“The Vision” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Ahana Chattopadhyay, Gokhale Memorial Girls School, India.
The thirteen year old girl clutched tightly to the red boxes of candles with the expression very few children had on their Birth Day. She pressed her numb, cold, frozen nose on the glowing window pane. Tears slid down her already pale cheek as she remembered the times her grandmother and her father and she sat together and enjoyed themselves.
Now she was afraid to go home; with her grandmother in heaven and her father sick; she was the only one fit to earn money. But, unfortunately she couldn’t earn a single penny on her first day. The hay’s thickness is decreasing and the holes are increasing in their roof. She moved on and crouched in a thick gorse bush trying to get warmer.
Her bare feet and hands got pricked by the thorns but she just had a tickling sensation. Suddenly she heard squeals of laughter and voices nearby. Peeping out of her seat she saw an elderly woman along with two boys going out of the rickety gate.
In a flash she had a strong intention to get up and follow them. She left her comforting gorse bush and stepped into the half frozen reality. Her heart jumped with immense joy as she realized the mound of black shaped hill in front of her was waiting to be lit. “Bonfire! Bonfire!” cried the two boys gleefully. The woman struck a match, the match lit, and whoosh, the bonfire started.
She was well guarded by the bonfire from the family. The warm breeze blew into her tired face etching her to move closer to it. She found a warm, grassy bush not too near the fire. She settled on the grassy bush for warming her immobile body. “a-tish-ooo” came the sneeze and touched the girl’s ears. “Oh dear! Oh dear! Peter, Manu come back to your turkey dinner”. The girl’s mouth started watering but she controlled herself. Then the sound of scurrying feet and a door being slammed reached her ears.
She felt unnaturally lonely. Her father had gone rather touchy these days and she felt scared to go in front of with no money in hand. She looked up at the sky and the twinkling stars seemed to say something to her. She made the effort to frame the unsaid words. But racking her brains in such a frosty night was something she was very weak at and she failed to string the wise words and a giant serpent seemed to gulp her into nothingness.
And then it appeared. The one’s company she craved the most, the one for whom she could do anything in the world, that person’s exhausted and faded face made its appearance in front of her. The unblinking blue eyes stared at her from behind the usual broken spectacles. The girl opened and shut her mouth like a goldfish unable to move, unable to speak, as the tears of joy slid down her pale rosy cheeks.
“Granny” she whispered after gathering the strength to move her jaws. Though she did not know whether it was a dream or not, but she was happy that whatever it was it included her granny. The shining face smiled at her and the crimson lips separated themselves so that the wise words behind it can be audible.
“Go on fighting, never leave the war field midway my dear child” came the words. “Use your abilities and show the world you are somebody not nobody” “Yes granny, yes. I will do as you say” said the little girl, barely able to he be heard. “Open my closet and use the contents wisely. I have complete faith in you my dear. Goodbye, goodbye….”
Suddenly there was an ear splitting bang and black smoke swirled around her. Looking up where her grandmother’s face was, now there was only smoke. A cold wind blew down upon her and the smoke parted. She realized her hand was outstretched towards the dawning sun. Turning straight she saw the black mass of heap which had given her roaring warmth the previous night.
Now she was warmed by the roaring fire inside her. She still could not understand whether it was a dream or illusion. But a deep desire has settled inside her to let her special ability to play flute fly in the sky and tell the world who she is. She got up from there and trotted in the newly mad snow path with her bare feet. She headed back to her home to make a fresh start that will continue throughout her life.