The death of a poor man, a story
All of a sudden, he shouted in a shrill sound and woke up at 4 in the morning. It was still a black-pitched night, and there was no sign of a daybreak. He heard owls hooting from the nearby bushes. It was a monotonous hooting. He was panting. His heart was pounding like the hammer of a goldsmith. One, two, three… Faster. Onetwothreefourfive.. His head whirled like a spinning wheel. He coughed. It was like a whooping cough. He coughed a fistful of blood mixed with saliva. His eyes became ruddy and teary due to the unceasing cough. As he coughed, his heart killed him. “Someone strangled me,” he said.
Hearing some disturbances in the room, his roommate asked him, “What’s matter with you?” walking into his room him and touching his shoulders, shaking him. “Are you okay?”
“Very bad dream! Yes, very bad dream!” he said, panting and coughing.
“What’s that?” he asked, curious and surprised.
“My mother who passed away two months after I got here had told me not to talk to anybody about the bad dream I have,” he said. He coughed five times in-between before he finished the sentence. His roommate walked into the kitchen and brought a glass of water for him to drink. He held the glass of water with his trembling hands and put it near his mouth. Before he touched it with his lips, he coughed beyond his control so that the glass escaped from his hand, and the water spilled all over his bed.
“Sorry!” he said with his trembling voice.
“It’s okay,” his roommate told him, patting him on his back. “Chill out.”
He had a very bad dream last night.
It had been a long time since he was in contact with his family back home. He had been saving money rather than buying calling cards and contact his family frequently. It had been a year after he left his home country for a gulf country to earn money and to support his family back home. Although he was a permanent teacher at a public school in his country, the money he earned from the job was not enough to run his family, educate his children, and fulfill the demands and desires of his wife. He had not finished even paying the loans he had taken from his friends while leaving his country.
He was a man in his forties. He had two kids and a wife. His height was diminutive. He had a grisly countenance; sunken eyes, unsaved beard like pollen fallen on the floor disheveled, and in one word an emaciated look. These all could reflect the stigma of his poverty. He remembered what his 8-year-old son said while he was leaving, “Daddy, bring me a beautiful t-shirt and chocolates while you return home.” He also remembered what his 5-year-old daughter said, “Daddy, bring me a doll with you while you return home.” He remembered his wife who had a lachrymose tone while waving her hands in farewell. She also had told him not to go abroad but to live with his family, no matter what they had to face. Once she had told him, “It’s better to live together by sharing sorrow and happiness rather than to live apart.” However, it was easier said than done, he realized. Everything came into his mind like a flood gushing from the steep mountain. He remembered the kisses they exchanged before he left his family. He overheard the tender voices of his kids and also saw his daughter playing with dolls in the courtyard in front of his eyes. The beautiful garden his wife had made appeared in front of him. He smelled its fragrance. He could not help but cry. Tears rolled down his cheeks. He continuously hiccupped.
“Be like a man,” his roommate told him. “Only women cry.”
“I am a human being. I have a heart. It has pain. How can I stay without crying?”
“Need to be bold.”
“I can’t. I need to talk to my family,” he said, sobbing and trembling. “Yes, I need to talk to my family. I had a bad dream.”
“Why in hell don’t you tell me about the dream you had?” he insisted on him.
“My mother had told me to keep it secret because if I tell you about it, the dream will come true,” he said with trepidation.
“No, nothing is gonna happen,” the roommate assured him. “It is the fear of your mind. Remove it.”
“Just in case!” he slurred. His voice seemed like the sound that comes while the fountain falls into the gorge and fades away.
“Dream is dream and reality is reality,” he said. “I have a recurring dream in almost every alternate day. When I dream, I see myself being a multimillionaire, providing a lot of money in charity to the destitute. Have you ever seen my economic status better than ten years before from now?” The roommate was just curious to know about his dream. He kept on obliging him to tell about his bad dream. “It is funny, friend. You believe in dreams even in the twenty-first century.”
“I am not gonna say any more about the dream, please,” he said very sadly. “The only urgent thing I need to do is to call my family back home. I can’t help talking to them.”
“You need not to be serious. Everything will be all right,” he said. “It’s okay even if you don’t want to tell me about the dream. But trust me, nothing is gonna happen.” The roommate comforted him.
Slowly, he felt relaxed. The panting of his heart was abated. The coughing minimized. He walked into the bathroom and sprinkled water on his face and came back to his room. It was almost 6 in the morning. It was almost daybreak. The horizon in the east slowly glazed with ripe mango -ike color, showing the patches of nimbus. The birds in their nests twittered welcoming the dawn and preparing to rummage for foods. The young ones remained in the nests, and the old ones left for tid-bits. He breathed very deeply and said, “all right, I will tell you about my dream.”
“Now, you seem like a man,” he said, smiling.
“Some burglars broke into my house, kidnapped my kids, and ravished my wife. When I tried to fight them, they choked me nearly to death.”
“Yes, it’s a bad dream!”
“That’s why I didn’t want to tell you about it.”
“See, it is a dream. Dreams can never be true. Come on. Cheer up!” he said, shaking his body.
“No, I need to talk to my family,” he said. He grabbed his cell phone from the tea table next to him, unplugged it from the power plug, and dialed the number. He dialed, but the connection failed. “What the hell?” he said, furious and irritated. He dialed a second time, but the system said, “The number you are trying to reach cannot be connected at this moment.” He tried a third time. It said, “The mobile you are trying to reach is switched off.” “Bull shit!” he said in anger and threw the mobile set to the floor under him. He could not wait for a second. His body became sweaty. He wiped the sweats from his forehead, and again picked up the phone to dial the number. He dialed. It ringed. He was impatient to listen to his wife’s voice, his kids’ tender voice, and to tell them about how he had a bad dream that night. He would tell them that he would meet them soon and bring clothes, chocolates, dolls, money, and a lot of happiness with him soon. Someone picked up the phone, but not his wife. It was a very hoarse voice he had never seen before in his life. The voice said, “Your wife has, all of a sudden, gone mad. She lost her mind never to be recovered. Your kids are panicking. Come home soon.”
The phone dropped from his hands. He lost his voice and left unconscious. The roommate called the doctor. The doctor said, “Sorry, he is no more.”