Story Contest 2017 #2 - Outstanding Stories (Senior) » Lost and Found

Lost and Found Story Book

“Lost and Found” is one of the outstanding stories of the second biannual International Short Story Contest 2017 written by Anushree Sadhu, India.

Lost and Found

Over the houses that were fast asleep on Reveur Street, the night sky was growing paler as the birds of the neighbourhood began twittering, beckoning the dawn. Soon would come the brief while, when both the sun and the moon would watch over the sleepers and the dreamers together. There would be another one whom they would watch over, the dreamer, not asleep but wide awake and enraptured in the stories he weaved.

A little boy was creating new dimensions with the nib of his pen, as sorcerers do with their wands. Sitting on the window-ledge, with the red diary in his hand and the lamp on the bedside table, time was forgotten by him as he penned down the syllables of his poetry, oblivious of the hours that flitted by. Writing in these hours of the night, be it about the cosmos or the lamp on the street, was a daily norm for this little boy.

Yet, not a soul did he tell about this book he was writing, the one he was dreaming to finish. Dotting the last line, he looked up and stared out the window to see the moon still alone in the sky-

The rest will know when I have come true.

***

The usual quiet on Reveur Street was shattered by a loud bang from one of the front-doors. A young man came out, crossing the front yard with furious strides as the door opened again to reveal an older man.

“Timmy, you will come back here this instant!” shouted Mr. Lesley waving his hand, unconscious of the old, tattered diary that it still held. No heed was paid.

Timothy was seething as he walked. He did not see where he was headed, for he was entirely thinking of what had passed between him and his father only moments ago.

Coward! he thought, a plain coward making excuses!

It had been over ten years now that Timothy had been entreating his father to allow the book to be published. Over the years, his reasons for refusal changed.

There is very little appreciation for poetry in the present world, not enough to make a decent living…

Ah! But the poems are too naive, clearly written in one’s immature years…

There is no point giving to the world these mad ramblings…

I am your father and you will listen to me when I say no…

Timothy wondered helplessly. Ten years it’s been since the pleadings began. Eight years since the day the diary was snatched away from his grip after he tried to contact his uncle for the poems without his father’s knowledge. Four years since he left home, first for college and then for work. He had been on amicable terms with his father throughout, but never broached the talk about the poems. Today, however, on visiting home he was surprised to find the diary on the bookshelf, in full view.

The recollection of what followed, added to the journey home and walking so long made him weary. He tiredly walked to a nearby bench and sat down exhausted.

***

“Dad?” a voice could be heard from near the door of Mr. Lesley’s study, “May I come in?”

Mr. Lesley turned to see his twelve year old son, Timmy peeking in timidly. He was never forbidden from entering that room yet he always asked. Mr. Lesley smiled fondly and assented. As the little boy creeped in shyly, Mr. Lesley noticed a little object held in his hands behind his back.

"What's that you've got in there, boy?” asked Mr. Lesley gently, for his boy was naturally a bit timid.

"I found this in the attic. "Timothy slowly revealed the thing he held in his hands, an old, red leather-bound diary in tatters now

It took Mr. Lesley a while to recognize what it was, to remember what it once meant to him.

"It says it's yours"

Mr. Lesley, speechlessly took the red diary, from his son's hands. He took all the musty pages, the dusty poems and the long-forgotten dream of being a writer and wondered when exactly was it that he had lost them.

***

The usual quiet on Reveur Street was shattered by a loud bang from one of the front-doors. A young man came out, crossing the front yard with furious strides as the door opened again to reveal an older man.

“Timmy, you will come back here this instant!” shouted Mr. Lesley waving his hand, unconscious of the old, tattered diary that it still held. No heed was paid.

Mr. Lesley resignedly went back inside and collapsed onto an armchair. There was an ache in his heart. No, it was not the pain of any heart affliction but the hurt from all those things which he had caged deep in his ribs ages ago. Things which his son had stirred up quite violently.

These things were all recollections and memories. His memory of his long-lost dream of his book of poems. Timothy never understood why his father kept this book stashed away for decades now. As Mr. Lesley contemplated the reason himself, he recalled the times he tried explaining it to his son.

How could he explain the time when his father told him not to waste his time on such senseless acts as writing poems instead of studying? How could he explain the time his mother asked him to listen to his father? How could he explain his inability to convince his parents when he himself was not convinced of his dream? No man earned a decent living by selling poems in recent times. Novels and stories were different and storytellers had a different stand in this world. He, however, was a poet. He, however, was scared to chase his dream. Instead, he buried himself in his work as a clerk and forgot what dream he had as a child.

"What about now?” Timothy had retorted in face of his father's attempts at explaining himself, "Why can't you write now?"

Mr. Lesley shifted uncomfortably in his armchair. Ah! Timothy, his devoted son, who was so shy and timid as a child. Mr. Lesley wondered when was it that his son grew so gritty and stubborn. He was perplexed beyond his imaginings when he had discovered his son writing to his uncle, and even today after years, it did not take him a moment to recognize the diary on the shelf.

"What about now?” wondered Mr. Lesley. There was nothing to stop him from writing now. Nothing, thought Mr. Lesley, but myself. Nothing indeed but his own self-doubt and his own feeling that perhaps, he was not good enough.

Yet, over the past few weeks, after keeping the diary on the shelf if his view, he did feel that old urge to write down his thoughts in strings of words. He did sit down too, to write at times and felt that exuberance he had not felt until off late.

Suddenly, his dream didn’t seem all that faded and blurry. There was still some uncertainty but not as much as the thrill of achieving a goal as old as him.

“What about now?” the words resonated in his mind.

He finally decided.

***

I am your dream, your grail, your faith,
That impels you to move ahead,
Just one knows me, this one is you
The rest will know when I’ve come true

Timothy sat on the bench by the road as he read the last page of his father’s book published only weeks ago. He turned then to the first page again.

To my son, who believed in me always, helped me find my way when I didn’t even know whether I was lost.

***