tiny laptop to work on the project. But, no luck. Saito drops in even before I could plug it in, for a trip together to nowhere. He is one of my best friends and I can’t say no to him. A quick glass of orange juice for him and we hit the road. Old fashioned walking. Bikes? We don’t have. He starts off his old story again and, as always, my mind wanders off into another direction. Why can’t I say no? How often I would have kicked myself for not saying ‘no’ and yet I repeat the same mistake. Saito is good to talk to; he knows how to tell stories and gets me hooked to whatever he dishes out as his stories. Original, he claims. Maybe next time I should ask him to screen his stories first. Turn-it-in, you guessed it right! ‘Copycatch’ can also do. A smile shows off on my face and Saito asks: “ Shikamaru, nan desu ka ? O-genki?” “Nan demo nai” I respond with all the charm I could muster. But he knows. He is somehow able to read my thoughts. So I blurt out:”Saito, how do you resist and say ‘no’ to friends?” Before he gets a chance to utter anything, I add, ” look, here I am with you on the road, but my mind is still stuck on the piles of work lying unfinished on my table.” “What good it is to go for a walk and keep worrying about home work?”, chips in Saito. Not for nothing, Saito is my best friend. He continues, “Why don’t you say ‘no’ when you can’t go out? Why do you waste your precious time?” I was surprised or, let me be honest, rather shocked. How clear, how focussed! I wish I had that kind of clarity. To rub insult to injury, Saito continued, “ don’t be stupid, Shikamaru. You go back and do your work.” Was he a bit annoyed? Before I could ask him anything further, he started, “you know I travelled to the Himalayas last year. The trek started from Lhasa. A after a month or so, I reached, along with my two Tibetan guides, the upper reaches of the mountain. Mt Everest seemed to be nearby. And there we met a monk in a tiny hut. No food, no drinks, no heating and yet he was happily working on a manuscript. He waved at us and kept writing.” Saito’s story, as always, sounded interesting and I said, “let’s sit down to hear your story.” And that’s what we did.
Heading straight to Kagoshima Park, we occupied our favourite bench under the giant banyan tree and Saito began, “the hermit kept to himself for another hour or so, but somehow we remained glued to the place. Couldn’t move out. After he finished, he again waived at us in a friendly but stern gesture and asked us to have some fruits. We ate as much as we could and sat before him. ‘So, what brings you here, son?’ he asked, pointing at me. He didn’t wait for my reply and continued,’so you want to see places and get a mentor who teaches you how to walk on water and fly in the air. Yes, that’s possible but you can’t attempt that immediately. You need to first develop your mental faculties. Understanding and concentration; these are the two wings you need to fly. So, focus on whatever you are doing. Success will follow.’ But how do I do that? Easier said than done. Looked like he read my thoughts and continued,’ son, it’s easy and yet difficult or you can say it’s difficult and yet easy. Meditate. Meditate. That’s the mantra. Doesn’t matter where you mediate and what you mediate on. You can focus on anything. It can even be whatever you study at school.’ I got kind of impressed and decided to practise his teaching.” And suddenly I remembered the sage sitting in front of the Mahabodhi Temple in India. I had found him doing nothing but rubbing two stones the whole day. He wasn’t bothered at all by the devotees and tourists. People kept making a beeline to the idol inside the most powerful Buddhist temple on earth and he kept rubbing the two stones.
How could he manage that? Was it concentration? Was it lack of understanding? Or was it a ritual? Could not decide. Gave up. And that’s when Saito shouted at me,” don’t you need to go home and finish your homework? “I shuddered it was 10 o’clock in the night. My mom was soon going to be the next one to shout at me. And we hurried back. No more words exchanged on the way till Saito turned left to his house, with a soft bye whispered in my ears. Homework remained incomplete. ‘Revenge’ that’s what I thought of. Saito always inflicted his stories on me, but I could never retaliate in kind. I wish I had a good story to tell.