What is your dream?


InterestEng. illustration

By the famed Indian children’s author, Ruskin Bond
Adapted for English Language Learners

     AN old man, a beggar (भिकारी), with a long white beard and bright gray eyes, stopped on the road and looked up at me.  I was sitting on the branch of a tree. I was 10, and it was my first week in my stepfather's home. 
     "What's your dream?" he asked.
     It was a startling (धक्कादायक) question coming from a poor, old man. Even more startling was that the question was asked in English. English-speaking beggars were a rarity (दुर्मिळता) in the India of those days.
     "What's your dream?" he repeated.
     "I don't remember," I said. "I don't think I had a dream last night."
     "That's not what I mean. You know it isn't what I mean. I can see you're a dreamer. You sit in that tree all afternoon, dreaming."
     "I just like sitting here," I said. I did not want to admit that I was a dreamer. Other boys didn't dream, they had catapults (गलोल).
     "A dream, my boy, is what you want most in life. Isn't there something that you want more than anything else?"
     "Yes," I said. "A room of my own."
     "Ah! A room of your own, or a tree of your own. It's the same thing. Not many people can have their own rooms, you know. Not in a land as crowded (गर्दीच्या) as ours."
     "Just a small room."
     "And what kind of room do you live in at present?"
     "It's a big room, but I have to share (शेअर करा) it with my brothers and sisters and even my aunt when she visits!"
     "I see. What you really want is freedom. Your own tree, your own small place in the sun."
     "Yes, that's all."
     "That's all? That's everything! When you have all that, you will have found your dream."
     "Tell me how to find it!"
     "There's no magic formula (जादू सूत्र). You must work for your dream. You must move toward it all the time and discard (टाकून द्या) all those things that come in the way of your finding it. Then, if you don't expect too much too quickly, you'll find your freedom—a room of your own. The difficult time comes afterward."
     "Afterward? (त्यानंतर)"
     "Yes, because it is very easy to lose it all; to let someone take it away from you. Or you become greedy (लोभी), or careless (निष्काळजी).  Or you start taking everything for granted* and then suddenly the dream is gone!"

[*take everything for granted: You don't really appreciate (प्रशंसा करा) good things. You think they will just always be there and so you do not take care of them.]    
     "How do you know all this?" I asked.
     "Because I had my dream and lost it."
     "Did you lose everything?"
     "Yes, just look at me now, my friend. Do I look like a king or a god-man? I had everything I wanted, but then I wanted more and more.... You get a room and then you want a building. When you have your own building, then you want your own territory (प्रदेश).  And when you have your own territory, the you want your own kingdom (राज्य), or someone else's kingdom. All the time it gets harder to keep everything. And when you lose it (in the end, all kingdoms are lost) you don't even have your room any more."
     "Did you have a kingdom?"
     "Something like that.... Follow your own dream, boy, but don't take other people's dreams. Don't stand in anyone's way (अवरोधित करणे).  And don't take from another man his room, his faith (विश्वास) or his song." 

     And he turned and shuffled away.

 ©InterestEng. July 2013 - April 2022 §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff photos or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com