Just another day

 Mahmud Hussain

The sky outside was pitch black. Ignoring the freezing cold, every sort of people were out on the streets, yelling and screaming in joy. Sajib could see the swirling smoke coming out of everyone’s mouth. The cold made him feel chilled to the bone, but this was an event he didn’t want to miss for a thing. Suddenly a man at the far corner of the street yelled something to the others, and everybody started counting : “7… 8… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…” Just after the count of “1”, a flash of light sprang out of the middle of the crowd. Sajib stared at amazement as the golden spark flew upward at least 50 feet in the air and with a deafening bang, exploded into a hundred tiny balls of light, each a different color…
With last night’s blissful memory still on his mind, Sajib strolled down the walkway of the park, a packet of candies in his left hands and a bunch of roses in the other. He felt excited. The first day of a new year ! It’s got to be promising for his business with this much of people hanging out in the park. He noticed that everyone around him had a happy look on their faces,  wishing  each other “Happy New Year !!!” whenever they met someone they knew. Groups of families, friends and colleagues were together enjoying what appeared to be a colorful evening full of fun and excitement.
“Happy new year !!!” wished Sajib as he saw Faruk, a boy who lived in the same slum with him.
“Happy new year ?” said Faruk skeptically, “I don’t see much of happy things going on for me. Not with the loss I’ll face today, at least.”
“How much did you get today ?” asked Sajib, noticing the wilted roses in Faruk’s hand.
“85 in total. Most of them from candies.” replied Faruk, “The problem is with the roses. Nobody’s interested in them.
“Try the places where you’ll see couples.” Sajib said, “They waste hours after hours in the park benches. You might sell some there.”
“Thanks for the advice. See ya !” Faruk went away.
Sajib walked on, searching for customers who’d buy his roses. He noticed a young man and a pretty lady sitting on a park bench a few paces away from the walkway.
Seen them three hours ago, still sitting on the same place. thought Sajib, Typical customers.
“Would like a few roses, sir ?” he asked politely, approaching the man.
“How much ?” the man asked.
“10 taka per rose, sir.”
“I’ll take 4. Here’s 20.” The man said, taking out his wallet.
Sajib was outraged. He could smell the strong perfume lingering from the man’s clothes. I know these sorts of people, he thought. They go to fancy restaurants, spend thousands behind their girlfriends and still don’t have enough kindness inside to pay a poor kid properly.
“Sir, please, 20 won’t be enough for 4…” he said.
“Okay, then take 32, that’s all I can pay.”
Sajib sighed. He sold the roses and left the man to his deep, thoughtful conversation with the lady.
After walking for a while, Sajib came to the favorite hang out spot  for the university students. There were a few trolleys selling Chotpoti and Fuchka, with mobs of young people surrounding each of them.
Sajib went towards the nearest group. Probably one of them had cracked up a joke, and the others were laughing their heads off. Sajib pulled a guy’s sleeve to attract his attention.
“Sir, would you like a few candies or a bunch of roses ?” he asked.
All of them stopped laughing. They stared at him. Sajib felt scared. He didn’t expect this much of instant attention…
“How old are you ?” asked one of them.
“Ten…”Sajib replied timidly.
“Do you have parents ? Don’t you go to school ?” asked another.
School ? Sajib thought. Hah ! School was something like a far fetched broken dream turned into a nightmare by my  unemployed, alcoholic  father, who beated my mother every single day for giving birth to 3 daughters, not sons…
He didn’t reply, he just stared at them. One of them thought for a while, and took out his wallet.
“Here’s 50 taka. You don’t need to sell anything…” he said.
And then another one of them gave him 20, another 40, and yet another one 80.
Sajib was dumbstruck. It was beyond his brightest imaginations, something he didn’t believe existed even in heaven. He didn’t even say “Thank you”. He just glanced at all of them and left the place quickly.
I was wrong. He thought on the way back to his home. The world isn’t full of only bad guys. There are obviously a lot of people out there like those guys who made today one of the best days in my life.
As Sajib came near his shabby cottage, he heard muffled cries and sobs from inside. He stopped dead on his track. He knew what was going on…
“YOU DAMNED WOMAN!” his father’s hoarse voice was now loud enough to be heard, “Why the hell did you give birth to daughters ? Who’ll bring me my money now, huh ?”
His mother didn’t utter a single word. She was sobbing, too tired to say anything due to the brutal blows this beast of a man had delivered to her…
Sajib’s father stormed out of the house, and spotted him instantly.
“How much did you earn today, boy ?” he asked.
Sajib was too scared to lie, too scared of the thought that his father will make this seemingly perfect day into another living nightmare…
Without waiting for his reply, Sajib’s father put his massive hands inside his son’s pockets, took out all the money, and went away in search of a safe place to count it…
Sajib sighed. It was, after all, just another day for him.
Written by,
Mahmud Hussain
Class – XI
St. Joseph Higher Secondary School.

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