“What do you want to be when you grow up?” seven-year-old Nora asked her mother Kim innocently. ” Kim chuckled as she replied, “I am already a grown-up being, what could I possibly be now? Now hurry up and go to your bed”. She tucked little Nora into her bed and kissed her forehead “goodnight darling!”
On having received such an unenthusiastic response from the mother, Nora clasped and questioned her mother “what you wanted to be as a child, as in what have you dreamt of becoming in your adulthood? My teacher says everyone has a talent and a dream and we can turn our dreams into reality at any time and age. So tell me mom what you wanted to be?” and fixed her gaze filled with amusement and intrigue on her mother.
Kim smiled and sat down by her bedside “Hmm, I always wanted to be a writer. I wanted to talk through my stories”. Her mother’s response sparked Nora’s interest and she sprung and sat in her bed. “You mean fairy tales, superhero stories? Have you ever written anything? Why don’t you write now?” before Nora could go berserk with her volley of questions her mother sighed deeply “uff, we will talk later darling, you have to get up early tomorrow for school”. And finally, she managed to put little Nora to sleep.
Nora’s mother kept tossing in her bed but couldn’t sleep that night. That was unusual as toiling throughout the day guaranteed her a sound sleep instantly. She kept staring at the ceiling and counted sheep in her head but nothing was helping her tonight. She heard her daughter crying. She rushed towards Nora’s room.
“What happened, dear? a worried mother asked her daughter as she embraced the weeping child. “Mom, I had a horrible dream. Big monsters wearing huge cloaks, and riding on horses were chasing after me and as I tried to escape them I was stuck in a corner” Nora explained in her shaky voice. Nora’s mom cuddled, pacified her, and gave an assurance that there are no monsters around and that it was just a dream. Nora requested her mom if she could sleep with her, to which her mom agreed. Kim caressed Nora’s hair gently and soon Nora slipped into a deep slumber. But Kim couldn’t.
She got up and went to her balcony. She leaned on the railing of the balcony facing the vast empty parched grounds. The streets turned golden under the glare of yellow street lights. The city was tucked in silence except for the noise of a few vehicles honking on the highway running parallel to the grounds and stray dogs barking distantly. She was pondering over her conversation with her daughter. “Can I dream again?” She sighed in her thoughts as the gentle breeze caressed her locks.
Kim and Nora moved to their new apartment just six months back after a major crisis hit their family. Joel, Kim’s husband, army personnel who died on the war front. Along with the loss of a loved one Kim and Nora were coping with the snide remarks and the unruly behaviour of the relatives. Nora never understood the motivations behind people’s behaviour around her. She often asked her mother “why is everyone rude to us? What have we done? You told me that dad is a superhero, he is not around us anymore, so do we have to suffer this way forever? Why do they hate us, Mom?”. Kim didn’t know how to answer her. But finally, she decided to move out and away from the toxicity suffocating her and her daughter’s life.
Standing underneath the dark stretch of the night sky on her balcony, Kim just witnessed a rally of visions from her past. She felt exhausted and went back to her room and finally dozed off.
The next day began with a usual hustle and bustle. Nora and her mother rushed off to school. As they were on their way Nora commenced the conversation from the very point where she had left it last night. Inquisitive Nora clung to her mother’s arm and fired her bazooka of questions at her mother “Mom, tell me what did you write? When did you write? Why did you stop writing? Will you start writing again? Tell me, mom, tell me”.
Nora’s mother was enjoying this conversation with her little one. Nora’s questions exuberated innocence, and the curiosity in her tone tickled her mother’s heart. With a big grin, she replied to Nora “I used to write when I was in college, whosoever read my poems and articles used to praise me. My work was even published in my college magazine. My name is there, I will show you the next time when we go to Naani’s place (maternal grandmother). It seemed that the child’s naivete and glee has rubbed onto her mother too. She was smiling from ear to ear. Conversation with Nora always felt fresh as drops of dew sitting on the soft petals and had the warmth of golden rays of sun embracing those petals as they danced to the tunes of the morning breeze.
They reached the school. Nora gave a kiss on her mother’s forehead and bade goodbye but before leaving she put forth a request. “Mom, you have to write a story for me. I will be the superhero or a fairy, an angel in that book. You write it for me, I will show it to my friends. Please mom” she giggled cutely and left for her school.
On her way back home Kim called her mother “Mom, how are you? Do you still have my college magazine at home that had my article and poem published?” She spoke almost in a single breath. Kim called her mother after nearly after a period of six months. The response from the other side was cold but her mother assured her that she will search for the magazine and hung up on the call.
Kim felt disheartened but had much more to take care of, so she assembled pieces of her broken heart once again and marched ahead with responsibilities on her shoulders…