Story Contest 2020 #1 Highly Commended »

Highly Commended Story - The Bleak Wind

“The Bleak Wind” by Yermukhanbet Asset, Nazarbaev Intellectual School of Aktau, Kazakhstan, is the Highly Commended story in the senior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2020.

Yermukhanbet Asset is a 16-year-old boy from Kazakhstan, Aktau city. He is a student of Nazarbaev Intellectual school of Aktau. The book that really inspired him to write this story is “The boy in the striped pajamas” by John Boyne. From the age of 14 he started to worry about global issues that are related with environment, human rights and education. And he assumes that there is no need in magic to shift the world, the power is in our minds.

The Bleak Wind

Every language has its own beautiful, unique word which is connected to history of the culture. When I was learning Japanese I observed a word “kogarashi” which means a cold wind that is a sign of wintertime coming. And actually I had experienced that “kogarashi” in my hottest hometown when I was only 9 years old.

I was running with the wind and breathing the freshest air, I felt so relieved after exams in my school. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a kite which could float with wind direction like free bird is trying to go away from somewhere. It would totally represent my current perception and emotion. I do like the school, curriculum is quite okay but I have bad relationship with my teacher who is always strict to me. My mom said that my pedagogue wanted me to study harder and put many believes on my academic achieves. That’s why I tried learning and endeavoring to get good grades. Now it is time to feel relaxed and finally play with kids and do whatever you want.

When I was coming home, my mom insisted me to buy some bread. I headed straight to supermarket. There was a big queue, I assumed it will take a long time. When it was my turn, I heard a deafening, loud noise, it hurt my ears like it will bleed if the voice doesn’t stop. It then terminated. Passers-by were shaking and they had weird expressions. My parents suddenly came into the building and run for me. Their faces… I can’t explain the expressions of my parents. Fear, unpredictability, worry? I don’t know precisely. However, I was aware that something mischievous is going on. When I was outside, I saw something that I thought was unusual. It was crowded and people commenced to shout. They were holding posters with headings like ‘go away’ or ‘we are frightened’. There were even people who were carrying guns and it was very scary. We were running to our car. Groups were shooting and singing aggressive words which I have never heard before. When I was in the car, there was a little girl in the middle of the road. She was crying and I wanted to help her. I wanted to find her mom and take her with me and cheer her up. She was so sad. But my mom told me not to meddle in other people’s business and just sit. It was the first time she was this furious.

We went somewhere unfamiliar to me. It looked like a camping. There were a bunch of people. They were exactly like my parents were and sometimes I thought they are my relatives. But they are complete strangers. We gathered together and began to have the dinner. That dinner which I had to have at home with family. I saw a boy who was older than me and he was staring at me. For a moment I claimed he is a calm and cheerful person. But his eyes betrayed him, it was deep like an ocean which were afraid, they didn’t know what to do, they were ready to cry but…this boy is brave he won’t cry.

Hey mate! How is it going. – he asked me.

Very cold – I responded.

It is okay, you should just endure it.

Do you know what is happening?

Yes, social conflict.

What is that? Is it like when parents are arguing with each other?

Yeah, but it is going on between them and us.

Us? What was our fault?

No fault, we are just ethnic minorities – at that time I was completely confused. I didn’t know what this brave boy was talking about, but I felt more worried. It is like when you watch a movie and you don’t understand some words from it, but actions make it clear especially at the end of this film. And I was familiar how it will end. The country which I called my home and the society which I called a family is now against me and my identity. After our conversation all bad moments, all misunderstandings here were clear to me. I knew it wasn’t because I am special but because I looked differently.

After a few days, posters were removed, and conflict calmed down. It was my birthday and my mom and dad presented me a kite. I pretended that I was happy. When I was running with this kite again it wasn’t exactly what I was imaging after the end of the school. Here was no wind which could support it and direct it to the right path, there is no hope that the kite will float, and the kite itself wasn’t ready to fly in the air. But as I said previously, it totally represented me. My spirit, perception and wishes. However, I had a hope and asked for shifts, and even “they” saw my hope as a weakness, this feeling of brighter future helped me to bend but not to be damaged. It is like a process of hardening the steel, high temperature and cold water make steel to be hardened and solid. But the difference between me and steel is that I still have feelings.

Even after I grew up in a community of reference, through the racism I didn’t give up and took the whole power and gave a promise to myself that I will change this hatred no matter what. Because of this long time lasting “kogarashi” of my childhood which froze my arm and mouth but not a heart taught that scientists haven’t created vaccination against hate, fear, cruelty. And they will never make it until humanity does not understand the full meaning of being human. Moreover, what will we leave for the next generation? The genes of hate or aggressive mind which has already separated us? I want to leave peace. And I will fight for that silenced kids who need that happy kite for their birthdays and I will try to take away “kogarashi” from their lives.

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